As the oldest nation in Europe, Portugal is an ideal place to study abroad, particularly if you are interested in enjoying a sunny weather and admiring splendid coastlines each day. Anywhere you go in Portugal, you’ll always have a beach nearby and because the Portuguese are known for truly celebrating life, you can always join a local festival that involves dancing in the streets.
In Portugal, you’ll experience the charming atmosphere of a constant holiday, while you also prepare to become an expert in your chosen field of study.
Portugal is one of the most popular countries for student exchange programmes and many universities are active members of the Erasmus+ programme.
Portuguese universities are focusing both on providing valuable theoretical knowledge and on engaging students in prevalent research projects. Many universities are affiliated with several research centres and they have been contributing to more than 1% of the world's highly cited research publications.
As a student enrolled at one of the Portuguese universities, you can complement your degree with an internship at a local company and attend interesting workshops under the instruction of international experts.
At public universities, international students should expect to pay anywhere between 500 and 5,000 EUR per academic year. Non-EU/EEA students are usually the ones who pay higher fees.
If we add in the fact that living costs are also low, it's easy to understand why many foreigners choose Portugal for their higher education.
Although you don't need to know Portuguese to study at a university in Portugal, it will be very useful if you learn at least the basics. It will make your day-to-day interactions, shopping, and other activities much easier.
It's also beneficial to have Portuguese as an asset on your CV. It is the official language in 10 countries (e.g. Brazil, Mozambique, Angola) and many international companies are looking for graduates who speak both English and Portuguese at an advanced level.
Anyone who lives in Portugal — or at leasts visits it — falls in love with the local climate. Summers are hot and winters only mildly cold, which makes it perfect for people who cannot stand cold weather.
This delightful climate and the beautiful beaches means you'll enjoy plenty of activities that allow you to relax and forget about stressful exams or assignments.
There are over 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal, both natural and human-made locations, which will sparkle your imagination and curiosity.
Whatever you do, don't forget to visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Oceanário de Lisboa, Torre de Belém, Bom Jesus do Monte, the University of Coimbra, and many other attractions.
As a fresh enrolled student in Portugal, you will experience several welcoming rituals and traditions, named “praxe” – inviting you to socialise with your peers.
In terms of the academics, classes are rather formal and they usually start early in the morning. Professors are usually strict, but they have a more relaxed attitude in the beginning of the year, when students are just starting to accommodate with the university life.
Portugal is particularly known for offering Bachelor, Master and PhD degrees in fields such as Biotechnology, Medicine, Social Sciences and Arts. However, since Portugal has started to welcome more and more international students each year, Portuguese universities have been introducing English-taught degrees for most disciplines, from Computer Science to Business.
Here are some of the most popular study options in Portugal:
Most universities are concentrated within 12 major cities of Portugal. Wherever you choose to study, you will benefit from quality academic training. When you’re not engaged in studying, you can have fun at numerous bars and pubs, listen to the famous fado, or enjoy one of the many festivities held in each city in Portugal.
Check out the major student cities in Portugal and learn more about what it is like to study there:
Portugal is home to around 50 universities, over 80 polytechnics and 6 public institutions specialising in military and law enforcement study programmes.
The main difference between universities and polytechnics lies in the fact that universities are more focused on theoretical education, while polytechnics are dedicated to vocational studies.
Examples of top universities in Portugal:
If you’re interested in following a Bachelor’s degree in Portugal, you can apply online on the official Portuguese website dedicated to higher education. You can choose up to six universities/polytechnics and study programs you would like to apply for.
When applying for a Master’s or PhD degree in Portugal, simply apply on the website of your chosen universities. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Improve your English through an English-language prep course: If you’re attending a degree programme in Portugal, you will sometimes need to prove that your language skills are good enough to participate in the classes and understand the lectures. These courses will also prepare you for any of the English-language tests that universities require.
There are over 200 English-taught programmes in Portugal
Universities in Portugal will want to see proof that you have good English-language skills, so that you can easily succeed in their courses. Almost all Portuguese universities accept these official English exams:
Let's take a closer look at tuition and living expenses in Portugal:
The average rate for tuition fees at public Portuguese universities is between 550 and 2,500 EUR/year for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Still, for some programmes you can expect to pay around 4,000–5,000 EUR/year. Generally, public Portuguese universities charge higher tuition fees to non-EU/EEA students.
Private universities can set their own fees, which are usually higher compared to those charged by public ones.
Students can find affordable housing options starting from around 150 to 350 EUR/month, depending on location and facilities.
Students halls of residence are the most convenient option, with prices between 150 and 250 EUR/month for a single room.
If you choose to rent an apartment, you'll pay between 350 and 800 EUR/month plus the additional monthly utilities (120–140 EUR).
EU/EEA students enjoy the same benefits as Portuguese citizens in terms of access to free or reduced-cost healthcare. To benefit from these services, you should hold an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). You can arrange for an EHIC card from your home country, before your departure to Portugal.
Non-EU/EEA students can apply for the National Health Service Card (Cartão do Utente do SNS), which offers you access to Portuguese Public Health Service.
Supermarkets in Portugal have affordable prices, so your monthly groceries should cost around 150–200 EUR. A good option for cheap food are university canteens, where you can get a meal for around 4 EUR. Throughout Portugal, you can get a meal for 7 EUR in an inexpensive restaurant.
Overall, expect to spend about 500–800 EUR/month for living costs.
Portugal is a country rich in history and culture that has greatly influenced the world. More than just a sunny Mediterranean tourist destination, Portugal has become in recent years a great place to pursue quality higher education. University of Coimbra, Portugal's oldest university, dates from 1290, and is the 9th oldest university in the world.
With a diverse and developed economy, the most thriving sectors in Portugal are aerospace industry, biotechnology, automotive, financial services, tourism, and agriculture. Although Portuguese is the official language, you will encounter many people who speak good English, French or Spanish.
Portugal is a welcoming country, driven by innovative academics and research, inviting students worldwide to enrich their knowledge in its universities.
Throughout Portugal, you can visit splendid cultural and natural sites, from numerous museums and cathedrals to wonderful beaches and mountains.
Here are some attractions worth seeing in Portugal:
Recent international policies promote international university cooperation and student exchange between countries worldwide. High-quality study and PhD degrees are made more available to students in order to create a global educational network, achievable through student and staff mobility. Career and research oriented programmes support international student development.
University cooperation enables students study worldwide, for instance in Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States and provides ways of recognizing previous degrees. Different study options offer appropriate alternatives to students, depending on their preferred mode of study.
Many study programmes in Australia, Asia, Europe and North America are English-taught. The most popular international student destinations include the following countries: Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, the United States, and more. However, these are not the only countries offering English-taught education. The rest of the world is full of endless study choices, from highly ranked to smaller, more specialized, universities.
If you want further education beyond the undergraduate level or if you want more personal development or a career in academia, you could obtain a PhD degree. PhD degrees are postgraduate programmes that usually follow a Master's, MPhil or MRes, but there might be additional requirements depending on the university. Students are required to do their own research in a chosen topic. With the help of a supervisor, you develop knowledge and analytical skills in a specific or multidisciplinary field and you carry out independent research. The duration of a PhD degree differs per country and institution. Sometimes your own research is accompanied by work for the department such as giving seminars or small group teaching.
PhD students are required to study on campus under close supervision, but there are universities that accept students enrolled into a part-time distance education PhD degree. Studying on campus can also be full-time as well as part-time, in which case the part-time variant is normally twice as long as the full-time study.
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