Congratulations! You’ve made the awesome decision to get a postgraduate degree in Ireland. Not to worry if the application process seems daunting at first. Through my own experience applying to graduate programs in Ireland, here are my top tips for making the process as streamlined and simple as possible.
Decide on what you want to study With so many world-renowned universities abroad, it can be easy to let location be the initial factor. Instead, narrow it down by programs. Are you interested in a Master’s or a doctorate? What would be your speciality? As an undergraduate studying English, I began with making a list of what my interests were. For example, I knew I didn’t want to specialize in something like 18th century fiction or strictly American writing. Instead, I searched for a program that would cater to my passion for modern literature. Find a postgraduate program that allows you to study something you already know that you’re passionate about.
How long do you want to be studying? Most programs in Ireland require non EU internationals to be full time Master’s students. This means you will achieve your Master’s degree in a full calendar year. One of the advantages of getting a doctorate degree in Ireland, however, is that most programs are complete within three years. Choose whichever timeline is best for you and your interests.
Utilize all your resources at your undergraduate university When I began the application process, my undergraduate university was very involved in aiding the application process. While the resources my school provided such as the career development and global education centers did not have specific knowledge on programs in Ireland, they were willing to research on my behalf. Student career centers are also an excellent resource to read cover letters, personal statements, and give a final read-through for all applications. In my personal experience, my professors were my biggest allies, as they all attended some sort of postgraduate school themselves. Professors and lectures are there to support you, and they’ll be excellent support systems in terms of recommendation letters and advice going forward in your academic career.
Narrow down your chosen applications by location You can’t go wrong with any Irish university. There are definite perks to living in cities such as Cork or Dublin, as well as residing in the gorgeous countryside. If you are a person that loves hustle and bustle, Dublin is obviously a very attractive choice. If you are looking for a quieter setting, I suggest looking in smaller towns or cities with programs that align with your interests.
Use any and all international resources In my applications to University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, I found myself incredibly fortunate to have access to support from their international and global offices. Sending an email or a making a quick call to the relevant school or admissions office will relieve all sorts of stress during the application process.
See what perks each institution can offer Does the university offer on-campus residences for international students? How do the universities compare in terms of research opportunities in the field you are interested in? Be sure to research all the important ‘bonuses’ to attending each university you are interested in. You may find that your dream school offers you everything and more, including scholarships!
Research funding opportunities For me, this was the big question- How on earth am I going to pay for this? Many universities will offer scholarships, grants, or other major financial awards. Other programs fortunately work well with North American loan systems in order to help pay for tuition. Seize every scholarship opportunity available. A small award can go a long way!
Trust your gut instinct After you’ve received your acceptances from the programs, it’s time to choose the university where you will continue your studies. Trust yourself in this process. Deciding between the three programs I’d been accepted to was truthfully one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make. I narrowed down my selection by these criteria:
- Will I have an easier time getting a job with this degree?
- Is this a subject I can see myself enjoying for the foreseeable future?
- Does the school offer networking opportunities for future employers?
- How do I feel about the campus? Can I see myself being at home here?
After many months of writing applications, accompanied by the subsequent anxiety awaiting decisions from the universities, I am fortunate enough to state that University College Dublin will be my new home in September 2017. Best of luck with the application process!