Why should I study in Portugal?

The country of a rich history of seafaring and discovery looking out from the Iberian peninsula into the Atlantic Ocean...

How to Study in Portugal

Situated in south-western Europe, Portugal does not only boast idyllic beaches but is also a great country for completing your university studies with nearly 5000 study programmes to choose from.

The Portuguese Higher Education System

In 2016, approximately 350,000 students were enrolled at Portuguese universities. As usual in the European Higher Education Area, the degree-structure is three-tiered for the large part of subjects and study programmes, i.e. bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.

Portugal’s Higher Education System in International Comparison

This section highlights the overall performance of Portuguese universities at the institutional level per U-Multirank dimension. Overall, Portuguese universities perform clearly above average in the dimension of regional engagement and international orientation.

National performance: Portugal

Percent of all Universities 100% 80% 60% 40% < below Average above > 40% 60% 80% 100% Teaching & Learning 38% 26% Research 30% 43% Knowledge Transfer 60% 27% International Orientation 38% 49% Regional Engagement 30% 59%

How much does it cost to study in Portugal?

In general, the level of payable fees depends on whether you want to study at a public or in a private university, whereas public universities are cheaper. In addition, there is a difference between EU and non-EU students. Non-EU students mostly have to pay higher fees. The average tuition fee in public universities varies from 650 to 6,600 EUR annually for bachelor and master programmes. For Ph.D. courses, fees range between 2,500 EUR to 3,000 EUR per year. At private universities, annual fees range between 3,323 EUR and 3,872 EUR. You are also required to pay a small registration fee at most universities.

Addition of information on fees and financial support

Source: Eurydice
Reference year(s): 2020/2021

Fees

In this section we highlight the fees for studying in Portugal. The fees are shown in the national currency and address all fee types: tuition, enrolment (part- or full-time, etc.), certification, or other administrative costs. Students that are exempt from fees are also described, as well as information on international student fees if they differ.

  • The annual tuition fees for first-cycle programmes, integrated second-cycle programmes (mestrados integrados) and for second-cycle programmes (mestrados) that are legally required after a first-cycle degree for the practice of a specific profession are fixed by higher education institutions within the minimum and maximum values set by national public authorities. They range from EUR 495 to 697 per year.
  • For all other second-cycle programmes, tuition fees are set by public higher education institutions, with no limits imposed. There is a wide range of tuition fees depending mainly on the cost and quality of the course.
  • The annual tuition fees for short-cycle programmes are defined by individual higher education institutions and range from EUR 495 to 697.
  • International students, defined as non-EU/EEA citizens and the families of non-EU/EEA citizens, who are not legally residing in Portugal or who do not benefit from ‘equal rights and duties’ status, pay higher fees than national students, and higher education institutions are free to decide on the amounts charged.

Source: Eurydice - National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

Financial Support

In this section we highlight the financial support system implemented in Portugal. The types of support covered in this section include: grants, loans, tax benefits for students' parents (or students themselves) and family allowances.  How these terms are defined, are outlined below:

  • Grants are provided in the national currency and are differentiated between merit-based and need-based (or universal, where applicable). All main public financial support that does not need to be paid back is included, with the exception of grants for study abroad (i.e. mobility grants). Information is also presented on the proportion of students (in the short, first and second cycle) who receive grants.
  • Loans: information focuses on the existence of a student publicly-subsidised loan system and the percentage of students that take out a loan. Information on the interest rate and modalities for the repayment of loans may also be provided.
  • Tax benefit is any tax relief that is granted to parents whose child is a higher education student or to students themselves. The information aims to cover the amount of the tax relief, how it can be claimed and who is eligible to apply.
  • Family allowances for students' parents: this part provides information on their amount and the eligible population.
  • Student grants may be need- or merit-based. Eligibility for need-based grants is determined by the income of the student and his/her family. Need-based grant amounts depend on the fee levels and vary between EUR 872 and EUR 5,524 per year. In 2019/20, 21.8% of first-cycle and 16% of second-cycle students received a need-based grant. Students with special educational needs are provided with additional amounts, which in the academic year 2020/21 correspond to the tuition fee actually paid, up to a maximum of EUR 2,750 per year.
  • Merit-based grants are set at EUR 3,175 per year in 2020/21. The number of merit-based grants that each institution can provide is previously determined by the ratio of one grant per 500 students. To be eligible for the grant, students need to have completed all study requirements of the previous year and to have obtained good marks (over 16 on a scale of 0-20).
  • Additional grants are provided to students who move to study in less populated regions of Portugal. The annual amount is EUR 1,700. Several higher education institutions also give grants to their students.
  • Loans for higher education students were reinstated in late 2018 following a period of suspension, but due to implementation difficulties, data are not yet available.
  • Tax benefits for parents are provided through a tax reduction on educational expenses. The tax benefit is 30% of all education expenses, to the limit of EUR 800 per year. There may be additional restrictions, depending on the total income of the family (tax benefits decrease as the total income increases), as well as an increase in the benefit if there is an extra expense with accommodation rents for students living away from home.
  • Family allowance – child benefit – is granted to families with children under 24 years and enrolled in higher education, when the household income does not exceed 1.5 times the social support index times 14 (2020: EUR 9 150.96) and when the family assets are less than 240 times the social support index (2020: EUR 105,314.40).

What are the entry requirements for Portuguese Universities?

If you are from an EU or EEA member state or Switzerland and your school-leaver’s certificate allows you to enroll at a domestic higher education institution, it will usually also enable you to study on a bachelor's programme in Portugal. If you are a third country national wish to study on a bachelor's programme you are required to provide a school- leaver’s certificate in Portuguese language, English, French or Spanish. If you want to study in a master's programme you need to hold a bachelor degree.

Bachelor’s degrees in Portugal:

To study at the Bachelor level in Portugal, students will need to present a transcript of an upper secondary education, and in some institutions, foreign students must also pass an entrance exam. EU students can sometimes forgoe this test and present final examination results from their home country. Non-EU students can take the exam at the Portuguese embassy in their home country if it’s required. To learn whether you need to pass an exam before registering to study a program of your choice, you should seek advice from the Higher Admissions Office (Gabinetes de Acceso).

Master’s and PhD degrees in Portugal:

To apply for a master’s program, applicants will need to possess a relevant bachelor’s or equivalent diploma. For a PhD, applicants should have a relevant master’s diploma. The Bologna Process means that Portuguese universities recognize bachelor’s and master’s degrees from other member states without the need for any international conversion.
The documentation required for applying to any program in Portugal may entail some, or all of the following:

  • A completed application form;
  • A certification/diploma stating that you have completed the relevant high school; education/Bachelor’s/Master’s degree;
  • Transcripts of academic records;
  • A motivational letter stating why you want to attend the university;
  • For a Bachelor’s, you will need to have passed the university entrance exam;
  • For some degrees you will also require a portfolio of your work; and
  • Proof of payment of the application fee (50 EUR).
  • Language requirements

At the bachelor’s level, most Portuguese universities only offer courses in Portuguese. A Portuguese proficiency test is usually an entry requirement for bachelor’s programs. Most higher education institutions will require a minimum proficiency corresponding to the B1/B2 level. This requirement is less likely to apply to second and third-cycle programs (Master’s and PhDs) as these research-oriented programs are often designed for international students and offer courses or instruction in English.If English is not your first language, you may need to prove your proficiency in English. Requirements vary significantly from one program to another, but the following tests are typically accepted as proof of your English proficiency.

  • TOEFL;
  • IELTS;
  • CAE/CPE; and
  • PTE A.

Language requirements can vary significantly between institutions and between programs. Contact the International Office or the Admissions Office at your institution to confirm that you meet the language requirements for the program you’re planning to apply to.

How to get a Scholarship in Portugal?

No matter the reason, paying high tuition fees can be a source of stress for many. However, there are many options for financing your studies, including the use of scholarships. There are various scholarship opportunities available for international students looking to study in Portugal. Depending on your country of origin and the level of studies, there are different options for funding. To explore what scholarship options are available, check this scholarship database.

Do I need a Student Visa for Portugal?

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are not required to obtain a visa but need to register with the local authorities within 90 days of their arrival. These authorities will furnish you with a student residence permit (Licença de Permanência), upon you providing proof of sufficient financial means for your stay in the country. Generally, all non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens must hold a student visa along with a with a residence permit. The visa has to be obtained before traveling to Portugal. Upon arrival in Portugal, you are able to apply for a residence permit.

 

Top Student Cities in Portugal

 

How do Portuguese Universities fare in U-Multirank?

  • In 2020, U-Multirank presents data on 27 Portuguese higher education institutions: both universities as well as polytechnic institutes.
  • In a global comparison, Portuguese institutions are very strong in the dimension of Regional Engagement. They publish much of their research with other universities in their region.
  • Nova University Lisbon (13), University of Minho (11), and the University of Lisbon (9) have the highest number of top group positions (‘A’ scores) of all Portuguese institutions. In addition, four (4) Portuguese HEIs score eight (8) top positions.
  • Our lists of the global ‘Top 25 Performers’ include five (5) Portuguese institutions for the share of regional publications, i.e. publications published with co-authors from the same region: CESPU - INSTITUO UNIVERSITÁRIO DE CIÊNCIAS DA SAÚDE, Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon (IPL), Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal, Universidade Aberta (UAb), and University Fernando Pessoa. Furthermore, Universidade Católica Portuguesa is listed for their Income from Continuous Professional Development activities.
Portugal's Higher Education Performance in U-Multirank

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