Education in Ireland

Ireland, often referred to as “The Land of Saints and Scholars”, has a long and distinguished tradition in educational excellence which continues to the present day. In recent years Ireland has become an increasingly popular destination for overseas students.

The cost of education in Ireland is relatively low, particularly in the private sector which is substantially cheaper than in many other English- speaking countries. In addition, the Irish Leaving Certificate, equivalent to the British A-Level, is internationally recognised for entry to universities worldwide.

Junior Cycle

Year 1-2 and 3. Age 12-15

Students start the first year of secondary school at the age of 12 or 13, having completed 8 years of primary school. The junior cycle includes first, second and third year and leads to the Junior Certificate (external state examination). Students take up to 9 subjects. Overseas students take two core subjects; English and Mathematics and several electives to include science and technology, languages, art, music as well as more traditional subjects such as history and geography.

Transition Year

Year 4. Age 15-16

Unique to Ireland, Transition Year forms a break between the junior cycle and the senior cycle. The programme varies from school to school but it is usually less academic than in other school years. While in 5th-year students study up to 7 subjects, in transition year students may study 12 subjects or more over the course of three terms. Work experience is usually included. It is an excellent year for international students to begin High School studies as it provides valuable opportunities to develop English language ability and life skills and allows for personal development without the pressure of preparing for a state exam.

Senior Cycle

Year 5 and 6. Age 16-18

5th and 6th year form the senior cycle. At the end of the two years, students take the Leaving Certificate Examination, which is necessary for high school graduation and university entrance. Students normally sit this examination at the age of seventeen or eighteen. The Leaving Certificate is also recognised and highly regarded by academic institutions in the UK, Europe, the United States and across the world. Overseas students must take a minimum of six subjects including the two core subjects of English and Mathematics. Students can then choose their other subjects from a broad range, including science and technology, languages, art, music as well as more traditional subjects such as history and geography.