The Irish Postgraduate Application Process for International Students

An illustration of a red-haired student giving a thumbs-up, surrounded by illustrations of the Irish flag, map, a stopwatch, and an application package

Ireland offers international students affordable tuition rates at some of the world’s most respected academic institutions. As a gateway to Europe, and a growing tech hub, the Emerald Isle is an increasingly popular study destination. Once there, graduate students in fields ranging from education to science and technology work alongside dedicated professors and colleagues from around the world on projects and research that shape our future.

Considering a graduate degree in Ireland? To help your Irish postgraduate application process run smoothly, refer to your target course’s pages on the ApplyBoard Platform for up-to-date information. Then, follow the steps below. They’ll help ensure that your application includes everything it needs to stand out.

Thinking of studying in other countries? Check out these postgraduate study guides for international students in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Illustration of a stop watch

Application Timeline Overview

Most graduate courses (master’s degrees, PhDs, and higher diploma courses) begin in September, although some universities also have intakes in late January or early February. If you see an application deadline that’s “rolling,” it means applications will remain open until the course is full.


In general, application windows for September classes open in November of the previous year (meaning that Fall 2024 applications open in November 2023). Some courses can fill up quickly, so we recommend applying as close to the start of the intake window as you can. Deadlines vary from course to course, so check the official university intake pages to make sure you submit on time!


Many institutions close their applications in January or February. Note that some courses don’t accept applications submitted after this first deadline. 


In March and April, institutions will hold interviews and portfolio presentations for prospective students. 


Some courses acknowledge a late application deadline of May 1. After this date, it’s unlikely that applications for the academic year starting in September will be considered.

May–Early June:

Then, in May and June, academic institutions send out their offers of admission.

Depending on your home country, you may not need to apply for a student visa! If you do need one, you can apply online for an Irish student visa up to three months before your arrival in Ireland. So, most students will apply for a visa in early June, after receiving their offer of admission. On average, visa applicants hear back within 8 weeks of applying. To encourage a quicker turnaround, make sure you include all the required supporting documents. Once you have your visa, don’t forget to share the news with your academic institution.

Tip: If your documents aren’t written in English or Irish, you’ll need to supply a full translation of each document, along with the translator’s name and contact information.

Did you know students from over 70 countries don’t need a visa to study abroad in Ireland?

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Finding the Right Fit

For many postgraduate international students, the secret to success is ensuring the course you choose matches your career and academic goals. Part of your application might be an interview, where you’ll be asked interest and skills-based questions. So, research specific course requirements, look up alumni success stories, and set targets you’d like to achieve. You’ll be asked about your study goals, and thinking about your answers beforehand will help you answer with confidence.

Also, be ready to talk about why you’re interested in the specific university and course you’re applying to. Showing how your academic history aligns with the course, and tying in any related work experience, will help you stand out. 

When looking at different universities, rankings are helpful, but those shouldn’t be the only things you look at. 

Other factors to consider:

  • Course structure
  • Your desired area of interest or research topic
  • Opportunities to work with faculty members (and what their specialties are)
  • Campus and research environments
  • Post-graduation opportunities (like the two-year stayback visa/third-level graduate programme)
  • The university’s location (In a larger city? In a small community or remote area? Coastal or inland climate?) 

By starting the application process early, you’ll have more time to consider how choosing different courses might impact your academic goals and future employment. 

Ireland has fantastic colleges and universities to choose from. We’ve counted down our top Irish universities for international students.

An illustration of a passport next to an application form on a clipboard, with a green approval stamped upon it.

Application Requirements

Graduate course requirements vary, so always read each course’s application page carefully before assembling your application. 

Most applications require:

  • Certified copies of your undergraduate degree transcripts in a related field (depending on your course, you may need a minimum GPA)
  • Other previous academic transcripts, if applicable
  • One or more academic references that discuss your potential as a graduate student
  • Proof of English-language proficiency (check with each institution to see which tests they accept; IELTS and TOEFL are the most widely accepted)
  • A statement of purpose
  • A resume (check out these strategies for writing a great one)
  • Proof of financial support
  • Visa status (following institution approval)
  • A copy of your passport

Some applications require:

Tip: Whenever you can, submit your documents in PDF format. This helps to make sure universities can open and read your documents on any device.

Illustration of an Irish trinity knot

Your study abroad goals are important, and there are many steps in the Irish postgraduate application process. If there’s only one piece of advice you take away from this post, it’s this: give yourself enough time to prepare and review your application. That way, you can ensure nothing’s missing and that it captures your best potential as a graduate student

Because you’ll spend lots of time with your applications, it’s good to ask someone you trust to review your work. Have them check if everything is clearly written and complete. If you’re working with a study abroad advisor, ask them to review your application, too.

Ready to start your journey to Ireland? From course information to an international student guide, we’ve got the tools you need to succeed.


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