The Portuguese higher education system is in line with the Bologna Process and, as such, its educational offer is harmonized with the offers of all countries belonging to the European Higher Education Area and is structured in 3 distinct cycles:
1. Study cycle leading to the bachelor’s degree.
In polytechnic education, as a rule, the study cycle leading to the degree of bachelor comprises 180 credits and a normal length of six curricular semesters of student work. In university education, the study cycle leading to the degree of bachelor comprises 180 to 240 credits and its normal length is between six and eight curricular semesters of student work.
2. Study cycle leading to the master’s degree
As a rule, the sutdy cycle that leads to the master’s degree comprises 90 to 120 credits and a normal length of between three and four curricular semesters of student work.
However, university education can also confer the degree of master after an integrated study cycle (integrated master’s degree) with 300 to 360 credits and a normal length of between 10 and 12 curricular semesters of student work. The integrated master’s degree exists in cases where, for access to the practice of a certain professional activity, a longer duration of the course is necessary as established by legal rules of the European Union or as a result of a stable and consolidated practice in the EU.
3. Study cycle leading to the doctoral degree
The doctoral degree may only be conferred by university education, and its study cycle includes preparation of an original thesis especially prepared for this purpose, appropriate to the nature of the branch of knowledge or specialty, and the eventual completion of curricular units designed for research training, the whole of which is called a doctoral program.
Operation of the higher education institutions and study cycles mentioned above is dependent on accreditation by the Assessment and Accreditation Agency for Higher Education – www.a3es.pt. Study cycles currently in operation in Portugal can be seen on the page of the General Directorate of Higher Education.
In addition to these educational offers, higher education institutions also offer non-degree courses, such as CTeSP (Higher Technical Professional Courses) and post-graduate courses.