Portuguese higher education is composed of university and polytechnic education, both provided by public and private institutions. Private higher education institutions are subject to prior recognition by the Ministry of Education and Science.

Bachelor’s degree: it is the first stage of higher education in the European Bologna system. The duration of the course for this degree is three to four years, and for legal and medical specialties, five to six years.

Master’s degree: this is the second step after a bachelor’s degree. The period of study ranges from one to two years, and for legal and medical specialities, five to six years. A master’s degree ends with the student receiving a research project or scientific paper.

Doctorate: graduates studying for a doctorate or PhD can take as much time as they need to prepare for the exams and defend their dissertation.

Admission to a Portuguese university is by competition. Every year, universities publish the number of places and the conditions for admission: the number of places and the rules are different for EU and non-EU citizens.

Each university sets its own deadlines for the acceptance of documents. Generally, applications start being accepted nine months before the start of studies. During this period, applicants send the necessary documents to obtain the student visa.

The academic year is divided into two semesters (universities): the winter semester runs from September/October to the end of February, and the spring semester from March to the end of July.

Foreign applicants must prove their knowledge of Portuguese language at B2/superior level. Universities may also admit students with a B1 language certificate, provided they agree to raise their level to B2. If the course is taught in English, the same requirements apply.

If you have already applied and been accepted to a polytechnic or university course in Portugal, now would be the time to learn more about the paperwork and the student visa process in Portugal. Please note that the sooner you apply, the sooner you will get your student visa and be able to take care of your move to Portugal.

Advices for Student visa:

  1. Go to the website of the Portuguese Consulate in your country and book your interview, the visa process can take up to 60 or 90 days to be issued, so you should start the process as early as possible.
  2. Organise your documents according to the Portuguese Consulate’s requirements and make sure you keep copies.
    During the process you will have an interview, pay attention to your email/phone because the Portuguese Consulate may call you.
  3. In some cases you may need some health requirements such as vaccinations and recovery certificates.

Mandatory documents:

  1. Letter of acceptance from the university/polytechnic you have applied to.
  2. A passport valid for at least 6 months after the expiry date of the visa you are applying for (which will expire after 4 months), with at least one blank visa page.
  3. Two recent passport photos.
    A fully completed application form according to your visa type.
  4. Proof of financial resources to support yourself during your stay in Portugal.
  5. One coloured photocopy of the passport.
  6. Proof of payment of the application fee.
  7. Proof of Schengen travel health insurance.
  8. A valid travel ticket or confirmed reservation to Portugal.
  9. Confirmed residence arrangements. The following are admissible: a rental contract, university residence (dormitories), or a letter from a relative/friend with whom you will be living in Portugal.
  10. A criminal record certificate or police clearance letter (FBI report in the case of US residents) issued no more than 90 days prior to the date of presentation to the Consulate.

Working in Portugal as a student:

  • As an EU/EEA/Switzerland student, you are allowed to work while studying without any restrictions/limits on working hours.

  • Please note that the case is not applicable for non-EU/EEA students, they can only work part-time (up to 20 hours/week) or full-time during holidays and semester breaks.


If you are doing a short term course (up to three months) and/or only have a Schengen Visa, you cannot work in Portugal.

Residence Permit:

All students enrolled in long-term courses of more than 90 days will have to apply for a Residence Permit within four months from their arrival in Portugal at the local Municipality. You will only need to make an appointment through the SEF online services and prepare the following documents:

  • A completed student visa application form.
  • Valid passport and a photocopy.
  • Two recent passport photos.
  • Proof that you have the financial means to support yourself in Portugal.
  • Proof that you have adequate accommodation in Portugal;
  • Evidence that you have medical insurance.
  • Evidence of enrolment in a Portuguese higher education institution.
  • Proof that you have paid all applicable tuition fees.


Please note: Time living in Portugal as a student does not count towards permanent residence. The Portuguese Student Visa does not give the right to permanent residence until you obtain a job offer and change to a residence permit for work.


You can also apply for the Work Search Visa, valid for those who intend to look for a job in Portugal.

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