Top Universities for PhD Study in Ireland – 2023
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Top Universities for PhD Study in Ireland – 2023

Written by Taru Medha

If you’re an international PhD student looking to blend rich historical and literary heritage with a focus on modern research, then Irish universities have a lot to offer. At the country’s historic and prestigious universities you’ll be following in the footsteps of the likes of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.

Despite its size, the Republic of Ireland boasts several internationally renowned higher education institutions. Trinity College Dublin, Ireland’s oldest and most historic institute is 161st in the world according to the Times Higher Education Ranking 2023.

The higher education sector in Ireland can broadly be divided into the university sector, the technological sector and the colleges of education, each performing a crucial role in making Ireland’s education system one of the most renowned in the world.

  • University sector – Ireland hosts seven public universities that are known for their academic research and teaching. One of the biggest public universities in Ireland is the National University of Ireland (NUI) which has four institutes under its umbrella: University College Dublin, University of Galway, University College Cork and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Despite being primarily state funded, all public universities remain autonomous which means they develop their own programmes and follow their own research agendas. Universities in Ireland tend to undertake the majority of Ireland’s research activity and they also receive high levels of funding for it.
  • Technological sector – The technological sector is made up of five technological universities and two universities of technology. They offer professional education and training in Business, Science, Media, Engineering, Linguistics and Music. The technological sector focuses more on applied professional and vocational areas and less on abstract academic theory.
  • Colleges of Education – These are seven specialised institutions that provide training for teachers, and they offer 18-month postgraduate diplomas.

There are also some privately-owned, fee-paying institutions that mainly offer vocational or Business programmes. They’re usually accredited by a partner university, but this is not the case with all of them. You should always check the validity of qualifications in other countries.

The Institute of Public Administration and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, both recognised by the National University of Ireland (NUI), also offer PhD programmes.

Top 10 universities in Ireland for a PhD

Universities in Ireland are known for their quality of education, research and student life which is reflected by their position in the international university ranking tables.

The table below lists the 10 best universities in Ireland for PhD courses according to global rankings. This information is based on the latest ranking tables, researched and published by Times Higher Education, QS and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). It is important to note that each ranking system has their own methodology, and different factors affect the final result for a particular university.


Top Irish Universities in 2023
University THE 2023 QS 2023 ARWU 2022
Trinity College Dublin =161 98 151-200
RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences 201-250 - 801-900
University College Dublin 201-250 =181 301-400
University College Cork 301-350 303 301-400
National University of Ireland, Galway 351-400 =270 501-600
Dublin City University 401-500 =471 801-900
Maynooth University 401-500 801-1000 -
University of Limerick 601-800 531-540 701-800
Technological University Dublin 1001-1200 801-1000 -
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

Wherever you decide to study in Ireland, each institute has international repute and will be a wonderful addition to your resume.

You can browse and compare a list of available PhD degrees in Ireland on the FindAPhD website.

More about a PhD in Ireland

You can also find further information on what a PhD programme in Ireland looks like and how to apply for them on our website.



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Last Updated: 06 December 2022