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What Next : What are the educational opportunities for adults at Third Level?

How to make an application through the CAO?


What is the Central Applications Office (CAO)?

The Central Applications Office (CAO) deals with the task of processing all applications to their first year undergraduate/diploma/certificate courses. In Ireland you apply for almost all full-time undergraduate courses (Higher Certificates (Level 6), Ordinary Bachelor's degrees (Level 7) and Honours Bachelor's degrees (Level 8) in the universities and Institutes of Technology through the Central Applications Office (CAO).

Entry requirements (as a mature student you may not need your Leaving Certificate) vary from course to course and from institution to institution. Universities, Institutes of Technology and private colleges offer courses with qualifications at certificate, diploma and degree level. Courses are available on a full-time and part-time basis. You can also apply for Institutes of Technology through

How to make an application through the CAO?

The CAO provides an application pack with a handbook that lists all the courses on offer and gives information on how to apply. Decisions on offers of places are normally made in August and September after the results of the Leaving Certificate have been announced. A student must also have the particular academic entry requirements (also called matriculation requirements) for the course he/she wants to take.

For all participating, higher level institutions applications can be made in paper and online via the CAO. Remember to check the closing date for application relevant to the year you are applying. The application whether online or paper has a fee attached, however if you apply online before mid-January you may get a discount on this fee. During the year a number of colleges hold open days for students to become familiar with the college they wish to apply to. Remember gives detailed information on criteria, deadlines and application procedure.

Students should check the exact dates well in advance to making an application with the CAO. Visit for more information.

Mature Students

Late applications are usually accepted up to close of business generally on the 1st May.However mature students are RESTRICTED in making late applications. Mature applicants should make enquiries from the appropriate Admissions Office and/or Mature Students Officer BEFORE submitting a late application or Change of Mind.

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Last Updated: 05/03/2014 ^ back to top