Study System in Portugal

Forms of higher education in Portugal

The origins of the Portuguese university landscape go back to the early 13th century. During the dictatorship that ruled until 1974, higher education received little support. That has changed a lot in the last few decades and today’s range of courses is broad. Studying in Portugal is therefore possible in a wide variety of subjects.

There are 14 state and private universities (Universidades) as well as numerous state and privately run polytechnic universities (Institutos Politécnicos). There are also subject-specific institutes and academies, for example for the police and the military. There is also a large university for distance learning. All public and private institutions are accredited by the Ministério da Educação e Ciência.


The Universidad is the organizational umbrella term for a university institution with the autonomous parts schools (Escuelas), faculties (Faculdades) and institutes (Institutos). Almost all universities have a wide range of subjects. Studying them is primarily of a theoretical nature and is research-oriented.

Institutos Politécnicos

The first Institutos Politécnicos did not emerge until the late 1970s. The Institutos Politécnicos roughly correspond in their study program to German universities of applied sciences. Studying at them is very practical and job-oriented. As their name suggests, they are committed to specific areas. These are mostly technical and engineering subjects, but also courses such as management, health and sports science.

Study system in Portugal

According to localcollegeexplorer, the academic year in Portugal is structured differently depending on the university. It either consists of two semesters or is calculated over entire academic years.

Proof of achievement that is obtained while studying in Portugal is calculated in Créditos according to the European Credit Point System. The students are assessed mainly on the basis of exams, exposés and presentations. Studies in Portugal are often more school-based and lessons take place in small courses and lectures. As a rule, great value is placed on the oral and group work of the students.

The undergraduate degree: Licenciatura

The first academic degree at Portuguese universities is the Licenciatura. The Licenciatura is planned for three years. It is equivalent to the Bachelor and can be obtained at a Universidad or an Instituto Politécnico.

The postgraduate course: Mestrado

A degree in Mestrado can be linked to the Licenciatura. This corresponds to a master’s degree. A further one to two years should be allowed for this specialist specialization. The final examination consists of a written paper and its oral defense.

Doctoral studies: Doutor

A Promotion is only one Universidad possible. The title Doutor or Doutoramento is an equivalent to the German doctorate. As a rule, doctoral students need three to four years to submit their dissertação and their oral defense.

Further academic degrees in Portugal

In addition to these degrees, there are a number of other academic courses. A Bacharelato study in Portugal is possible at a polytechnic and takes about three years.

Another variant is the Diploma de Estudos Superiores Especializados, i.e. a diploma acquired in a specialty that is roughly equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.

In the postgraduate area, usually after the Licenciatura or the Mestrado, a one-year further education to Espacialização can be added. It leads to a special specialization in the relevant subject area.

Visa and entry into Portugal

To study in Portugal, EU citizens need a valid identity card or passport to enter the country. You should then always have the relevant document with you. In addition, foreigners who stay for more than six months must apply for a residence card (autorização de residência) in advance. This happens through the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, which is located in every major city.

If you have statutory health insurance in Germany, you are usually covered by the European health insurance card in Portugal at the same time. Nevertheless, it is not wrong to find out more about the extent to which private foreign health insurance makes sense for studying in Portugal.

Study System in Portugal

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