Study Abroad

Top 7 Universities in Ireland for International Students

Ireland is home to a handful of world-class universities, but with so many great choices, how do you decide? Check out our guide to the best universities in Ireland for international students to pick the perfect option for your adventure overseas.

When I decided to pursue a Master of Public Health, I had no doubt I wanted to do it in Ireland. While teaching abroad in Spain in 2014, I spent the month-long Christmas break taking buses and hitchhiking all over Ireland, falling more and more in love with the country along the way. That month wasn't nearly enough, and after I left, I began planning my more permanent return.

Compared to studying a master's in the US, Ireland was cheaper -- even when looking at paying in-state tuition! That, along with the graduate scheme that would allow me to work for up to two years following the completion of my program, made the decision to apply a no-brainer. I chose University College Dublin and couldn't have been happier with my experience.

Ireland has many world-class institutions that consistently rank in the top universities worldwide by QS World University Rankings. This list reflects high-ranking universities as well as those frequented by international students. Although the following universities have similar academic offerings, they're sprinkled across the island in cities and towns with their own unique flavor. It's not an exhaustive list of the colleges and universities in Ireland, but it's a great place to start!

Why study abroad in Ireland?

Ireland is a compelling destination for international students seeking universities in Ireland. Here are some of our top reasons for putting Ireland on your list.

  • Irish universities are truly diverse: More than 25,000 international students studied abroad in Ireland during the 2020/2021 school year.
  • Respected education system: Degrees earned in Ireland are recognized and accepted by employers globally.
  • English-speaking country:If you’re a native or fluent English speaker, studying in Ireland eliminates language barriers.
  • Welcoming and friendly culture: Ireland is ranked the 5th friendliest country in the world!
  • Access to a vibrant arts and cultural scene: Ireland hosts over 11,000 festivals a year celebrating everything from traditional music and art to locally grown food.
  • Opportunities for local travel: Ireland's small size makes it an ideal destination to visit countless historical sites either by rail or bus.
  • Internship opportunities in top industries: Business is booming in Ireland. Over 1,000 multinational companies have offices in Dublin and across the country.

How much does it cost to study abroad in Ireland?

Studying abroad in Ireland is a priceless educational experience, but it's still important to understand the associated costs.

Tuition fees for international students in Ireland vary depending on the university, program, and level of study.

On average, these are the tuition fees international students in Ireland can expect:

  • Undergraduate direct enrollment: $11,000 to $28,000 per year
  • Graduate school: $11,000 to $39,000 per year
  • Third-party provider: $5,195 to $17,280 per semester

The fees for studying abroad through a program provider may be higher than directly enrolling in an Irish university. However, they tend to include more benefits and support. Typically, your fees cover things like accommodation, academic advising, visa assistance, orientation, and cultural activities.

Pro tip: To get a better idea of how the costs of direct enrollment vs. program provider shake out, try our cost comparison tool.

Monthly cost of living in Ireland

Aside from tuition fees, you should also factor in living costs when budgeting for your adventure abroad in Ireland.

Here are some of the monthly costs you may encounter as a student in Ireland:

  • Rent for room in shared apartment: $700-$1100
  • Utilities: $30-$55
  • Groceries: $280-$400
  • Cell phone plan: $20-$30
  • Transportation pass: $70-$95

Source: Education in Ireland and University College Cork

Keep in mind that accommodation costs can be high, particularly in cities like Dublin, where rent for shared flats can exceed €1,000 per room. In order to avoid outrageously high rent prices and a competitive rental market, students are encouraged to explore program providers that offer inclusive housing options.

Can I study in Ireland for free?

While studying in Ireland may not be entirely free for international students, various scholarships and financial aid options are available. Irish universities offer scholarships based on academic merit, specific fields of study, or leadership potential. It's recommended to research and apply for scholarships and grants early to increase the chances of receiving financial support.

Read more: 5 Ways to Study Abroad for Free or Cheap

Scholarships

To support international students, many universities in Ireland provide scholarships and financial aid programs. These scholarships can significantly reduce the financial burden of tuition fees. Students are encouraged to research and apply for scholarships that align with their academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, or specific fields of study. Don’t forget to check out the scholarships featured here on GO for even more funding opportunities!

Top 7 universities in Ireland for international students

Ireland is a popular destination for international students who want to learn more about the Irish language and culture, sport, and traditional music while enjoying its miles of coastline, towering cliffs, and rolling, picturesque hills. Let’s take a look at the 7 best universities in Ireland for international students and find one that’s right for you!

How we picked these universities: These universities were selected based on a variety of factors, including their rankings, popularity among and support for international students, quality of programs, and their social scenes. Tuition prices are for the 2023 & 2024 academic years and are subject to change. All values are in USD.

1. Great for academic reputation: Trinity College Dublin

A large building at Trinity College Dublin.

📍 Location: Dublin
💸 Average cost of semester of direct enrollment: $11,500 - $15,500
💰 Average cost of semester with third-party provider: $23,000 - $27,000
🏠 Monthly cost of living including housing: $3,000 - $3,200
🌍 QS World Ranking: 81

With a population of over 1.5 million people, Ireland's capital is the ideal place for students who want to experience a modern, cosmopolitan city with the charm of the old world. Dublin offers active nightlife, countless museums, and movie theaters, sporting events, concerts, parks, and more for you to explore if you love to stay busy. Dublin is the central location for travel throughout the country and Europe, with plenty of public and private transportation options.

Trinity College Dublin, known for its illustrious alumni like Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde, is a haven for students passionate about English literature. With its iconic library, housing an astonishing collection of around 7 million books, Trinity College offers a unique opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a famed literary atmosphere. Moreover, Trinity College Dublin provides scholarships specifically tailored for non-EU international students, opening doors to exceptional educational opportunities.

Program Details

Program:
Study Abroad at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Provider:
Trinity College Dublin
Location:
Ireland
4.89 Rating
based on 9 reviews
  • Academics 4.35
  • Support 4.35
  • Fun 4.7
  • Housing 4.55
  • Safety 4.8

2. Great for diversity: University College Dublin

Buildings on a street in Dublin at dusk.

📍 Location: Dublin
💸 Average cost of semester of direct enrollment: $12,000 - $15,500
💰 Average cost of semester with third-party provider: $22,000 - $23,000
🏠 Monthly cost of living including housing: $3,000 - $3,200
🌍 QS World Ranking: 171

University College Dublin is another top university in the capital. Located south of the city center in Belfield, UCD was established in 1854. UCD is one of the most diverse universities in Ireland with international students representing 139 countries. In addition to foreign students making up 25% of the population, 33% of the faculty are international.

It's also a popular university for sports (both to study and play) and has successful teams across rugby, soccer, and hurling. If sports aren't quite your thing, there are over 60 student societies to join covering topics like politics, religion, art, economics, writing, and volunteering.

Academically, UCD has undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts, humanities, STEM, social sciences, business, and medicine. UCD is also home to one of seven American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) approved vet medicine programs in Europe.

UCD offers a number of global scholarships for students from a wide range of countries.

Program Details

Program:
University College Dublin - Study Abroad
Provider:
University College Dublin
Location:
Ireland
Starting Price:
$10,000.00 USD
4.57 Rating
based on 51 reviews
  • Academics 4.1
  • Support 4.35
  • Fun 4.6
  • Housing 4.45
  • Safety 4.95

3. Great for artsy, small town living: National University of Ireland, Galway

A building on campus at NUI Galway.

📍 Location: Galway
💸 Average cost of semester of direct enrollment: $8,500 -$10,500
💰 Average cost of semester with third-party provider: $18,000-$20,000
🏠 Monthly cost of living including housing: $2,200 - $2,500
🌍 QS World Ranking: 289

Located on the Wild Atlantic Way, Galway is one of Ireland's most charming and diverse cities. Designated as the 2020 European Capital of Culture, Galway is the perfect city for you if you want a bohemian arts feel without the hustle and bustle of Dublin. With access to stunning vistas along the west coast, being a student in Galway means you'll have no shortage of things to do and see both in the city and beyond.

Founded in 1845, the The National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) boasts a campus that has been ranked among the top 30 most beautiful campuses in Europe and is home to international students from over 100 countries. Volunteering is a big part of campus life and NUIG has over 4,000 registered volunteers making it the leading university for volunteerism in Ireland.

NUIG has scholarships for international students based on academic merit and country of origin.

Program Details

Program:
Study at National University of Ireland, Galway
Provider:
Arcadia Abroad
Location:
Ireland

4. Great for green campus: University College Cork

Outside of a building at University College Cork

📍 Location: Cork
💸 Average cost of semester of direct enrollment: $9,000 - $12,500
💰 Average cost of semester with third-party provider: $19,000 - $21,000
🏠 Monthly cost of living including housing: $2,300 - $2,600
🌍 QS World Ranking: 292

The motto of Cork is "Statio Bene Fide Carinis," a safe harbor for ships. But the second-largest city in Ireland is also a safe harbor for international students interested in studying abroad in Ireland. Known as the Emerald Isle's culinary capital, Cork is ideal for students who can't wait to indulge in The English Market's foodie scene. Like Limerick, there’s only one university in Cork.

University College Cork, established in 1845, has a student population of over 22,000. UCC prides itself on being a Green Campus, being the first campus in the world to receive a "Green Flag" from the Foundation for Environmental Education. This designation means the university maintains a high level of sustainability across teaching, research, and campus operations. Aside from a progressive atmosphere, students at UCC can join over 100 clubs and societies and get involved with impactful research.

UCC offers scholarships to international students across several schools including business, social sciences, and STEM subjects.

Program Details

Program:
Direct Enrollment at University College Cork
Provider:
University College Cork
Location:
Ireland
Starting Price:
$10,000.00 USD
4.86 Rating
based on 49 reviews
  • Academics 3.75
  • Support 4.4
  • Fun 4.2
  • Housing 4.85
  • Safety 4.85

5. Great for value for money: Dublin City University

Dublin City University campus at night.

📍 Location: Dublin
💸 Average cost of semester of direct enrollment: $8,000 - $8,500
💰 Average cost of semester with third-party provider: $18,000 - $20,000
🏠 Monthly cost of living including housing: $3,000 - $3,300
🌍 QS World Ranking: 436

Dublin City University (DCU) is a prominent Irish institution, ranking among the top universities in Dublin. With a strong emphasis on fostering a friendly and accessible campus environment, DCU students can easily form bonds with and seek 1:1 support from their professors. Around 20% of DCU's student population are from outside of Ireland making it a diverse place to study. Mainly located in Dublin's Glasnevin neighborhood, you'll study on a self-contained campus with its own cafes, restaurants, bars, and even a pharmacy.

DCU is an excellent choice for students studying communications, journalism, and business studies. Outside of your studies, there are many different club sports teams and societies covering interests from Harry Potter and Dungeons and Dragons to jazz and DJing.

DCU has international merit scholarships for non-EU students as well as master's scholarships for study abroad alumni (if you decide your semester wasn't enough!).

Program Details

Program:
Study Abroad Programme at DCU
Provider:
Dublin City University
Location:
Ireland
Starting Price:
$7,000.00 USD
4.92 Rating
based on 13 reviews
  • Academics 4.4
  • Support 4.95
  • Fun 4.55
  • Housing 4.8
  • Safety 5

6. Great for sporty campus: University of Limerick

Four women standing by a cliff in Ireland.

📍 Location: Limerick
💸 Average cost of semester of direct enrollment: $6,500 - $11,000
💰 Average cost of semester with third-party provider: $17,000 - $19,000
🏠 Monthly cost of living including housing: $2,000 - $2,200
🌍 QS World Ranking: 426

Limerick, situated along the picturesque River Shannon, is Ireland's third-largest city, following closely behind Cork. With a history that dates back to the Viking era in the 900s, visitors today can visit the numerous archaeological and historical sites around Limerick city and county including King John's Castle and Lough Gur.

University of Limerick (UL) is one of the newer universities in Ireland that was founded in 1972. With a student satisfaction rating of 85%, it was voted Ireland's most popular university in a recent survey. UL’s campus is celebrated as an exceptional sporting hub, offering state-of-the-art facilities such as a well-equipped gym, an Olympic-sized pool, and expansive outdoor playing fields. Academically, UL maintains strong connections with the business and industry sectors, boasting an impressive research record.

International students at UL have access to a variety of scholarships spanning a range of academic areas. They also offer specialized scholarships for students from India.

Program Details

Program:
Study Abroad at University of Limerick, Ireland
Provider:
University of Limerick
Location:
Ireland
Starting Price:
$6,000.00 USD
4.90 Rating
based on 31 reviews
  • Academics 3.8
  • Support 4.55
  • Fun 4.8
  • Housing 4.75
  • Safety 4.85

7. Great for classic college town feel: Maynooth University

A walkway on the Maynooth campus.

📍 Location: Maynooth
💸 Average cost of semester of direct enrollment: $7,500 - $8,500
💰 Average cost of semester with third-party provider: $17,000 - $18,000
🏠 Monthly cost of living including housing: $2,900 - $3,900
🌍 QS World Ranking: 801-850

If you're seeking the quintessential college town experience, look no further than Maynooth. Nestled in northwest Ireland, this quiet city is quaint and cozy without sacrificing easy access to the lively side of Ireland. Maynooth is only a 30-minute train ride away from Dublin, so you can enjoy the perfect balance between a small town and a big city.

Maynooth University is part of the National University of Ireland system and was formally established in 1997. Despite its young age, Times Higher Education ranked Maynooth 85th in the world in its young universities list for 2023. It offers particularly strong programs in the social sciences, humanities, and STEM. Despite its small size, it's home to over 2,000 international students from 95 countries.

Undergraduate scholarships for €2000 ($2,200) per year are available for international students at UCC.

Program Details

Program:
Study Abroad at Maynooth - Ireland
Provider:
Maynooth University
Location:
Ireland
Starting Price:
$5,000.00 USD
4.94 Rating
based on 18 reviews
  • Academics 4.2
  • Support 4.4
  • Fun 4.85
  • Housing 4.6
  • Safety 5
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Pick your ideal university in Ireland!

Ultimately, choosing a university comes down to your ideal location, school size, and field of study. The above universities give you a bunch of options from big city living to small-town environs, a large student population to a more intimate campus setting. Despite the differences between universities though, you're guaranteed to be surrounded by a diverse international student body in addition to your Irish classmates.

No matter where you choose to study in Ireland, you will have the opportunity to learn from and engage with these individuals which will no doubt be the highlight of your time abroad. Make new friends, network, and travel around this beautiful island during your study abroad in Ireland!