Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
Level 1 and 2 Certificates are designed to fulfil the requirements of learners, both young and old, together with those with rational and other disabilities, adults returning to training, and students with few or no previous qualifications, with those within the workforce. These awards offer certification for learners who may advance to higher levels. Each certificate consists of a variety of components, typically in basic literacy and numeracy, which the learner will attain at their own pace and accumulate over time.
The Level 3 Certificate qualifies students to gain recognition for, specific personal skills, practical skills and knowledge, basic convenient skills, the improvement of individual talents and qualities and attainments and learning pertinent to a variety of progression options.
The Level 4 Certificate allows learners to gain acknowledgment for the attainment of vocational and personal skills, knowledge and understanding to specified standards, the development of individual talents and qualities and the accomplishment and learning relevant to a variety of advance options, including employment at an initial vocational level, and programmes leading to a Level 5 Certificate.
The Level 5 Certificate permits students to grow a broad range of skills, which are vocationally precise and require an overall theoretical understanding. They are empowered to work self-reliantly while subject to general direction. Maximum of certificate/module holders at Level 5 engage in positions of employment. They are also supposed to meet the minimum entry requirements for a range of higher education institutions/programmes.
Advanced Certificate (NFQ Level 6): An Advanced Certificate award permits learners to advance to an all-inclusive range of skills, which may be vocationally specific and/or of a general decision-making nature, and require comprehensive theoretical understanding. Modules include progressive vocational/occupational skills, empowering certificate holders to work independently or advance to higher education and training. The bulk of certificate/module holders at Level 6 go in for positions of employment, few may be self‐employed.
Ordinary Bachelor Degree (NFQ Level 7): The Ordinary Bachelor Degree is normally awarded after completion of a programme of three years duration (180 ECTS credits). Entry to a programme to an Ordinary Bachelor degree is generally for school leavers and those with equivalent qualifications. Additionally, there are transfer provisions in place across higher education and a number of programmes of one year duration leading to the Ordinary Bachelor Degree for students of the Higher Certificate.
Honours Bachelor Degree (NFQ Level 8): The Honours Bachelor Degree is generally given subsequent to completion of a programme of three to four years duration (180-240 ECTS credits), although there are longer programmes in areas of architecture, dentistry and medicine. Admission is generally for school leavers and those with equivalent qualifications. Additionally, there are transfer provisions across higher education, and several programmes of one year duration leading to Honours Bachelor Degrees for students of Ordinary Bachelor Degree.
Masters Degree (NFQ Level 9): There are two types of Masters Degree in Ireland: taught Masters Degrees and research Masters Degrees. The taught Masters Degree is given subsequent to the completion of a programme of one to two years duration (60-120 ECTS credits). Admission to a programme leading to a taught Masters Degree is typically for students of Honours Bachelor Degrees. In few cases, entry to such programmes can be allowed for those with Ordinary Bachelor Degrees or equivalent. Research Masters Degree programmes are usually of two years duration (120 ECTS credits) though not all such programmes are credit rated.
Doctoral Degree (NFQ Level 10): Having an Honours Bachelor Degree is required for admission to a doctoral programme. In a few disciplines, a Masters Degree is also preferred. Generally, those getting into a doctoral programme with an Honours Bachelor Degree initially register for a research Masters Degree or conditional doctoral candidature. On successful attainment of this initial stage, the candidate obtains full doctoral candidature. Doctoral programmes are usually between three and four years in duration. ECTS credits are used in doctoral programmes for taught elements solely. There are various doctoral programmes available, including professional and performance/practice-based doctorates.