Selection of Best Portuguese Universities by Region

All about higher education in Portugal for Russians with residence permit status
All about higher education in Portugal for Russians with residence permit status

The cost of higher education in Portugal is the most affordable in the European Union. At the same time, four Portuguese universities were included in the top 500 in the world in terms of education quality and in the top 300 in terms of employability, according to the QS World University Ranking.

All European countries recognize Portuguese diplomas. Education in Portugal adheres to the standards of the European Bologna system. Some curriculums are developed in conjunction with UK universities with graduates receiving dual degrees.

Most undergraduate programs include internships in foreign companies, allowing students to gain the necessary experience in their profession, which also prepares them for future job interviews.

Higher education in Portugal is free for EU citizens. However, EU residence permit holders are also eligible to enroll at a European university.

We will describe how the Portuguese higher education system works, list the best universities in the country, and the most popular subjects offered there.

How the higher education system works in Portugal

Higher education in Portugal is offered at polytechnic institutes and universities.

Students at Portuguese polytechnic institutes graduate with a “license” to practice a specific profession or with a bachelor’s degree. Graduates from Portuguese universities can be awarded bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Scientists and researchers are trained at universities.

A bachelor’s or licentiate’s degree is the first stage of higher education in the European Bologna system of higher education. Tuition for this degree lasts three to four years, and for law and medical specialties, five to six years.

A bachelor’s degree helps the holder get a job. In some universities, students undertake internships in large companies in Portugal for periods ranging from two weeks to several months as part of their course. This gives them experience in their profession, which puts them in a stronger position to find a job after graduation.

A master’s degree is the next step after a bachelor’s degree. The period of study varies from one to two years, and for legal and medical specialties, from five to six years. A master’s degree ends with the student being assigned a research project or scientific work.

Doctorate. Graduates studying for a doctoral degree or PhD are allowed to take as much time as they need to prepare for exams and defend their dissertation. State universities pay scholarships (usually at least €1,000 per annum) to future doctoral students.

The cost of higher education in Portugal

There are both public and private universities in Portugal. Students are admitted based on the results of school exams on a competitive basis both for free and paid places. Competition for a place depends on the reputation of the university.

At public universities, students study for free; however, there is a minimum annual administrative fee of €697.

Free higher education in Portugal is offered to:

  • EU citizens

  • applicants whose spouses or parents are EU citizens

  • foreigners who have been legally living in Portugal for more than two years.

Foreign applicants can enroll in a fee-paying department of the university. Tuition costs range from €3,000 to €12,500 per annum. The most expensive courses are in English, but graduates of these courses also receive dual degrees.

The cost of higher education in Portugal is considered the least expensive in Europe. For example, the cost of annual tuition at universities in the UK varies from €17,000 to €36,000.

Portuguese university students have the added advantage of being able to save on living expenses while studying, as the cost of living in Portugal is 30-45% lower than in Germany, France, Switzerland, or Britain.

A student dormitory room costs €200 per month and a studio can be rented in Lisbon for €500–600. The cost of a student lunch is €2–4. Furthermore, students receive discounts on public transport, cinemas and theaters.

Scholarships are available for academic excellence. For example, the University of Coimbra offers discounts on tuition and accommodation in a student hostel, as well as coupons for free meals in canteens if the student has an average performance of 18 points.

The University of Porto pays for scholarships for academic excellence, which can amount to up to five times the minimum salary. The Catholic University of Lisbon gives discounts on tuition ranging from 50 to 75% of the tuition cost for the academic year.

The University of Aveiro reduces the tuition fee to €1,000 for international students with an average grade of 16 or higher. The University of Lisbon awards the Amadeu Diaz Scholarship to the top 29 students from four faculties: Science, Psychology, Law and Technology.

How to prepare for admission to a Portuguese university

Most Portuguese universities require applicants to have completed A-levels or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. Typically, students enroll in these courses aged from 16 to 18 years old.

The cost of studying for a year in the International Baccalaureate program at international schools in Portugal is €25,000.

Portuguese universities also offer international applicants to enroll in the Foundation program as an alternative to A-level or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. The goal of the program is to help foreign students adapt to the new educational system and improve the level of their language.

Foundation courses last from six months to a year and cost at least €7,000.

Enrollment process at a Portuguese university

Admission to a Portuguese university is on a competitive basis. Every year, universities publish the number of vacancies and terms of admission: the number of vacancies and the rules are different for EU and non-EU citizens.

Each university sets its own deadlines for accepting documents. Typically, applications for studies start being accepted nine months before the start of studies. During this period, applicants need to send the necessary documents, pass entrance exams and, if necessary, obtain a student visa.

The academic year at universities in Portugal is divided into two semesters. The winter semester lasts from September or October to the end of February, and the spring semester lasts from March to the end of July. Applications are accepted for either semester.

Foreign applicants need to prove their knowledge of the Portuguese language at a level of B2 or higher. Universities can also admit students with a B1 language certificate as long as they undertake to raise their level to the B2 level. If the course is taught in English, the same requirements apply for the English language.

Documents required for admission

To apply for a course, applicants fill out an electronic form on the online portal of the selected faculty. Universities take a commission for processing applications. For example, at the University of Lisbon, the commission is €60, and at the University of Aveiro, it is €50.

To complete an application, applicants need to fill out and submit the following forms and documents:

  • application form;

  • scanned passport copy;

  • scanned secondary education certificate or bachelor’s diploma;

  • scanned certificates of knowledge of the Portuguese and English languages ​​at least up to level B1.

The university may also ask for a letter of motivation, which explains why the applicant wants to study there. Sometimes they conduct an interview via Skype.

For holders of a bachelor’s degree, in addition to the diploma, an extract with a list of subjects studied and the number of academic hours spent may also be required.

Documents from foreign educational institutions must be apostilled, translated into Portuguese and certified by the consulate.

Top 5 universities in Portugal

Status State
Annual tuition fees €3,500–8,000
World ranking 295
Ranking by employability 201—250
Languages ​​of instruction Portuguese, English

The University of Porto was created based on a polytechnic institute and it specializes in applied sciences: engineering, construction, architecture, astrophysics, genetics, immunology, cell biology and marine ecology.

The university has three university campuses in different districts of Porto. More than 600 programs per year are offered to students at 15 faculties. The university has 50 research units, dormitories, sports facilities, libraries, cafes and shops.

The University of Porto is focused on the rapid advancement of their students in the labor market. It changes its curriculum in accordance with the needs of the market. Practical classes are held with constant interaction with professionals from various fields and companies.

About 3,800 foreign students enroll at the university annually.

Prestigious degrees

Architecture Jurisprudence
Industrial Design Economics and Business
Graphic Design Psychology
Medicine Nutrition
Dentistry Human Kinetics
Pharmaceuticals Pedagogy
Exact Sciences Geography
Information Systems and Engineering Agronomy
Best universities in Portugal: the University of Porto
University of Porto cooperates with 500 universities in Europe. Its programs are focused on the rapid adaptation of students in a professional environment
Status State
Annual tuition fees €3,000–12,500
World ranking 357
Ranking by employability 181—190
Languages ​​of instruction Portuguese, English

The University of Lisbon is the most versatile and prestigious Portuguese university with 18 faculties, schools and institutes. It has 19 dormitories, sports grounds, libraries, cafes and shops.

More than 8,000 foreign students enter the university annually.

The university has a large research center that conducts research in the field of robotics, plasma physics, nanotechnology, telecommunications and molecular medicine.

Prestigious degrees

Architecture and design Information systems and engineering
Art Political science
Jurisprudence Psychology
Medicine Human kinetics
Dentistry Social sciences
Pharmaceuticals Pedagogy
Veterinary medicine Geography
Exact Sciences Agronomy
Status State
Annual tuition fees €3,000–7,000
World ranking 431
Ranking by employment 201—250
Languages ​​of instruction Portuguese, English

New University is the youngest state university in Lisbon. Since its inception, it has been continuously ranked in the top 5 universities in the country. Many of its programs have been developed in cooperation with other European universities.

The following subjects are offered at its nine faculties: exact, computer and applied sciences, and engineering. Foreign students make up over 20% of the students. Most of them are from Latin America and other Portuguese-speaking countries.

Prestigious degrees

Cellular and Molecular Biology Jurisprudence
Biomedical Engineering Economics and Business
Civil Engineering Psychology
Computer Science and Engineering Communication Science
Chemical and Biological Engineering Foreign Languages
Environmental Engineering Anthropology
Exact Sciences Geography
Politics Archeology
Status State
Annual tuition fee €7,000
World ranking 455
Ranking by employability 251—300
Languages of instruction Portuguese, English

The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in Europe. It is considered a national monument. Several of the university’s buildings have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. There is a botanical garden near the university.

Students can study the following subjects at its nine faculties: jurisprudence, medicine, exact and applied sciences. Foreign students make up about 5% of the students.

The University of Coimbra has three campuses, a library, a stadium, dormitories, two museums and its own theater.

Prestigious degrees

Bioanalytics Jurisprudence
Biomedical Engineering Economics and Business
Physics Engineering Psychology
Electrical and Computer Engineering Journalism
Biochemistry Foreign Languages
Environmental Engineering Arts
Exact Sciences Geography
Design and Multimedia Archeology
Best universities in Portugal: the University of Coimbra

The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in Europe. The main building is located in the former royal palace, a monument of medieval architecture

Best universities in Portugal: the University of Coimbra

The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in Europe. The main building is located in the former royal palace, a monument of medieval architecture

Best universities in Portugal: the University of Coimbra
Best universities in Portugal: the University of Coimbra
Status State
Annual tuition fees €4,000–5,500
World ranking 581
Ranking by employability 251—300
Languages ​​of instruction Portuguese, English

The University of Aveiro has global aims: to make significant changes in the future life of society and people. Students learn and apply knowledge through environmental research.

Oceans are one of the areas of research at the University of Aveiro. The Department of Scientific Oceanology teaches students how to preserve and manage the global resources of the planet. Students are taught the impact of the ocean on climate, regulation of rain and drinking water, and also learn about air and oxygen, as well as ways of obtaining food.

The main areas of study offered are exact and applied sciences, industrial design, biomedicine, psychology and economics. Foreign students make up about 5% of the students.

It has a library, sports grounds, dormitories, student cafes and shops.

Prestigious degrees

Meteorology, Oceanography and Geophysics Accounting
Biomedical Engineering Economics and Business
Biomedical Sciences Psychology
Electrical and Computer Engineering Journalism
Biochemistry Foreign Languages
Environmental Engineering Publishing
Exact Sciences Industrial Design
Marine Science Speech Therapy
Best universities in Portugal: the University of Aveiro
The University of Aveiroalia is the most innovative university in Portugal. The main focus of study is on applied sciences

The best universities in Lisbon and Porto

Lisbon and Porto are the two largest urban agglomerations in Portugal. Almost half of the country’s population lives here. The largest and most prestigious universities are located in these regions.

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, lies on the western coast on the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the national financial, trade, entertainment, arts, education and trade institutions and companies are located there.

Porto is a large port and the center of the industrialized north of the country, where the offices of international corporations, such as Bial, Millennium, SONAE and Galp are located. The city is famous for its historical heritage: baroque and neoclassical architecture.

Foreigners can buy real estate in Lisbon and Porto only until the end of 2021. From January 1, 2022, the conditions for obtaining a residence permit in Portugal will change: applicants for residence permits by investment will be able to buy real estate only in Madeira, the Azores and in the inner regions of the country.

Immigrant Invest’s real estate experts recommend participating in the Portuguese residence permit program and buying real estate in Lisbon and Porto before these changes take effect. Until the end of the year, there is an opportunity to invest in the most profitable real estate properties in Portugal.

The best universities in Lisbon and Porto

The best universities in Portugal: Catholic University of Portugal in Lisbon

Catholic University of Portugal in Lisbon

The best universities in Portugal: Iscte University in Lisbon

Iscte University in Lisbon

The best universities in Portugal: Catholic University of Portugal in Lisbon
The best universities in Portugal: Iscte University in Lisbon

Top universities in Madeira

The islands of Madeira are an autonomous region of Portugal located in the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest of mainland Portugal. Madeira’s economy is developing in the fields of tourism, services, medicine, construction and food production.

Nature: botanical gardens, beautiful beaches, relic forests and rocks. There are numerous schools for water sports, including kitesurfing, windsurfing and diving.

The University of Madeira is one of the top 20 universities in Portugal. Students can study at its scientific, engineering, medical and humanitarian faculties. Courses are taught in Portuguese. The annual tuition fee is €1,000.

The best universities in Portugal: University of Madeira
University of Madeira

Top universities in the Algarve

The region is located along the southern coast on the Atlantic Ocean. There are beautiful beaches, flower gardens, colorful cliffs and low mountains. This is the most comfortable place for holidays by the ocean: there are many resorts and entertainment centers for tourists.

Faro, the center of the Algarve, has an international airport. From the Algarve, the motorway provides quick access to the main Portuguese cities and Spain.

International families choose to live in the Algarve because of its natural beauty, it is safe, and there is access to high quality healthcare and educational facilities.

The University of the Algarve is among the top 20 universities in Portugal. It has about 10,000 students. The university is a member of the Association of European Universities.

Students can choose to study from a wide range of prestigious specialties. The standard of education is high and the tuition fees are affordable.

The University of the Algarve Universidade do Algarve (UAlg) is state-owned and the annual tuition cost is €2,000–4,000.
The best universities in Portugal: University of the Algarve
University of the Algarve

Top universities in other regions of Portugal

Each region of Portugal has its own character.

The map of regions of Portugal

The Northern Region is an industrial center and the second most economically important region of Portugal. There are well-known medical clinics and prestigious universities. This is the coolest region in the country and not suitable for a holiday by the ocean.

The Central Region combines proximity to the business center of the country and a variety of natural attractions in Portugal. The coast is popular with surfers because of the ocean’s high waves. There is a well-known clinic for treatment of Parkinson’s Disease in the region.

Alentejo is the center of agriculture and winemaking. This region is chosen by lovers of nature and ecology. The largest hospital in Portugal is also located here. Holidays by the ocean are less popular here due to the strong winds from the Atlantic.

The Azore islands are the most undeveloped region of the country with a changeable climate. They have a low population density and poorly developed infrastructure.

List of the best universities in other regions of Portugal

The best universities in Portugal: University of the Azores

University of the Azores

The best universities in Portugal: University of the Azores

University of the Azores

The best universities in Portugal: University of the Azores
The best universities in Portugal: University of the Azores

Selecting the right university

Portugal offers the most affordable higher education in the European Union: annual tuition costs range from €3,000 to 12,500. Students also save 30-45% on living expenses in Portugal in comparison with students in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Britain.

Many universities in the country develop programs in conjunction with universities in the UK and their graduates receive dual degrees. Portuguese diplomas are recognized in all EU countries.

Four Portuguese universities, the University of Lisbon, the University of Porto, the New University in Lisbon and the University of Coimbra, were included in the top 500 universities in the world, according to the QS World University Ranking. Their diplomas are highly regarded by employers.

The Catholic University of Portugal, the New University in Lisbon and the Porto School of Management have been ranked among the universities with the highest level of education in economics and business, according to the Financial Times and IESE Business School.

The universities in Madeira and Algarve are smaller, the tuition costs are lower and the competition for places is not as severe; at the same time, the standard of education remains at a high level. All these universities are members of the Association of European Universities.

Higher education in Portugal is free for EU citizens. It is not necessary to obtain citizenship in order to enroll at a European university. Portuguese residence permit holders are eligible to study at a European university.

A Portuguese residence permit can be obtained by investment.

The minimum investment amount required is €280,000. The applicant can buy real estate or securities, open a deposit account, or invest in business, science or culture.

Portuguese residence permits are issued within 6 months. The main applicant can include their spouse, children under 26 years old and parents over 65 years old in the application.

The investor receives a golden visa within a few months. This allows the main applicant’s entire family to live and work permanently in the European Union, and to apply for citizenship five years later. The main applicant’s children can study for free at universities in Portugal.

There is no requirement for permanent residence: it is sufficient to spend a minimum of 7 days in Portugal in the first year, and at least 14 days in the next two years.

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