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Mature Applicants

Welcome to the UCD page for mature applicants.

Application on the grounds of mature years is open to those who are over 23 years of age on 1 January prior to entry. This entry route seeks to recognise all of the applicant’s prior learning both formal and experiential (e.g. through work or life experience).

Our full range of undergraduate courses is open to mature applicants (except those specifically designated as graduate entry routes).

  1. View the (opens in a new window)courses we have on offer and decide which one best suits your needs and interests.
  2. Consider whether you want to apply for next September or whether you would prefer to do an Access or Open Learning course to help prepare you. The Access course is essential if you want to apply for DN300 Veterinary Medicine or DN400 Medicine.
  3. If you are ready to apply, submit your application online (opens in a new window)via the Central Applications Office (CAO) by 1 February. (opens in a new window)CAO have a helpful Guide for Mature Applicants.
  4. Make sure you include details of your school leaving examinations and any QQI FET courses you have taken as these will add to your profile as a mature student. (If you are not offered as a mature student, you may also be eligible for assessment on the basis of your school-leaving exams or QQI-FET).
  5. Complete the Mature section on the CAO form.
  6. Post your relevant supporting documents to CAO (make sure you include your CAO number so they can be matched to your application).
  7. If you are applying for Nursing, you will also need to apply for the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) written assessment.

Please note: the above is for Irish and other EU/EFTA/UK applicants only. Non EU applicants should visit the UCD Global webpages. If you are unsure of your status, please visit our fees website for a fee assessment.

1.  Initial screening
  •  Admissions will assess applicants based on their educational and experiential backgrounds.
  •  Applicants with no Statement of Interest will be screened out.
  •  For some courses, a background in specific subjects such as Mathematics, a Laboratory Science subject or a language is essential as these are important elements in the course. If you don’t have the required grade in the Irish Leaving Certificate, or equivalent, you should highlight other evidence for this area (e.g. through your work or certified learning).
  • If you have not shown sufficient evidence of ability in these areas, you will be screened out.
    Following this, the top ranked applicants will be forwarded to the assessors in the course area.
2.  Course Assessment
  • The assessors in the course area will review and score the full background of the applicant including education and work/voluntary experience. For some courses, particular areas of previous learning are especially important.
  • They will score the CAO Statement of Interest under the following headings:
    a.    Motivation
    b.    Your interest in and understanding of the course
    c.    Relevant Life Experience
    d.    Writing ability

  • Generally, assessment is based on the written application only. However, in some cases an interview may also be required.
3.  Issuing offers
  • When the scores are returned to Admissions, a positive decision will be returned to CAO for the top ranked applicants to fill the quota of mature places.
  • Any remaining applicants who have been deemed eligible by the course assessors will be placed on a waiting list and may be offered in later rounds.
  • In all cases, offers will be made in accordance with CAO procedures, i.e. applicants will be offered the highest preference to which they are entitled. Once an offer has been made, they can still be offered a higher preference in later rounds but not a lower preference.

Note: for Nursing, eligible applications are assessed solely based on the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) written assessment.

The Mature Section on the CAO form has the following categories:

1. Highest Qualification to date
Enter the highest qualification which has been completed and awarded (e.g. degree, Irish Leaving Certificate).

2. Current Studies
Detail any studies which are ongoing in the current academic year.

3. Post Secondary
List all courses taken since leaving school

4.  Second level Education
Detail the school(s) you attended, and the highest exam completed.

5. Non-Certificate Courses
List any relevant interest courses.

6. Employment or Voluntary work
Give details of all relevant jobs or voluntary work you have undertaken and, in the description, give detail which shows how it relates to the course(s) applied for.

7. English Language Proficiency
Those who are not native English speakers should indicate which English language test they have taken and send a copy of the results to CAO.

8. References
You should list at least two referees who are not related to you. Ideally, they should be either people who know you in an educational context or work context (voluntary or paid)

9. Statement of Interest
This is a key element of how your application is assessed

  • Explain why you want to do the course(s) you have applied for; why do they interest you; what do you hope to do when qualified.
  • Show that you have researched the course(s), mention specific areas that interest you.
  • Explain how your life and work experience to date has led you to this course and what skills you have acquired that are relevant.
  • Make sure it is well written. Use spelling and grammar check and, if possible, ask a friend to read it over for you to make sure it is clearly written

10. Hobbies/Interests
Tell us what you like to do in your spare time and, if possible, make it relevant to your application.

11. Additional information
Use this space to tell us anything relevant about yourself that didn’t fit into any of the categories above.

Remember that any document you submit to CAO is seen by the assessors for all the courses for which you have applied, so you should submit only one Statement of Interest but tailor it to fit all your preferences.

  • Transcripts for any third level qualifications (even if not complete, results in 1st year can add to your profile)
  • Any other substantial awards you have gained since leaving school (other than QQI-FET which CAO can access if you have provided your PPS number)
  • School leaving results (other than Irish Leaving Certificate from 1985 onwards which CAO can access if you supply your exam number)
  • Optional: CV and/or additional statement of interest. If you feel there isn’t enough space on the CAO form, you can submit additional information.
  • If you are not a native English speaker you should also include proof of English ability.

N.B. You do not need to send copies for each institution for which you have applied, one copy is sufficient.

Early November: CAO applications open20 Jan: early CAO closing date (reduced fee)

1 Feb: CAO Closing date
Applicant documents received in CAO and scanned.

1 Mar: Closing date for amending CAO form
8 Mar: Complete data available to admissions
9 – 31 Mar: Admissions Assessment. 
N.B. Admissions may contact you during this period if your application is incomplete, so make sure you check your email regularly.

Courses assessments

1 May: Late CAO closing date (NB generally for mature applicants this is not applicable)

Scores returned to Admissions

Early July: Offers on grounds of mature years issue

Early August: QQI-FET offers and offers to mature applicants from waiting list if places haven’t been filled
Late August: Round 1 CAO offers on basis of leaving certificate and further mature offers from waiting list if any places remain.

Start of First Trimester

UCD Registry - Admissions is available to help with the application process and offers a dedicated advice service for mature applicants.

Please contact us at www.ucd.ie/askus or call us on 353-1-716 1608 during office hours.

Top Tips


thorough research on any course you are thinking of applying for and ensure you understand what’s involved.


Forward your supporting documents to CAO as soon as possible after you apply. They should be with CAO by mid-February to ensure they are scanned and available to view when we are assessing your application.


send a work CV – make sure you adapt it to a university application.

From the time you receive your offer our Access and Lifelong Learning team will offer you support to help you transition to UCD and succeed in your degree.

There are a number of scholarships and a range of financial supports available to mature students and these are detailed on the Access and Lifelong Learning website.

Contact UCD Registry

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 1555 | Location Map(opens in a new window)