Portugal is home to both private and public higher education facilities. The higher education system in Portugal consists of 14 public universities, 36 private universities, 20 public polytechnics and 64 private polytechnics. The university subsystem is intended to have a strong theoretical basis and to be highly research-oriented. The polytechnic subsystem is intended to provides a more practical training and is profession-oriented. Degrees in some fields such as medicine, law, natural sciences, economics, psychology or veterinary are only offered in the university system. Nursing, preschool education, accounting technician or health care technician degrees are only offered in the polytechnic system. The other fields, including engineering, technology, management, education, agriculture, sports, or humanities are found both in university and polytechnic systems. In years 2014/2015 out of 350,000 students there were around 35,000 foreign students in Portugal. While most of the higher education studies are conducted in Portuguese there is also a number of courses offered in other languages, mainly in English. In 2011, Portugal was ranked as the best European country for international students according to the StudyPortals report.
Portuguese system of tertiary education follows the standardized structure – Bachelor’s degree (licenciatura), Master’s degree (mestrado) and PhD (doutoramento) and works within the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The length of Bachelor’s degree is usually 3 to 4 years, Master’s degree is 1 to 2 years while a PhD program can last for up to 3 years. Many professional programs in Portugal such as medicine, engineering, architecture and psychology are offered in the form of Integrated Master’s degree which can take 5 to 6 years.
The undergraduate applications are done through a centralized online portal – Candidatura Online (https://www.dges.gov.pt/online). The applications on a graduate and postgraduate level are usually conducted on the website of the institution of interest. Each year, the Portuguese Ministry of Education releases a publication with the number of study places available at all institutions. In order to apply for a Bachelor’s degree in Portugal the student needs to have a proof of secondary education which is usually easily converted into the national requirements, however some institutions also require to pass an entrance exam. In order to apply for a Master’s program a Bachelor’s or equivalent diploma is needed. For PhD, the applicant needs to possess a relevant Master’s diploma.
Most of the undergraduate courses are conducted in Portuguese and a proficiency test, usually on level B1/B2, is needed to apply. However, graduate and postgraduate programs are much more often designed for international students and much more of them are delivered in English.
For EU-students interested in public higher education institutions, the annual tuition fee usually ranges from € 631.00 to € 1,068.00 (but may be higher for a minority of study programmes) a year. For private higher education institutions, the tuition fee is fixed by each individual higher education institution. The cost of student housing can vary from 300 Euros to over 600 Euros depending on the type of accommodation and the area. A coffee costs approximately 1.30 Euros while a meal costs around 8 Euros.
Information for International Students
The tuition fees for International Students that do not have Portuguese nationality, or that aren’t nationals from any European Union country, and that do not legally reside in Portugal for more than two years, continuously until the 31st of August of the enrolment year might vary from those offered for domestic and EU students.