Study in Portugal
As the oldest nation in Europe, Portugal is an ideal place to study abroad, particularly if you are interested in enjoying a sunny weather and admiring splendid coastlines each day. Anywhere you go in Portugal, you’ll always have a beach nearby and because the Portuguese are known for truly celebrating life, you can always join a local festival that involves dancing in the streets.
In Portugal, you’ll experience the charming atmosphere of a constant holiday, while you also prepare to become an expert in your chosen field of study.
Why study in Portugal?
1. Portuguese universities are active in multiple higher education areas
Portugal is one of the most popular countries for student exchange programmes and many universities are active members of the Erasmus+ programme.
Portuguese universities are focusing both on providing valuable theoretical knowledge and on engaging students in prevalent research projects. Many universities are affiliated with several research centres and they have been contributing to more than 1% of the world's highly cited research publications.
As a student enrolled at one of the Portuguese universities, you can complement your degree with an internship at a local company and attend interesting workshops under the instruction of international experts.
2. It's affordable
At public universities, international students should expect to pay anywhere between 500 and 5,000 EUR per academic year. Non-EU/EEA students are usually the ones who pay higher fees.
If we add in the fact that living costs are also low, it's easy to understand why many foreigners choose Portugal for their higher education.
3. Learn Portuguese, spoken by over 250 million people worldwide
Although you don't need to know Portuguese to study at a university in Portugal, it will be very useful if you learn at least the basics. It will make your day-to-day interactions, shopping, and other activities much easier.
It's also beneficial to have Portuguese as an asset on your CV. It is the official language in 10 countries (e.g. Brazil, Mozambique, Angola) and many international companies are looking for graduates who speak both English and Portuguese at an advanced level.
4. Enjoy the Mediterranean climate
Anyone who lives in Portugal — or at leasts visits it — falls in love with the local climate. Summers are hot and winters only mildly cold, which makes it perfect for people who cannot stand cold weather.
This delightful climate and the beautiful beaches means you'll enjoy plenty of activities that allow you to relax and forget about stressful exams or assignments.
5. Explore wonderful sites and iconic monuments
There are over 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal, both natural and human-made locations, which will sparkle your imagination and curiosity.
Whatever you do, don't forget to visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Oceanário de Lisboa, Torre de Belém, Bom Jesus do Monte, the University of Coimbra, and many other attractions.
Which universities and colleges to attend in Portugal?
Portugal is home to around 50 universities, over 80 polytechnics and 6 public institutions specialising in military and law enforcement study programmes.
The main difference between universities and polytechnics lies in the fact that universities are more focused on theoretical education, while polytechnics are dedicated to vocational studies.
Examples of universities in Portugal we recommend:
- Universidade Nova de Lisboa
- Instituto Superior Técnico
- Catholic University of Portugal
- ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management
- Polytechnic Institute of Bragança
What is it like to study in Portugal?
As a fresh enrolled student in Portugal, you will experience several welcoming rituals and traditions, named “praxe” – inviting you to socialise with your peers.
In terms of the academics, classes are rather formal and they usually start early in the morning. Professors are usually strict, but they have a more relaxed attitude in the beginning of the year, when students are just starting to accommodate with the university life.
What to study in Portugal?
Portugal is particularly known for offering Bachelor, Master and PhD degrees in fields such as Biotechnology, Medicine, Social Sciences and Arts. However, since Portugal has started to welcome more and more international students each year, Portuguese universities have been introducing English-taught degrees for most disciplines, from Computer Science to Business.
Here are some of the most popular study options in Portugal:
- Masters in International Business in Portugal
- Masters in Finance in Portugal
- Masters in Information Sciences in Portugal
- Masters in General Engineering in Portugal
Where to study in Portugal?
Most universities are concentrated within 12 major cities of Portugal. Wherever you choose to study, you will benefit from quality academic training. When you’re not engaged in studying, you can have fun at numerous bars and pubs, listen to the famous fado, or enjoy one of the many festivities held in each city in Portugal.
Check out the major student cities in Portugal and learn more about what it is like to study there:
How to apply
If you’re interested in following a Bachelor’s degree in Portugal, you can apply online on the official Portuguese website dedicated to higher education. You can choose up to six universities/polytechnics and study programs you would like to apply for.
When applying for a Master’s or PhD degree in Portugal, simply apply on the website of your chosen universities. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Carefully check all the required application documents and make sure they are all translated into Portuguese if your chosen university requires it.
- Make sure to know what the language requirements are, and whether you need to prove skills in English before enrolling in a degree programme.
- Show how you performed as a student, and be sure to know what your Grade Point Average (GPA) was during your studies.
- To help your chances of going to Portugal, be sure to apply to more than one university!
How to qualify for a Portuguese university?
Improve your English through an English-language prep course: If you’re attending a degree programme in Portugal, you will sometimes need to prove that your language skills are good enough to participate in the classes and understand the lectures. These courses will also prepare you for any of the English-language tests that universities require.
There are over 200 English-taught programmes in Portugal
Universities in Portugal will want to see proof that you have good English-language skills, so that you can easily succeed in their courses. Almost all Portuguese universities accept these official English exams:
Living in Portugal
Let's take a closer look at tuition and living expenses in Portugal:
Tuition fees in Portugal
The average rate for tuition fees at public Portuguese universities is between 550 and 2,500 EUR/year for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Still, for some programmes you can expect to pay around 4,000–5,000 EUR/year. Generally, public Portuguese universities charge higher tuition fees to non-EU/EEA students.
Private universities can set their own fees, which are usually higher compared to those charged by public ones.
Students can find affordable housing options starting from around 150 to 350 EUR/month, depending on location and facilities.
Students halls of residence are the most convenient option, with prices between 150 and 250 EUR/month for a single room.
If you choose to rent an apartment, you'll pay between 350 and 800 EUR/month plus the additional monthly utilities (120–140 EUR).
EU/EEA students enjoy the same benefits as Portuguese citizens in terms of access to free or reduced-cost healthcare. To benefit from these services, you should hold an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). You can arrange for an EHIC card from your home country, before your departure to Portugal.
Non-EU/EEA students can apply for the National Health Service Card (Cartão do Utente do SNS), which offers you access to Portuguese Public Health Service.
Supermarkets in Portugal have affordable prices, so your monthly groceries should cost around 150–200 EUR. A good option for cheap food are university canteens, where you can get a meal for around 4 EUR. Throughout Portugal, you can get a meal for 7 EUR in an inexpensive restaurant.
Overall, expect to spend about 500–800 EUR/month for living costs.
Portugal is a country rich in history and culture that has greatly influenced the world. More than just a sunny Mediterranean tourist destination, Portugal has become in recent years a great place to pursue quality higher education. University of Coimbra, Portugal's oldest university, dates from 1290, and is the 9th oldest university in the world.
With a diverse and developed economy, the most thriving sectors in Portugal are aerospace industry, biotechnology, automotive, financial services, tourism, and agriculture. Although Portuguese is the official language, you will encounter many people who speak good English, French or Spanish.
Portugal is a welcoming country, driven by innovative academics and research, inviting students worldwide to enrich their knowledge in its universities.
Iconic places to visit
Throughout Portugal, you can visit splendid cultural and natural sites, from numerous museums and cathedrals to wonderful beaches and mountains.
Here are some attractions worth seeing in Portugal:
- Ponte Vasco da Gama
- The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian
- Lisbon Oceanarium - the second largest in the world
- Porto Cathedral
- The Roman Temple of Evora
- Torre dos Clérigos (Clerics' Tower) in Porto
- Azores and Madeira Island
- Serra da Estrela Mountains
- The Portuguese Empire was the first global empire in history.
- Portugal is considered the oldest nation in Europe due to the fact that it has had the same borders since 1139.
- Napoleon tried and failed three times to invade and conquer Portugal.
- The oldest bookstore in the world is in Portugal’s esteemed capital, Lisbon, and it is still open today.
- Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world.
- Portuguese explorers pioneered maritime exploration; notable examples are Bartolomeu Dias' sailing beyond the Cape of Good Hope and Vasco da Gama's discovery of the sea route to India and of Brazil.
Universities, colleges and schools in Portugal
- University of Minho (17 Distance Learning courses)
- School of Engineering of the University of Minho (10 Distance Learning courses)
- Polytechnic of Leiria (1 Distance Learning course)
- University Fernando Pessoa (1 Distance Learning course)
How to Apply to a Master's in Portugal
If you've decided to study a Master's degree at a university in Portugal, you will have to gather the right documents to prove that you fit the university requirements. Provide complete personal information, previous qualifications, financial information, and a personal statement.
What documents do I need to provide to apply in Portugal?
To apply to a university in Portugal you will likely be asked to provide some of the following documents:
- birth certificate;
- recent photos;
- your passport or national identity card;
- one or more reference letters from past employers or teachers;
- copies of past diplomas or certificates, including your graduated Bachelor's degree;
- academic transcripts;
- letter of intent;
- Curriculum Vitae;
- Some form of proof that you can support your stay in the country during your studies.
Depending on the subject or specialization of your chosen Master's, you might also be asked to provide scores for additional tests like the GRE, GMAT or LSAT. Check if your programme requires any of these, or others.
The list of documents depends on the specific requirements of universities in Portugal so you might be asked to include additional documents. It’s also likely you’ll have to provide official English translations of your documents, or translations in the local language.
Prove your English skills
Because you’ll study an international degree in English, you'll have to present a language certificate. Some popular options for international students are IELTS, TOEFL or C1 Advanced language certificates. You’ll have to meet a minimum language score set by the university, and your test scores shouldn’t be older than 1-2 years. If you don’t meet the minimum language requirements, you will have to improve your skills and scores by taking an English preparation course.
Application deadlines for Portugal
The deadlines for applying to a Master's in Portugal are usually during summer (June-July), or in winter (January-February). Keep in mind that some universities don’t have application deadlines, which means you can apply whenever you are ready.
To avoid delays or missed deadlines send your required documents with plenty of time in advance.