Doctorate in Ireland

Application Process


PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) or Doctorate is the highest postgraduate degree that can be attained at universities. PhD holders usually take up a teaching profession or venture into their respective fields as scientists. Recently, Ireland has established one of the most advanced doctoral training systems in Europe, with a core focus on research expertise and academic excellence. Also, you will be given additional training in key transferable skills and supported by enterprise partnerships. Most higher education in Ireland is organized into two broad pathways, with the majority of its institutions being defined as either Universities or Institutes of Technology. You can study at either type of institution, as both are able to offer doctoral programmes.

Majority of doctoral training takes place at Universities, but Ireland's Institutes of Technology can also offer high-quality programmes - particularly in more directly vocational subject-areas. With a variety of providers to choose from, you'll be able to choose which type of institution and PhD programme suits your academic interests and career goals.

Application process for Ph.D

Admission for a Ph.D programme is entirely different and involves various steps. Make sure you prepare the required documents including the research proposal, transcript, To start with, you must research your target programme and contact a potential supervisor before you begin the application process.

  • Find a Supervisor: the programme involves a one-on-one interaction with the supervisor and the college or university may not assign a faculty for your guidance. You should make sure that you find a guide in your area of study from the college/ university that you have applied for the programme.

    After you have identified one or two potential supervisors, you should contact them by email. All supervisors receive many potential applications by email but make sure that you customize the email to the specific member of staff.

    The below list may give you an outline of the aspects to include in your initial contact email.

    • Your name
    • Academic background
    • Academic awards or highlights
    • Previous research experience
    • Reason to enter doctoral studies
    • Why the academic member of staff's area of research will match with your research goals
    • Mention their work and how their research interests mesh with your own
    • A research proposal, if appropriate
    • Ask them specifically if they are accepting new graduate students for the coming academic year
  • Once the supervisor agrees to work as your guide, to support your application to take place on the School's PhD programme, there will be a paper-based application process.
  • You will be asked to provide your contact details, curriculum vitae and support documents including research proposal, personal statement, transcript and references.
  • Prepare a Research Proposal: This holds the key in the application process for PhD programme. Normally a proposal should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words. The proposal should explain your area of study, the aim of your research and hypothesis.
  • Personal statement: The most important challenge is to put down in words the reason for pursuing the particular programme, what attracts you to the subject area and how your studies or work experience has influenced.
  • Transcript: A transcript is a document that states the results of all the subjects of all years that you did in your degree. Please note that the transcript is not the parchment that you would have received in your graduation. If you do not have a transcript, you can request this from your University.
  • References: Certain programmes will look for references that are able to provide details about your academic abilities and motivation. In some cases, there will be specific referee forms available on the School site, however, in cases where references are required, the more normal request is for the referee to provide a letter of reference in his/her own words.
  • English Language Requirements: The below table gives the English language requirement to apply for a Ph.D programme.

    English language requirement


    IELTS 6.5
    TOEFL 90 (Internet-based)
    Pearson English language test Minimum of 63 and at least 59 for each item of both skills profile
    IELTS 6.5

  • Assessment of candidate's application: The Supervisor, School graduate committee and the college graduate school board will review the application and determine your suitability for the chosen PhD programme. Based on the academic qualification, the proposed research topic, personal statement and the English language proficiency, your application will be assessed. After the College graduate school board approves your application, you can register to the PhD programme.

Fees for Ph.D. in Ireland

Universities in the Republic of Ireland charge no additional fees to students from within the EU. Rates will vary between individual Ph.D. programmes, but will usually be between €4000-6,000 per year as a minimum. Costs in fields such as business or medicine can be substantially higher with some programmes costing between €20,000 and €30,000 per year.

Non-EU students will usually pay fees at a higher international rate. Again, the exact costs vary between programmes and institutions, but you can expect to be charged at least €9,000, with some courses costing over €30,000 per year.

To investigate specific costs in your subject area you can visit institutional websites that you wish to apply or talk to our admissions team.

Funding for PhD in Ireland

The Irish Research Council provides three main funding schemes for students seeking to study for a Ph.D. in Ireland:

  • The Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship supports academic research in all subject areas and is available to international students seeking to study in Ireland.
  • The Employment-Based Postgraduate Programme is also multi-disciplinary but operates through employer partnerships at specific institutions.
  • The Enterprise Partnership Programme is designed for high-quality researchers seeking to develop key transferable skills.

You can find out more about these and other programmes at the website of the Irish Research Council.

Other funding packages and scholarship schemes are available from individual universities and information about these can usually be found on institutional websites.

Career opportunities

A key trait in Ireland's strategy for higher education is that it engages both academic research and commercial enterprise. This is reflected in its approach to doctoral training, particularly in the development of Structured PhD programmes. Several postgraduate courses in Ireland are also operated in partnership with non-academic bodies and enterprise stakeholders whose input helps design courses that will produce desirable graduates.

As such a doctorate from an Irish university will not only demonstrate that you possess advanced academic subject knowledge: it will also allow you to develop a range of skills and experiences specifically designed to help you stand out as a high-quality candidate for prospective employers.

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