English-Speaking Universities in Portugal for International Students

Portugal, a country known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. It has emerged as a popular destination for international students seeking an affordable yet high-quality education. In recent years, Portugal has witnessed a significant rise in the number of English-speaking universities, in response to the growing demand for English-medium instruction. In this article, we’ll take a look into the thriving academic scene in Portugal, highlighting the advantages of studying in English in the country, the top English-speaking universities, the admission process and more. 

Can I get by in Portugal speaking English?

Yes, it is possible to get by in Portugal speaking English, at least in the beginning. While Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, many people, especially in urban areas and tourist destinations, have a good understanding of English. In major cities like Lisbon and Porto, you will find that English is widely spoken in hotels, restaurants, shops, and other tourist-oriented establishments. Additionally, younger generations in Portugal tend to have a higher level of English proficiency. However, in more rural or remote areas, English proficiency may be less common. So it’s always helpful to learn a few basic Portuguese phrases to navigate everyday situations. Overall, though, English will often be sufficient for basic communication and getting around in Portugal. 

Is it possible to study in Portugal in English?

The answer is yes! Portugal has a growing number of universities and institutions of higher education that offer programs and courses taught in English. Many universities nowadays recognize the importance of English as an international language. They therefore have started to offer English-taught programs to attract international students. This provides an excellent opportunity for foreign students who want to study in Portugal but may not be fluent in Portuguese. Whether you are interested in learning business, technology, humanities, or other fields, there are various English-language options available for you to study in Portugal.

The benefits of English universities in Portugal

Portugal has a long heritage in culture and education, offering therefore numerous advantages for international students. Much better if you’re given the opportunity to study in English. 

The first significant benefit of studying at English-speaking universities in Portugal is the language advantage. In academic settings, the English language is widely spoken and understood. This makes it easier for international students to adapt to the learning environment. Of course, some knowledge of Portuguese are beneficial for daily life. But at master’s and PhD levels, many university programs are in English, ensuring that language is not a barrier to accessing quality education. 

Moreover, Portugal’s welcoming atmosphere and diverse cultural heritage create a truly enriching environment for international students. You’ll have the opportunity to engage with a vibrant local community and build lasting connections with people from all over the world. Additionally, Portugal’s strategic location within Europe allows for easy travel and exploration of neighboring countries during your study breaks.

Last but not least, the cost of studying in Portugal is relatively affordable compared to other European countries. Additionally, the lower cost of living in Portugal further enhances the financial advantage for students.

Best English-speaking universities in Portugal

Portugal is home to several prestigious universities, offering programs entirely taught in English. Here are some of the top institutions you can check out: 

University of Lisbon

The University of Lisbon, founded in 1911, is the largest and most prestigious university in Portugal. This is also one of the most reputable universities in Europe, ranking 31st for scientific publications. Participating in national and international networks of HEI as part of its internationalization policy, the university offers more than 300 curricula lectured in English. This includes subjects such as medicine, architecture, economics, data science and engineering among many others. 

Find out more by visiting the website of the University of Lisbon

University of Porto

Located in the vibrant city of Porto, the University of Porto is the second-largest university in Portugal. With more than a century of history, the institution has gained a reputation for its exceptional teaching standards and innovative research initiatives. It offers a wide range of English-taught programs, mostly at master’s and PhD’s levels. Moreover, the university nurtures students’ intellectual curiosity and prepare them for success through English-speaking programs such as architecture, biodiversity, genetics and evolution, civil engineering, data science or finance.

Find out more by visiting the website of the University of Porto.

Nova University of Lisbon

Founded in 1973, Nova University in Lisbon is a modern institution known for its innovative approach to education. It offers a variety of English-taught programs concentrated at the second and third university cycles. But bachelor’s degrees in information management, in data science, and in information system at the Information Management School are provided in English. The same goes at the School of Business and Economics where students have the choice between English and Portuguese as the medium of instruction. 

Find out more by visiting the website of Nova University Lisbon.

European University of Lisbon

The European University of Lisbon is a private university in Portugal’s capital city. It’s an institution that aims to make a name through its academic model oriented to quality, internationalization and proximity to industries and the job market. Centered around the student, programs at the European University of Lisbon are provided either on campus or online. However, English-speaking programs at the university are only on-campus ones. It includes a global bachelor in management, followed by a master’s, a bachelor’s in tourism and a bilingual bachelor’s degree in Sports Management. 

Learn more by visiting the website of the university.

ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon

The ISCTE or University Institute of Lisbon came into existence in 1972. It’s among the best universities in Portugal offering English programs aiming to attract international students, which make up 20% of the student population. Involved in several collaborative projects, partnerships and networking with other HEI around the world, the institution is committed to internationalization, research and education aligned with the needs of the professional market. When it comes to English-speaking programs, the institute offers a bachelor’s degree in management and several master’s courses. 

Find out more by visiting the international section of ISCTE’s website.

Admission process at English-speaking universities in Portugal

Studying in an English university in Portugal as an international student requires following a specific enrollment process. You can find more details in our guide on university admission in Portugal, but here are the key steps to take: 

Language requirements

English universities in Portugal require, of course, international students to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. They can do it by providing standardized test scores such as IELTS or TOEFL. However, some universities may also accept other forms of language certification or conduct their own language proficiency tests.

Application process

The application process typically involves submitting an online application form, providing academic transcripts, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and a copy of the passport. It is essential to review the specific requirements of each university and submit the application before the stated deadline.

Student visa and residence permit in Portugal

International students from outside the EU or EEA will need to apply for a student visa to study in Portugal. This should be done at the Portuguese embassy or consulate in the student’s home country. After arriving in Portugal, these students need to apply for a residence permit. They should do this within 3 months, as required by the local immigration authorities.

Learn more by reading our guide on the student visa in Portugal.

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