Brian Mooney: How do I go about doing a postgrad course at a US university?

There are lots of options – but costs are steep, so be sure to do your research

I recently achieved a 2:1 in my college degree. Over the past year I've been considering applying to universities in the United States to pursue postgraduate studies. Is this possible – or even affordable?

There are so many options for postgraduate study and research in the USA, with more than 1,700 universities offering postgraduate degrees including masters, PhD, and law and medicine degrees. For a comprehensive database of accredited US schools and programmes, try Petersons.

Applying for a postgraduate degree in the US takes hard work and dedication, so it’s worth taking your time to do your research.

Admissions officers will look at your postgraduate application holistically, considering your academic performance, your reasons for pursuing a degree at their institution, relevant work experience and coursework, and extracurricular involvement in the field. They will also be interested in your personal and social activities over your undergraduate years.


Living and studying in the US is not cheap so you need to research and consider how you are going to finance both your academic and living costs.

The tuition and fee rates will vary hugely, depending on whether you are seeking a place in a mid-range university or if you are considering a course offered in a prestigious Ivy League college – there are no standard government-set fees. The cost of living can vary drastically depending on where in the US you plan to study.

One source of possible funding you should consider is the Fulbright Awards. They offer grants and support for Irish and EU citizens to study, research or teach/lecture in the US.

These prestigious awards are open to all disciplines, so no matter what you want to study or research, there are opportunities available. The awards offer a stipend and the Fulbright Commission has connected with a number of US universities to offer full and partial tuition waivers for programmes.

In addition, Fulbright partners with a number of Irish agencies to offer funding in the areas of museum studies, health, geoscience, marine studies, agriculture, environmental protection, business innovation, law, and Irish language.

The Fulbright Commission in Ireland recently announced an increase in grant funding for Irish students, which makes the awards even more accessible.

Two new professional and academic awards in the area of cybersecurity – the Fulbright techimpact cybersecurity award at Georgetown University and the Fulbright techimpact cybersecurity award at Boston College were also launched recently.

The award at Boston College also allows the successful candidate to take modules in the cybersecurity masters programme.

Notre Dame Law School and Indiana University Bloomington Maurer School of Law offer successful Fulbright awardees a full waiver for their LLM masters of law programmes – fees would usually reach up to $60,000. Penn Law School offers partial tuition waivers for Fulbright awardees from Ireland.