Award Type and NFQ level : RESEARCH PH.D. (10)

CAO/PAC code : MH02G (FT), MH03G (PT)

CAO Points :

Closing Date : 30 June 2024

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The Structured PhD in Education is a research degree that supports students in engaging in research at the highest academic level. Students work with their supervisors to develop a substantive piece of research that makes an original contribution to knowledge in the field and tradition of educational research. 


Minimum 2.1 degree (BA or MA/M.Ed ) or international equivalent in Education or a cognate area, and a proposal for original research that is accepted by the Department. Students undertake 30 credits of modules that support their research. Generally, students without a Masters undertake 60 credits of modules. Studies can be undertaken on a part-time or full-time basis, and credit requirements are the same for both pathways. 

• IELTS: 6.5 minimum overall score

• TOEFL (Paper based test): 585

• TOEFL (Internet based test): 95

• PTE (Pearson): 62

Maynooth University’s TOEFL code is 8850

Course Duration: 3-4 years full-time, 5-6 years part-time 

The Department of Education at Maynooth University is an exciting place in which to do postgraduate research. We have an excellent international profile and we are part of a wider research community that engages in research right across the educational continuum. Our staff and students also engage in inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional research. We have a large postgraduate research community, and the diversity of approaches and interests and our pluralistic and collaborative ethos makes it a welcoming and dynamic space for students. The atmosphere is one of intellectual vibrancy and creativity, grounded in excellent research. You can learn more about staff's interests here and about our postgraduate community here.

Students are free to take up research in any area of educational research that interests them. However, a member of staff with relevant expertise must be available to supervise the project. Students may find it helpful to reflect on a research question and locate a provisional area for research prior to contacting the Programme Director/PhD Programme Co-Ordinator. Inter-disciplinary PhDs are also welcomed and cross-departmental co-supervisory arrangements can be negotiated.

The purpose of PhD study is to develop a work of independent and original research. To support this, and ensure that students are part of a wider community of knowledge exchange, research, scholarship and dialogue, Maynooth University research degrees area. Structured PhD students must register for a minimum of 30 credits in pass/fail modules. 15 credits will be in subject-specific modules (2 of which are mandatory in the first year) and 15 credits will be in generic/transferable skills modules. These are selected in close consultation with the student’s supervisor. Students will write a thesis of approximately 90,000-100,000 words.

Course duration:3-4 years full-time, 5-6 years part-time

Course duration: 3-4 years Full-time, 5-6 years Part-time

More detail in Course Finder

Course Duration: 3-4 years full-time, 5-6 years part-time

Postgraduate students in education come from a range of backgrounds and have a wide range of interests. Some students wish to develop their professional practice and take on leadership roles, others wish to take on other professional responsibilities or engage in policy formation in the national or international context. Holding a PhD qualifies one to teach at university level and to carry out advanced research. 

Applications will be considered 5 times during the year by the PhD Admissions Panel (in November, February, April, May and June). Before sending your proposal or making a formal application, please note that we will hosting regular proposal writing workshops on the following days in 2023-2024 (all times are Irish time):  


16:00 - 17:00 online


16:00 - 17:00 online


16:00 - 17:00 online


16:00 - 17:00 online


16:00 - 17:00 online

 To register for a workshop, please click here

After attending one of these workshops, you can send in a proposal which will be reviewed by the PhD Admissions Panel at one of their meetings. We will then decide on supervision capacity and advise you on submitting a formal application. At that stage, you must make an application via the Postgraduate Application Centre Please note that there is also a Doctorate in Education with Specialisms and this is a different programme.

Students should try to develop a provisional research question and to locate a topic for research. In terms of the parameters of a PhD project, it is expected to make an original contribution to a field of research in education, so this should be born in mind when¿reflecting¿on a topic. This might be addressing a problem or gap in, or synthesis of, existing research.¿Students will also find it helpful to review staff profiles and identify staff with areas of interest relating to their proposed research question. Staff profiles are available at 

Applications will be reviewed by the PhD Admissions Panel and interviews will take place 4-6 weeks after receipt of applications. Please note that applicants should ensure that PhD applications are submitted before 15th June 2024 for a start date in September 2024. For applications received in the last quarter (May and June 2024), interviews will take place in June 2024.

Please note you will be asked to submit the following documentation when making your PAC application:

(a) Certified copies of all official transcripts of results for non-Maynooth University primary degree and post-graduate qualifications.

(b) Non-Maynooth University students are asked to provide a copy of their birth certificate or valid passport.

(c) A research proposal giving an outline of the rationale for your research, its proposed contribution to education and a provisional research plan.

(d) The names and contact details of a minimum of 2 academic referees who are familiar with the applicant’s academic work and can comment on their ability to work independently.

(e) A full curriculum vitae.

(f) A 3,000-word writing sample.

Subject to meeting university requirements and to providing a research proposal that is at an appropriate level and aligned with staff expertise, students will be called to interview.

Maynooth University, Department of Education offers a structured PhD programme which incorporates 30 credits of taught modules for students with a Masters (60 credits for students without a Masters). The course can be pursued on either a full-time or part-time basis. The normal duration of a part-time PhD is 4-6 years, and a full-time PhD takes 3-4 years.

The modules are designed to support the research process and assignments are negotiated with your supervisor. Please note that key introductory Education modules are usually held on Thursdays from 4.00-7.00 pm in both semesters, however since a suite of modules is offered by the Faculty and Graduate Studies, dates and times will vary for subsequent modules. It is suggested that you set aside Thursday afternoons for coming to campus, particularly in the first year.

All first-year students take these key introductory modules and determine, with their supervisors, appropriate additional modules. Modules are undertaken throughout the programme in line with student needs and interests.

Funding awards such as the IRC and Maynooth University's John and Pat Hume Doctoral Awards have deadlines in November and January respectively. Further details can be found at the following links:

Graduate Studies Office 

Irish Research Council 

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