Portugal is an attractive and accessible destination for international students who want to study 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 6 police or military academies. While university degrees are more appreciated by national and international students, polytechnics focus on the practical side of teaching.
But what do you need to know before applying to a university in Portugal? Let's discover together!
1. Portuguese universities to consider for your studies
Here are some top Portuguese universities you should consider for your study abroad adventure:
- Universidade Nova de Lisboa
- Instituto Superior Tecnico
- Catholic University of Portugal
- University of Lisbon
- University of Porto
- Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics
Check out more universities with English-taught Masters in Portugal.
2. Prepare to apply
Search for degree courses in Portugal according to your education level and pay attention to the language of study. Some are taught in English, while other require students to know some Portuguese.
You should get your high school degree officially recognised at an Portuguese embassy or consulate 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.
3. Where to apply
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.
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.
4. Tips about entry exams at 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.
5. Language requirements for Portuguese university application
Usually, the following English tests are accepted for admissions:
You should check with the higher education institution to see which English test is proffered and what is the minimum required score. At other universities and polytechnics where lectures are held in Portuguese, you might also need to prove your Portuguese language skills.
6. Required university 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)
Keep in mind that documents related to your former studies must be presented in original form and as English translations.
7. University application deadlines in Portugal
There are typically three applications sessions for students planning to study abroad in Portugal and university courses start either in autumn or 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.
8. Final steps after receiving your acceptance letter
Studying in Portugal involves a few extra steps after the application process:
- Settle your health insurance. Learn more about international student insurance for students studying in Portugal.
- 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 at 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.