The CAO Process

School LeaversThe CAO Process

The CAO Process


The CAO process can be daunting and we would advise you to take great care in filling out your form. 

To get you started, we have broken down the process into four steps:

STEP 1: Choose

STEP 2: Apply

STEP 3: Change of mind

STEP 4: Offers

The right course for you:

It is really important that you choose the right course for you and in an area that you are interested.  The key to choosing the right course is lots of research.

Before making your CAO course choice, you should understand what the course involves, what kind of job you will have after graduating and whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Most of all though, you need to know that you will like working in that profession – it’s much easier to succeed at something you enjoy!

If you are a third year or transition year student, you will have to make Leaving Cert subject choices soon. It seems early but you really should start to consider what types of courses you might be interested in studying in college. Some courses have special entry requirements and the subject choices you make now, could affect the courses you can apply for in a few years time.

There’s loads of ways to find out information on courses:

  • Request a prospectus from us, download our pdf or flick through our online version

  • Take a look at our courses page – you can search by study area or by keyword

  • If you know broadly in which area you wish to study, go straight to our schools and departments section to see what courses they offer

  • Come along to our open events and be sure to ask us lots of questions – that’s what we’re here for

  • Request a college visit through the Schools’ Liaison team

  • Visit exhibitions where all colleges are present. That way you can compare courses and get quick answers to your questions

  • Talk to your career guidance counsellor. They will give you good, reliable and impartial advice

  • Talk to friends or family who are in college. There’s nothing like first-hand experience

You must apply for courses through the Central Applications Office (CAO) and you will find all information you need on the CAO website.
It is important that you read the CAO handbook prior to submitting your application.

You can apply in two ways:

  • Online on the CAO website.

  • Complete and return an application form to:

Central Applications Office (CAO)
Tower House
Eglington Street
Galway, Ireland
Tel: +353 (0)91 509 800
Fax: +353 (0)91 562 344

Remember: you have three opportunities to apply for a course through the CAO:

  • an early bird deadline on 20 January

  • the normal application deadline on 1 February

  • a late applications deadline on 1 May. Late application fees apply, late online application  60 euro.

Key points to remember:

  • Read the CAO handbook prior to filling out your application

  • Make sure you fill in all the relevant fields. If in doubt, ask someone to help or ask your career guidance counsellor for advice

  • Have someone check your application before submitting it – a second pair of eyes might pick up any mistakes or something you’ve missed

  • Most importantly, choose your courses in order of preference, not in order of expected points


Change of Mind is an important option for CAO applicants and an increasing number of students use this facility. The period between 1 February and 1 July will allow you the time and opportunity to really know if the courses you have listed are really the courses you want to study. You should make sure to attend open days, talk to lecturers, other students, friends and family as it's much easier when you get it right the first time around.

Important dates:

1 May: CAO Change of Mind facility opens

1 July: CAO Change of Mind facility closes. There are no more options for you to change your mind after this date.

Receiving an Offer

In order to receive an offer of a place, you must:

  • have applied through the CAO, and

  • be qualified for the course, and

  • in the event that there is competition for places, you must attain the required minimum points.

WIT will offer places to qualified applicants in order of decreasing point scores and the minimum score will be that attained by the last candidate offered a place.

Decisions on applications are normally taken in August and September following receipt of the results of the annual school-leaving examinations. In the cases of very few applicants, mainly mature applicants or those living outside the EU, decisions may be taken at an earlier date. Normally, however, you should not expect to have decisions before August.

Offers Process

All offers of places will be sent by post from the CAO. In addition, offers will be presented online at the CAO website  and you may record your acceptance online.

Offers will be issued independantly in respect of Level 8 and Level 7/Level 6 courses, so that some applicants may receive two offers of places simultaneously.

Important Dates

(Please note that these may be subject to change - full details on all key dates available here)

Mid August: Round 1 Offers

Late August: Round 1 Acceptances

Late August: Round 2 Offers

Early Spetember: Round 2 Acceptances

Absence at Offer Stage

Experience has shown that difficulties can arise if you are not available at the Offer Stage. Unless you have access to the CAO Website ( it is strongly recommended that you should be at your correspondance address in August/September when offers of places are issued, or have another person at the address briefed clearly on what to do. If you fail to deal with an offer properly and on time you may lose the place.


If you receive more than one offer (i.e. a level 8 course and/or level 7/6 course) you may take successive acceptances but an acceptance automatically cancels and supersedes any previous acceptance(s) - you may have only one current acceptance in the entire CAO system.

Formal Offers

If you are being offered one or more places, you may view an offer on the CAO website at and accept it online. In addition, formal offer notices will be sent by post together with the necessary instructions as how to proceed.

You may accept an offer either online or by complying in full with all the instructions set out in the offer notice. Do not do both.

Lapse of Offers

An offer will lapse unless you accept it within a specified period - i.e. unless the online or paper acceptance is received in CAO by 5:15pm on the Reply Date set out in the Offer Notice.


Registration of first-year students ordinarily takes place in the first week in September with start-up of classes commencing immediately. You will be notified of your time and date by post. It is important that you attend the date and time allocated to you. Information on registration can be found here