Honestly now: why wouldn’t you want to study in The Republic of Ireland?
No, seriously; the UK is a nice and quiet neighbour, but with a force of steel, it seems like it was created especially for students from all around the world to come and study in their old, castle-like universities, and do their homework while searching for leprechaun gold, at the same time.
On paper, the Republic of Ireland is perfect. But what's it like when you get down to actually applying to a Master’s degree in Irish universities and colleges?
Ireland loves and welcomes international students
Before we go on, you should know the basics about Ireland’s view on education.
Known as “the Land of Saints and Scholars”, Ireland has always welcomed people who searched for guidance and knowledge. And, based on their history of accepting everyone who wanted to study with open arms, they even outlined a plan, between 2016 and 2020, in order to attract more international students, and prepare them thoroughly for the career path they choose.
So, you can be sure Ireland is ready and perfectly equipped to offer what it promised to its students.
Where do you apply for a Master’s degree in Ireland?
Ireland has a total of 34 higher education institutions. Out of the 34, 9 of them require you to apply to a Master’s programme on a special, intermediate website, where you have to create an account and slowly go through all the application steps.
Some of the 9 universities where you have to apply through this website are:
- Maynooth University
- University College Cork
- National University of Ireland, Galway
- Waterfront Institute of Technology
- Dublin City University
For the remaining 25 universities, you have to apply using the individual website of each institution. If you want further help in deciding what university is worth considering, then don’t forget to check out the top-ranked universities in Ireland.
What degree subjects to apply for in Ireland?
Ireland is the first that recommends that students shouldn’t apply for a mother-discipline. This means that, if you want to study Mechatronics, for instance, you’re better off applying to a Technology and Engineering university, and then going wild and picking your specialisation during college years.
The reason Ireland recommends this is because, once you are enrolled and want to change your major (your specialisation), you have to start a Master’s degree all over again, not just simply move from discipline to discipline, like a bee testing different flowers.
Some of the mother-disciplines you can check out in Ireland are:
- Master’s degrees in Humanities
- Master’s degrees in Computer Science and IT
- Master’s degrees in Business and Management
- Master’s degrees in Medicine and Health
But don’t despair. You can apply to any number of degrees at a university, as there is no imposed limit. Be on guard, though: each application will cost you around 50 EUR.
Speaking of money, let’s get to the important stuff.
How much does it cost to study a Master’s degree in Ireland?
Okay, we covered the first part, about the application fee of 50 EUR. Now, let’s take everything one by one: let’s assume you got accepted (Woo, congrats!) and you’re ready to go.
You have to pay the tuition fee, which can differ depending on the subject you pick, the university you attend, and your status as a European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) or non-EU/EEA student.
For non-EU/EEA students, the tuition fee can be around:
- For Medicine and related disciplines: 4,000 – 31,000 EUR
- For Engineering: 9,250 – 24,000 EUR
- For Arts and Humanities: 9,250 – 22,000 EUR
- For Business: 9,250 – 34,500 EUR
For EU/EEA students, the tuition fee can be:
- For Medicine and related disciplines: 3,800 – 21,000 EUR
- For Engineering: 5,550 – 9,000 EUR
- For Arts and Humanities: 4,400 – 9,600 EUR
- For Business: 6,000 – 30,000 EUR
Keep in mind that these tuition costs are general, and you can find both cheaper and more expensive study programmes. Private universities are usually more expensive than public ones.
And, because you can’t live on a bench in an Irish pub and you will need accommodation, you can either opt for university housing, which can be around 6,000 EUR/year or search for accommodation on your own.
To get an idea of what to expect, you should know that, on average, living in Ireland’s most popular cities can be around:
- In Dublin: between 1,100 and 1,800 EUR/month
- In Cork: between 860 and 1,400 EUR/month
- In Galway: between 800 and 1,100 EUR/month
What student scholarships are available in Ireland?
Luckily for non-EU/EEA students — thanks to Ireland's outlined plan for 2016 – 2020, remember, the thing I mentioned above? — Ireland has a lot of scholarships for students, who can prove they can stand out, have a plan for their future, and are just, generally, super nice people.
Some of the major scholarships you should look for are:
- The Government of Ireland International Education Scholarship: the deadline for March.
- Full scholarship to Study Abroad in Ireland: this year North American students were offered the possibility of applying, and next year Ireland will pick another nationality. The deadline is usually in late February.
- Irish Aid funded Fellowship Training Programme: this year Tanzanian students were offered the possibility of applying, and next year Ireland will pick another nationality. The deadline is usually at the start of January.
- Centenary Scholarship Programme for DIT Master’s Students: this scholarship will reopen on the 1st of March, so be ready to start applying!
- You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.
How to know if you qualify for EU or non-EU/EEA fees
Ireland is… special, in this regard. For them, it doesn’t matter where you were born, but it does matter where you actually lived. Although it is laudable for giving everybody the same start, things can get a little muddy, so let’s try and sort them out.
You qualify for EU/EEA fees if, and only if:
- You lived in the EU/EEA/Switzerland for at least 3 years before applying
- OR you are an Irish/EU/EEA/Swiss student who studied in Ireland at least five years in primary or secondary level school
- OR you lived in the EU/EEA continuously and have worked for 3 out of the 5 years before the university admission in Ireland
- OR have a passport from an EU/EEA state and have been studying full-time in a higher education institution for 3 out of the 5 years before the university admission in Ireland
What documents do you need to apply for a Master’s in Ireland?
First of all, you need to speak English. There’s no bypassing that. They even have on the official website this sentence: "If you have difficulty reading this, then maybe you should rethink your choice of course." — I know, but they’re Irish. They tend to be very straightforward.
In order to prove that you have sufficient language skills to study in Ireland, you have to meet one of the following requirements:
- Your native language is English
- Your undergraduate (Bachelor’s) was in English
- You submit an English language proficiency test
Assuming you need an English test, you should know that some of the certificates they accept are:
Other documents will vary depending on the study programme or university. In general, they surely ask for identity proof and school paperwork.
Some examples are:
- International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma OR French Baccalaureate OR a combination of high-school grades and standardised test scores
- Written materials, like personal essays, writing samples, or even both
- Recommendations letters: 2 for each course for which you are applying
What is the deadline for applying to a Master’s degree in Ireland?
Ireland has the same academic format used by most universities:
- two semesters
- mid-term breaks in fall and spring
- winter and summer vacations
With school beginning in late August or early September, and finishing in May, the deadline for applying can start in February, but most of them are around 31st of March. And, with the risk of saying the same phrase again and again, you should know that IT VARIES DEPENDING ON THE UNIVERSITY.
You can start applying from the beginning of October for the end of March deadline. If some students don’t confirm they will be enrolling until the start of May, the available spots will be out for grabs again until the start of July. And, for some universities, even longer!
So, just a quick recap of the most important university application deadlines:
- beginning of October: application opens
- start of February – end of March: application deadlines
- start of May: confirm you will be enrolling
- start of July: Second wave application deadline
Next steps after you are admitted to a Master’s degree in Ireland
You will need to research and get a student visa for Ireland. Long story short, and veeeery simplified:
- EU/EEA students: you don’t need a visa, but you will have to register for a residence permit in Ireland, after your arrival. Also, you can work during and after your studies without special provisions. Just make sure you don’t work more than 20 hours per week (during your studies) and 40 (after your studies).
- Non-EU/EEA students: you need to apply for a student visa online, write and sign a letter explaining why you need this visa, and have the letter of acceptance from the university in Ireland where you’re about to study. There are also a lot of fees and fund proof you need to submit, but please search for them yourself, because there are so many special provisions that writing them would make this bullet point longer than the whole article. The same goes for searching the work permit requirements.
Now that you know everything there is to know about applying in Ireland, we can only wish you good luck and enjoy your study experience!