The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for the Portuguese education system and is supported by the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Security in providing pre-school education.
The Portuguese Educational System consists of 4 levels; Pre-School Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education and Higher Education.
The School Term in Portugal begins in September and generally finishes at the end of June. The holiday examination calendar is set annually by the Ministry of Education and Science.
Pre-school education for children between the ages of 3 and 5 is still optional. It is provided by nurseries schools, which are run by a variety of State organisations, charitable institutions, private schools and cooperatives, unions and other organisations.
Primary Education – Compulsory Schooling
Basic education is compulsory and free and lasts for nine years, covering children between 6 and 15 years of age. It comprises three consecutive cycles: the 1st cycle (four years) provides a general education, with a single teacher (sometimes supported in specialised areas); the 2nd cycle (two years) and the 3rd cycle (three years) are taught by a single teacher per subject or multidisciplinary educational field.
Secondary Education – Post-compulsory Schooling
This comprises three years of education (10th, 11th and 12th years of schooling). It is geared towards anyone who intends to continue studying or to join the labour market. It includes science and humanities and specialised artistic, technological or vocational training courses and is provided by secondary schools and vocational schools.
For additional information about Basic and Secondary education go to the website of the Direcão Geral de Educação.
Higher education in Portugal is provided by universities and polytechnics. The academic year usually starts on 15 October and ends on 31 July, but it is up to the institutions to set their academic calendar. Most higher education institutions divide the year into semesters, although some subjects are annual. Applications are usually submitted in July and /or early August to the admission services in the applicant’s area of residence or through the Internet (electronic applications available). Admission depends on the number of vacancies available, which is regulated by the national entrance exam. The academic qualifications of Graduate (1st cycle), Master (2nd cycle) and Doctor (3rd cycle) can be obtained by university and polytechnic students.
In order to be accepted, EU/EEA nationals must present an academic qualification equivalent to the 12th year of schooling.
For more detailed information about Higher Education information go to the website of the Direção Geral do Ensino Superior ;
Recognition / Equivalence of Academic Qualifications
To obtain an equivalence to your academic qualifications in Portugal, you must contact the Ministry of Education:
- Diplomas – National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) at the Direção Geral do Ensino Superior.
To know about Disabled Persons and Special Needs – Necessidades Educativas Especiais (NEE), contact the Regional Offices of Education and the Area Centres for Education. For Benefits and State Support contact the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services in Portugal (Direcção-Geral da Segurança Social, da Família e da Criança).