Education System

 Irish Education Systems

  • The Irish education system consists of Primary schools, Secondary schools (high schools), Third level colleges and universities and professional institutions. At the third level, institutions provide bachelor degrees of three years, master degrees of one to two years and doctorate degrees. Some institutions also offer shorter certificate and diploma courses.
  • International students are welcome to study at any third level institution. There are nine universities in Ireland – 2 in Northern Ireland and 7 in the Republic. These universities offer bachelor, master and doctorate programs in addition to a wide range of research.
  • There are also 14 institutes of Technology that offer programs at degree, national diploma and national certificate levels in a wide range of subjects such as engineering and science. All education at the institutes is validated by Ireland’s national certification authority to ensure that the education provided holds the highest international standard. Many institutes of technology hold postgraduate diploma and degree programs, both taught and research.

Grading in the Irish Education System

The grading system adheres very closely to the system used at UK universities. How exactly your final degree grade is reached is usually slightly different for each individual university or institution. The grading looks like this:

  • Above 70%: First-class honors (a first)
  • 65-69% Upper second-class honors (a 2.1)
  • 60-64% Lower second-class honors (a 2.2)
  • 55-59%Third-class honors (a third)
  • 50-54% Ordinary

Programs Available at Third Level Institution

  • One-Year Certificate: 1 year full-time course
  • National Certificate : 2 years full-time course
  • National Diploma : 1 year after National Certificate
  • Bachelor’s Degree : Normally 3 or 4 year course
  • Graduate Diploma : Usually 1 year
  • Masters Degree: Either by research or through a taught programme-1 or 2 years duration.
  • Doctorate (PhD): Usually takes a minimum of 3 years of original research


Universities offer degrees at Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate levels and undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas over a full range of disciplines. Teaching at undergraduate level is normally by way of a program of lectures supplemented by tutorials and, where appropriate, practical demonstrations and laboratory work. Masters degrees can be taken by coursework and research or by research alone. Doctoral degrees are awarded on the basis of research.

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