5. Postgraduate Research Graduates

Postgraduate Research Graduates: This includes graduates of Masters Research and Doctoral programmes.


  • Overview of Graduate Population

    • 1,625 Postgraduate Research graduates (51.5% female; 48.5% male)
    • Median age of 31.5 years old at time of graduation
    • Most common fields of study are Natural Sciences, Mathematics & Statistics (27.6%), Engineering, Manufacturing & Construction (15.8%) and Health & Welfare (15.4%)
  • Transitioning into Postgraduate Research

    Natural Sciences, Mathematics & Statistics sees a high proportion of graduates pursuing Postgraduate Research. In a field of study with 3,520 Undergraduate Honours Degree graduates, there are 448 Postgraduate Research graduates (12.7%).

    In stark contrast, Business, Administration & Law sees a low proportion of graduates pursuing Postgraduate Research. As the largest field of study for Undergraduate Honours Degree graduates, with 7,902 graduates, there are only 105 Postgraduate Research graduates (1.3%).

Main Graduate Destination

91.2% of graduates in employment 9 months after graduation

In 2020, 91.2% of Postgraduate Research graduates are employed nine months after graduation, up from 88.5% in 2018. The proportion of graduates pursuing further study decreased, at 2.2% in 2020, down from 3.5% in 2018. Meanwhile, unemployment dropped to 4.8% in 2020, down from 5.0% in 2018.

Unlike other programme types, employment prospects have not decreased for Postgraduate Research graduates, with improvements observed instead.


Employment Outcomes

12.6% working as Postdoctoral Researchers

More than half of graduates are employed in Professional Occupations nine months after graduation (58.2%).

While 12.6% of graduates are working as Postdoctoral Researchers, this is down from 20.8% in 2018. Nonetheless, a higher proportion of graduates are employed in Associate, Professional & Technical Occupations, at 13.8%, up from 5.9% in 2018.

By sector, 31.5% are employed in the Education sector, down from 42.4% in 2018. Nearly 1 in 5 Postgraduate Research graduates (18.5%) are employed in Human Health & Social Work Activities, up from 13.7% in 2018.

  • Where are Postgraduate Research Graduates working?

    Of the employed graduates, 83.4% are working in Ireland, while 16.6% are working Overseas.


    Dublin (45.0%), Cork (17.2%) and Galway (7.6%) account for 69.8% of all Postgraduate Research graduate employment in Ireland.

4 in 5 earn more than €35,000 per annum

Of the Postgraduate Research graduates, 28.5% refused to disclose their salary. Of the graduates who did disclose their salary, 79.5% are earning more than €35,000 per annum. This is in contrast to 56.4% for Postgraduate Taught graduates and 28.3% of Undergraduate Honours Degree graduates.

The proportion of graduates earning more than €35,000 per annum has improved slightly, at 79.5% in 2020, up from 75.5% in 2018.

  • Do Postgraduate Research graduates complete Internships?

    Most Postgraduate Research graduates do not do Internships as part of their course (83.3%). This is similar to Postgraduate Taught graduates, whereby 73.2% do not complete Internships.

    Nonetheless, when Postgraduate Research graduates do complete Internships, these tend to be long, with 78.9% of Internships being more than 4 months long.

71.2% consider their course relevant to their job

One in 10 Postgraduate Research graduates consider their course Very Irrelevant to their job (11.6%). This is up from 7.0% in 2018.

The sentiment of irrelevance is particularly high amongst Business, Administration & Law graduates, with 39.4% of graduates considering their course Very Irrelevant or Irrelevant to their job.

On the need for qualification, 12.0% believe that their qualification is not required for the job. This is particularly high amongst Arts & Humanities graduates, at 22.3%.

1 in 5 already worked there

Common sources of employment for Postgraduate Research graduates include already working there (21.2%), Recruitment Sites (16.9%) and Personal Contacts (14.1%).

A further 11.3% found employment through another institution source. Amongst Postgraduate Taught graduates, this only accounts for 4.1% of employment.

Further Study Outcomes

Nine months after graduation, only 2.2% of Postgraduate Research graduates are pursuing further study. The number of graduates in this cohort are too low to conduct a meaningful analysis.

Engaged in Other Activities or Unemployed

Only 1.7% of Postgraduate Research graduates are Engaged in Other Activities and 4.8% are Unemployed. The number of graduates in these cohorts are too low to conduct a meaningful analysis.

Graduate Reflections

This section relates to all Postgraduate Research graduates surveyed.

70.9% would study the same course again

In 2020, 70.9% of Postgraduate Research graduates are likely to study the same course again. In 2018, this was 65.9%.

Education graduates are most likely to study the same course again, with 81.5% Very Likely or Likely to study the same course again.


Next Chapter: International Graduates

Note: filtering can result in a low number of graduates that fit specific criteria. Any criteria that result in less than five graduates being represented are excluded from the graphs in this report. Nonetheless, the Total provided will be inclusive of any excluded fields.

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