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PhD In Ireland

PLEASE NOTE: As a result of Brexit, from Autumn 2021 postgraduate students from the European Union studying at a UK university will be charged the same tuition fees as international students. Meanwhile, UK students studying their postgraduate course at a European university are also likely to incur higher tuition fees than their EU counterparts. It is advisable to check with the individual universities in the UK and Europe for up-to-date information on tuition fees for all postgraduate programs.

The process for applying for and studying a PhD in Ireland is fairly similar to that in the UK and across the rest of Europe. Like many other countries, in Ireland it pays to network within your subject area at with other academics at while studying at university at undergraduate and masters level if you think you might want to continue in academia and study a PhD in the future, as this will make it easier to find a supervising academic. There is a good selecion of PhD specialisms on offer and some outstanding supervisors to support your studies.

This table shows a breakdown of the numbers of PhD students studying in Ireland by subject area during the academic year 2016/17.

PhD subject areas


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PhD in IrelandPhD applications in Ireland

Most universities in Ireland have a similar process when it comes to applying to study a PhD. Those students who are interested in doing any type of research degree, such as a PhD or a Masters by Research, should make an informal enquiry in the first instance. Once contact has been made with the university then an appointment to discuss the research proposal will be made. This is only a provisional research proposal and once a supervising academic has been agreed on, the formal application process begins. Finding a supervising academic is a little easier if you have been networking throughout your postgraduate studies. PhD applications are made throughout the year, however, students can only start in January and September, so apply well in advance of when you wish to start your PhD. Trinity College Dublin has some useful information on the PhD application process.

Formal PhD application

The formal application for a PhD is made directly to the university and consists of the students' research proposal. The research proposal varies by subject area, but generally it will consist of the aims of the research and explanation of the topic, the hypotheses, research methodology and a bibliography with references. If you are currently studying at the masters degree level, then you will find your department or university will have guidance on writing a research proposal. Many universities, such as the University of Limerick, also have a process for those potential PhD students who do not have a supervising academic to apply for a PhD position through an Expression of Interest form.

PhD admissions

Once you have completed your personal statement, your academic record has been assessed and your language skills have been proven you will then, hopefully, be accepted as a PhD student. The department you have applied to will assess your application, on the strength of your past academic record, your research proposal and also on how your proposed research aims work with aims and future direction of the university and the department. This means you should choose the supervising academic and the university you apply to very carefully.

PhD study modes & length of study

So how long does it take to complete a PhD? Most PhD students study on a full-time basis and in Ireland this means that a PhD can take anywhere from two to four years to complete. Part-time PhD students tend to be self-funded and take anywhere from four to eight years to complete their research. PhD students tend to be campus-based, but an increasing number of students can research online.

PhD costs & funding opportunities

PhD tuition fees are set by the individual university in Ireland and vary considerably between institutions. Students can expect the PhD tuition fees to be anything from €6,000 to €15,000 per year for Irish, UK, EU and international students. Most universities have funding opportunities available for those who are self-funding their studies.

PhD studentships

There are some PhD studentships available in Ireland, particularly for the study of Medicine, Healthcare and in Technology-based subject areas. This is in part because of the large number of Tech companies that are based in Ireland who are funding research. The Royal College of Surgeons has studentships available in areas of research that are part of their core research aims. The National University of Ireland has offered studentships since 1910 and these are available to any potential PhD student who is based at any partner institution of the National University of Ireland.

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