Building a Solid Foundation With a Bachelor’s Degree - Everything You Need to Know


Many high-tech industries are booming in Ireland and are set to continue and expand. 9 out of the top 10 Pharmaceutical companies in the world have a base in Ireland. With over 130,000 people employed in these industries and over 40,000 new jobs predicted by the experts by 2020, deciding to grow your career here is an obvious choice. And it all starts with building a solid foundation through specialised education.  

Finding the right education pathway for you in MedTech, Pharmaceuticals, Food Science, or Digital Transformation requires some thought and self-reflection.

You would need to consider two things:

  • What you have already done, which will inform how you apply and what you are interested in
  • What you want to do, which will help you choose the degree pathway to pursue in order to have a successful, fruitful and satisfying career 

This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the significance of Bachelor's degrees, why they are essential, and the opportunities it presents, particularly in the context of Innopharma’s level 7 & level 8 courses related to MedTech, Pharmaceutical, Food Science, and Digital Transformation Sectors.


What Is a Bachelor’s Degree and Why Is It Important?

The education system in Ireland is run by a state agency called Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). The QQI describes the qualifications in Ireland’s training and education system through the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The NFQ classifies the level, class of award and type of qualifications in Ireland from Level 1 literacy qualifications to Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate and Level 10 doctoral degrees.

They ensure all qualifications are quality assured for education providers and that they are reaching and maintaining the standard for the qualifications they provide.  The Levels serve as general indicators of a learner's knowledge, skill and/or competence they have attained in their specialised discipline.

  • An ordinary bachelor's degree is an undergraduate degree that is awarded after 3 years of study. 
  • An honours bachelor degree, on the other hand, is typically awarded after 4 years of study thus enhancing learnings from an ordinary bachelor's degree.

Both degrees are classified as levels 7 and 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). It can help you gain the knowledge and skills necessary for a professional career and can also improve your job prospects and earning potential.


Is an Honours Bachelor Degree the Same as a Higher Diploma? 

While Higher diplomas are often recognised on the same level as some bachelor’s degrees, they are not the same as Honours Bachelor degrees. They differ in terms of curriculum, course structure, modules, and duration. Higher diplomas are available to those who have already completed an honours bachelor's degree.

For example, if someone has a bachelor's degree in accounting but wants to change careers to medical devices, they would need to consider a Higher Diploma in Biopharmaceutical & Medical Devices Manufacturing.

While the range of options for degrees and diplomas can be daunting, the flexibility allows for an agile and dynamic learning strategy that can help you specialise in a rewarding career as part of your professional development.

How Can Having a Bachelor’s Degree Help You Get the Job You Want?

In today's fast-paced, high-tech world, education routes and specialisation must be agile and dynamic to ensure learners have the bespoke education they need. This is reflected in the QQI strategy, which aims to ensure that learners are well-equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the future. Below, we outline some key benefits of pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree:

  • Increased earning potential: A bachelor's degree is associated with higher earnings than a high school diploma or equivalent. 
  • Better job opportunities: A bachelor's degree can open up more job opportunities, especially in high-paying fields such as MedTech, Pharmaceutical, Digital Transformation or Food Science Sector.
  • Personal & Professional Development: A bachelor’s degree program enables personal and professional development by fostering strong communication, critical thinking, problem-solving skills and industry-specific knowledge.

Employers use the NFQ-level qualifications as key criteria for shortlisting candidates for roles in addition to skills, experience and competencies. This ensures that applicants with the right knowledge, skills and competencies apply.


Duration and Structure of Bachelor's Degree Programs

Most traditional “ordinary” degrees are 3 or 4 years in duration, and some “honours” degrees can be up to 6 years to complete when moving from the Leaving Certificate step on the NFQ.  

Anyone who is interested in pursuing a degree can work towards obtaining the specific entry requirements, be it through CAO or working through qualifications at Level 6 (Higher Certificate).

Importantly for the MedTech, Pharmaceutical, Food Science and the Digitalisation space – many degrees allow recognition of prior experience as partial entry requirements and other qualifications to a specialised degree course.

Recognising relevant work experience as a pathway to eligibility is of utmost importance to allow accessibility to programs for many already in the workforce wishing to upskill to fulfil jobs that require a formal qualification!

At Innopharma, we recognise this need and run our Level 7 and Level 8 bachelor's degree level courses to suit those working and obtaining a degree at this time in their lives. It is always worth asking us about eligibility, so reach out if you want to learn more!


Traditional Route of Entry for a Bachelor’s Degree - CAO

Application for an Ordinary or Honours bachelor’s degree is usually done through the Central Applications Office (CAO) system. Within the CAO there are a few pathways. The Leaving Certificate or equivalent qualifications is an essential prerequisite for post-leaving certificate students as well as mature students. The CAO establishes minimum requirements for grades and points for each course, among other factors when allocating places.

Suppose you are not applying through the post-leaving certificate CAO system. In that case, there are other ways to meet the criteria for bachelor’s degree programs, which can suit a mature learner with a Level 6 qualification or higher.


Entry Requirement For a Level 7 Ordinary Degree:

A higher certificate award on the NFQ can allow you to access a one-year ordinary degree program. However, it is essential that if you start a Certificate or Level 6 program to progress to a Level 7 degree, you make sure that it is a full award (120 ECTS credits). 

Entry Requirement For a Level 8 Honours Degree or a Higher Diploma: 

Completing a Level 7 ordinary degree and gaining (180 ECTS credits) can allow access to a Level 8 degree program which may have a 1 year or 2 year duration.

Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning is available at some institutions and for some degree pathways. This means your experience can be assessed to see if it meets the requirements for specific programs. This can be very useful for people looking to formalise their experience by gaining a QQI-approved qualification, which is often required for job progression!


Why Study Bachelor’s Degree Courses with Innopharma Education?

At Innopharma Education, we are a leading education provider committed to offering bachelor's degree-level programs that prepare our students for a rewarding career in Ireland’s key industries. We structure our courses to suit the range of learners on our courses, for those employed, seeking work or returning to work. Our lectures are delivered live online and recorded, so you can keep up to date if you cannot attend one due to work commitments.


The Innopharma Way

The Innopharma Way is our unique approach to matching potential learners with our programs and mentoring them to achieve their career goals in the Pharmaceutical Industry. Over 70% of our undergraduate students gained employment or advanced their careers within six months of graduation. 

We start by taking enquiries through various channels, including our website enquiry form, webinar series, open days, information sessions and even canteen sessions!

Our program management teams will then discuss your prior experience, qualifications, and goals in detail. We aim to always find the right course that aligns all of these elements.

At Innopharma Education, we provide a range of degree courses at Level 7 and Level  8. Each distinct program is developed and taught by lecturers who are industry professionals and academic experts to provide a superior and relevant learning experience for each student. 

Recognising how crucial hands-on work experience is at a bachelor’s degree level, we balance our curriculum with practical days. Some science degree programs have laboratory sessions in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities – different for each depending on the practical element required for that degree!


If you are considering a bachelor’s degree, Here are some of the courses we offer. Click on one of the links to learn more:

A bachelor’s degree level qualification is designed to help you in your path towards personal and professional development by providing you with the knowledge, foundation, skills and tools needed to succeed in your chosen career. Choosing the right Bachelor’s degree is essential to a fulfilling career. It's necessary to align your field of study with your career goals and ensure that you have the time to commit towards a program of study.

Reach out to our team today for more information on any of our courses!

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