25 May, 2023 | Posted by Jenny Smith

When to Apply for Postgraduate Courses

When to Apply for Postgraduate Courses

A postgraduate course allows you to delve deeper into a specific subject area, building upon the foundational knowledge gained during your undergraduate studies.

You can gain a more comprehensive understanding of your field and become an expert in a particular domain.

A postgraduate qualification can significantly improve your career prospects. It can make you a more competitive candidate for advanced or specialised roles within your industry.

Employers often value the advanced skills, specialised knowledge, and dedication demonstrated by postgraduate degree holders.

In this article, we will explore what a postgraduate qualification is, the benefits of completing a postgraduate course, when to apply for a postgraduate course, we will look at when the academic year starts in Ireland and how to apply for a postgraduate course.

What is a postgraduate course?

The Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a 10-level system used to describe qualifications in the Irish education and training system.  

The NFQ shows how General Education Awards, Further Education and Training and Higher Education Awards are mapped against the 10 levels of the framework.


It describes what learners need to know, understand and be able to do to achieve a qualification. It lists the main qualifications awarded at each level and pathways from one NFQ level to the next.

Generally speaking, a postgraduate qualification or course is any qualification or course of study that comes after an honours bachelor's degree or a level 8 on the NFQ.

However, there are specific titles such as a Postgraduate Diploma which sits at a specific level between a level 8 and a level 9 Master's.

A Postgraduate Diploma is considered academically over the level of a Bachelor's but under a Master’s level. Whereas someone who is undertaking postgraduate studies, in general, can be studying any kind of postgraduate qualification including a Diploma or a Master's.

A Postgraduate Diploma can normally be started after the completion of a Bachelor's degree and is typically completed in one year or less.


What are the benefits of completing a postgraduate course?

Completing a postgraduate course can offer several benefits, including:

  1. Advanced knowledge and expertise: Postgraduate courses are designed to provide in-depth knowledge and specialisation in a particular field. By completing a postgraduate course, you gain a deeper understanding of your subject area and develop advanced skills that can enhance your career prospects.

  2. Career advancement: Many professions require a postgraduate degree for career advancement. Holding a master's or doctoral degree can make you a more competitive candidate for higher-level positions, promotions, and leadership roles within your field.

  3. Specialisation and niche expertise: Postgraduate courses often allow you to specialise in a specific area of interest within your field. This specialisation can give you a unique edge in the job market, as employers value individuals with specialised knowledge and skills.

  4. Expanded professional network: Postgraduate courses provide opportunities to network with professors, researchers, and fellow students who share your interests. Building a strong professional network can open doors to collaborations, job opportunities, and access to resources and expertise within your industry.

  5. Research and analytical skills: Many postgraduate courses involve conducting research, writing dissertations or theses, and analysing complex information. These experiences help you develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills that are highly valued in various professional settings.

  6. Personal growth and confidence: Pursuing and completing a postgraduate course requires dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline. It challenges you intellectually and encourages personal growth. By pushing your boundaries and achieving academic success, you can gain confidence in your abilities and expand your horizons.

  7. Increased earning potential: In many fields, individuals with postgraduate degrees tend to earn higher salaries compared to those with only undergraduate qualifications. The advanced knowledge and expertise gained through a postgraduate course can make you a more valuable asset to employers, leading to better job prospects and potential salary increases.

  8. Access to research opportunities: Postgraduate courses often provide access to research opportunities, allowing you to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in your field. Engaging in research can help you develop research skills, publish academic papers, and collaborate with experts, which can boost your credibility and visibility within your industry.

  9. Professional credibility and recognition: Holding a postgraduate degree signals to employers and colleagues that you have a high level of expertise and commitment to your field. It can enhance your professional credibility, increase your chances of receiving recognition or awards, and position you as a knowledgeable professional within your industry.

Why is it best to apply early for a postgraduate course?

Applying early for a postgraduate course offers several advantages and is generally considered beneficial. Here are some reasons why it is best to apply early:

  1. Increased chances of admission: Many universities and postgraduate programs have limited spots available, and they often follow a rolling admissions process. Applying early gives you a higher likelihood of securing a place before the program reaches its capacity. As the application cycle progresses, competition may increase, making it more challenging to secure admission.

  2. Priority consideration for scholarships and funding: Early applicants often have an advantage when it comes to scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid. Some institutions have specific funding opportunities reserved for early applicants. By applying early, you can maximise your chances of being considered for these financial assistance programs.

  3. More time for application preparation: Applying early gives you ample time to gather all the necessary documents, write a strong statement of purpose, obtain recommendation letters, and complete any required standardised tests. It allows you to carefully review your application and make any necessary revisions before submitting it, increasing the quality and professionalism of your submission.

  4. Planning and logistics: Applying early allows you to plan your academic journey in advance. If you are accepted into a postgraduate program, you have more time to make arrangements related to accommodation, visas (if applicable), finances, and other logistical aspects of starting your studies. Early planning can reduce stress and ensure a smooth transition into your chosen program.

  5. Increased options and flexibility: Applying early gives you a wider range of options in terms of program selection. You can explore different universities, courses, and potential supervisors if applicable. Having more options allows you to make an informed decision based on your preferences and align your academic goals with the available opportunities.

  6. Additional time for networking and research: Applying early provides you with extra time to connect with professors, researchers, or potential advisors in your field of interest. This can be valuable for building relationships, discussing research opportunities, or seeking guidance on your application. Early engagement with the academic community can strengthen your application and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the program.

  7. Peace of mind: Applying early and securing admission to your desired postgraduate program can provide peace of mind. It eliminates uncertainty and allows you to focus on other aspects of your academic or professional life without the added stress of awaiting application decisions.

What will you need for applying for a postgraduate course?

The specific requirements for applying to a postgraduate course can vary depending on the institution, program, and country. However, here are some common elements typically required for postgraduate applications:

  1. Completed application form: Most universities and institutes have an online application system where you need to fill out a form with your personal information, educational background, and program preferences.

  2. Academic transcripts: You will generally be required to submit official transcripts from your previous educational institutions, including your undergraduate degree and any other relevant degrees or certifications. Transcripts should list the courses you have taken, grades received, and degrees awarded.

  3. Statement of purpose or personal statement: This is a written document outlining your motivations, goals, and reasons for applying to the postgraduate program. It should explain how the program aligns with your academic and career aspirations, as well as any relevant experiences or skills you possess.

  4. Letters of recommendation: These are typically required from individuals who can attest to your academic abilities, research potential, or professional qualities. It's advisable to request recommendations from professors, advisors, or employers who are familiar with your work and can provide a strong endorsement of your capabilities.

  5. Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume: A document summarising your educational background, work experience, research projects, publications, presentations, and any other relevant accomplishments or activities. It helps demonstrate your qualifications and experiences to the admissions committee.

  6. Application fee: There is often an application fee that must be paid when submitting your application. The amount can vary between institutions and programs.

It's important to carefully review the application requirements for each program you are applying to, as they may have specific additional documents or criteria. Be sure to check the official website of the institution and program for detailed instructions and deadlines.

When does the academic year begin in Ireland?

In Ireland, the academic year for most universities and higher education institutions typically begins in September or early October.

However, it's important to note that exact start dates may vary slightly between institutions and programs.

It is recommended to check the specific academic calendar of the institution you are interested in or contact their admissions office for the exact dates and any updates or changes to the academic schedule.

At Portobello Institute, our courses cater to a wide range of individuals with autumn and spring start dates.

Get in Contact 

If you have any questions about postgraduate studies at Portobello Institute, get in contact with our expert admissions team.

For Facilities Management, Travel and Tourism contact Brandon McLean at brandon.mclean@portobelloinstitute.com book a free consultation here or call him directly at 01 892 0035. Visit our Facilities Management department here. Visit our Travel and Tourism department here.

For Business of Fashion or Health Science contact Sarah Coyne at sarah.coyne@portobelloinstitute.com, call 01 892 0028 or book a one-to-one consultation call at a time that suits you here. Visit our Business of Fashion department here. Visit the Health Science department here.

For Early Years and Inclusive Education Studies, you can book a 15-minute free consultation call with Jennifer Matteazzi at a time that suits you here. Or you can email jennifer.matteazzi@portobelloinstitute.com or call her directly on 01 892 0031. Visit our early years department here.

If you are interested in any of our sports courses or have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert sports advisor Sharde Sebastian here, email sharde.sebastian@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 892 0029. Visit our sports department here

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