Having completed the Leaving Cert, students can apply for courses from Level 5 to Level 8. Higher Education and CAO Courses are at Level 7 and Level 8 on the ladder. Levels 9 and 10 are Master's and PhD courses. Entry at these levels requires that you already hold a Level 8 degree.
Level 7 is an ordinary degree - previously referred to as a diploma. Programmes are generally three years in duration. Level 7 degrees are offered at universities, institutes of technology, and private colleges. Application is mainly through the CAO, with some private colleges offering Level 7 courses outside the CAO system.
Entry reqirements - Leaving Cert students must meet the minimum entry requirements and any essential subject requirements and then compete for places on points. Many institutions require you to achieve five ordinary D3s for entry although there are some exceptions. Essential subject requirements are also lower for Level 7 courses. For example, a student wishing to study engineering at Level 8 in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) will require a HC3 in maths. Engineering courses at Level 7 in DIT require an OC3 in maths.
|In 2015, CAO points for Level 7 courses ranged from AQA (all qualified applicants) to 450.
Most Level 7 courses have an optional 'add on' year, making it possible to complete one extra year to gain a Level 8 degree.
Level 8 is known as an honours degree, which is a traditional university degree. Level 8 degree programmes are offered at universities, institutes of technology, private colleges and training colleges. A Level 8 degree is generally four years in duration, with some exceptions e.g. Medicine, which is five or six years, or an Arts degree which is often three years.
Students mainly apply for Level 8 degree programmes through the CAO. Some private colleges offer Level 8 courses outside the CAO. These are referred to as 'Direct Entry' courses.
Entry requirements - Leaving Cert students are required to meet the minimum course entry requirements and have any essential subjects for the courses and to then compete with other students on points to get a place. The Minimum requirements for all Level 8 courses are two HC3 grades and four OD3s (with the exception of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) where three HC3s and three OD3s are required). CAO points for Level 8 courses in 2015 ranged from 200 points to 595 depending on supply and demand.
Note: Entry requirements will change in line with the new Leaving Cert grading scale in 2017.