Is a PLC (Post Leaving Certificate) course for me?

PLC courses are practical and often offer job-specific training

What is a PLC course?

A Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course is a programme of study often taken between secondary school and third level. Many people also use these courses as an opportunity to return to education, reskill or retrain. PLC courses are very practical, and the curricula are often developed in response to the needs of the job market and particular industries, aiming to provide job-specific training that will stand to students when they move into the world of work. Many PLCs include placement and practical elements to give students hands-on experience before completing their course.

How long does a PLC course last?

Most PLC courses last one year, however, some have the option of an additional second year, which will offer the student additional qualifications. If after the completion of a PLC course a student decides that they would like to pursue a further course of study, they can apply for a level 8 course via the CAO.

How does that work?

PLCs serve as an alternative route to third-level education, whereby upon completion of the level 5 or level 6 PLC course, applicants can reapply with the QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) points they received through their PLC course as part of their QQI award. Successful QQI applicants will receive their offers for their PLC courses in round zero, a few weeks before the CAO round-one offers are released. Almost 20 per cent of CAO applicants each year present with a level 5 or 6 degree from a PLC course, and many institutions set aside a number of places each year for applicants who have completed PLC courses and are applying with QQI points.

Where do PLC courses take place?

PLC courses are on offer in schools, colleges of further education and community education centres, in cities, towns and villages all around the country. Approximately 200 institutions across Ireland currently offer PLC courses, which may remove the need to relocate faced by students heading to larger university towns and cities.


What if I’m not sure what area I want to pursue?

If you aren’t immediately sure of what direction you would like to pursue, a PLC course could be a good way to get a feel for an area and decide if you would like to pursue further education, training or generally a career in that field. A PLC eliminates the pressure to commit to a three-, four- or even five-year degree, and offers students the time to decide after one or two years if the course is right for them, and what they wish to do following the course.

How do I know if I’m eligible for a PLC course?

PLC courses are suitable for anybody who has completed their Leaving Cert exams. Those who have not completed their Leaving Certificate but have relevant experience or a passion for an area of study may also be considered for a place on the course, and should contact the institution directly to apply.

How do I apply to a PLC course?

PLC applications can be made directly to the institution that runs the PLC itself, or through

Prospective students may be called for an informal interview to discuss their application and interest in the course before being made an offer. Offers are conditional on applicants meeting the entry requirements of the course, which vary depending on the course and institution.

What qualification will I leave with?

Most one-year PLCs offer NFQ level 5 qualifications. Some PLCs can extend an additional year, and students who complete their second year will leave with a NFQ level 6 qualification. Students also leave with a QQI award and QQI points, which are internationally recognised qualifications that can be used to apply for additional study.

What are the fees?

As of September 2022, there are no longer fees for PLC courses. Fees for international students have also been abolished. Many colleges have a non-refundable registration fee of €40-€50 to hold the students’ place when applying. Some courses may also have additional costs throughout the year, depending on the nature of the course, to cover expenses.

Can I avail of the Susi grant while doing a PLC?

Students may be eligible for either the Susi grant or the Back-to-Education allowance while completing a PLC course. Eligible students can receive the Susi grant for a year of a PLC course and for up to four years following the PLC course year in higher education. See