Best Colleges In Ireland

Last Updated on May 26, 2024 by Team College Learners

The Irish Universities World Rankings showcase the top universities in Ireland according to the QS World University Rankings. These rankings provide valuable insights into the academic excellence and global reputation of universities in Ireland. Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland are among the top-ranked universities in Ireland, highlighting their commitment to providing high-quality education and research opportunities.

For students aspiring to study at these prestigious universities, there are some basic admission requirements to keep in mind. Typically, undergraduate applicants are required to have completed secondary school education with a minimum GPA or equivalent qualification. Additionally, students may need to submit standardized test scores such as the SAT or ACT, as well as proof of English proficiency for international applicants. Graduate programs may have additional requirements such as relevant work experience, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

The admission process for these universities usually begins with submitting an online application through the university’s admissions portal. Along with the application form, students will need to provide academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and any standardized test scores required. The university admissions office will review each application carefully and may also conduct interviews or additional assessments as part of the selection process. Once an offer of admission is received, students can proceed with enrollment and begin their academic journey at one of Ireland’s top-ranked universities.

Is Ireland affordable for international students?

It can be! Compared to other European destinations, Ireland isn’t among the cheapest but you may find that a semester abroad is cheaper than a semester at your home university. Ways to keep study abroad in Ireland affordable include enrolling directly at the institution of your choice or participating in an exchange program through your university that charges home tuition and fees at the foreign university.

In more expensive cities like Dublin, you may find that the cost of living combined with tuition and fees is comparable to the price of a third-party provider program. Housing will be a major part of your overall costs so even if direct enrollment saves you big money, the price might even out when you include rent.

Monthly cost of living 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

How easy is it to study abroad in Ireland?

For many students including those from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, a student visa isn’t needed prior to coming to Ireland. This makes the process of getting abroad a lot easier. Once in Ireland, you’ll need to register with immigration authorities within 90 days.

Best Colleges in Ireland for International Students

Ireland is a top destination for international students. Each year, thousands of students from countries around the world come to the island for both short-term study and full degree programs. For US study abroad participants, in particular, Ireland ranked 6th among the most popular countries during the 2019-2020 school year. A student-friendly country, English speakers have an easy transition to life and studies abroad in Ireland.

8. Technological University of Dublin

Kicking off our list of the best universities in Ireland is the Technological University of Dublin (TU Dublin), placing 801-1000 globally. TU Dublin is Ireland’s first Technological University, founded in 2019. The school boasts a high employment rate, with 93 percent of its students in employment or further higher education within nine months of graduating.

TU Dublin is incredibly diverse, with 29,700 students from 138 different nationalities. The university has three campuses overall: in the heart of Dublin city and also in Blanchardstown and Tallaght – two of the largest areas of Dublin. TU Dublin is currently building a fourth campus in central Dublin which they hope will be ready by 2022.

7. Maynooth University

In seventh place in Ireland and 701-750 in the world rankings is Maynooth University. Maynooth University was originally established as an autonomous university in 1997 but traces its origins back to the foundation of the Royal College of St Patrick in 1795.

Today, the school teaches more than 13,000 students from 90 countries. It is incredibly internationally focused, offering a wide range of international programmes and partnerships. It earns its highest score this year in the international faculty indicator, ranking 210th worldwide.

6. University of Limerick (UL)

The University of Limerick (UL) places 511-520 globally and sixth in Ireland this year. Located on the west coast of Ireland along the River Shannon, UL enjoys unspoiled natural surroundings.

UL has strong links to business and industry and as a result its graduates experience a 15 percent higher employment rate than the national average. The school pioneered the concept of Cooperative Education in Ireland which helps to place more than 2,000 of its students in paid and semi-paid work placements each year.

5. Dublin City University (DCU)

Entering the global top 500, Dublin City University (DCU) places in joint 439th globally and fifth in Ireland. DCU was founded in 1975 and has three campuses across Dublin.

DCU is focused on increasing its students’ employability and building transferable skills. It was Ireland’s first higher education institution to integrate workplace internships (INTRA) into their undergraduate courses. This may contribute to the high score they received in the most recent QS Employability Rankings (301-500).

4. University College Cork (UCC)

University College Cork (UCC) ranks fourth in Ireland and places 286th globally, rising an incredible 24 places in the index this year. It is significantly older than some of the other Irish universities featured in the rankings, founded in 1849. UCC now has a student population of over 21,000.

UCC’s campus is set on 42 acres of wooded ground and is only a 10-minute walk from Cork city centre. It is Ireland’s leading research institution and earns a high score in the international faculty indicator.

3. National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)

Placing in third in Ireland and joint 238th globally, the National University of Ireland in Galway falls eight places in the index this year. Despite this drop, it earns particularly high scores in the faculty-student ratio and the international faculty indicators.

The National University of Ireland in Galway was founded in 1845. Since then it has grown massively in both size and reputation, now having a student population of more than 18,000. NUIG offers an extensive list of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as part-time degrees, flexible learning and online learning options.

2. University College Dublin (UCD)

In joint 177th place globally, up eight positions this year, is University College Dublin (UCD). UCD is the second-best university in Ireland for another year running. It teaches around 30,000 students from 136 different countries.

The school earns one of Ireland’s best scores in the academic reputation indicator, beaten only by Trinity College Dublin. UCD’s flexible curriculum and research-led learning taught by top academic staff mean that students graduate with an internationally accredited degree from a university in the top one percent worldwide.

1. Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) one again takes the title of the best university in Ireland. With its Trinity campus is located in the heart of Dublin, TCD ranks in joint 101st place in the World University Rankings 2021, rising seven positions this year.

Founded in 1592, the university is steeped in history with a reputation for excellence in education, research and innovation. It is the only Irish member of the prestigious League of 22 European Research Universities (LERU). TCD’s impressive alumni include writers Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett; scientists William Rowan Hamilton and Earnest Walton, and the political thinker Edmund Burke.

List of Best Colleges in Ireland

Nicknamed as being the Land of Scholars and Saints, Ireland offers a diverse selection of top-ranked universities and learning institutions historically dating back to 500 AD. 

Ireland welcomes local and international students to their learning facilities and has built a global reputation for offering the best universities worldwide.

Schools in Ireland offer English-speaking settings with over 5,000 qualifications to suit your educational preferences. 

Ireland also offers a safe learning environment rich in culture and unspoiled views of their lush countryside filled with leisure activities that allow you to take in all that Ireland offers. Without further delay, here’s our list of best universities in Ireland.

1. Trinity College Dublin

Students and parents gathered in front of the Campanile inside Trinity College Campus in Dublin, with green trimmed lawn on its rear, considered as one of the best universities in Ireland

Evgeni Fabisuk/Shutterstock

Located along the western edge of Europe, Trinity College Dublin is nestled deep in the heart of Ireland amongst 47 acres of rich cultural environment.

One of the highest-ranking universities in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, was built for the future of education. Yet, it combines four centuries of diverse Irish culture and heritage inside the walls of its architecturally preserved campus.

Welcoming thousands of new students yearly, Trinity College Dublin offers undergraduate, postgraduate, micro-credential, and flexible learning options for its students. Graduates of Trinity College Dublin have achieved successful careers and have significantly impacted Ireland and the world.

2. University College Dublin

University College Dublin, considered as the largest and one of the best universities in Ireland, facing a pool with ducks swimming near water spouters


Founded in 1592, the University College Dublin is the oldest university in Ireland, occupying 133 hectares of campus grounds in the center of Dublin, Ireland.

The University College of Dublin features scenic views of the lush campus surrounding and historical buildings. Ranked in the top one percent of educational facilities worldwide, the UCD is one of the highest-ranked universities in Europe.

Students are attracted to UCD’s master’s, undergraduate, and Ph.D. training courses. UCD research facilities contribute new information globally and offer structured educational programs and a support system for thousands of graduates.

Recognized for their excellence, UCD assigns mentors to each first-year student to ensure their educational journey starts positively on the journey to success.

3. National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway)

Fall on National University of Ireland in Galway, one of the best universities in Ireland, where cars are parked at the entrance with vines attached on its walls

Nataliia Pushkareva/Shutterstock

Ireland truly is a city filled with outstanding universities. Founded in 1845 and situated in the center of Galway, NUI University offers students ample amenities within a short walking distance from campus. 

A vibrant educational facility, NUI University provides year-long courses, cultural diversity, and extra-curricular activities, including sports programs to its students.

The National University of Ireland makes up twenty percent of the city population and is an essential part of the city. Globally ranked 259, NUI is growing in popularity for its reputation as one of the best universities in Ireland.

4. University College Cork (UCC)

well-maintained green lawn at the University College Cork's quadrangle, one of the best universities in Ireland, with its old long hall and clock tower

Giannis Papanikos/Shutterstock

Situated on forty-two acres of lush scenic grounds, the University College Cork is a short ten-minute walk to the city center of Cork, Ireland.

Ranked among the top two percent of universities, the University of College Cork was established around 1845 and first opened its doors over 170 years ago to 115 students.

Today, over 23,000 students have enrolled in the University of College Cork annually. Campus life has much to offer, including undergraduate, postgraduate, and adult continuing education courses. Online programs are also an option.

Extra-curricular activities on campus include a swimming pool, rock wall, soccer fields, and badminton courts, making this school a much-loved favorite among many students.

5. Dublin City University

A modern wooden sculpture with large Dublin City University sign at one of the best universities in Ireland on the street side


Located on the north side of Dublin, The Dublin City University is close to the airport and city center and is easily accessible to over 19 city busses. 

A newer university built in 1980, DCU offers its student a chance to transform their lives through innovation, research, and learning. Dublin City University provides access to education for students with disabilities and learning challenges through support and assistive technology.

Campus life includes a sports complex, a football facility, a climbing wall, and a fitness center for student enjoyment.

6. University of Limerik

A wide campus pathway of the University of Limerik, one of the best universities in Ireland fronting an orange building

Hope Phillips/Shutterstock

Located on the majestic Shannon River, the University of Limerick offers its students a beautiful campus surrounded by trees, water fountains, and lush scenery. 

The University of Limerick opened its doors in 1972 and now enrolls 17,500 students annually. UL offers a wide selection of programs, including business, arts, health, and technology. 

Campus life offers an Olympic-sized pool, a sports arena, a rowing program, and an orchestra building. The university is adjacent to the 263-hectare National Technology Park, Ireland’s first science park. 

7. Maynooth University

Historical building entrance at Maynooth University, a piece on the best universities in Ireland, with two tall trees on green lawn beside paved path during Spring

1000 Words/Shutterstock

Tucked away, twenty-five kilometers from the city center of Dublin, Maynooth University is a fast-growing, student-centered educational facility that is easily accessible by city bus.

The Maynooth University offers many subjects, including business, education, law, physics, and science.

Campus life provides many activities for students, including over 30 sports leagues to join. Offering support, initiatives, and student opportunities, Maynooth University is a popular choice of university in Ireland.

8. Technological University of Dublin

A man dragging an orange stroller bag along a paved path towards Technological University of Dublin building, one of the best universities in Ireland

William Murphy/Flickr

Conveniently scattered throughout Ireland, the Technological University of Dublin offers student campuses in Blanchardstown, Dublin City, and Tallaght. TU Dublin provides student programs in business, culinary, creative and performing arts, and media.

Campuses are currently being upgraded to become state-of-the-art facilities with the student’s overall experience in mind.

The Technological University of Dublin welcomes diverse students from all over the world to join their learning facilities. Adding to the ranks of most popular technological universities, TU Dublin offers an exciting educational experience.

9. Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Few people passing by the front of classic Royal College of Surgeons building, one of the best universities in Ireland, on a cold early morning

Attila JANDI/Shutterstock

Established in 1784, the University of Medicine and Health Sciences is one of Dublin’s oldest universities. It currently offers world-leading health science programs at professional, undergraduate, and postgraduate levels of education.

The University of Medicine and Health Sciences offers state-of-the-art technologies and a modern campus with many extracurricular student activities to enjoy.

The RCSI offers healthcare programs in various subjects, including pharmacy, medicine, sciences, nursing and midwife, and physiotherapy. 

10. Dublin Business School

Nestled right in the heart of Dublin City, Dublin Business School is within walking distance of the vibrant city center. The university is also easily accessible by city transit and is the perfect place to enjoy your studies.

Dublin Business School offers certificate learning and degrees in post-graduate programs designed for flexibility in career choices.

With over 45 years as an educational facility, the DBS has established a reputation for valuable teaching and student learning experiences.

11. National College of Ireland

College students heading inside modern glass building of the National College of Ireland, named as one of the best universities in Ireland

Dirk Hudson/Shutterstock

Tucked deep in the city center of Dublin, The National College of Ireland was established in 1951 and is one of the most prominent educational facilities in Ireland. 

Located close to NCI, you will find the headquarters of several social media companies, including Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter, where many graduate students of the National College of Ireland gain employment.

Courses offered at NCI are university-recognized and provide academic undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. 

12. Griffith College

Cars parked in front of the old building at Griffith College, one of the best universities in Ireland, during the Fall

William Murphy/Flickr

Open in 1974, Griffith College is one of Ireland’s hugest independent educational facilities and offers four campuses in Cork, Griffith, Dublin, and Limerick. 

The Griffith College campus in Dublin boasts seven acres of space near the city center. Campus life includes student residence onsite, a library, a restaurant and bar, and a fitness studio.

Griffith College offers one-year courses and a vast choice of programs to consider to help you conquer university life in stride. 

13. Letterkenny Institute of Technology

Damp road with parked cars in front of the Letterkenny Institute of Technology, a piece on the best universities in Ireland


Set in the breathtaking corners of Ireland, Letterkenny Institute of Technology sits in the town of Donegal along the picturesque Swilly River. The campus offers a mix of clubs, restaurants, a library, and shopping nearby and is easily accessible by public transit.

Rated as one of the best educational facilities in Ireland, the town of Donegal offers students spectacular views from its coastline, beaches, mountains, and waterways. Donegal also provides employment prospects for graduates.

14. Waterford Institute of Technology

A plaque awarded to two students on their uniform at the SciFest in South East Technological University, one of the best universities in Ireland

SciFest Ireland/Flickr

Located south-east of Ireland, Waterford Institute of Technology has over 10,000 students in attendance. WIT is one of the best educational facilities in Ireland and offers various certificate, degree, and Ph.D. programs. 

Academic success ranges from higher certificates in health, humanities, science, nursing, business, and engineering to post-doctoral degrees.

15. Dun Laoghaire Institution of Art, Design, and Technology

Graduates exhibit their best photography at Dun Laoghaire Institution of Art, Design, and Technology, one of the best universities in Ireland

Underway In Ireland/Flickr

The Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, and Technology (IADT) is an educational institution in Deansgrange near Dún Laoghaire, Ireland.

Established in 1997, IADT offers art, film, and creative technology programs and has built a valued reputation among its digital and cultural departments. 

The Dun Laoghaire Institute is one of the best design, film, and art schools in Ireland and is an attractive program for creative individuals hoping to hone their talents.

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