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Increase in doctorates continue

In April 2016, 28,759 people had a doctorate (Ph.D.) level qualification. This represented an increase of 30.9 per cent on the 2011 figure of 21,970 and an increase of 99.5 per cent on the 2006 figure of 14,412.

There were more men (16,016, 56% of total) than women (12,743) with a Ph.D. although the gap has narrowed since 2011 when men represented 59.3 per cent of Ph.D. holders. 

Science, mathematics and computing were the most common areas of study accounting for 35 per cent of all Ph.Ds., followed by health and welfare (17.7%) and social sciences, business and law (17.3%).

There were 812 Ph.D. holders who were either unemployed or looking for their first job, giving an unemployment rate for the group of 3.4 per cent.

Of those at work,  23,296 persons (57.3 %) worked in either the education or human health and social work industries.

Science, Mathematics and Computing58964160
Health and Welfare26162464
Social sciences, Business and Law23492617
Humanities and Arts19541708
Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction1971532

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Table 4.1 Persons aged 15 and over, at work with a doctorate or higher qualification, by industry, 2016
Industry groupNumber at work% of total at work
Human health and social work activities3,98617.1
Professional, scientific and technical activities2,43510.5
Public administration and defence; compulsory social security1,1284.8
Information and communication activities1,0424.5
Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles4762.0
Financial and insurance activities4662.0
Other (including not stated)1,8107.8

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Location of Ph.D. holders

Figure 4.2 presents the percentage of Ph.D. holders by county, along with the percentage of all persons who had completed their education. One in five holders of a Ph.D. were in Dublin City and, as can be clearly seen from the graph, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown had a disproportionally large number of Ph.D. holders (12.5% of the total) compared with total persons who had completely their education (4.6%) .

PhD holdersAll persons 15+
Dublin City20.512.3
DĂșn Laoghaire-Rathdown12.54.6
Cork County98.7
South Dublin4.65.6
Cork City4.52.7
Galway County4.23.8
Galway City4.11.6
Limerick City and County3.94.1
Waterford City and County22.5
Other counties410.3

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Parents’ education

Table 4.2 shows that 60.6 per cent of all 20 year olds in family units were students in 2016, and further breaks this down by the level of education of their parents.

In all, 32.1 per cent of 20 year olds whose parents were educated to no higher than primary level were themselves full-time students. This rises to 65.2 per cent for those with two parents educated to upper secondary level and to 87.5 per cent for those with both parents educated to degree level. 

Fathers and mothers

In families where the mother was educated to upper secondary and the father had an honours degree 81.3 per cent of 20 year old children were students whereas in families where the mother had an honours degree and the father was educated to upper secondary only 79.4 per cent were students.

Table 4.2 Percentage of 20 year olds in family units who were full-time students by parents’ level of education, 2016
Father's educationMother's education
TotalNot statedNo formal/ PrimaryLower secondaryUpper secondaryThird level non degreeThird level degreePostgraduate
Not stated49.043.729.634.252.658.168.878.3
No formal/Primary41.135.532.139.049.556.065.057.6
Lower secondary52.945.635.444.957.263.671.574.3
Upper secondary64.553.741.752.265.270.879.478.6
Third level non degree69.262.049.357.569.369.277.481.3
Third level degree83.779.860.669.181.383.687.588.7

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Socio-economic group

Education participation varied considerably by socio-economic group (SEG). Figure 4.3 shows the percentage of 20 year olds in family units who were students, classified by SEG; (because no occupation data is collected for students, their SEG is donated from a family member, normally a parent).

High educational participation…

There were 2,008 20 year olds in the higher professional category. Of these 94.4 per cent were students, the highest percentage of any socio-economic group. The children of the employers and managers category (5,969 20 year olds) and the lower professionals (3,991) also represented high levels of education participation (92.2% and 88.7% respectively).

The children of farmers and own account workers were the only two other socio-economic groups with participation rates above 75 per cent.

…and lower participation

At 25.9 per cent the children of those in the category "agricultural workers" had the lowest participation in education. 

The 20 year olds of those in the category ‘All others gainfully occupied and unknown’ also had a low rate of participation in education (35.2%). These were families where the parents were not in the labour force, or did not state their occupation.                

Employers and managers23.9052997393571
Higher professional8.23197219808862
Lower professional15.3866203301477
Manual skilled5.51694178974804
Own account workers3.44483058210252
Agricultural workers0.291051259774109
All others gainfully occupied and unknown8.68375325803649

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Women continue to outpace men in third level attainment

The improvement in educational attainment continues to be more pronounced for women than for men. In 1991, 14.0 per cent of males and 13.2 per cent of females were educated at third level only. Between 1991 and 2016 the percentage gradually increased, as illustrated in Figure 4.4. By 2016, 43.2 per cent of women were educated to third level compared with 40.7 per cent of men. In fact, the 1991 Census was the last to indicate a higher proportional of third level qualifications among men compared with women. 


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Map 4.1 Percentage of 20 year olds who were full-time students usually resident by Electoral Division, 2016

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