How to Apply to an International University in Portugal in 2020

Portugal is an attractive and accessible destination for international students who aim for a degree abroad in Europe. The higher education system in Portugal is split between public and private institutions, universities and polytechnics and a general focus on theory and research.

The westernmost country from mainland Europe has a total of 47 universities, 74 polytechnics and six police or military academies. While university degrees are more appreciated by national and international students, polytechnics focus on the practical side of teaching. Are you ready for a close encounter with Portuguese culture?

Find Bachelors in Portugal

1. Choose the right degree subject in Portugal

There are plenty of disciplines you can pick from to study in English in Portugal. Here are just of few of the most popular options to consider:

2. Choose the right Portuguese university

Here are some top Portuguese universities you should consider for your study abroad adventure:

Check out more universities with English-taught Masters in Portugal.

3. Prepare to apply

Search for degree courses in Portugal according to your education level and pay attention to the language of study. Some lessons are taught in English, while lectures are held in Portuguese. Find and compare courses on Bachelorsportal or Mastersportal.

You should get your high school degree officially recognised at an embassy or consulate of Portugal in your country or at the local embassy from Portugal. If you have any questions, you may ask the advisors from the Higher Education Admission Offices.

4. Where to apply

Undergraduate students

Apply online on the official Portuguese website dedicated to higher education studies. You can choose up to six universities/polytechnics and study programs you would like to apply for, in order of preference.

Graduate students

Apply on the website of your chosen universities. You may need to have your documents translated if requested by the institution you are applying for.

5. Tips about entry exams in Portuguese universities

The admissions system in Portugal involves entrance exams that can be taken separately, depending on the country you are coming from. If you are an EU citizen or recently lived in Portugal, you may take the exam when the national session is scheduled. Also, you may replace this test with the final exams from your home country, if you get them recognised at your local Portugal embassy.

Prospective students coming from non-EU countries are viewed as “international students” and have the possibility to take the exams locally, at the Portuguese embassy from their home country.

View Masters in Portugal

6. Language requirements for Portuguese university application

Usually, the following English tests are accepted for admissions:

  • C1 Advanced/ C2 Proficiency
  • PTE A

However, you should check with the higher education institution for the English requirements. In the universities and polytechnics, lectures are held in Portuguese, so you might also need Portuguese language skills.

Search for Master's degrees in Portugal

7. Required application documents

  • A completed application form
  • Proof that you passed the entrance examination (mostly when applying to Bachelor's degrees)
  • A recognised certificate stating completion of high school/Bachelor’s degree
  • Transcripts of academic records
  • Motivation letter
  • Proof of payment of application fee (50 EUR)
  • Portfolio (required for some degrees only)
  • Documents that refer to your former studies must be presented in original and English translations

8. University application deadlines for Portugal

There are typically three applications sessions for students planning to study abroad in Portugal and university courses start either in Autumn or in Spring. While you should always check with the university you are applying to, some general deadlines are: 

  • First application deadline: April-May
  • Second application deadline: June-July
  • Third application deadline: August-September

Remember that these deadlines vary between institutions and different degree courses at the same university may have different deadlines. You will receive an official answer from the university one or two months after the application deadline.

9. Final steps after receiving your acceptance letter

Studying in Portugal means a few extra steps after the application process:

  • Settle your health insurance. If you are coming from an EU country, you can use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
  • Apply for a Portuguese student visa if you are coming from outside the EU.
  • After arriving in Portugal, you will have to apply for a residence permit at a local city council hall.
  • Students must officially enrol in the university after arriving in Portugal before they can start their classes.
  • You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies in Portugal.

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