Studying in Portugal

Studying in Portugal


Our information and advice on job hunting, further study and visas remains current following the UK’s formal triggering of Article 50, and will be updated in the light of developments from the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union.

Portugal has two main systems; polytechnic institutions and universities. There are 14 universities, 20 polytechnics and many private institutions. You can find a list of at Study in Portugal. Universities award first degrees, masters degrees and doctorates. Polytechnics award first degrees and masters degrees.

Lisbon has the greatest concentration of public and private higher education establishments (about a third of the national total), and a large number of research and development institutions.

What courses can you study?

Levels of study available are:

  • first degrees: Bacharelato (three years of study) and Licenciatura (four to six years of study);
  • postgraduate courses: Mestrado (four semesters, advanced degree in a scientific area through practical research);
  • doctoral studies: Doutoramento (several years of personal study for a thesis);
  • postdoctoral programmes: Agregação (reserved for Doutoramento, the highest level of study).

How do you apply for postgraduate study?

Most universities operate an entrance examination and also stipulate entrance criteria (such as minimum qualifications). Foreign students must meet the criteria set for Portuguese students.

Places at public universities are allocated by passing a national exam, whereas private institutions set their own.

Although it may not be specified, it will usually be necessary to have a good knowledge of Portuguese since few courses will be taught in English.

For postgraduate study, contact the university you are interested in attending. Each university has its own admissions system for postgraduate programmes, and you will have to apply separately for each university. All universities have their own official application form.

Fees and scholarships

Both public and private institutions charge tuition fees. In public institutions, fees are payable annually and are related to the minimum wage. In private institutions, fees are payable monthly and are generally significantly higher.

Details of fees and the costs of living can be found on university websites. You can request more information from the international office of the university you are interested in attending.

  • EU students are eligible to apply for grants and exemptions in the same way as Portuguese students. These are usually administered by facilities within the public institution universities and further information should be available.
  • For private study, the state provides a 'fundo de Apoio ao Estudante' (student support fund). Grants are allocated through a competitive exam.
  • To be eligible for a grant, students must be applying for a course/establishment recognised by the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science.
  • The Camões Institute offers grants to students attending summer or longer courses in Portuguese language and culture, or for research in these areas.

Are there any exchange programmes?

UK students on both under and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in studying in Portugal through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas, but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in what subject areas.

Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?

Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a postgraduate course from Portugal is directly comparable to the UK equivalent.

Do you need a visa to study in Portugal?

Most EU nationals do not need a visa or work permit but citizens of non-EU countries may be required to have these documents.

If entering Portugal to study, you may need to show proof that you are a student and have the means to support yourself.

AGCAS editors, July 2017