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University College Dublin: Why Studying in Ireland Could Be the Best Choice for You

University College Dublin: Why Studying in Ireland Could Be the Best Choice for You

By Maya Gorman

Never want to take another prerequisite class again? Are you a student who knows which career you want to pursue now? Or, have you ever wanted to study in Ireland? If you answered yes to any of these questions, University College Dublin is the place for you. The school is located in Belfield, Ireland, just four miles from Dublin, and has one of the largest urban campuses in Europe. The university offers over 80 different majors with a Direct Entry Program that allows students who know what major they want to specialize in to take only classes related to that major. Jim Pierson, the North American Central Region College Representative for UCD, came to Northside to discuss why the school might be the right fit for them.

Even though the most common major is within the Arts and Humanities, UCD offers a wide variety of majors and programs tailored to a student’s interests. When asked about the majors UCD offers, Mr. Pierson said, “Over 80 majors, with up to 489 different distinct combinations through various majors, double majors, and major/minor choices.” There are two distinct types of major paths students at UCD can take. If you do not yet know what field of expertise you want to study, you can enroll in the Liberal Arts and Sciences Program, which allows American students to remain undeclared for the first two years while they test the waters of career options they might want. If you’re unsure of what classes you need to take, all students are guaranteed a peer mentor to help them with the college process.

If internships outside of the classroom interest you, UCD offers many opportunities for ambitious students. Mr. Pierson said “There are a lot of options for internships and work experiences both during your studies and after graduation. A benefit of coming to Ireland is that we offer international students the option to work during their studies and to stay in Ireland and work after graduation. We host 11 career fairs every year for students from all subjects, along with mentorship opportunities from alumni and ongoing career support after graduation.”

While succeeding in school is key to having a profitable career, academics are not everything. College life should be a mix of educational and extracurricular activities, and UCD keeps this balance perfectly. UCD has over 56 different varsity and club sports teams ranging from Gaelic football and hurling (UCD’s primary sports), and surfing. When asked to expand on the success of the sports at UCD, Mr. Pierson said that “Our soccer team just captured the league title yesterday after an extremely successful season, but we have successful teams and athletes in many sports, including track, rowing, and rugby.” In terms of other extracurriculars, Mr. Pierson explained that “UCD has a large student campus with over 160 clubs and societies to get involved in. On campus, on any given day, you could play games with the Board Game Society, attend or participate in a session with the Debate Team, watch a play from Drama Society, or see the UCD rugby or soccer teams play. There's always something happening, and outside of campus we're only a 10-15 minute bus ride to the city center with everything that Dublin has to offer.”

While life on campus may be fun, it is logical for international students to worry about being so far away from home. To ease these fears, Mr. Pierson explained that “international students are an integral part of the UCD community. Internationalism is a part of the UCD identity, with our motto as ‘Ireland's Global University.’ The Irish people, in general, are one of the friendliest people in the world and always welcome everyone!” When asked how diverse UCD was, he further said that “Of our 27,500 students, around 25% are international, with over 7,000 students from 130 countries around the world.” If this doesn’t ease the minds of students far from home, UCD’s campus is safe and sound with 24-hour security and plenty of amenities suited to each student's tastes. These amenities include a large student center, which houses a movie theater and rooms for clubs to meet, a barber shop, a bar, restaurants, and an outstanding Sports Center filled with all the athletic equipment a gym rat could dream of. The UCD Global Lounge also provides an area for international students to hang out and mingle.

According to Mr. Pierson, not only does UCD offer limitless opportunities, but states that potential employers will see that American UCD students took the risk of going abroad and were able to be independent and self-sustaining. He further explains that graduates of UCD will stand out to employers because of the uniqueness of an international university like UCD.  

As living abroad can be costly, it makes sense for students and their families to have concerns about living expenses. The costs per major differ slightly, with the cost of arts, humanities, business and social sciences majors hovering around $22,000 per year, and the cost of science, engineering and architecture majors reaching around $28,500. The accountants at UCD have calculated that the two-semester total, which would include nine months of college tuition and living expenses, would cost between $36,222 and $42,720.

Applications for UCD open Oct. 1 through both the Common App and directly on the school’s website. The university does superscore, and its average test scores are 1300 on the SAT and 29 on the ACT. Its average unweighted GPA is 3.61. The advantage of UCD is that if students pass the required scores, they are automatically admitted. Mr. Pierson even remarked that the admissions officers at UCD rarely look at essays, unless there is a close toss-up between two seemingly identical students. The priority deadline for the UCD application is Dec. 15, while the regular deadline is July 1. If students meet this priority deadline, they are eligible to apply for the Global Excellence Scholarship which can cover up to 100% of tuition fees. While not everyone may be approved for this scholarship, over 80% of UCD’s applicants receive merit scholarships in general.  

When asked about his favorite characteristic about the university, Mr. Pierson said “The university itself offers incredible opportunities academically and socially, but I also love that students get access to all of Ireland and Europe as a student there!” For more information, visit

  • Public College

  • Amount of Undergraduate Students: 27, 500

  • Male to Female Ratio: 45% Male, 55% Female

  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 15:1

  • Cost of Attendance: between $36,222 and $42,720 per year

  • Location of School: Suburban, Belfield, Ireland

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