Studying in Portugal : characteristics and particularities of the Portuguese university system

Portugal is a country that makes many European students dream. Between its small typical villages and its big cities on a human scale, its olive groves, beaches and surf spots, Portugal attracts more and more students eager to taste the Portuguese way of life. Studying in Portugal is trendy and there are good reasons for this. For a few years now Lisbon has aspired to be an Erasmus city, but what about Portuguese studies and the university system ? How to come to study in Portugal ? What are the differences between the Portuguese and other European countries university system ? Is it possible to come to study easily in Portugal ? Lisbob, the expatriate assistant in Portugal, tells you everything you need to know about the characteristics and functioning of the Portuguese university system, to prepare your studies or your Erasmus in Portugal.

Lisbob tells you everything you need to know about studying in Portugal

Lisbob tells you everything you need to know about studying in Portugal


University system in Portugal

First important thing, there are two types of higher education institutions in Portugal, one must be careful not to confuse them. There are universities on one side and polytechnic institutes on the other. While both structures may be public or private, they do not provide the same courses. In Portugal, universities offer rather generalist curricula, often based on theoretical disciplines and research, whereas polytechnic institutes provide more technical training and lead to jobs that are also more technical.

As regards the admission process, Portuguese public universities apply the principle of numerus clausus. That is to say that the reception capacities are limited, and the students are selected by an entrance examination.

The University of Coimbra is also the oldest in the country and the most famous for studies of literature, law and management. The largest university in Portugal is Porto, with almost 30,000 students. Its most recognized sectors are those of economics and medicine, the same goes for the University of Lisbon.


University degrees in Portugal are quite similar than in other European countries

University degrees in Portugal are quite similar than in other European countries

University degrees in Portugal

As in other European countries, Portuguese universities award 3 diplomas, following the European standard LMD (License, Master, Doctorate). European ECTS credits are also in place, which facilitates mobility from one university to another. The Portuguese diplomas are as follows:

- Licenciatura

This is the undergraduate degree, equivalent to our license. It can be obtained in 3 or 4 years and you must validate 180 to 240 ECTS credits.

- Mestrado

Equivalent to our Master, the Mestrado corresponds to 5 years of postgraduate studies and is obtained after the licenciatura with the validation of 90 to 120 ECTS. In some specialized fields, you obtain your diploma by validating your complete course of a duration of 10 to 12 semesters after the end of your secondary education (300 to 360 ECTS). The medical sectors operate in particular as well.

- Doutoramento

The Portuguese doctorate is, as in other countries, the highest degree. It is obtained in 8 years after the baccalaureate and only after the defense of your thesis before a specialized jury.

Although the LMD system is the most widespread in university studies in Portugal, some sectors are an exception and have set up their own degree system. This is particularly the case for studies in medicine, architecture and engineering. Note also that polytechnic institutes can also deliver a "bacharelato" in three years. In any case, remember to contact the university of your choice to be certain of the curriculum that you will have to follow to obtain your diploma.

There are different University degrees in Portugal

There are different University degrees in Portugal

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Study in Portugal when you are foreign

For all students who live in a European Union country, mobility is all that is simpler. Indeed, Portugal is a member of the Schengen area, which means that you only need your national identity card to enter legally, if you are a national of the European Union, but also of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein and Norway), as well as Switzerland.

If you want to live and study in Portugal (more than 3 months) but you are not a national of a member state of the Schengen area, you will need a study visa. For a stay of less than 3 months however, only the passport is required for most non-European countries.


The Erasmus program in Portugal

To study in Portugal, two solutions are available to you: either you choose to do all your studies in the country or you can apply for the Erasmus program. Created in 1987, it allows students from the member countries of the program to pay only the registration fees of their home university. Doing your Erasmus in Lisbon and Portugal has since become popular with young Europeans. This exchange-based system makes it possible to take the place of another student who has also left for a partner institution. An average of 4,000 British students leave each year for the Erasmus program for one or two semesters of study. Portugal is the 5th most popular Erasmus destination for British students. As the country is part of the European Union and adheres to the Bologna Process, students receive credits (ECTS) equivalent to those of their own country, which allows foreign students to validate their degree in their own countries. do not doubt that you now have all the cards in hand to make the right decision and make your studies in Portugal a successful experience. Bob is here to answer questions that remain unresolved: do not hesitate to contact him.


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