Study Abroad

The Best Universities in Ireland for International Students

Ayanna Costley
Topic Expert

Ayanna is a culture writer based in New Jersey. In 2018, she traveled to Ireland to study at Dublin City University's School of Communications. She...

If you're reading this, you have most likely already weighed your options and decided to study abroad in Ireland. You made a great decision! According to Study Portals, Ireland has the happiest international student population in all of Europe. Ireland is a small, youthful English-speaking country rich in history and culture, boasting some of the most friendly people in the world.

It is no surprise that nearly 18,500 other students from non-EEA countries and I lived and studied in Ireland in the 2018-19 school year. While you will have the fantastic opportunity to explore the country, you are studying abroad, so choosing a university in Ireland is just as important as choosing your institution at home.

My decision was easy because my college partnered with Dublin City University every year, offering students direct enrollment. I loved living on a walkable, enclosed college campus that was a short bus ride to the city center because it reminded me of my college back at home. There was a large international student population, and I lived with four fellow international students in my accommodation.

Ireland has many world-class institutions that consistently rank in the top universities worldwide, and on average, they are less expensive than other European universities. Best of all, Ireland is open to students right now, and we're running a scholarship to help you study in Ireland! If you're looking for the best Irish university for you, compare the options below and find one that’s perfect for you.

Irish Universities in Dublin

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 an 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

Trinity College- Dublin

City
Dublin
Student Body:
20,000
Year Founded:
1592
International Student Body:
1,000

At Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin we provide a liberal environment where independence of thought is highly valued and all are encouraged to achieve their potential. We promote a diverse, interdisciplinary, inclusive environment which nurtures ground-breaking research, innovation, and creativity through engaging with issues of global significance.

DCU

Dublin City University

City
Dublin
Student Body:
17,000
Year Founded:
1975

Dublin City University (DCU), Ireland’s University of Enterprise, is a top young global university and continues to transform lives and societies through education, research and innovation in Ireland and around the world. DCU is committed to global engagement through the formation of new and sustainable alliances with strategic global partners. The International Office at DCU is committed to international engagement through the management and development of international partnerships, international student recruitment and student mobility through relevant study abroad and exchange initiatives.

UCD

University College Dublin

City
Dublin
Student Body:
32,900
Year Founded:
1854

University College Dublin (UCD) is Ireland's largest and most diverse university. It is also Ireland's most international university, with 20% of the student body consisting of students from 120 countries around the world. UCD is located 3 miles south of Dublin city centre in a beautiful self-contained campus with extensive on-campus housing options, academic and recreational facilities.

Technological University Dublin

TU Dublin is Ireland's first technological university, using a practice-based environment to encourage and enhance student learning. Located in the city center with two additional campuses in nearby suburbs, TU Dublin offers similar programs as Ireland's other universities, in addition to specialist programs like Optometry, Human Nutrition, and Tourism Marketing.

Irish Universities in Limerick

Limerick, set on the River Shannon, is Ireland's third-largest city, just behind Cork. Vikings found the mid-west city in the 900s before the Irish took over, and today many enjoy visiting King John's Castle and the Cliffs of Moher, which is just one hour away. There’s just one university in Limerick, but it’s a great one.

University of Limerick

University of Limerick

City
Limerick
Student Body:
12,000
Year Founded:
1972
International Student Body:
2,000

The University of Limerick (UL) is an independent, internationally focussed university with over 13,000 students, approximately 13% of whom are international. Established in 1972, UL is a young, energetic and enterprising university with a proud record of innovation in education and excellence in research and scholarship. Testament to this is the fact that ULs graduate employment rate is 18% higher than the national average!

Irish Universities in Cork

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 Irish university in Cork.

University College Cork

University College Cork

City
Cork
Student Body:
21,000
Year Founded:
1845

University College Cork is an institution that combines all the best aspects of research, academic excellence, Irish history and culture, student safety and welfare, and a vibrant campus life to create an exceptional study abroad experience. From our castle-like campus quad, to our dedication to green studies and sustainability, from our active student clubs and societies, to our commitment to student distinction, UCC provides students with a safe, exciting, beautiful, intellectually stimulating environment in which to learn, grow, and make memories.

Students who choose UCC as their abroad destination leave campus with more than just pictures and souvenirs; UCC alumni leave with countless memories, friends from all over the world, a wealth of knowledge, and a newly found sense of independence and self-awareness.

Irish Universities in Galway

Located on the Wild Atlantic Way, Galway is Ireland's charming and most international and diverse city in the country. In 2020, the city was designated as the European Capital of Culture. Galway is the perfect city for you if you want all of the heritage and culture without the hustle of a bigger city like Dublin.

National University of Ireland, Galway

National University of Ireland - Galway

City
Galway
Student Body:
17,000
Year Founded:
1845

Ask anyone who has studied at NUI Galway – it really is a place apart. Our riverside campus is warm and welcoming, and at the same time filled with ambition. It is home to a diverse and vibrant community of staff and students who are dynamic, creative and highly driven.

While firmly rooted in the west of Ireland, with its unique landscape and culture, we reach out to the world through a global network of projects and partnerships.

Irish Universities in Maynooth

If you are looking for a classic, college town, Maynooth is the best city for your time abroad. This quiet city, set in northwest Ireland, carries the reputation of a quaint and cozy college town. 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

National University of Ireland - Maynooth

City
Maynooth
Student Body:
13,700
Year Founded:
1795
International Student Body:
1,000

Maynooth University (MU) is located in the beautiful, historic town of Maynooth on the fringes of Dublin, Ireland’s bustling capital city. MU is ranked among the Top 200 Most International Universities in the World (Times Higher Ed.) and is named in The Princeton Review Best 381 Colleges as one of the world’s top institutions for 2017. MU is also ranked 68th among the next-generation of leading universities in the world (Times Higher Ed. Top 150 under 50). We offer a flexible, selective curriculum across the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics and the Sciences. MU boasts world-class teaching facilities, comprehensive student support services, small class sizes and a vibrant social scene. If you are a student who prospers in a smaller university setting and are seeking an exciting and academically-stimulating university experience in one of the world’s safest, most beautiful countries, Maynooth University is the perfect fit for you!

Ultimately, choosing a university comes down to your ideal location, school size, and studies. But you aren't limited to your university's campus, so explore nearby cities and towns. No matter which university you choose to study at in Ireland, you will have the opportunity to learn and engage with Irish and other international students plus the community surrounding them, which is the highlight of global study.