University / College Requirements

 When making subject choices there are two broad areas which should be considered:

  • Having the essential subjects for a course/career
  • Maximising points and getting the grades specified by colleges/universities

There are 3 steps to gaining entry to college/university

  1. Matriculation requirements
  2. Subject requirements
  3. Points

Matriculation Requirements

Matriculation is the minimum academic qualification that is demanded for entry. If you don’t meet this initial requirement you will not be considered, regardless of the points obtained in the Leaving Cert.

Level 8 Hons Degree


 NUI Colleges: UCD, UCC, NUIG, MU –

  • English, Irish, a Modern Language (Ord/Higher) + 3 other subjects
  • 4 x O6/H7 2 x H5 = total 6 subjects Irish/Mod Language exemption (specific grounds)


Note re: Modern Language: No longer required for Agriculture, Engineering, Science and Nursing in UCD, Engineering & Science UCC and Maynooth University.

Maynooth University no longer require a third language (modern language) for Business, Accounting, Finance and Law degree programmes.


Trinity College Dublin

  • English, Maths a Mod Lang (Ord/Higher) (eg. Irish/French/German/Spanish) + 3 other subjects
  • 3 x O6/H7 3 x H5 = total 6 subjects 



  • Maths, English/Irish (Ord/Higher)
  • + 4 other subjects 4 x O6/H7 2 x H5 = total 6 subjects

DIT and I.T. Honours Degrees (Level 8)

  • English/Irish, Maths (Ord/Higher)+ 4 other subjects
  • 4 x O6/H7 and 2 x H5 = total 6 subjects

DIT and I.T. Higher Certificates (Level 6) and Ordinary Degrees (Level 7)

  • English/Irish, Maths (Ord/Higher) +3 other subjects

              = 5 x O6 or H7

 (Foundation level Maths is accepted for a number of courses where Maths is not part of the course)


Specific course/subject requirements

In addition to matriculation requirements, many courses and faculties have specific subject requirements, which must be checked in the college prospectus/college web site.

 Eg.      Veterinary Medicine UCD H5 Chemistry

Media Studies Maynooth H5 English


Core Subjects

Beyond the essential core subjects of Irish, English and Maths the number of courses which require specific subjects is, in fact, quite small.

  • Specific subject course requirements usually refer to a modern language or science subject
  • Be aware that some courses have Higher Level subject requirements i.e. you must achieve a certain grade at Higher level to be considered for entry to the course.
  • It is really important you check this before you finalise your subject choices.



A language is needed for most NUI courses. (Apply to in the case of language exemption)

You do not need a language for:

  • TCD (if you have Irish),
  • DCU, DIT and I.T.s (unless you are doing a course which includes the study of a language)

Industry and employers rate language skills highly, especially if combined with computing, science, electronics or business.



Each college course has a limited number of places. The places are allocated to students with the highest number of points received in their Leaving Cert. Therefore a student may not receive a place even if they have met the matriculation/subject requirements.

The points you receive in the Leaving Certificate Exam are allocated on the basis of the best six results you receive in the exam. If you are sitting more than six, you will still only be awarded the total from the best six. At the moment Higher Level Maths is worth 25 pts. Even if you pass six, but you do not meet the specific entry requirements you will not be able to go to that institution. These points must be achieved in one sitting. You cannot carry points over from one sitting of the exam to another.

Points required for a course fluctuate depending on demand. (e.g. IT course dropped during the recession 10 years ago but are now in high demand again- points go up).

However you can get a rough idea from looking at points for the course you may be interested in from last year. is a good source to find out points from previous years.

Points are calculated based on results received in the Leaving Cert

Currently students who achieve grade H6 or above in Higher Level Maths will be awarded 25 bonus points.


Other Options after Leaving Cert

  • College of Further Education Post Leaving Cert course = QQI (Fetac) Level 5 Certificate 5 x O6 + interview/reference(s) eg. Coláiste Íde, Inchicore College, BCFE
  • Apprenticeship, Employment
  • Study overseas,
  • ETB training courses
  • Defence Forces, Gardaí
  • Teagasc (agriculture, horticulture)

Studying Abroad:

Keep in mind the option of studying abroad, particularly the UK or Europe.

You can look at UCAS for the UK and EUNICAS for courses taught through English in Europe.


Choosing your subjects:

Each student should choose their options according to:

  1. a) Essential subjects : What subjects are essential for entry into courses you are interested in.
  2. b) Relevant subjects: What subjects are relevant to the areas you are interested in
  3. c) Aptitude in subject : What subjects so you think you would be good at
  4. d) Interest in subject: What subjects interest you?



Apart from ruling out a number of honours degree programmes which have Irish as a core entry requirement, the main consequence of dropping higher level Irish is that you are precluded from studying to be a primary school teacher in any of the Irish training colleges.


There are many Level 8 degree programmes you can’t take if you don’t get a minimum of a H5 in higher-level maths; engineering, computer science, science, information and computer technology courses and most degrees that include maths as a core subject.

If you are interested in any of these courses you could start your third level journey with a two-year higher certificate programme, which will require a minimum of a pass in ordinary level maths. Provided you secure a minimum of 60 per cent in your various examinations, you can then progress on to ordinary degree level and from there to an honours bachelors degree. This entire process may add only one or two extra years to your studies, over and above those who secure a place on an honours bachelors degree programme, immediately after their Leaving Cert.



The colleges of the National University of Ireland require a pass in a third language for entry into a large number of their courses. These colleges are NUI Maynooth, Dublin, Galway and Cork, and a range of associated constituent colleges, all of which are listed on the NUI website at In recent years NUI colleges have dropped their third language requirement for engineering and science programmes. UCD has also dropped it for their agricultural programmes. Nursing at NUI colleges never required a third language. A third language must be included for arts, human sciences, law, social science, commerce, medicine and health sciences and some other degrees. A third language is also a requirement for entry into the cadetship in the army or air corps.

Trinity accepts Irish as a second language requirement. UL and DCU and the Institutes of Technology do not require a continental language for entry purposes to most of their courses, apart from those which involve the study of such a language.


You should attempt to select a balanced range of subjects that will leave your further and higher education options open for as long as possible. Most students study Irish (unless exempted), English and Maths. A large majority of students also study a continental language, or for those students coming originally from outside the EU, a native language approved by the State Examination Commission.

In selecting your remaining three subjects, you should study carefully the essential subjects for entry to every third level course, available online at so you are aware of the minimum subject entry requirements for all courses offered through the CAO. Unless you have a specific career or course interest that is guiding your remaining subject choices, our advice is to spread your final three choices across the entire spectrum of business, scientific, liberal arts and practical subjects. You should also be mindful of the results of previous examinations and aptitudes test results when making these choices.

An Important Piece of Advice

A pass in ordinary level maths is essential for entry to the majority of courses. The 5,000 students per year who fail to secure a pass in ordinary level are in a particularly difficult situation. A further 5,000 students each year now choose foundation level maths, and there is a growing number of colleges and courses that offer places to students who secure a minimum of a grade A or B in maths at this level. Whatever you do over the next two years, don’t neglect your studies in this subject.