Portuguese Higher Education Qualifications

The higher education qualifications in Portugal is divided into three cycles-
  • First Cycle- Licenciado
  • Second Cycle: Master
  • Third Cycle: Doctorate and Aggregation

First Cycle: Undergraduate Degree-Bachelor 

Students are awarded the degree licenciado after the successful completion of a “Licenciatura” programme. The licentiatura programme was reorganized as per the Bologna agreement. The duration of the programme is generally 3 years; however, it can lasts for 5 or 6 years for some of the fields- 5 years for veterinary, pharmaceutics, and dentistry; and 6 years for medicine studies.

 To gain admittance into the undergraduate degree programme in Portugal, students must hold a secondary school leaving certificate or its equivalent. 

The higher education institutions in Portugal-university and polytechnic institutions award the degree of licenciado (bachelor). “Licenciatura” courses at Polytechnic Institutes are profession-oriented, while at the universities, they are more academic-oriented. 

Polytechnic institutes award the licenciado degree that holds 180 credits and comprise of 6 semesters.

University awards the licenciado degree that holds 180 to 240 credits and comprise of 6-8 semesters depending upon the field of study.

Postgraduate Degrees

Second Cycle: Master’s (Mestre)

The higher education institutions in Portugal- University as well as polytechnic institutions award Master’s degree. Master’s degree requires a public defense of a dissertation, or internship report and completion of curricula units. This cycle refers to the in-depth knowledge of a particular field of study. 
  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • Semesters: 3-4
  • Credits: 90-120
 In university education, the master’s degree focuses on academic specialization, while at polytechnic institute, this degree focuses on professional specialization. At the university education level, a master’s degree is also awarded after an integrated cycle of studies that comprises of 10-12 semesters and has 300 to 360 credits. 

Third Cycle: Doctoral Degree (Doutor)

University and university colleges in Portugal award doctoral degree. The doctorate programme requires carrying out an independent research on a particular topic/area and the student is supervised by a doctoral researcher or professor. The doctoral degree requires a public defense of the doctoral thesis. Students must hold a master’s degree or its equivalent to gain admittance into the doctoral degree programme.
  • Duration: Varies from 3-6 years
The title of Doctor (In Portuguese: Doutor) is awarded after the successful completion of the Doutoramento (doctorate) programme. 

Aggregation (Agregacao)

This is the highest qualification for holders of the Doctor degree. It requires taking on a high level research and special pedagogical skills and knowledge in a particular area. This qualification is awarded after passing specific examinations.
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