5. Postgraduate Research Graduates

Postgraduate Research Graduates: Graduates are considered to be “Postgraduate Research Graduates” if they have graduated from either Masters Research or Doctoral programmes.

Overview of Graduate Population

  • In 2017, there were 1,733 Postgraduate Research Graduates
  • The large majority completed Doctoral programmes (77%)
  • The ratio of males to females was close to 1:1
  • Most studied Natural Sciences, Mathematics & Statistics, followed by Health & Welfare



Main Graduate Destination

5.1 Most Important Activity – Field of Study

Nine months after graduation, 91% of graduates were in some form of employment or about to start a job. This was highest amongst Health & Welfare graduates (97%), followed by Engineering, Manufacturing & Construction (97%) and Business, Administration & Law (93%).





Employment Outcomes

This section relates only to graduates who are considered “In Employment”, as defined below. Thus, all figures reflect only the cohort of graduates defined as “In Employment”.

In Employment: Graduates are considered to be employed 9 months after graduation if they are working full-time, working part-time or due to start a job in the next 3 months.


5.2 Employed Graduates – Occupation/Sector

Of the graduates in employment, the most common occupation was Professional Occupations (63%). This was followed by Postdoctoral Researchers, at 19%.

Education (40%), Professional, Scientific & Technical Activities (17%), and Human Health & Social Work Activities (12%) were the largest sectors for employment 9 months after graduation.


5.3 Employed Graduates – County of Employment

Of the graduates in employment, 83% were employed in Ireland, while 17% were employed overseas. Of those employed in Ireland, Dublin (45%), Cork (16%) and Galway (9%) were the most popular counties of employment.

Of those employed overseas, Great Britain (27%), United States (14%) and Germany (9%) were the most popular countries of employment.

5.4 Employed Graduates – Salary

The majority of Postgraduate Research Graduates were employees (94%) 9 months after graduation. A further 5% were self-employed, freelance or starting their own business.

Over half (53%) were on permanent or open-ended contracts. One-third (35%) were on fixed-term contracts with a duration of 12 months, while 7% were on fixed-term contracts with a duration of less than 12 months. The remaining were on temporary contracts, casual or employed through an agency.

Excluding those who refused to disclose their salary (41%), one-fifth (22%) reported a salary range of €35,000 – €39,999. Almost half (49%) reported a salary range between €30,000 – €44,999.

5.5 Employed Graduates – Placement/Work Experience

In total, 84% of graduates did not partake in any placements or work experience.

The most common placement length was more than 6 months (51%), followed by 4-6 months (24%). One-fifth (18%) were more than 6 weeks but less than 4 months and only 6% were less than 6 weeks long.

5.6 Employed Graduates – Relevance and Need

Most graduates considered their Area of Study Very Relevant or Relevant to their job (79%). Similarly, 76% of graduates considered their Level of Study Very Relevant or Relevant to their job.

More than half (54%) of graduates stated that their qualifications or subjects studied were a formal requirement for their job. One-fifth (18%) stated that the qualification was not a formal requirement for the job, yet gave them an advantage. One-tenth (12%) were already in the job when they had received the qualification.

5.7 Employed Graduates – Source of Job

Looking at the source of employment, 17% had personal contacts. A further 17% had already worked there previously (this includes previous placements or work experience) and 14% used recruitment sites.

Further Study Outcomes

In Further Study: Graduates are considered to be in further study 9 months after graduation if they are enrolled in either full-time or part-time further study or training.


Overall, only 3% of Postgraduate Research Graduates pursued further study. For the most part, this consists of Masters Research graduates pursuing Doctoral programmes. Due to the low numbers, an in-depth analysis is not included.

Unemployment & Other Activities

This section relates only to graduates who are “Unemployed” or “Engaged in Other Activities”, as defined below. Thus, all figures reflect only these cohorts of graduates.

Unemployed: Unemployed graduates consist of graduates who are unemployed or looking for a job 9 months after graduation. 


Engaged in Other Activities: Other activities include caring for family members or others, travelling, volunteering, illness, retirement, unemployed yet not seeking employment, and other.


5.8 Unemployed Graduates 

Overall, only 3% of Postgraduate Research Graduates were unemployed and looking for work. Of these, 63% have been looking for a job since graduation. One-tenth reported being let go, made redundant or their contract had ended. A further 17% stated “Other” reasons for unemployment.

In total, 2% of Postgraduate Research Graduates reported being engaged in other activities. The most popular types of activities were retirement (27%), caring for a family member or other (24%) and travelling (11%).

Graduate Reflections

This section relates to ALL Postgraduate Research Graduates surveyed.

5.9 Reflections – Study Same Area/Qualification

Graduates were asked if they would study the same area of study again – 83% said they were Very Likely or Likely. Similarly, 81% of graduates said they were Very Likely or Likely to study the same qualification again.

Go to next chapter: International Graduates

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