Why study a PhD in Portugal

Browse all PhD programmes in Portugal

  • Sep-Jul Academic Year
  • 12 Listed Institutes
  • 15000 Int. Students
  • Unavailable Students
  • 10264796 Population

Study in Portugal

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.

Why study in Portugal?

1. Portuguese universities are active in multiple higher education areas

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.

2. It's affordable

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.

3. Learn Portuguese, spoken by over 250 million people worldwide

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.

4. Enjoy the Mediterranean climate

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.

5. Explore wonderful sites and iconic monuments

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.

Universities and colleges to attend in Portugal

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 universities in Portugal we recommend:

What is it like to study in Portugal

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.

What to study in Portugal

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:

Major cities 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:

How to apply

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:

  • Carefully check all the required application documents and make sure they are all translated into Portuguese if your chosen university requires it.
  • Make sure to know what the language requirements are, and whether you need to prove skills in English before enrolling in a degree programme.
  • Show how you performed as a student, and be sure to know what your Grade Point Average (GPA) was during your studies.
  • To help your chances of going to Portugal, be sure to apply to more than one university!

Make sure you qualify for a Portuguese university

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.

English-language tests

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:

Living in Portugal

Let's take a closer look at tuition and living expenses in Portugal:

Tuition fees 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.

Accommodation costs

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).

Health care

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.

Food costs

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.

Find out more about tuition fees and living costs in Portugal 

About Portugal

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.

Iconic places to visit

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:

  • Ponte Vasco da Gama
  • The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian
  • Lisbon Oceanarium - the second largest in the world
  • Porto Cathedral
  • The Roman Temple of Evora
  • Torre dos Clérigos (Clerics' Tower) in Porto
  • Azores and Madeira Island
  • Serra da Estrela Mountains
Fun facts
  • The Portuguese Empire was the first global empire in history.
  • Portugal is considered the oldest nation in Europe due to the fact that it has had the same borders since 1139.
  • Napoleon tried and failed three times to invade and conquer Portugal.
  • The oldest bookstore in the world is in Portugal’s esteemed capital, Lisbon, and it is still open today.
  • Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world.
  • Portuguese explorers pioneered maritime exploration; notable examples are Bartolomeu Dias' sailing beyond the Cape of Good Hope and Vasco da Gama's discovery of the sea route to India and of Brazil.

Find PhDs Degrees 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.

PhD (postgraduate) Degrees

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.

Discover other countries

The Netherlands is a very popular study destination. Internationals choose this beautiful country because Dutch universities are some of the best in Europe, the living standards are high, foreigners are always welcome, and you get to live in one of the happiest and safest countries in the world. The Netherlands is also renowned for innovative technologies and engineering solutions, which is reflected in the wide range of Engineering degrees offered by universities. English is spoken by around 90% of Dutch citizens, so forget about language barriers. Also, bike lanes and the “cycling culture” will help you to stay fit and healthy, and there are diverse job opportunities and internships for international students.
Czech Republic
Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, you will enjoy top-quality education and research, especially in subjects like Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The number of English-taught degrees offered by Czech universities is constantly growing. This is a response to the numerous international students attracted by academic opportunities and great living standards at reasonable costs. The Czech Republic is among the safest countries in the world, according to the Global Peace Index, and it allows you to travel around Europe easily. While out of class, you can visit local attractions like the Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the local spas, and hot water springs, etc.
Finland is an excellent choice for all internationals and especially for EU/EEA students who can study at local public universities for free. The beautiful Nordic country has one of the best education systems in the world and ranks among the safest and happiest nations in the world. You can also choose from over 400 English-taught programmes. In your spare time, you can explore the breathtaking Finnish nature and landscapes, as well as the numerous lakes that give the country the nickname ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes.’ From here, you can easily travel to neighbouring countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, or Estonia.
Ireland is among the top countries in the world in terms of quality of life, peace, safety, and development. It represents an appealing blend of beautiful landscapes, English-speaking environments, and a strong, welcoming, and rich culture — of which the Irish people are very proud. International students also enjoy the full support of Irish universities, which hire and train staff that are able to help with accommodation, studies, visa details, or any other challenge.
Norway is a paradise for anyone who wants to study abroad for free. Public universities don’t charge any tuition fees. This policy applies to all international students, regardless of their nationality. The academic standard is very high, and professors are easy to approach, always willing to go the extra mile for their students. Additionally, classes are organised in small groups, which further improves learning and cooperation. You can choose from a wide range of English-taught programmes, and you don’t need to worry about language barriers outside of classes either, because most Norwegians speak English as a second language. Internationals should find it easy to adapt to Norway’s society, which is based on equality and fair opportunities — reflected both in the legal system and in people’s behaviour.
Poland represents a great mix of quality education and affordable costs. International students can choose from over 400 universities where programmes are taught in Polish and English. The main advantage of choosing a Polish-taught degree is that you won’t have to pay any tuition fees. Polish people are known for their hospitality and specific sense of humour, which means you’ll have a lot of fun interacting with locals, making friends, and exploring your surroundings. When you’re not in classes, feel free to travel around, visit the beautiful castles, or go skiing in the Tatra Mountains (during the winter).
Sweden is a very ambitious, eco-friendly, and visionary country. For example, by 2040, it aims to produce all its energy from renewable sources. Universities play an important role in achieving development goals, thanks to their world-class research facilities. If you’re from the EU/EEA, you can study at public universities for free. As a student, you will discover and easily adopt the three main values of Swedish society: freedom, equality, and sustainability. These values are reflected in every aspect of the local society, and you’ll quickly learn to appreciate them. Language barriers are also almost non-existent since around 80% of Swedes speak English.
Switzerland has one of the most advanced free-market economies, which is reflected in the high living standards and the satisfaction of people living here. In terms of higher education, Swiss universities are constantly ranked among the best in Europe, and they shine in areas like Business, Tourism, Culinary Arts, and Engineering. When compared to Western universities, tuition fees in Switzerland are affordable, and all studies — especially PhD programmes — are world-class. You’ll have the opportunity to develop in a multilingual environment and try learning international languages like German, French, or Italian. If you settle down here, the unemployment rates are low, and salaries are well above the European average.
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Universities in the UK are some of the most highly regarded in the world, and for good reasons. Some of the world's most highly regarded research takes place in British universities, which are regularly featured in international rankings. While studying in the UK, you will be able to develop in a highly multicultural environment with high chances of pursuing lucrative careers after graduation. The teaching in the UK is designed to encourage new idea generation, encouraging individual research and group cooperation, through class discussions and creative assignments.
Canada is one of the most popular study destinations in the world due to its high focus on the quality of its universities and its emphasis on attracting international students who can later immigrate. Canadians are very welcoming to international students and they invest a lot into making sure students are safe, treated fairly, and enjoy their stay in the country. Study in one of the strongest economies in the world while enjoying a high living standard and a flexible study environment. Classes have smaller student groups ensuring everyone gets the attention they need, and encouraging group assignments and debates.
United States
United States
The United States is home to some of the most prestigious universities and colleges in the world. With over 150 universities featured in international rankings, the U.S. has some of the best business schools, medical schools, and engineering schools. Universities and colleges in the U.S. are well known for academic flexibility and ways to customize your study experience with optional studies and extracurricular activities. Depending on where you will be studying, you will be able to visit iconic places like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Goldengate Bridge, The Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Disney's Magic Kingdom Park, and much more.
Israel attracts international students through high standards of education and a wide range of English-taught degrees. Local universities shine in areas like Technology, Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship. In fact, Israel is a renowned land of innovation, having earned itself the nickname ‘Start-Up Nation’. While living and studying here, you will discover a wonderful culture developed throughout 4,000 years of history; different cultural influences are noticeable everywhere, especially in Israeli food, art, and history. In major cities, English is widely spoken, so communication shouldn’t be a problem. In your spare time, you can visit one of the over 400 nature reserves and 80 national parks.
By studying in Australia you will take advantage of the great student environment both inside and outside classrooms. In addition to some of the best business and engineering schools in the world, you will be able to explore a greatly developed country that still retains its wild side with its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and the Great Outback, with over 500 national parks. Many Australian universities provide internships and work placements, preparing students early on for the job market.


Go to your profile page to get personalised recommendations!