CAO Application – All you need to know about CAO

The Central Applications Office (CAO) is now open to accept applications for 2017. The CAO accept applications for 47 Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) across Ireland.  This means that you make one college application – eliminating the need to apply to each college individually. CAO offers each applicant the chance to apply for up to 20 courses: 10 Level 8 courses and 10 more courses made up of Level 6 and Level 7 courses. Sounds great. . . how do I get started?

CAO Handbook

Firstly you should source a 2017 CAO handbook. This book is available from your guidance counsellor or simply request one from CAO ( You will notice the book contains white pages and yellow pages. The white pages contain all the instructions you need to make an application, the yellow pages list all the courses you can apply for (the colleges are listed by county.)

CAO Application

Making a CAO application is very easy. The only difficulty you may face is actually choosing what courses you want to apply for. Choosing a course requires a lot of research. Applicants should visit and read college websites, browse through college prospectuses, attend college Open Days, talk to their guidance counsellor and seek advice from family and friends in order to make informed choices on course applications. This research far exceeds the scope of this article. The focus of this article will be on the logistics of making an application to CAO.

To begin students should register with CAO. You can do this on the CAO website  Click the green Apply tab. You will be asked for the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Address
  • Phone Number

You will be asked if you would like to receive information from CAO and or HEIs by text message

  • Country of Birth
  • Nationality
  • Email address

You will be asked to tick a box to describe your qualifications and assessments – for Leaving Cert students answer 1 is the correct box.

You will then be asked to make a Credit Card payment of €25 (once you register by 20th Jan, after 20th Jan you will be asked to pay €40)

Finally you need to create your own password to log into the CAO website. You will be issued with your CAO number. This number is very important and must be used in all communications with CAO.

This completes Stage 1 of your application.

Stage 2 of your application involves applying for your chosen courses.

Click on the My Application tab and log-in to your CAO account using your CAO number, Date of Birth and Password.

You will be asked for the following information:

  • Name and address of second level school/s attended and dates of attendance at school/s.
  • Tick the box to state that you are sitting the Leaving Cert in 2017 (or if you already completed your Leaving Cert. type in year of Leaving Cert.)
  • You can now enter your course choices. You are required to provide the course code. This can be found in the CAO handbook. When you type in the code the course title will appear. Be careful and ensure that you insert the correct codes.

SUSI Grant

If you are interested in applying for a SUSI grant you can check this box. NB if you forget to check the box you are still entitled to apply to SUSI.

Trinity Feasibility Study

If you are interested in applying for TR003 (History), TROO4 (Law) or TR028 (Ancient and Medieval History and Culture)  and you would like to apply for the Trinity Feasibility study then check the box.


If you are planning on applying for DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) you must check the box.


If you are planning on applying for HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) you must check the box.

Then submit your application.


Important to note:

Application Fee – If you apply to CAO online by 20th January 2017 you are required to pay €25 to make your application. If you apply after 20th Jan or if you make a paper application you are required to pay €40. The deadline for applications is 1st February 2017. You can still make applications to CAO up until 8th February however you will incur a late application fee of €10 on top of the €40 application fee.

Change of Mind Facility – Once you have made your application you are free to make changes using the Change of Mind facility. This will become available on 5th May 2017 until 1st July 2017. Making changes to your application is free of charge. You cannot apply for restricted courses using Change of Mind.

Restricted Course – if you refer to your CAO handbook you will notice that some courses are marked as restricted. This means that if you want to apply for these courses you must apply by the 1st February (or by 8th Feb incurring a late application fee.) These courses require an additional assessment, usually a portfolio, audition or interview. These assessments are usually held in spring so it is not possible to apply for these courses using the Change of Mind facility.




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