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Switching on to learning: Why online education is shaping our future

As a world leader in digital education for over 25 years, DCU is committed to providing greater access to higher education through flexible learning

DCU Connected: Patrice Brennan testimonial


You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to predict that people already with degrees and those wanting to upskill and give their career a digital edge will continue to 'switch on' to online learning.

We are seeing a surge in demand at DCU Connected as more people discover the flexibility that learning online offers to learn as you earn. We should know, as DCU has a long history of providing online education. Indeed, DCU first began distance education back in 1982. That was when the National Distance Education Centre was established at DCU, giving us more experience of providing online learning than any other Irish university.

As a world leader in digital education for over 25 years, DCU is committed to providing greater access to higher education through flexible learning.

Getting connected

As a world leader in digital education for over 25 years, we are committed to providing greater access to higher education through flexible learning. DCU is proud to have enabled thousands living throughout Ireland and beyond to upskill and advance their careers by studying world-class university courses online through DCU Connected.

The term ‘DCU Connected’ conveys how students can be fully connected to DCU wherever they live in today’s digital world. Through DCU Connected, people with limited time or opportunity to study on campus can plug into online study with flexibility that fits their life. DCU Connected programmes make it possible to continue learning from anywhere, with the potential to take you everywhere.

A top-ranked university

As one of the world’s top-ranked young universities, a DCU degree is internationally recognised and respected. In 2021, DCU was ranked 23rd in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for its approach to widening participation in higher education. Importantly, our online programmes have the same status and meet the same high-quality standards as any other DCU qualification. For the third time, DCU has been named the Sunday Times University of the Year for 2021.

DCU is the only Irish university that applies internationally recognised Quality Matters (QM) standards to the design of our online programmes. These standards ensure that students can have confidence in the quality of DCU Connected programmes. Independent research supports this claim with over 85 per cent of students highly rating their DCU Connected learning experience.

Life-changing study options

We offer the only online degree in Psychology accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland, ensuring that the programme meets the highest standards. Our Certificate in Peer Support Working in Mental Health enables you to attain Ireland’s only accredited award for Peer Support Workers. Our Masters in Special Educational Needs, designed by leading experts in DCU’s Institute of Education, helps teachers throughout Ireland to support children and young people with learning difficulties. This year, DCU has an exciting new MSc in Elite Sport Performance, providing an opportunity to complete a flexible programme of study in a rapidly growing area.

With DCU’s considerable expertise, we know how to design highly interactive and impactful online learning experiences. Our award-winning online learning platform known as Loop helps to keep everyone connected using the latest learning technologies. We offer a range of support services, including a world-class library and Discover DCU that provides a comprehensive, fully online study skills programme.

Global reputation

DCU is known worldwide for its leadership in online education. We’re Ireland’s only member of the European Association for Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU). The National Institute for Digital Learning at DCU leads several major research and development projects, including a large European funded initiative to support the development of online learning in South-East Asia. Further evidence of DCU’s leadership is demonstrated by our active contribution to the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE). In November 2019, only weeks before the outbreak of Covid-19, DCU hosted the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning.

DCU is proud that since 2018, over 120,000 people from more than 135 countries have participated in our fully online courses on Irish Language and Culture. Last year, in response to the Covid-19 crisis, DCU’s expertise was sought for the rapid development of a course on How to Teach Online, attracting over 90,000 educators. Building on this experience, DCU launched in September 2020 a free online course on how to be an effective online learner. Since then, over 8,000 students worldwide have signed up to “A Digital Edge: Essentials for the Online Learner”.

Upskilling for the future

People working in almost every profession will need to continually learn and upskill due to the rapidly changing nature of work. A 2020 World Economic Forum report claims that by 2025 more than 50 per cent of all workers will need upskilling, and new models of online learning will be essential if Ireland is to be renowned as a place where the talent of our people thrives.

We have already experienced a 50 per cent increase in the number of students applying for study through DCU Connected for the new academic year. This level of interest will grow even further when the Government announces this year’s Springboard+ programmes, which enables job seekers and people wishing to upskill to obtain a university qualification at little or no cost. Visit our website for more:

DCU is also proud of our scholarships that support online study for Irish-based refugees and protection applicants. DCU was Ireland’s first University of Sanctuary, and each year the DCU Connected scholarship programme enables up to 15 students to undertake studies. Promoting greater access to higher education for students from all parts of the community to upskill is part of our DNA and is central to DCU's mission of transforming lives and societies.

Invest in your future

When you choose to study through DCU Connected, we promise to bring the best of Ireland’s university of transformation to you. Online education at DCU is not something we do in half-part. Rather we endeavour to fully infuse the potential of new digital technologies right to the heart of a transformative online learning experience. So, from your fingertips at the convenience of your own time and study space, DCU Connected enables you to pursue your dreams, life goals and career ambitions anywhere you live. Our fully online courses help learners from anywhere switch on, connect and go places in the new digital world.

Find out more about DCU Connected on our website: