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In Portugal there are public and private higher education institutions:

  • The access to private higher education through the general regime is held annually through institutional contests organized by each institution individually;
  • The access to public higher education through the general regime is held annually through the submission of an application on the national contest organized by Direção-Geral do Ensino Superior.

The national contest takes place at the end of the school year and is organized into three phases. Students can apply to all three phases of the contest.



Students wishing to apply through the general regime to the first cycle of studies, must fulfil the following conditions:

a) Hold a Secondary School Leaving Certificate with a final average equivalent to the Portuguese secondary education.

This equivalence can be obtained in Direção-Geral da Educação.

b) Perform the national final exams of secondary education corresponding entrance exams required to apply to the specific courses students wish to attend.

In order to pass these exams students will have to submit an application in a Portuguese secondary school and get the minimum mark required by the institutions of higher education. The compulsory minimum marks are determined annually by each institution of higher education for each of their courses and are disclosed in the Application Guide.

For students who hold a foreign Secondary School Leaving Certificate equivalent to the Portuguese secondary education, the entrance exams can be replaced by final exams of those courses.

Those final exams must meet the following conditions:

_ Nationally Recognized – final exams required nationally for admission to higher education in this country. The Foreign final exams can be used for a similar period to that set for the Portuguese national final exams of secondary education - in the same year of its completion and the following two years.

_ To be homologous of the Portuguese admission exams. It is considered to be homologous the final exams, albeit with different names, have same level and similar goals and contents of the entrance exams students wish to replace.

The listing of foreign final exams considered homologous of Portuguese entrance exams is disclosed in May 31 of the year preceding the year of the application.

The replacement of entrance exams is required in Direção-Geral do Ensino Superior.

c) Perform the prerequisites (evidence of physical, functional or vocational skills) if required by the institution for the course students wish to attend.

Special Contests

Besides the general regime and the special regimes there are also special contests for applicants with specific qualifications, thus allowing new publics to access to higher education in a perspective of lifelong learning, namely:

  •  Applicants over 23 years old who have passed special exams proving their ability to access to higher education;
  • Holders of higher education diploma;
  • Holders of a specialization technological course (non higher education post-secondary course);
  • International students.

Application through special contests is local, occurring in the institution of higher education preferred by the student, which determines the conditions of access and entry by this way.

Special Regimes

Besides the general regime, there are special regimes for:

  • Portuguese officials in national diplomatic missions in foreign countries, and their family;
  • Portuguese citizens in official missions abroad, and their family;
  • Foreign officials in diplomatic missions accredited in Portugal, and their family;
  • Permanent staff of Portuguese armed forces; 
  • National scholarship holders from African Portuguese speaking countries;
  • High performance athletes;
  • Timor-Leste’s naturals, and their children.

Application to special regimes is national and General Directorate of Higher Education coordinates the respective actions on access and entry in higher education by this way.

Admission to higher education institutions is subject to numerus clausus.

How to apply to public higher education (national contest)

  • Introdution
  • FIRST step
  • SECOND step
  • THIRD step
  • FOURTH step
  • FIFTH step
The application must be submitted online.

Student Identification

If the student doesn't have the Portuguese Identification Number, must apply with an internal number, required and obtained in one of the Offices of Access to Higher Education or in Direção-Geral do Ensino Superior (DGES).

Request a password

The request for password is performed in the online application site with a registration in which the student indicates the identification number, name and email.

Then the system sends a message to his email with a confirmation link.

By accessing this link, the student must print the confirmation receipt of the application and present it in one of the Offices of Access to Higher Education. After validation of the request, the password is sent immediately to the student's email.

Obtain an Activation Code

For candidates who have not completed the Portuguese national final exams must request an activation code in one of the Offices of Access to Higher Education.


Access the online application site, log in by entering the ID and password, and follow the steps on the screen to apply until six different combinations of institutions and courses, listed in order of preference.


The application with foreign exams, replacing Portuguese entrance examinations, request the submission of the following documents in of the Offices of Access to Higher Education:

  • Request for replacement of Portuguese entrance examinations;
  • Copy of the report attesting the online application;
  • Secondary School Leaving Certificate with the final grade of the course and the marks obtained in the final exams of that course student wish to replace Portuguese entrance examinations;
  • Equivalence to the Portuguese secondary education, obtained in any Portuguese secondary schools or in Direção-Geral da Educação, with the final grade;
  • Document proving the satisfaction of prerequisites when required.