Qualifications and Course Options

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While the choice of which subject to do at college or university is obviously essential, there is also the factor of qualification level to consider. The Irish education system is divided into a number of levels within the structure of the National Framework of Qualifications.

The National Framework of Qualifications was introduced in October 2003 to streamline the Irish education system. The object of the Framework is to encompass all education and training awards in Ireland, provide recognition for learning achievements at all levels, and organise all courses into an easy to understand ladder system.

Within the Irish third level undergraduate system the courses available are now known as higher certificates, ordinary bachelor degrees (formerly called national diplomas) and honours bachelor degrees. These qualifications fit into levels six, seven and eight respectively in the National Framework of Qualifications.

The Colleges featured in this section of the daycourses. com website offer a mix of all three undergraduate qualifications. Some colleges offer opportunities to move up the ladder from higher certificate, to ordinary bachelor degree, to honours bachelor degree over a period of time, providing the student passes their exams at each step.

The CAO points required for honours bachelor degrees are generally higher than for ordinary degree or higher certificate courses. A student who is dedicated to a certain career path (e. g. Business) but who does not have the CAO points to enter a degree programme directly, can first obtain a higher certificate and then continue on to honours degree level when have they completed the first course.

The subjects offered by the colleges featured in this section of the daycourses. com website cover a huge variety of career areas that includes theology, fishing, medicine, art, hotel management, business and information technology. Most of these subjects are available at honours degree level, while the higher certificates and ordinary degree programmes are concentrated on the business studies and IT areas.

Higher certificates typically take two years to complete at a third level college, with ordinary bachelor degrees taking three years, and honours bachelors degrees taking four. These time periods are for full time study, and doing a course part-time obviously takes longer.


Whichcollege.ie is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.


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