College application and entrance requirements

Applying to college in Ireland

You apply for almost all full-time third-level education undergraduate courses through the Central Applications Office (CAO).

Undergraduate courses available in universities and institutes of technology include:

  • Higher Certificates (Level 6)
  • Ordinary Bachelor degrees (Level 7)
  • Honours Bachelor degrees (Level 8)

You can find a list of the courses on offer and information on how to apply in the CAO handbook.

You can apply to study in third-level institutions through the CAO portal.

Courses outside of the CAO

The tertiary education programme is a new pathway to get a degree. You don’t need to apply through the CAO. Read how to apply on the National Tertiary Office (NTO) website.

You can apply for Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses directly to the individual colleges. You don’t apply through the CAO.

Key dates for CAO applications

CAO applications for 2024-2025

CAO applications for 2024-2025 opened on 6 November 2023 and closed on 1 February 2024 (see ‘Table of key dates for CAO applications 2024-2025’ below).

Late applications

Late applications for CAO 2024-2025 closed on 1 May 2024.

You will not be considered for HEAR or DARE, or assessed as a mature student, if you made a late application.

Restricted-application courses

Some courses are ‘restricted-application’ courses.

These courses have early assessment procedures, sometimes as early as February. If you want to apply for such a course, you must include it in your CAO application in time, so that the relevant higher education institution (HEI) can arrange the early assessment.

This means you can’t make a late application. See the CAO’s calendar of restricted-application tests and interviews.

Changing your mind

You can change your course choices online, free of charge, from 7 May 2024 until 5pm on 1 July 2024.

Courses in medicine

For courses in medicine, you must take the Health Professions Admissions Test (HPAT). You can find information and important dates on the HPAT-Ireland website.

You can also read about graduate entry programmes in medicine in 2024 on the CAO website.

Table of key dates for CAO applications 2024-2025

CAO application dates 2024-2025


What’s happening?

6 November 2023

Online applications opened

20 January 2024

Closing date for online applications at discounted fee

1 February 2024

Closing date for on-time applications

March and April 2024

Interviews and portfolio presentations for most restricted-application courses (see above)

1 May 2024

Closing date for late applications

7 May 2024

Online change-of-mind facility opens

1 July 2024

Online change-of-mind facility closes


5 July 2024

CAO makes ‘Round A’ offers to applicants who are not awaiting grades for the 2024 Leaving Certificate.

For example, mature students, candidates who deferred places, people who need visas, and some others

8 August 2024

CAO makes ‘Round Zero’ offers (for graduate entry medicine candidates and some other categories)

13 August 2024

Closing date for ‘Round Zero’ offers

23 August 2024

Leaving Certificate 2024 results come out

28 August 2024

‘Round 1’ offers are available online from 2pm

29 August 2024

CAO opens its ‘Available Places facility

3 September 2024

Closing date to accept a ‘Round 1’ offer

9 September 2024

‘Round 2’ offers are available online

11 September 2024

Closing date to accept a ‘Round 2’ offer

17 September 2024 to 3 October 2024

CAO will make further offers to filly any vacancies

5 November 2024

CAO opens applications for 2025-2026 academic year

College entry requirements

Leaving Cert points

Students who have taken the Leaving Certificate examination get points for the results they get in their 6 best subjects at a single sitting of the Leaving Certificate.

The points awarded depend on the level of achievement in the subject. You can use the points calculator on to work out what points you get for any set of results.

The State Certificate offered to students for Leaving Certificate 2021 has the same status as the Leaving Certificates awarded to students in previous years.

The number of entry-level points you need for a course depends on:

  • The number of places available, and
  • The number of applicants for those places.

The entry level varies from year to year. You get higher points for Higher-Level exam papers than for Ordinary-Level papers.

Some universities may allocate extra bonus points for Higher-Level mathematics.

The CAO publishes the minimum points required for admission to courses as each round of offers is made. You can also check the points required in previous years.

Disability Access Route to Education

If you meet certain criteria, you may qualify for the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) scheme, which aims to improve access to higher education for school-leavers with disabilities.

Higher Education Access Route

If you meet certain criteria, you may qualify for the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) admissions scheme. This scheme allocates a number of third-level places on a reduced points basis to school-leavers from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

Specific academic entry requirements

A student must also have the particular academic entry requirements (also called 'matriculation requirements') for the course they want to take.

You can get detailed information about the academic entry requirements from each university, college, or institute.

University sector

Most universities in Ireland are State-funded, but they are generally autonomous. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) is a private university.

The universities in Ireland are:

Technological sector

The technological sector includes technological universities (TUs) and institutes of technology (ITs).

There are 5 technological universities in Ireland:

There are 2 institutes of technology:

Colleges of education

Colleges of education provide specialised training for primary school teachers. You must get specific minimum grades for Maths and English. Irish is also an entry requirement, but in some cases, Irish Sign Language (ISL) is accepted as an alternative.

The entry requirements to specialised teacher training are set out by the Department of Education.

PLC courses

Places on Post-Leaving Certificate courses and the tertiary education programme are not allocated on the basis of points. You should contact the course provider to find out about the entry requirements.

CAO application fees

CAO application fees for 2024-2025
Application Rate
Online (or paper) discounted rate by 20 January 2024 €30
Online application by 1 February 2024 €45
Late online application by 1 May 2024 €60

How to apply to college

Applying through the CAO

You can apply to study at a third-level institution through the CAO portal.

Applying directly to colleges

You should apply directly to the higher education institution (HEI), and not through the CAO, for:

  • Postgraduate courses
  • Entry to courses at post-initial-year level
  • Short duration, one-term, part-time and occasional courses
  • Re-admission to Dublin City University, Mary Immaculate College, Trinity College and University of Limerick
  • Follow-on courses at the institutes of technology
  • Any course not mentioned in the CAO Handbook
  • Certain mature applicants
  • Graduate or mature applicants to the Royal College of Surgeons

Resident outside the EU

If you are (or have been) resident outside the EU, you may have to apply directly to some HEIs.

Contact the admissions office of the HEI to ask whether you should apply through the CAO or directly to the HEI.

Always check the application procedures for your preferred course, as errors may be difficult or impossible to rectify.

You should make your enquiries well before the closing date of 1 February, preferably not later than early December.

CAO contact details

Central Applications Office

Tower House
Eglinton Street

Opening Hours: Office Hours 9:30-17:00
Tel: (091) 509 800
Fax: (091) 562 344
Page edited: 2 May 2024