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The Irish Education System

The Irish education system is comprised of four levels; primary, secondary, third level and postgraduate or fourth level. Third and fourth level education is offered by universities, college and institutes of technology. Several of these are established centres of learning with an excellent international reputation and a long history; others are only recently founded with a more modern philosophy.
In short, there is a wide range of choice for students in their preferred course of study. Admission to third level education in Dublin is presently free for EU students, while non EU students incur tuition fees. However, a number of grants and scholarships are offered in respect of study in Irish universities and institutes of technology. The Irish education system has improved immeasurably in recent times and offers opportunities in various expanding sectors.

The most basic post secondary qualification, a certificate is often a pre requisite for entry to a diploma or degree program. Most certificate courses are one year in length and are accredited by state sponsored education or employment agencies such as Fas Ireland.

A diploma course can vary greatly in length and quality. Many Irish universities will split their degree courses and diploma course in two, so that after a two year diploma course a third year’s study will result in the award of a Bachelor’s degree.

The most commonly awarded degree in Irish universities; this course is typically three to four years in duration, usually with an option to study abroad for a year. Applications to Bachelor’s degree programmes are normally through the Central Admissions Office (CAO) after attaining the Irish Leaving Certificate, the final examination of the Irish secondary school system. Students who do not fulfil this requirement may still enrol on a Bachelor’s degree course by applying directly to their university of choice.

Upon completion of a Bachelor’s degree, candidates may apply to undertake a Master’s. The Master’s must be in a field closely related to the subjects studied in the Bachelor’s degree. Master’s are usually one or two years in duration and are taught either by research or through lectures. The majority of the time a Master’s will involve the preparation and submission of a thesis.

Doctoral studies follow on from a Master’s and are the most advanced courses of study offered by Irish universities. A Doctorate can often take up to four years of study to obtain. Normally it will involve the completion of a dissertation. Doctorates are often awarded in conjunction with a PhD.

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