Courses at DCU
School of Health and Human Performance

Professional Doctorate in Elite Performance (Sport)

Course Code:
Course Type:
NFQ Level:
Delivery Modes
4 years
+353 (0) 1
The University has launched a new student application portal. For applications to this programme see the Make an Application section below.

The Professional Doctorate in Elite Performance (Sport) (Level 10 NFQ, 240 ECTS) is a four year part-time, blended learning programme, comprising both research and taught elements. The programme will exploit the working context of students by supporting them to develop evidence-based solutions to their ‘real world’ workplace problems from across the sporting landscape. 

Aimed at the next generation of practice leaders in sport, the qualification is designed to enhance and acknowledge the quality of innovation, critical review and systematic application of appropriate theories and research to sport performance. The part-time nature of the course enables students to embed their learning and research within their own professional practice and ensure that the acquired knowledge and understanding gained through the research journey then be integrated directly into the organisations and systems in which they work.

The programme comprises of both research and taught elements. Modules 1 - 4 comprise modules (60 ECTS) that critically reflect on theories and practice of sport performance, develop an advance understanding of research methodologies and skills, and provide students an opportunity to relate this knowledge and understanding to their own applied and professional context. Module 5, the DProfElite (Sport) Thesis (180 ECTS), involves the completion of a research project and thesis. 

The taught elements of the programme will be delivered using a blended learning strategy, with delivery being undertaken using a combination of online and face-to-face. Supporting the blended learning approach, two ‘on-campus’ learning blocks will be a feature of the students’ learning journey and will offer opportunities for assessment, sharing of practice, face-to-face teaching and networking amongst the student cohort.

Throughout the modules, as is typical of doctoral level study, students will engage in independent study of relevant issues and ideas raised during the module. Participants will be expected to engage in reading and critical review of literature relevant to the module and their own performance area.


Graduates of the Professional Doctorate in Elite Performance (Sport) will have established their authority in their area of doctoral research by making a domain-specific contribution at the forefront of professional practice. Graduates will be prepared to take leadership roles in their domain which will allow them influence the way in which their profession is approached both nationally and internationally. Graduates will gain a formal academic recognition of their professional development and standing that exemplifies the specific contribution made to extending knowledge and professional practice in sport performance.


General Entry Requirements

Reflecting the nature of the Professional Doctorate in Elite Performance (Sport), candidates must be working in an area of professional practice, where they have reasonable experience of that profession, and an opportunity to contribute significantly to the performance within/of that profession. Evidence that may be provided to support this include:

1. Holding a position or role in the promotion of sport performance
2. Professional qualifications in the domain.

Professional Doctorate in Elite Performance (Sport) specific requirements:

Candidates will be expected to hold a primary Level 9 qualification (NFQ or equivalent) in an area of sport and performance. Those who do not meet this entry requirement will be considered on a case by case basis only.

In line with DCU policy, students who do not have the appropriate level of academic attainment for direct entry may apply for access via the Recognition of Prior Learning process (RPL). RPL applicants will be required to demonstrate that their learning is comparable in terms of academic level training and assessment (all decisions will be consistent with DCU PG regulations 2019 3.6

Candidates applying through RPL will be shortlisted for interview. 


Fees Description

In years one and two the fee is €4,200 per annum (EU) or €8,400 per annum (Non-EU), in subsequent years the fee reduces to €3,302 per annum (EU) or €6,000 per annum (Non-EU), consistent with the postgraduate research student fee structure.

Part time

EU Status Fee Part-time
4200 pa
Non EU Fee Part time
8400 pa

Next Steps

Make an Application

All applicants must submit the following documentation:

  • All applicants should apply through  Here's a quick step by step guide if you need help with your application.
  • Certified academic transcripts for all years of study at college or university in original language, with certified English translations;
  • Certified copy of parchment / degree certificate, with certified English translations;
  • An appropriate CV detailing the candidate’s academic and professional experience;
  • An outline proposal of 1,000 words, describing the challenges currently faced in the candidate’s performance domain, using the template here;
  • Two references, including one from a senior individual in the candidate’s performance domain;
  • If applicable, provide evidence of competence in the English language as per DCU entry requirements.  Please see link

Candidates applying through RPL will be shortlisted for interview.

Application Deadlines

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is 30th April 2021

Applicants who require a study visa for the purposes of gaining entry into Ireland are advised that they are ineligible to apply for this programme.


Queries on completed applications should be emailed to

Commencement of Programme

The programme commences in September 2021.