College application and entrance requirements
Applying to college
You apply for almost all full-time undergraduate courses through the Central Applications Office (CAO).
The undergraduate courses in the universities and institutes of technology include Higher Certificates - Level 6, Ordinary Bachelor degrees - Level 7 and Honours Bachelor degrees - Level 8. You can find more information about these qualifications in our document on third-level education in Ireland.
The CAO provides a handbook that lists all the courses on offer and gives information on how to apply.
You can apply to participate in higher education institutions through the CAO portal.
Courses outside of the CAO
There is also no central applications office (CAO) for Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses. You must apply directly to the individual colleges.
CAO applications for 2024-2025
CAO applications for 2024-2025 open from 6 November 2023. The closing date for CAO applications is 5pm on 1 February 2024.
Changing your mind
You can change your course choices online up to 5pm on 1 February 2024, free of charge. Changes made from 6 February 2024 to 5pm on 1 March 2024 cost €10.
There is a further chance to change your mind, free of charge, from 7 May 2024 until 5pm on 1 July 2024.
Closing date and late applications
The closing date for CAO applications is 5pm on 1 February 2024.
You can make a late application until 5pm on 1 May 2024.
Applications for some restricted courses cannot be made after 1 February.
Courses in medicine
For courses in medicine you have to take the Health Professions Admissions Test (HPAT). There is more information and important dates on the HPAT-Ireland website. You can find information about graduate entry programmes in medicine in 2024 on the CAO website.
College entry requirements
Students who have taken the Leaving Certificate examination are allocated 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 qualifax.ie to work out what points are awarded for any particular 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 needed for any course depends on the number of places and the number of applicants for those places so the entry level varies from year to year. Higher points are awarded for Higher-Level 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
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
The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) admissions scheme allocates a number of third-level places on a reduced points basis to school-leavers from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. To be eligible for the scheme you must meet certain criteria related to your financial, social and cultural circumstances.
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.
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:
- The National University of Ireland (NUI) which is the umbrella university covering University College Dublin (UCD), University of Galway, University College Cork, and National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
- The University of Dublin, which is generally known as Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
- The University of Limerick (UL)
- Dublin City University (DCU)
- RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences
The technological sector includes technological universities (TUs) and institutes of technology (ITs).
There are 5 technological universities in Ireland:
- Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) – formerly Dublin, Tallaght and Blanchardstown institutes of technology
- Munster Technological University MTU) – formerly Cork and Tralee institutes of technology
- Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS) – formerly Limerick and Athlone institutes of technology
- Atlantic Technological University (ATU) – formerly Galway-Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny institutes of technology.
- South East Technological University (SETU) – formerly Carlow and Waterford institutes of technology.
There are 2 institutes of technology:
Colleges of education
Colleges of education provide specialised training for primary school teachers. There are specific minimum grades for Maths and English. The entry requirements to specialised teacher training are set out by the Department of Education.
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
The CAO application fees for 2024-2025:
|Online (or paper) discounted rate by 20 January
|Online application by 1 February
|Late online application by 1 May
You can change your course choices online up to 1 February, free of charge. Changes made from 6 February to 5pm on 1 March cost €10.
The Change of Mind facility from 7 May to 5pm on 1 July is free.
How to apply to college
Applying through the CAO: For participating higher education institutions (HEIs), you can apply online through the CAO.
When to apply directly to the colleges: You should apply directly to the HEI (not through the CAO) in the following cases:
- 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/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. You need to contact the admissions office of HEIs to enquire whether you should apply through the CAO or directly to the HEI. It is very important to check application procedures for courses since 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 in the previous December.
Key dates for CAO applications 2024-2025
6 November 2023 – Online applications open at 12 noon
20 January 2024 – Closing date for online applications at discounted fee
1 February 2024 – Normal closing date for applications. Closes at 5pm
March and April – Interviews and portfolio presentations for most of restricted courses*
1 May 2024 – Closing date for late applications. Closes at 5pm
7 May 2024 – Online change of mind facility opens
1 July 2024 – Final date for changing your mind about course selections on your previously submitted CAO form
TBC – Round A offers are made by the CAO (for applicants who are not awaiting their grades for the 2022 Leaving Certificate for example mature students, candidates who deferred places, people who need visas and some others)
TBC – Round Zero offers are made by the CAO (for graduate entry medicine candidates and some other categories)
TBC – Closing date for Round Zero offers
TBC – Leaving Certificate results come out
TBC – Round One offers are made by the CAO
TBC – Closing date for acceptance of Round One offers
TBC – Round Two offers available online
TBC – Closing date for acceptance of Round Two offers
Offers will be issued as necessary to fill any vacancies
TBC – offers end
5 November 2024 – CAO applications open for 2025
You can get further information on important dates and times on the CAO website.
*Some courses are restricted application courses. Such courses have early assessment procedures (sometimes as early as February) and must be mentioned in your CAO application in time for the relevant higher education institution (HEI) to arrange the procedure. This means that you cannot apply for such courses in a late application. The CAO publishes a calendar of these tests and interviews.