by Gerens Curnow June 01, 2021 5 min read

The Republic of Ireland is a beautiful, scenic country that occupies the southern part of the island of Ireland. It has a proud Celtic history and several modern and cosmopolitan urban areas, with over a quarter of its population situated in the four largest cities (Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Galway). In this blog post, we introduce you to the application process, course structure and lifestyle that comes alongside studying in Ireland. 


List of medical schools in Ireland

The four main cities also host the country’s six medical schools:

  • University College Dublin (UCD)
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)
  • University College Cork (UCC)
  • The National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG)
  • The University of Limerick

Undergraduate medical applicants can apply to 5- and 6-year programmes, with the longer courses catering to students whose scientific knowledge is less than what is required for the shorter programmes. Graduate-specific courses that last four years are offered by Limerick, UCD, RCSI, and UCC.

All Irish medical schools offer a Bachelor in Medicine, Bachelor in Surgery and Bachelor in the Art of Obstetrics (MB BCh BAO Hons) diploma. All are accepted in all EU countries, as well as in many other regions around the world, and permit graduates to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) in the USA and the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination. 



All Irish medical schools offer undergraduate entry except Limerick, which caters specifically for graduate applicants. Applicants can choose from either five year programmes or six year programmes, as per the table below.

Trinity College Dublin

5 years

University College Cork

5 years

National University of Ireland, Galway

5 / 6 years (lower entry requirements for six years)

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

5 / 6 years (lower entry requirements for six years)

University College Dublin

6 years. 

University of Limerick

4 years (graduate entry only, minimum 2.1)

The courses all take a fairly modern approach to medicine, with a solid grounding in biomedical and anatomical sciences being delivered through Problem-Based Learning (PBL), prior to pathological and clinical teaching commencing in the later years. Teaching is delivered through lectures, tutorials, PBL sessions and student-selected components (SSCs). These allow a bit of flexibility and the chance to develop one's interests.

All the universities offer fully immersed clinical placements in the later years, and students can benefit from well-funded, state-of-the-art facilities. Once the medical student graduates from the course, they must train in an Irish hospital for a year. Following this, they are free to practice as doctors and choose their area to specialise in. A degree from an Irish university is recognised globally much like one from the UK.


All the Irish medical schools accept applications from graduates, with all schools except Trinity and Galway offering shortened, 4-year programmes for applicants with previous degrees. 


Academic requirements & admissions exams

All six Irish medical schools require applicants to sit an admissions exam. The main undergraduate admissions test is the HPAT Ireland (Health Professions Admissions Test) Graduate applicants have to sit either the GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test) or the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). The HPAT is an aptitude test assessing similar qualities to the UKCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test). The HPAT-Ireland test is a 2½ hour multiple choice paper-based test, consisting of three modules or sections:

  1. Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving
  2. Interpersonal Understanding (much like the situational judgement test, this assesses your responses to a number of scenarios)
  3. Non-Verbal Reasoning (alike to abstract reasoning of the UKCAT, you will have to find patterns in shapes)

Compared to UKCAT and BMAT, the HPAT exam is much later, with the closing date this year being 20th January. If you find you've not performed as well on these admissions exam, it is definitely worth considering applying to study medicine in Ireland. When selecting undergraduate students, the HPAT Ireland Score is combined with the academic score achieved at high school/college, to create a number of 'Entry Points', which are then used to rank applicants. Generally speaking, undergraduate applicants from the EU are not required to sit an interview, though in some cases mature students and students from North America are.

Graduate applicants have to sit either the GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test) or the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). Graduates are ranked on their GAMSAT or MCAT scores only, and are required to have achieved a 2:1 or higher if applying for a 4-year programme. Graduates must also complete a CAO application. Applicants from the States and Canada must present a competitive grade point average, with course length and difficulty being taken into account when deciding whether a grade is high enough.

To assess the academic requirements of undergraduates, the medical schools use the Irish Leaving Certificate equivalent points when ranking EU applicants, and all require a minimum of 480 points (except University College Cork, which requires 555). The conversions are set individually by each University. A detailed conversion chart can be found on each university page, but 480 points are roughly equivalent to A2 level grades of AABB, or 36 points on the IB. Most of the universities require students to sit these examinations in science subjects: biology, physics, chemistry or agricultural science. University College Cork specifies that students must sit chemistry and then either one of physics or biology.

Non-EU applicants are considered individually and the universities do not have specific minimum grade requirements for these applicants, though the competitive nature of the courses means a good score will be required from all applicants. 


How to apply?

The application process is centralised through the central applications office (CAO), much like UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) here in the UK. On your CAO application, you submit your personal details, school and exams being taken then select the courses for which you wish to apply. There is no personal statement required and thus you can apply for a broad range of courses. The University will contact you individually if they wish for any more information. You'll also need to post your academic certificates to the CAO.

For EU students, the fees are the same as if you were an Irish National - free! All you have to pay is a small administration fee of roughly £1,500 to the University. This is significantly cheaper than UK universities. Fees for graduates are a lot more expensive - typically around £15,000 a year. Additionally, it can be quite hard to find accommodation on campus in Irish Universities, unlike the hall-based system we have in the UK. This means that most students will rent privately, but often this is cheaper than halls of residence.

Medical student opinions

Irish medical students point to the strong community feel and friendliness among staff and students as the best features of studying in Ireland. All students have good relationships with their peers, the opportunity and time to socialise within their year group, and the knowledge that all their tutors are ready and willing to help them whenever they need it. This means that Irish medical schools provide a great working environment, and student wellbeing is reportedly very high. Others say that the abundant Irish natural beauty and cultural heritage is the best part of their student experience. 

Of course, there are always some downsides to every medical school. Some students feel that the PBL-based approach to medicine fails to provide adequate levels of biomedical knowledge, others say that there are only limited facilities available for student use on campus, or that the relatively small city size is a drawback in terms of extra-curricular activities. Overall though, students report a high level of satisfaction with their medical schools, and all the medical students interviewed by our team recommend their medical school for prospective applicants.

If you are interested in learning more about studying abroad view our guidebook "Get into Medical School Eastern Europe, Ireland & Italy". 

We hope you have found this helpful in deciding if you want to study medicine in Ireland! If you have any further questions about medical studies abroad or general medicine questions please contact us at


Gerens Curnow
Gerens Curnow

Mr. Gerens Curnow is a Medical Student from the University of Exeter. He is the winner of two medical education grants from the Association for the study of Medical Education. He has given lectures to 70-100 A-level students on medical school applications. Additionally, he is the author of three of our Medical School Application Guidebooks.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Applying to Medical School

Five New Medical Schools: Where are They and When Will They Open?

by Gerens Curnow August 14, 2020 5 min read

As I am sure you have heard, the NHS is under pressure. With several million more over 75s expected in the next few years, the UK government has embarked on the biggest ever expansion of the medical and nursing workforce, to deal with these new challenges. As part of this expansion, there are five new medical schools, which will have over 400 students each year between them. Learn more about the Five New Medical Schools in the UK!
Read More
How to Get Into Medical School in the UK - A Timeline

by Pippa Morris January 10, 2020 8 min read

How to get into medical school is a common question for prospective applicants. Getting into medical school UK can be stressful and involves a lot of work, but there is a lot that you can do to prepare beforehand and improve your chances of getting into medical school UK. Here is our guide for Years 11-13, so you know what and when you should be preparing for when applying to medicine UK.

Read More
How do UK Med Schools teach anatomy and dissection? (2019-2020)
How do UK Med Schools teach anatomy and dissection? (2019-2020)

by Rachel Vernazza October 29, 2019 2 min read

The type of teaching may influence your ability to learn specific topics when it comes to the complicated world of medical science. Some of the most common questions are “how do we practice surgical training?” or "which medical schools do full body dissection?" Check more about anatomy and dissection teaching methods here.
Read More