• 1

 

Portuguese Educational System

The portuguese educational system comprises three levels: basic, secondary and higher education.

Pre-school education is optional and is for children between the ages of three and the age of entering basic education.

Basic Education is universal, compulsory and free and comprises three cycles, the first cycle lasts for four years, the second lasts for two years and the third lasts for three years.

Secondary education is compulsory and it comprises a three year cycle (corresponding to 10th, 11th and 12th year of schooling). 

 

The Higher Education System

The Portuguese Higher Education system has been undergoing a profound reform, in accordance with the European-wide strategy for the modernisation of Higher Education promoting the knowledge-based economy and society. A series of measures have been introduced in the last years for the accomplishment of what is known as the Bologna Process, namely with the aim to widen access to Higher Education, particularly for new publics, guaranteeing quality evaluation, modernising and internationalising Higher Education.

 

Higher Education is divided into three cycles of studies. Generic qualification descriptors were also defined for each of the cycles of studies, based on acquired competences, as well as the structure for the first and second cycles of study in terms of typical ECTS intervals.

 

Higher Education Institutions

Higher Education in Portugal is divided into two sub-systems, university education and polytechnic education.

The network of public Higher Education Institutions comprises 14 Universities, 20 Polytechnic Institutes and 6 institutions of military and police Higher Education.

The network of private Higher Education Institutions comprises 36 Universities and 64 Polytechnic Institutes.

Higher Education Institutions

History

Portugal is home to one of the oldest Universities in Europe, the University of Coimbra, founded in 1290. In Portugal, before the 1960s the attendance of Higher Education Institutions was very low and usually restricted to members of middle and upper class families. However, during the last decade of the Estado Novo regime, secondary and university education experienced the fastest growth of Portuguese education's history. Today Higher Education is generalised and many secondary education students enrol in Higher Education.

Higher Education System Diagram

Academic Calendar

The academic year is divided in two semesters the first starting in September and ending in January and the second semesters takes place between February and June.

Assessment

Assessment can be either continuous or final, depending on the course or the module taken.

In a continuous assessment scheme, during the academic year, students have to submit one or two essays (trabalhos), prepare presentations (apresentações) or sit for short tests. At the end of the academic year or of the module, final examinations take place which are usually written, although oral exams are also possible. 

Degrees

  • Licenciado degree [Bachelor]
  • Mestre degree [Master]
  • Doutor degree [Doctor]
Both university and polytechnic institutions confer the degree of licenciado (bachelor). In polytechnic education, the cycle of studies that leads to the degree of licenciado has 180 credits and a normal length of six curricular semesters of students’ work. In certain cases namely those covered by internal legislation or by European legislation, the cycle of studies can have up to 240 credits with a normal length of up to seven or eight curricular semesters of students’ work.

In university education, the cycle of studies that leads to the degree of licenciado has from 180 to 240 credits and a normal length between six to eight curricular semesters of students’ work.

In the first cycle of studies the degree of licenciado is conferred, by universities or polytechnics institutions, to those that, after concluding all the curricular units that integrate the study programme of the licenciatura course, have obtained the established number of credits.
Both university and polytechnic institutions confer the degree of mestre (master).The cycle of studies that leads to the degree of mestre has from 90 to 120 credits and a normal length of between three to four curricular semesters of students’ work or in exceptional circumstances, 60 credits and a duration of two semesters, resulting from a stable and consolidated practice in that specific field at international level.

In polytechnic education, the cycle of studies that leads to the mestre degree must ensure predominantly that the student acquires a professional specialization. In university education, the cycle of studies that leads to the mestre degree must ensure that the student acquires an academic specialization resorting to research, innovation or expansion of professional competences. In university education, the mestre degree may also be conferred after an integrated cycle of studies, with 300 to 360 credits and a normal length of 10 to 12 curricular semesters of students’ work, in cases for which the access to the practice of a certain professional activity depends on that length of time established by legal EU standards or resulting from a stable practice consolidated in the European Union. In this cycle of studies the degree of licenciado is conferred to those who have obtained 180 credits corresponding to the first six semesters of work.

The degree of mestre is conferred to those that, after concluding all the curricular units that integrate the study programme of the mestrado course, have obtained the established number of credits, as well as successfully defended in public their dissertation, their project work or their traineeship report.
The doutor (doctor) degree is conferred by universities and university institutes. The degree of doutor is conferred to those that, after concluding all the curricular units that integrate the study programme of the doutoramento (doctorate) course, when applicable, and have successfully defended their thesis in the public act.