Admission Requirements for Higher Education in Portugal

In Portugal, admission to higher education is always subject to the Numerus Clausus system, by which there are a limited number of study places at the higher education institutions and these are determined by each institution individually. Also, the higher education institutions in Portugal set the selection standards for applicants. This selection procedure considers the grades acquired in the national as well as specific examinations from secondary schools.  

General Admission Requirements

Students who hold a secondary education certificate (Diploma de Ensino Secundario) and pass the entrance examinations are given admission into the state-run higher education institutions. Students who did not finish their secondary education can still take admission into the state higher education institutions through an extraordinary examination procedure.

Specific Admission Requirements

The specific admission requirements for first cycle-Undergraduate, second cycle-Master's and third cycle-Doctorate are as follows:

First Cycle: Undergraduate Studies 

Students who wish to study first cycle at the higher education institutions in Portugal must hold a secondary school leaving examination certificate, and also pass a university entrance examination. 

Second Cycle: Master’s Degree Programme
Students who wish to study second cycle at the higher education institutions in Portugal must have a relevant bachelor's degree or its equivalent. 

Third Cycle: Doctoral Studies
Students who wish to study third cycle at the university in Portugal must hold a master’s degree in related field or its equivalent.

Grade Point Average Requirement

The minimum grade point is required for admission into the higher education institutions in Portugal

Admission Requirements: For International Students

Following are the admission requirements for international students:
  • International students must hold a secondary education completion certificate that must be equivalent to the Portuguese secondary education diploma. The secondary education completion certificate must be stamped by the Portuguese embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country.
  • International students are required to pass an entrance exam that is conducted by their selected higher education institution.
  • International students must possess the health certificate and visa.
  • International students must have a Portuguese proficiency certificate or its equivalent.

Language Requirements

Portuguese Language Proficiency

The language of instruction at the universities and polytechnic institutes in Portugal is Portuguese. Hence, students must demonstrate their level of proficiency in Portuguese by submitting either a Portuguese proficiency certificate, or by submitting the result of the school exams if you had Portuguese as part of your curriculum and have studied it. 
In general, many of the higher education institutions in Portugal accept B1/B2 level of command.

CAPLE- Centre for Evaluation of Portuguese as a Foreign language (Centro de Avaliacao de Portugues Lingua Estrangeira) is a proficiency certificate in European Portuguese as a Second language prepared by Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon. This language examination has five levels of proficiency.

TELC: The European Language Certificates: This language tests offers Portuguese exam at Level B1.

** The Portuguese language requirement is generally for studies at the first cycle. Second and third cycle may not require it. 

English Language Requirement

In Portugal higher education institutions, there are many programmes in English and applicants are required to demonstrate their level of command in the English language. The proficiency level varies from institution to institution. Scores of the following English proficiency tests are accepted:

Contact the International Office or Admissions Office of the higher education institution you have applied to and know about the language requirements and proficiency levels for admission. 

General Admission Procedure

Every year, the Portuguese Ministry of Education announces the number of available study places at the public higher education institutions in Portugal- universities and polytechnic institutes. The study places are limited. 

Students who wish to go for higher education in Portugal must take an entrance examination that assesses the knowledge of the subjects they studies at secondary educational level. Entrance examination results are merged with the secondary education examination marks, to get the final grade.

Students are required to select 6 higher education institutions and course they wish to attend, in order of preference. Depending upon the result of the final grade and other prerequisites, students are accepted in one of the institutions of their choice. Some of the non-university higher education institutions, i.e. polytechnics require work experience for some fields of study.

Extraordinary Examination Procedure- Special Contests 

Students who did not complete their secondary schooling can take admission into the higher education institution in Portugal through special contest. This process is only available for individuals aged 23 and above.

Applicants are required to appear for a general Portuguese examination and also attend an interview which will assess the applicant's potential, ability and Curriculum Vitae.

Depending on the higher education institution and study programme applied for, applicants are required to pass oral and written entrance examinations.

General Application Procedure

Applicant must fill out an application that is available online. You can fill the application through the website of the Directorate General for Higher Education (Direccao Geral do Ensino Superior).
Applicants must submit the application in July or early August to the admission services through internet or their area of residence.

To know in detail about the admission requirements for the first, second and third cycle studies, click here
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