CAO Applications

The CAO (Central Applications Office) manages most undergraduate applicants for the Higher Education Institutes in Ireland. All EU applicants for first year of undergraduate degree courses (excluding distance and online learning) apply via CAO.

How does CAO make offers?

Four pieces of infomation must come together to enable the main round of offers to issue (round 1): jigsaw pieces
one Entry requirements - these are known well in advance as they must be published and available to schools two years in advance so potential applicants can make appropriate subject choices.
two Number of applicants - this is not final until after the "change of mind" closing date of 1 July.
three Leaving Certificate results - which issue in mid August each year. Round 1 offers usually issue the following Monday.

Number of offers - Admissions determines the appropriate number of offers to make to fill the places based on the history of acceptance rate and other trends.

When these four pieces of information are combined the CAO computer programme, checks all applicants for eligibility. Then it ranks eligible applicants on the basis of their points scores, and issues offers based on the highest preference to which the applicant is entitled.

Please note: there are two rounds prior to round 1

  • Round A: early July - mature applicants, Veterinary Medicine graduate entry and those who have deferred from the previous year
  • Round 0: early August - FETAC, graduate entry and balance of mature applicants.

  • Round 1 issues on the Friday following the issue of the Leaving Certificate results (mid-August)
  • After Round 1 offers are made on a weekly basis until all programmes are full.

    What are the roles and responsibilities for the CAO Applications?

    Two offices in UCD Registry are involved with recruiting and admitting EU undergraduate students - Student Recruitment and Admissions. Programme Boards are not directly involved with the admission process for most standard applicants but are required to provide the necessary information.

    Student Recruitment Programme Board/POD Admissions
  • Schools Liaison
  • Open Days
  • Prospectus
  • MyUCD website

  • Provides Admissions with quotas for following (including sub-quotas for Access categories) in November
  • Provides updates for CAO Handbook in March (e.g. in March 2018 for Handbook 2019)
  • Liaises with Admissions about any changes to entry requirements or programme pathways.
  • Assesses mature applicants and returns decisions to admissions.
  • Provides information to Guidance Counsellors
  • Publishes entry requirements
  • Answers applicant queries
  • Assesses non-standard applicants (e.g. EU qualifications, FETAC, etc)
  • Liaises with CAO
  • Determines appropriate numbers of offers to fill quotas
  • Provides statistics at appropriate times
  • Monitors trends
  • Issues information about registration to incoming students
  • Manages deferrals and cancellations
  • Manages Student Vetting Process is appropriate
  • See further information about CAO Selection

    How do I change the entry requirements for my programme?

    Any change to entry requirements needs to be notified to schools at least two years in advance of implementation, so that potential applicants can make appropriate subjectchoices for their Leaving Certificate. Proposed changes must be submited using the form PDARF7 available on the University Secretariat web page. they must be approved first by Programme Board and then by UPB. Please contact Admissions to discuss proposed changes before submitting for advice.

    What publications and statistics are available?

    All documentation and exam results which you are presenting for assessment for entry to UCD must be with CAO no later than the dates below:

    Publications produced by Admissions

    Other useful publications

    Summary Entry Requirements (leaflet)
    Summary Entry Requirements (booklet) - includes A-level

    Published in September each year for entry the following year.

    First year welcome book
    Published in August each year and posted to incoming first year undergraduate students

    UCD Undergraduate Prospectus

    President’s Reports


    A study of student retention amongst entrants from 2005 and 2006 was undertaken by Admissions in association with Colleen Blaney-Doyle, Student Adviser. The report on Student Retention 1999-2007 is available for download here. This report builds on an earlier study of Student Retention 1999-2001.

    Application and admission statistics are produced regularly throughout the year. Any requests for statistics must be made in writing to the Admissions Officer at

    How do I access a list of my incoming first years?

    Lists of CAO acceptances are available to Programme Directors and Programme Office staff via InfoHub.

    What alternative entry routes are available?

    We have the following access and progression routes

  • Higher Education Access Route (HEAR)
  • Disability Access Route to Education (DARE)
  • Application on grounds of mature years
  • FETAC progression
  • HETAC Higher Certificate/Ordinary Degree
  • Graduate Entry pathways.

    All offers of a place are subject to UCD's Terms and Conditions of Offer.
    All students must comply with the general regulations of the university