A Masters in Portugal combines academic excellence and an enviable climate to present an inviting study abroad opportunity.
It's no surprise that the country's sun, sea and beautiful cities have made Portugal a popular choice for international students around the world. As host to almost 15,000 international students, over 10% of enrolments at Portuguese universities originate from overseas.
|Masters Study in Portugal - Key Details|
|Oldest University||University of Coimbra (1290)|
|Course Length||1-2 years|
|Typical Fees (Domestic / EU)||€1,063|
|Academic Year||September to August|
Student life and achievement have always been celebrated in Portugal. Each year the country hosts a huge student festival called the quiema des fatas (or 'burning of the ribbons').
Portugal's higher education system also has plenty to be proud of. The country's oldest university - the University of Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra) - was founded in 1290. This makes it one of the first universities in Europe. Its beautiful campus has now been identified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Other Portuguese universities perform well in various European and international rankings.
Portugal's position at the edge of Europe and its history of global trade and exploration also give it an excellent international outlook, maintaining strong relationships with Lusophone (Portuguese speaking) nations and communities around the world.
This means that a Masters degree in Portugal can offer some excellent opportunities in subject areas that benefit from international links and multicultural perspectives.
Want to know more about life for international students in Portugal? Our detailed guide covers everything from accommodation and living costs to culture and entertainment.
Many modern Portuguese higher education institutions can trace their heritage back to long-established centres of learning. Other institutions are more modern, established to develop and communicate new ideas and technologies.
In recent years Portugal has also adopted reforms in accordance with the Bologna Process, allowing its higher education providers to combine traditional expertise with the potential for international flexibility in a modern format.
Today Portuguese higher education institutions arrange degrees into a familiar three-cycle format:
Undergraduate licenciatura are followed by postgraduate mestrado (Masters) and doutoramento (Doctorate, or PhD) level qualifications.
The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) is also used to organise and weight units within programmes.
Portuguese higher education providers are divided into two types:
Both types of institution offer the opportunity to study a Masters degree in Portugal.
Programmes at universidade may be more academic and theoretical, whilst courses in applied or professional subject-areas are more common at politénico. There is some overlap however, including a small number of politénico integrated with universidade to offer specific training in appropriate fields.
Politénico may charge lower fees in some instances, but the overall distinction between Portugal's two categories of higher education institution is one of specialism rather than quality. Your own choice of institution will probably depend upon the availability of programmes in your specific field.Both universidade and politénico may be public or private institutions:
Initial approval of programmes at Portuguese higher education institutions is undertaken by an independent body, the Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education (A3ES). Official recognition is then granted by the government's Directorate-General for Higher Education (DGES), a branch of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education.
This ensures that the government remains responsible for insuring the quality of institutions and programmes, whilst also allowing for non-partisan scrutiny.
The majority of university-level teaching in Portugal is carried out in Portuguese, but English-language-teaching is more common on Masters programmes.
Don't forget either that Portuguese is spoken by more people worldwide than any other European language except English and Spanish, so coming out of your Masters with some ability to speak it certainly won't hurt your future employment and study prospects!
Portugul does well in international university rankings, despite the country's small size.
Other Portuguese universities and higher education providers also do well in individual rankings.
|The Top Portuguese Universities in 2017|
|University||THE 2016-17||QS 2016-17||ARWU 2016|
|University of Aveiro||401-500||-||401-500|
|University of Coimbra||401-500||451-460||401-500|
|University of Lisbon||401-500||330||151-200|
|University of Porto||401-500||323||301-400|
|University of Minho||501-600||-||401-500|
|Nova University of Lisbon||501-600||366||-|
|Universidade da Beira Interior||601-800||-||-|
|ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon||601-800||-||-|
|Universidade Católica Portuguesa - UCP||-||701+||-|
University league tables can help you in your search for a Masters degree, but you need to know what to look for. Our guide to university rankings for Masters study can help.
The Portuguese academic year normally runs between September / October and July. It includes two teaching semesters along with various holidays and festivals.
A fortnight is usually allowed for Christmas and Easter breaks, with a longer summer vacation (the férias grandes) organised between June and September. Shorter holidays take place at some institutions to mark the Carnival celebrations (before Lent) and the quiema das fitas.
There are two common methods of studying for a Masters degree in Portugal:
Both types of programme are usually organised around successive units of coursework. They typically culminate in an independent project. This may be a researched dissertation or an equivalent piece of practical work.
In some cases a live examination or 'defence' of the thesis or project may be conducted at a programme's conclusion. This distinguishes the Portuguese Masters degree from some other systems. It also offers excellent preparation for PhD in Portugal (or elsewhere), where oral examination is far more common.
Applications to study a Masters degree in Portugal should be made directly to your chosen higher education institution. Confirmation of enrolment on a course will be required for some visa applications, so you should try to begin the process as early as possible.
Admission to a second-cycle mestrado programme will usually require you to have a relevant undergraduate degree.
Portugal's participation in the Bologna Process means that recognition of qualifications from other European nations will usually be automatic. Any difficulties can usually be resolved by your university, or by a Portuguese branch of the ENIC-NARIC academic recognition network.
Degrees from outside Europe may need to be formally recognised by a responsible office within your prospective Portuguese universidade or politénico.
Some courses at Portuguese institutions limit places using a 'numerous clausus' quota system. This ensures that only students of a sufficiently high standard are admitted and that graduates do not exceed demand.
Separate quotas often exist for international students. However, your application may still be ranked against other prospective candidates for your course. In some cases an entrance examination may also be set.
This more competitive application process can seem daunting. But you should look upon it as an opportunity. Successfully obtaining a place under such circumstances enhances the value of your degree and admits you to a higher education system where student status is a mark of respect.
Because Portugal is a member of the European Union, European Economic Area and Schengen Area, its immigration procedures are quite relaxed for students from other European countries.
EU citizens, together with those from the EEA and Switzerland, only need to apply for a registration certificate, which should be obtained within three months of arrival in the country (though an additional 30 day grace period may apply).
More information on registration certificates for EU and EEA citizens is available online from the Portuguese government.
If you are a national of a state that is a signatory of the Schengen Agreement, you may enter Portugal freely on a Schengen Visa.
Nationals of most other countries will need to apply for a student visa in order to study in the country for more than three months.
Specific requirements for different visas and registration certificates may vary, but you will usually need to provide some or all of the following materials:
Applications for a Portuguese student visa should first be made to a Portuguese embassy in your normal country of residence.
student visa may take up to the three months to issue, so you should investigate your individual requirements at an early stage of your application to study abroad. Additional advice is available at the website of the Portuguese immigration service.
Portugal's low cost of living is offset by relatively high fees for university study. However, funding for postgraduate study in Portugal is available from various sources.
The Portuguese government maintains a minimum cost for programs at public institutions. This is currently calculated at 1.3 times the country's current minimum wage.
Masters fees are set by each individual higher education institution, but are set for the 2016-17 academic year at €656-1063 ($733-1,188 USD). Some institutions may charge slightly more than this.
No additional fees are incurred by international students from EU countries (or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). Students from outside the EU may be required to pay at a higher rate.
Individual universities may offer funding to their students, awarded according to merit or financial requirement.
EU nationals are automatically eligible for these opportunities, but restrictions may apply to other students from overseas. You should be able to find out about potential funding availability and eligibility from your institution.
Opportunities to study in Portugal may be offered and supported through the European Erasmus+ program, which offers joint degrees, exchanges and student loans. You can read more about the Erasmus+ program here.
The Ploteus website, run by the European Commission, may also be able to provide information on funded study opportunities in Portugal.
Our own postgraduate funding website provides a comprehensive database of small grants and bursaries available to support postgraduate study around the world, including travel bursaries, living cost support, fee waivers and exchange programmes. Click here to start searching for funding to study a Masters in Portugal, or elsewhere.
Employability is a key factor in the design and provision of Portuguese Masters programmes. In fact, the government requires universities to provide annual reports on the measures being taken to enhance their graduates' career prospects.
As part of this emphasis on employability, the Portuguese government requires Masters level programmes to focus upon delivering a strong level of overall competence in a candidate's field, rather than simply transferring knowledge in specific specialist areas.
Of course, your CV will also benefit more broadly from time spent living and studying abroad and, if you've taken the chance to learn some Portuguese, you'll be well prepared for work or PhD study in Lusophone countries like Brazil.
As part of the EU, Portugal allows citizens of other member countries to seek work in the country without a permit. If this applies to you you can remain in the country and seek work after your Masters without restriction.
Students from other countries will need to seek a work permit. However, as a graduate of a Portuguese university, your application will normally be looked upon favourably. Portugal is keen to reap the benefit of its own education system and retain the economic contributions of its graduates.
Yes. A Portuguese Masters degree will entitle you to apply for a PhD in Portugal (or elsewhere). Its emphasis on practical work and the inclusion of an oral dissertation exam will also prepare you especially well for advanced postgraduate study.
See FindAPhD.com for more information on studying a PhD in Portugal.
Last updated - 03/11/2016