Undergraduate - How to apply

NCAD offers a wide range of undergraduate degrees in Design, Fine Art, Education and Visual Culture (History or Art & Design). On this page you will find information on what you can study at NCAD, the application process, portfolio submission requirements, eligibility and how course places are offered.

APPLICATIONS to First Year can be made through the following Progamme Codes: 

AD101 First Year Art & Design (Common Entry) AD101 is a common Entry Pathway leading to degree options in all areas of Art and Design 
Art options are 
  • Print
  • Media
  • Sculpture
  • Painting
  • Applied Materials (Hard Materials or Textile Art & Artefact)

Design options are 

  • Fashion Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration
  • Textile and Surface Design
  • Jewellery & Objects
  • Product Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Moving Image Design
AD102 Graphic Design / Moving Image Design Degree options in Moving Image Design or in Graphic Design 
AD103 Textiles, Jewellery & Objects Degree options in Textile & Surface Design or Jewellery & Objects
AD104 Fine Art and  Applied Art  Degree options in Fine Art - Media, Painting, Print, Sculpture  or Applied Art - Ceramics & Glass or Textile Art & Artefact
AD202 Education and Design or Fine Art (Second Level Education) Degree Options in Joint Honours Education & Design or Joint Honours in Education & Fine Art
AD211 Fashion Design Studying the design process as it applies to the Fashion industry.
AD212 Product Design Desiging and making new physical objects and experiences
AD215 Visual Culture History & Theory of contemporary Art & Design (portfolio not required) 
AD217 Illustration Studying the fundamentals of illustration, drawing, printing, composition, narrative and sequence 
AD222 Interaction Design Designing digital interactions for apps, web sites, products, services and user experience

Download NCAD Prospectus

How to apply?

There are a number of application routes to NCAD. See below to select the correct route for you. 

Ukrainian Citizens

All applicants who have been displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and who have been granted temporary protection in Europe,  are eligible to apply via CAO . Whether you are presenting the Irish Leaving Certificate or other qualifications, you should refer to page 8 and 9 of the CAO Handbook for further information. Please see information below. 

Central Applications Office (CAO)

The CAO is the application route for 

  • all applicants from the island of Ireland (inlcuding Mature Applicants)
  • UK Applicants*
  • applicants from the Eurpoean Union & the EFTA (EFTA countries are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway & Switzerland) 

You should make your application to CAO if you are 

  • presenting an Irish Leaving Certificate
  • presenting QQI/FET/FETAC Level 5/6 Qualifications
  • presenting High School Qualifcations from your home country
  • a Mature Student (23 years old or over, on the 1st January in the Year you wish to begin study)

The CAO will open in November each year. The first closing date for CAO is 1st February. All applications to Studio Programmes in NCAD should  be made on CAO.ie by this date. In the case of  AD212 Product Design  and AD222 Interaction  Design later applications will be accepted. 

More information on how to apply via CAO can be found here. 

2024 Portfolio Submission Platform

The 2024 Portfolio Submission Platform is closed.

CAO Advanced Entry 

If you are hoping to apply to Year 2 then you will also use the CAO. For Information on Advanced Entry applications to the second or subsequent year go to Undergraduate Year 2+

Non-EU International

If you are not a citizen of the European Union or EFTA then you will make your application directly to NCAD via our website. 

Please click here to find all the information you need 


NCAD is part of both the HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) and DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) national admissions schemes which work by reserving places for eligible applicants who may then get access to third level courses on reduced CAO points. In the case of NCAD studio programmes this concession will be given based on the portfolio score.

*Brexit Update - Important information on NCAD Tuition Fees for UK and Northern Ireland students

The Irish and UK Government have signed a memo of understanding on the Common Travel area between Ireland and the UK (May 2019). The MoU acknowledges the importance of education noting that “the CTA affords Irish and British citizens the right of access to all levels of education and training, and associated student support in each other’s State on terms no less favourable than those for citizens of that State.”  This means that notwithstanding Brexit, UK students will continue to be eligible for the same fee structures and grants as EU students in Ireland.  For further information go to  NCAD FEES

NCAD Minimum Entry Requirements

NCAD QQI/FETAC Entry Requirements

Republic of Ireland- Leaving Certificate

Applicants presenting an Irish Leaving Certificate are required to have among their grades

  • 6 Subjects
  • 2 H5s
  • 4 O6s or H7s
  • O6/H7 in English & Irish
  • O6/H7 in Art or Design Communications or a Third Language
  • If applying to AD212 Product Design or AD223 Interaction Design you are also required to have an O6/H7 in Maths.

For more detailed information on presenting Leaving Certificate please see Minimum Entry Requirements  

Exemptions from Irish

NCAD is a Recognised College of UCD, a Constituent University of the National University of Ireland. Matriculation requirements and information on obtaining an Irish language exemption are set out on the NUI web site. www.nui.ie


Applicants presenting a QQI Level 5/6 Qualification are required

  • to have completed a full award. A component certificate will not be considered.
  • to have achieved a Minimum of 5 Distinctions among their final grades

For more detailed information on presenting QQI/FET/FETAC awards please see Minimum Entry Requirements  

GCE/GCSE Examinations

For students presenting GCE/GCSE Examinations minimum entry requirements are as follows: Candidates must obtain:

  • A pass in at least six subjects including any specific subject requirements. 
  • GCE Advanced Level (A Level) - At least Grade C in two NUI recognised Subjects (Grade A with Grade D or Grade E, or Grade B with Grade D are considered the equivalent of two Grade Cs).
  • GCE AS Level /GCSE Level – At least Grade C in four other recognised subjects (GCE Advanced Level Grades A to D, E or O are accepted as GCSE O Level pass Grades).
  • Applied A levels are not recognised by the NUI for matriculation. www.nui.ie

EU/EFTA Applications

Applications from residents of other member states of the European Union and EFTA are considered on the same basis as those from Irish residents. You will be required to send two copies of your results to CAO by post. One copy should be in your own language. The second copy must be a certified translation.

Useful Links

English Language Requirement

If English is not your first language then you will need to provide proof of your English Language Proficiency.

Full details of acceptable tests and the standard required can be found at the following link English Language Requirement.

Age at entry to NCAD

The minimum age for admission to NCAD is 17 years by 15 January the year following entry.

Garda Vetting

All successful applicants to Education programmes are required to undergo Garda vetting at the time of registration. We will send you information about it during registration. You will not need to contact us in advance.

Deferred Entry

NCAD, at its discretion, can agree to defer the offer of a place on a programme for one year. If you wish to defer your offer of a place the procedure is as follows:

  • Do not accept your offer of a place through the CAO.
  • Email the Admissions Office with the subject line "DEFERRED ENTRY"
  • Provide your CAO Number, the Course you have been offered and a brief reason as to why you are seeking a deferral.
  • The Admissions Office should receive this request before the CAO closing date for accepting the offer.  

The Admissions Office will contact you in writing informing you if your deferral has been granted and outlining the procedures for taking up your place offer the following year.

Portfolio Score Carry Forward

We recognise that our applicants put a lot of work into the preparation of their admissions portfolios. If you have passed the portfolio review stage but not received an official offer from the CAO, NCAD will allow you to carry forward your portfolio score to the application process the following year.

Once you have told us you wish to carry forward your portfolio score and you have given us your new CAO number you will be eligible for an offer based on your original portfolio score and subject to the normal entry requirements and any portfolio cut off points in the year that you are now applying into.   

An example of where a Portfolio Carry Forward might apply is when an applicant fails to meet the minimum academic entry requirements in the first year of application.  

If you have any questions on carrying forward your portfolio score please contact the Admissions Office admissions@ncad.ie

If you have any questions e-mail is the quickest way to contact us, email:  admissions@ncad.ie