Portugal, or more precisely República Portuguesa, is a beautiful, nicely situated country located on the Iberian Peninsula. Surrounded by land and water, the Portuguese state guards Europe’s westernmost area famous for its excellent climate conditions, vibrant Mediterranean environment and rich history.
While Portugal, together with Spain, attracts millions of tourists each year, it is barely known that the country invented travelling and started exploring – before it was cool! In fact, the Portuguese were among the first to set foot on parts of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Remember Vasco da Gama from your History and Geography lessons?
But other than that, Portugal is a straightforward state – merely a leading representative of the European Union, a textbook example in terms of peacefulness and a gemstone in the world of history and cultural heritage. Nothing to see here, guys!
Let’s face it – you are already aware that you should have included Portugal on your list of countries for a Masters degree. But nothing to worry about as you are yet to discover more about the country’s higher education system.
For starters, the Portuguese are proud for their establishment of one of the oldest universities in Europe and the world – University of Coimbra, founded in 1290! Additionally, there is an extremely long list of higher education institutions offering public and private tuition.
In fact, there are a total of 13 Portuguese universities present in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2019, with University of Porto that has the highest rank in Portugal..
Secondly, there are two types of institutions that offer higher education – universities and polytechnic institutes. And while university tuition focuses on theory and a lecture-based system in the fields of Business and Economics, Humanities and Information Technology and Telecommunications, polytechnic education is more practical and professionally oriented, with a strong emphasis on individual research and Masters courses. Example study areas are Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Education and Medicine and Health Sciences.
Finally, Portugal is steadily growing into a major international student destination, mainly because of the increasing number of Masters degrees offered fully or partially in English.
For 2018 alone, the country has registered more than 16,000 students coming from all around the world! However, study opportunities in Portuguese also play a significant role in attracting native speakers, who are more than 200 million globally!
You are already excited, right? Then hold your horses, as in this section you will explore and find out all about the Masters application process and requirements.
By default, the most important piece of documentary will be your Bachelors in the same field that you are looking to apply for. The other recommended documents that you should have on your checklist are:
Bear in mind, that the Portuguese higher education system does not offer a centralized application system for Masters students. However, most universities and polytechnic institutes offer an online admission section allowing direct application.
Important: With Portugal’s participation in the Bologna process, there is also the benefit of receiving easier recognition of your previous higher education qualification, if you are coming from another European country.
And since a complete Masters study in English is easily possible in Portugal, make sure that you can provide one of the following language certificates:
Now, if you are looking for a challenge or you are simply interested in studying in Portuguese, you can easily rely on one of the following certificates depending on the required level of language knowledge:
In most cases, you would have to present either DAPLE or DUPLE since they represent higher levels of proficiency in Portuguese. Additionally, you can also find out more about preparatory language courses provided by your chosen university.
And last but not least – deadlines. With most Masters courses starting either in the autumn or spring semester and a total of three application periods, you can choose to submit your application either by the end of May, July or September. Of course, these are only general deadlines that might not be available for your chosen university and nationality.
Note: Entrance exams and/or personal interviews can be an additional step of your application process at universities or polytechnic institutes in Portugal.
The Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education (A3ES) and the Directorate General for Higher Education (DGES) are the two responsible bodies for the coordination, monitoring and quality assurance of the programmes provided by Portuguese higher education institutions.
Generally, Portugal can be highlighted as a low-cost and relatively cheap Masters study destination.
For a full-time, one year Masters study, you would be looking at a minimum tuition fee of €1063, if you are a native or EU/EEA student. This amount is set by the Portuguese government each year in order to remain affordable and competitive.
If you are a student coming from a third country, it is best that you expect higher tuition costs.
Polytechnic institutes can be described as slightly more expensive, whereas private higher education institutions can offer fees in the areas above €2000-€2500 for each study year.
Interested in some funding opportunities? The Directorate General for Higher Education (DGES), which is a branch of the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, provides several grants to prospective students.
Starting with accommodation, you have two options – student and private housing. Without a doubt, a dormitory at a hall of residence is always the better idea, as you would be looking at lower monthly expenditure and a more cooperative social life.
However, you are most probably already aware of the high level of competition that comes with this type of accommodation from your previous Bachelor experience. Still, if you do manage to qualify for a spot, make sure to prepare between €200 and €300 for your student housing.
Then there is private accommodation, that can include finding a rental for a single room or maybe even an apartment if you plan to share with friends. If this is the case, then get ready for higher pricing in the area of €600 for one room and €1100 for a three-bedroom apartment around the city center.
Another component of your monthly budget would be your daily living costs. Surprisingly or not, Portugal offers an affordable standard in contrast to the highly developed economy of the country. In numbers, you can grab a cart at the local supermarket and add the following products for a total of €32:
Oh, and don’t forget to add a bottle of exquisite Portuguese wine to your bag – that would cost you around €4.
Fun fact: Did you know that Portugal is the world’s leading producer of cork?
Lastly, getting around your average Portuguese city would not be a problem by using the local public transport. The network consists of buses, trains and even a metro, but you can also rely on Uber for other fares.
For a monthly card you would have to pay about €35. And to sum up, in the best-case scenario, by relying on student housing and having a balanced and healthy lifestyle, you would not have to spend more than €350-€400 each month, even if you take into account any unexpected costs.
Note: Don’t forget to register and bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in order to be eligible for medical treatment at the same price as a Portuguese national.