Top 5 Universities to study in Portugal

When it comes to studying in Portugal, it can sometimes be hard to narrow down your choices. Although Portugal is by no means a large country, there are nevertheless lots of universities to choose from. People also tend to forget that studying abroad is meant to be embraced as a holistic experience, so there are other factors to consider apart from the quality of the institution. What is the employment rate of graduates? What are the costs? Where is it based? How many other international students are there?

By using the QS World University Ranking, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and our own expert knowledge on where it’s great to live (if you’re going to be spending up to 3 years studying in Portugal, you’ll want to make sure you can pack as much sun, sea, surf, music, food, culture and night life as possible) we’ve managed to identify the top 5 universities in Portugal. With our guide, choosing where to study in Portugal becomes a whole lot easier.

University of Porto

Located in Portugal’s second city, the University of Porto tops both the QS and Time’s rankings for best university if Portugal. As one of the most prestigious schools in Europe, it has 14 faculties, 51 research units, 2,365 teachers, 600 programs and almost 32,000 students. Of these, roughly 13% are international. This is in no doubt a reflection of its $6,000-8,000 a year fees for post-grad students ($4,000-6,000 for under-grads). Among the most recognized of the school’s research centers are the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology and the Research Institute of Computer Systems.

University of Lisbon

This institution is the largest in Portugal and is based in the capital city. The University took its modern incarnation after a merger in 2013, but it can trace its history back to the 13th century. It’s particularly well known for art, design and geography but as the largest university in the country, it offers much more besides. It has in total 18 faculties, 400 programs, 4,000 academics, 100 research units and 50,000 students. 10% of these students are international which again means it is a great choice for people coming in from outside the country who want a ready-made support network available to them. The fees here are $8,000-10,000 per year for both under-and post- grad students. The living costs in Lisbon are much higher than in other cities, but the opportunities for more kinds of part-time work can off-set that.

University of Aveiro

Aveiro is a small city on the coast of central Portugal. Its university punches well above its weight however, being the 3rd place entry for Portugal in the Times survey. It has 15,000 students of which 11% are international. It also has over 1,000 academic staff giving it a good student-teacher ratio. For this reason perhaps it manages to excel in sciences and technology. As a small town its living costs are very low, and the school itself if only $4,000-5,500 per year for both under and post-grad students which makes it a very attractive option to those on a budget.

University of Coimbra

The oldest university in Portugal and one of the oldest in the world, Coimbra is a true university town and is also on the UNESCO world heritage list. With only 100,000 people in the city itself, the 21,000 students attending make up a large proportion of the population. A further 10% of these students are international, which in a small town like Coimbra gives it a very vibrant and multicultural feel. It boasts 8 schools, 40 research units, 1600 academic staff and a good reputation for arts and humanities. It costs $6,000-8,000 per year for undergrads and $4,000-6,000 for post-grads which makes it another affordable option.


Part of the well-known NOVA University, this school specializes in business and economics courses for people wanting to do a masters. Located a stone’s throw from Lisbon in the Carcavelos region, it combines proximity to a major city (and all that entails), with the cheapness and charm of a beachside town. It’s very much geared towards international students by offering all courses in English, having a faculty of 25 different nationalities and in making sure 50% of their graduates get a job abroad. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why a staggering 20% of their students are international. Its economics course is particularly famous and ranked 4th best in Europe in 2016. In addition to a first-class education, it offers affordable living costs, a great transport network and the best weather of those listed. Courses are between $7,000-10,000 per year.

In terms of undergraduate, masters and PH programs, these 5 universities will be the places you want to check out. Based on reputation, achievements, location and price, these stand out from the rest.