General admission requirements
Access to higher education is subject to a numerus clausus. In order to qualify for admission to higher education through the national competition students are required to:
Have successfully completed the 12th year of schooling or equivalent;
Have completed the national specific examinations in accordance with the higher education course the student wishes to attend;
Have obtained a minimum mark when required;
Have fulfilled the prerequisites for the higher education course the student wishes to attend, if required.
Structure of the Higher Education
Higher education in Portugal is divided into two subsystems: university and non university higher education (polytecnical education) and it is provided in public and private universities and non-university higher education institutions (both public and private).
Private higher education institutions cannot operate without having been recognized by the Ministry of Education.
Polytechnic institutions award the Licenciado degree after the 1st cycle of studies and the Mestre degree after the 2nd cycle of studies. The Licenciado is awarded after a period of study of 180 credits corresponding to six semesters. In certain cases, namely education and training leading to regulated professions, the Licenciado is awarded after seven or eight semesters, corresponding to 210 to 240 credits. The Mestre degree is awarded after a period of studies of three to four semesters, corresponding to 90 to 120 credits. Access to the Mestre is open to holders of the Licenciado or a foreign higher education qualification that is recognized as satisfying the objectives of a Licenciado by the appropriate competent body of the institution the student wishes to attend.
Courses leading to the licenciado degree at universities are awarded after a period of study of six to eight semesters corresponding to 180 to 240 credits. Before the publication of the law 49/2005: The Licenciado was conferred after completion of a course usually lasting for 4 years. Many courses, however, lasted for 5 or even 6 years. Most Licenciatura courses were organized in credit units, although some were still organized per semester or academic year.
Courses leading to the mestre degrees are awarded after a period of study of three to four semesters, corresponding to 90 to 120 credits. The Mestre can also be awarded after 10 to 12 semesters, corresponding to 300 to 360 credits for professions that are subject to EU regulations regarding their duration.
The Doutor degree is awarded by university institutions following the writing and defence of an original thesis (doctoral thesis). There is no fixed period to prepare for the Doctorate examinations. This degree is only open to holders of a mestre degree or equivalent and those who have been awarded the licenciado degree or a legally equivalent qualification with a final mark of 16. Holders of a relevant academic scientific and professional curriculum may also apply for the doutor degree following analysis of the curriculum by the competent academic body.
The Agregação is the highest qualification reserved to holders of the Doutor degree. It requires the capacity to undertake high level research and special pedagogical competence in a specific field. It is awarded after passing specific examinations.
Academic Year in Portugal
Universities and colleges follow an academic year, which consists of two semesters. Academic year begins with the start of autumn and ends the following summer.
During the academic year there are several breaks or holidays when classes are not being taught:
* Christmas Break: Usually beginning in the 3rd week of December and lasts for two weeks including Christmas and New Year holidays.
* Carnival Break: Three days (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) during Carnival. This break used to be one week long but in recent years it has been reduced.
* Easter Break: Two weeks including Easter. It varies from year to year, but it is usually around late March or middle April.
* Queima das Fitas: One week of celebration of student life with the traditional burning of the ribbons by senior students, usually in the middle of the spring semester.
* Summer Break: Usually known as "Férias Grandes" (Big Holidays) it lasts during the summer from late June to middle September and it separates one school year from another.
In public telephone booths, coins and special cards can be used. They are sold in Portugal Telecom shops, post offices and some kiosks and news-stands (with a sign indicating this).
All telephone numbers in Portugal are composed of nine digits. To call from abroad to Portugal, it is necessary to dial the international access code 00 and the country code 351.
To call abroad from Portugal, dial 00, the country code, the area code and then the number wanted. The dialing codes of the various countries are affixed in public telephone booths.
Portugal is one of the countries with the highest number of mobile phone users.
There are three network service providers - TMN, Vodafone and Optimus that have roaming agreements with most international mobile phone companies and provide users with a good coverage nationwide.
Internet access is available in some cafés and in numerous post offices that have the Netpost service.
In various hotels and public facilities, like Airports, Conference centers, Restaurants, Service Areas in motor-ways and shopping centers, there are duly marked "wi-fi" areas where it is possible to access wireless Internet.
In general, post offices are open from Monday to Friday; from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central and airport offices have extended opening hours and may be open on Saturdays and in some cases also on Sundays. Stamps are sold in post offices and vending-machines in the streets. Many post offices have the Netpost service that allows access to personal e-mail and the Internet.
Portugal, Madeira and Porto Santo as well as the major Azorean Islands, have airports served by TAP, the national airline. European and other airlines fly to the international airports of Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Funchal, which all get busier during the holiday season. Portugals mainland rail network is fast and modern on busy lines such as Lisbon-Porto and slow on provincial lines. Trains are inexpensive, especially if you are eligible for any discount. Buses are sometime faster and generally offer a wider choice of departures than rail network.
There are several Portuguese airlines offering regular domestic and international flights. TAP - Air Portugal is the countrys "flagship" airline and has scheduled flights to more than 50 international destinations and domestic flights between Lisbon, Oporto, Faro, Madeira and the Azores, and also between Madeira and Porto Santo. SATA has regular flights between all the islands of the Azores and from the Azores to Madeira and mainland Portugal. SATA also offers regular flights to a number of international destinations.
CP - Comboios de Portugal, the Portuguese railway company, offers a vast rail network covering the whole of mainland Portugal and also offers international train services to Vigo, Madrid and Paris.
There are a number of options to meet your needs:
- The top-of-the-range "Alfa Pendular" trains offer the fastest and most comfortable rail link between Lisbon and the Algarve and, in the north, Porto or Braga, with stops in Coimbra.
- The "Intercidades" or Intercity service covers the Lisbon-Porto-Guimarães, LisbonGuarda, Lisbon-Covilhã, Lisbon-Évora-Beja and Lisbon-Faro routes.
- The international Sud-Express train and Lusitânia hotel-train leave from Lisbon.
- There is a vast network of regional, interregional and suburban trains covering the whole of the country.
The subway system is an important addition to the traditional forms of public transport.
In Lisbon and Oporto it operates between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. The Lisbon underground (metrolisboa) is the older of the two and reaches a considerable part of the city. Its network has gradually been extended in recent years. Both the oldest and the most recent stations are decorated with panels of tiles by renowned Portuguese artists, making them true underground art galleries. In Porto, the underground (is new. There are five lines in operation - blue, red, green, yellow and violet and most of their route is above ground.
Taxis are usually cream in color, although there are still some painted black with a green roof in the traditional Portuguese style. The fare is shown on the taximeter. The prices are affixed inside the car or you can ask the driver about them. If you phone for a taxi you have to pay an extra 0.80 euros. There is a charge of 1.60 euros for luggage, regardless of weight or the number of pieces. Carry cots, pushchairs, wheelchairs and walking aids are carried free of charge. Outside towns, taxis charge by the kilometer and the driver and passenger agree on the fare in advance. Where they exist, the passenger has to pay the road tolls there and back.
Tipping is at the passengers discretion, though it is normal to tip 5-10% or round the amount up to the nearest euro.
Car rental is not cheap (pre-arranged package deals are often the best value) but obviously offers the greatest flexibility. There are car rental services at airports, international rail terminuses and in the main towns and cities. Drivers with mobility difficulties, or anyone who prefers to, can rent automatic or adapted vehicles. To rent a car you must:
- be at least between 21 and 25 years old, depending on the companys rental policy;
- show identification (identity card for EU citizens or a valid passport for other nationalities);
- have a driving license for more than one year.
According to Portuguese law all residents (this includes students) must have health insurance.
Students coming from EU-EEA
One of the issues students face when they decide to spend a study period abroad is health care. Community provisions on social security provide some solutions on this matter the European Health Insurance Card (CESD).
This card is available to European citizens who are traveling within the European Economic Area, (i.e. the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland, for private or professional reasons.
This document allows students from another Member State or country of the European Economic Area (EEA) or from Switzerland to be assisted in case of sickness or personal accident, thus taking advantage of a wider coverage in terms of health care. The CESD, to be requested at the social security service of your country, is a proof that you are registered in that social security service and allows you to take advantage of health services in Portugal. In this case, students will be asked to pay as much as national citizens under the same circumstances.
Non EU EEA students
The CESD form is part of an agreement between the Member States of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. However, there are other agreements between Portugal and other countries outside the EEA.
Students from those countries should ask for further information in their own country before travelling to Portugal. If they fall outside the system mentioned above, students must get a health insurance, which will provide them with health care during their stay in Portugal. Without one of these, should they need medical assistance during their stay in Portugal, students will have to pay for the respective health treatment.
Civil Liability Insurance
This cost-effective insurance is not compulsory, but is recommended, since health insurance policies and the CESD do not cover civil liability (damage caused to third parties) of your daily activities (except University activities, which are covered by School insurance).
Personal Physical Accidents Insurance
This insurance is not compulsory however it is recommended. Besides covering personal physical accidents in your daily life, this insurance often provides you with repatriation insurance, in case of sickness or accident (depending on the insurance policies).
Cost of Living
In spite of the perceived price increase after Euro has been introduced in 2002, Portugal has a relatively low cost of living, as compared to other EU Member States, although some products might be more expensive here than in other countries.
Traditionally, shops are open from Monday to Friday, from 9 or 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Some close for lunch from 1 to 3 p.m. On Saturdays from January to November, shops generally close at 1 p.m. though in city centers some are open in the afternoon. Shops tend to stay open on Saturday afternoons and sometimes even on Sundays in December for Christmas shopping.
There are plenty of shopping centers inside and outside the cities that are usually open from 10 a.m. to midnight every day of the week. They generally have stores with the main international brands. However, traditional shops with Portuguese products can be found particularly in the streets of the older neighborhoods of towns and cities.
Food and drinks
Prices vary based on the type of establishment and whether or not the cost includes a table service or esplanade service, as a result of which the prices presented are purely indicative.
An espresso coffee, which is popular amongst the Portuguese and is normally referred to as a bica or in the north as pingo, costs around 0.60 to 0.70 at the counter of a traditional café. A galão (a cup of coffee with milk) may cost between 0.70 and 1,20 and a cup of tea between 1 and 1.50. A glass of natural orange juice costs around 2,50 and a beer or Coca-Cola costs between 1 and 1.50. A cheese or ham sandwich costs between 1.50 and 2.50 and a slice of toast or cake usually cost less than 2. If you have a full meal it may be between 5 to 11 per person in a snack bar, between 13 and 20 in a restaurant and around 30 to 50 in a first-class restaurant or Fado house.
An entrance ticket to a Museum, National Monument or exhibition may cost between 2 and 5. A cinema ticket costs around 5.50. Theatre tickets may vary between 10 and 30 and tickets for concerts, opera or ballet performances vary between15 and 75.
In order to watch a bull fight, (the bullfighting season is between Easter Sunday and All Saints day), tickets may vary between 15 and 75, depending on the bull-ring and participants.
You are responsible for making your own housing arrangements for the academic year. The international relations office at your university in Portugal can provide you with local assistance. It is important to start looking for permanent or at least temporary accommodation well in advance.
On the following websites you can find hostels and hotels all over the Portugal depending on your location, taste, and budget:
Long Term Housing
Finding a nice place to live is always cumbersome. Portugal is no exception - getting the right accommodation may require considerable effort, especially in large cities. Ideally, you should try to arrive about 2 weeks before the beginning of your courses.
Rental costs vary considerably according to the size (number of bedrooms) and quality of a property, its age and the facilities provided. However, the most significant factor affecting rents is the region, the city or town, and the particular neighborhood.
When you are looking at places to rent, find out exactly what is covered by the rent (e.g., electricity, water, furniture, parking, etc.) You may be required to sign a lease for 5 years with a 10 months notice clause. A guarantee is required, usually in the amount of 2 months rent (first and last).
You can find addresses of real estate agents in the local newspapers under Apartamentos para arrendar, or on the following websites:
EU member since 1-1-1986
Visa and Entering Portugal
Students from EU countries and from European Economic Area/EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland do not need a visa to enter Portugal, which is a signatory of the 1995 Schengen Agreement.
These students have the right to live in the national territory for a period up to 3 months without other conditions and/or formalities beyond having a valid identity card or passport. However, if their stay is longer than 3 months, they must formalize their right of residence apply for the residence card - within 30 days after the three-month stay in the country at the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) of their residence area.
Students from non-EU countries must obtain a residence study visa before departure from their home country. They can request their visa at the nearest Portuguese Embassy or Consulate. Please consider that a 'tourist' visa will not be accepted.
Visa request to enter Portugal should be made several months in advance because the process can take up to 2 months depending on the country of origin (the visa will be valid for the European Area under the Schengen Agreement). Some visa applicants may also be subject to security clearance checks. These checks may take 30 to 60 days to be processed.
A residence visa will allow the students to enter Portugal with a view to applying for a residence permit. This residence visa allows the holder to remain in Portugal for six months. However, persons applying should take into an account that someone having a residence visa is not yet a resident, but only authorized to apply for a residence permit. It is important to highlight that foreign students entering Portugal through a non-controlled border (whose passports are not stamped in Portugal) need to contact the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), within 3 days of their arrival, in order to report their entrance in the country. After this three-day-period, they will be charged a fine.
Up to three months
The citizens of the EU have the right to reside in national territory for a period up to three months without other conditions and formalities beyond having valid identity card or passport.
More than three months
The citizens of the Union whose staying in national territory lasts more than three months must formalize their right of residence - Certify of Register - during a period of 30 days after the three months of entry in the national territory.
Necessary documents (to deliver with the proper form in the Delegation of SEF of the area of residence or in the Municipal Council of the residence area see Adherent Councils):
- Identity card or valid passport;
- Declaration under oath that the applicant fulfils one of the following conditions:
1. Has a professional activity as worker or self employed in Portuguese territory;
2. Has enough resources for him/herself and his/her family, as well as a health insurance, if mandatory for Portuguese citizens in the Member State from his/her nationality;
3. If he/she is registered in a public or private officially recognized school, if proven through a declaration or any other mean of evidence the possession of enough financial resources for him/herself and his/her family, as well as a health insurance, if mandatory for Portuguese citizens in the Member State from his/her nationality.
Non EU Students
Students from non-EU countries must obtain a residence study visa before departure from their home country. A residence visa will allow the students to enter Portugal with a view to applying for a residence permit. This residence visa allows the holder to remain in Portugal for six months. However, persons applying should take into an account that someone having a residence visa is not yet a resident, but only authorized to apply for a residence permit.
Since the students involved in the Program come to Portugal with the intention of remaining for longer than six months, they must apply for such a residence card upon their arrival in Portugal.
Failure to apply for a residence card within the specified time is a serious offense and can result in a heavy fine and even deportation. Please contact Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (to get more information.
In most cases students enrolled in the doctoral programs start their studies at a Portuguese institution or university.
However, during the studies students are required to spend one or two years in the U.S., working on their research and taking courses at Carnegie Mellon, before returning to Portugal.
1. During the prolonged stay abroad that is part of the doctoral program, a students residence card may expire. While abroad, it is not possible to make a request for renewal of the residence card. Therefore, students are required to apply for the issuance of a new visa in order to return to Portugal (which implies a new application for residence at SEF once back in Portugal).
2. Furthermore, under the current legislation (Article 85. of Law No. 23/2007), the residence permit in Portugal can be revoked when the person, without suitable reason, is absent from the country for a period of 6 consecutive months, or 8 interpolated months, during the total period of validity of the authorization. This situation requires a new application and issuance of a new visa in order to return to Portugal (and once again a new application for residence at SEF when back in Portugal).
To avoid these situations and the repetition of the application process for visa for Portugal (at Portuguese consulates abroad) as well as the application process for the residence card in Portugal, the following solutions are available (as appropriate):
1. Application for the renewal of the residence permit can be done before leaving Portugal to the foreign country when the last 30 days of the validity of the authorization coincides with the period of absence of the country.
2. Additionally, in order not to revoke the residence permit in its duration due to absence from Portugal (as it foreseen by the Portuguese law), student shall submit a justification to SEF (prior to the absence). The continuation of the course of studies in a third country (in this case the U.S) is an acceptable reason.
Portugal is a country on the Iberian Peninsula. Located in southwestern Europe, Portugal is the westernmost country of mainland Europe and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are also part of Portugal.
Portugal is a democratic republic ruled by the constitution of 1976, with Lisbon (Lisboa) the nation's largest city (2,641,006 habitants), as its capital. The second largest city is Porto (O Porto) with 1,647,469 habitants.
Portugal is one of the warmest European countries, the annual temperature averages in mainland Portugal are 13 °C (55 °F) in the north and 18 °C (64 °F) in the south and over 20 °C (68°F) on the warmest spots (e.g., south coast of Madeira island).
Recent studies indicate Portugal to be the 7th most peaceful and the 13th most globalized country in the world, ranking 19th with respect to the highest quality of life.