It is the most wonderful time of the year – the university application season! Now is your chance to change the course of your life, and maybe even acquire a new super cute English accent. Both things may very well happen if you move to Ireland to pursue your Bachelor’s Degree.

Here are some basic facts about getting into university in Ireland.

To Use the CAO or Not?

If you’ve ever looked into studying in the UK, you may be familiar with UCAS - the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It’s a centralized application system that every prospective UK student has to use.

Ireland has something similar, called CAO – the Central Application Office. Most people use the CAO website ( to send in their applications, and they should remember that Feb. 1 is the deadline to do so. These online applications cost 30 euros before Jan. 20, and 45 euros before Feb. 1. Sending your application in after Feb. 1 is also possible: these late applications cost 60 euros, and they are accepted until May 1. You can also submit paper applications to the CAO, but that will cost a little bit more.

However, there is one key difference between the CAO and UCAS: applicants from outside of the European Union are often not eligible to use the CAO. An exception to the rule might be a non-EU passport holder who has worked in the EU for at least three of the past five years.

Instead, non-EU applicants should contact their dream school’s admissions office or the international office to find out how to apply. Most of the time, they are requested to send in their applications directly to each university. The deadlines for these direct applications vary from school to school.

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Application Requirements

Whether you are applying through the CAO or directly to the university, the application requirements are very similar. You will need your high school transcripts, translated into English, and proof of your English proficiency if English is not your native language. The best way to show off your skills is to complete a test like the IELTS (the International English Language Testing System) or the TOEFL (the Test of English as a Foreign Language). Personal statements are generally not required at Irish universities. Some schools may request references from professors or other professional contacts. Keep in mind that many Irish universities are very competitive and the most in-demand Bachelor’s Degrees require top-level high school scores.

Acceptance Information

Universities in Ireland tend to decide fairly late who to offer acceptance to, as the schools want to wait for high school seniors to receive their final grades. This means that those applying via the CAO only get to hear the decisions in August or September. But don’t despair: non-EU students tend to get their offers a little bit earlier, often in July, to allow time for visa applications to be processed.

University Recommendations

If you are still debating where to apply to, here are some of our top higher education recommendations in Ireland.

National College of Ireland

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NCI has been offering enterprise-focused education for more than 65 years. Being located in the middle of Dublin’s International Financial Services Centre has helped the university build excellent industry relations. Another Dublin-based university to look into is the Dublin Business School.

Athlone Institute of Technology

 Founded in 1970, this technical institution of 6,000 students was just recognized as the Institute of Technology of the Year by the Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. The peaceful town of Athlone is located in County Westmeath in the midlands of Ireland. Other similarly-sized technology institutes in Ireland include the Waterford Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology Carlow. If you’d rather study in a bigger technology institute in an urban environment, you could look into the Dublin Institute of Technology or the Cork Institute of Technology.

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity is the most iconic University of Ireland, established by a royal charter in 1592. Its campus in Ireland’s capital houses 17,000 students. An even bigger university in the same city is the University College Dublin, with 30,000 students. If you’d like to study in a smaller university in Dublin instead, check out the Dublin International Foundation College.

The open-door policy offered by our lecturers and faculty is a special aspect that can’t be found elsewhere. Whether you’re a student, faculty member, or alumnus you will always have a home and support network at ACD.

- Haleigh York, Arts student at American College Dublin

American College Dublin


American College Dublin is a private, non-profit constituent college located in Merrion Square in Dublin, Ireland and established in 1993. Here is a great option, if you like a small size college and a city steeped in history and boasts a rich and vibrant culture. Dublin is a friendly town with an International feel with residents and students from all over the world.

If you are looking for support with your application, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experts of SchoolApply. They are here to help you get through these trying times, and onto future success.

About the Writer: Mirva Lempiäinen is a US-educated freelance journalist from Finland. After calling New York City home for about a decade, she now resides on the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.