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Study in Portugal: A Guide for International Students

ISEG Lisbon School of Economics & Management

Study Economics & Management in Lisbon!

Study abroad at the first school of economics and management founded in Portugal! At ISEG, you will find a culture of excellence and achievement, alongside a climate of inclusiveness and cooperation.

From the breath-taking mountains in the North, the picturesque beaches of the Algarve in the South and the bustling culture and nightlife of its major cities like Lisbon and Porto, the small Mediterranean nation of Portugal is a diverse and exciting place to choose to study abroad. Portugal boasts more than 125 private and public higher education institutions. With a globally recognized education system, international students heading to Portugal can look forward to a study abroad experience of a lifetime!

Over 50,000 international students choose Portugal as their study abroad destination every year, and for good reason. Portugal has a lower cost of living and lower tuition fees in comparison to many other European nations. Budget wary international students can rest assured that Portugal offers top quality education with the exciting vibrancy of the Mediterranean lifestyle, without breaking your piggy bank.

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Like many other countries in the geographically compact European continent, Portuguese culture is highly influenced by its surroundings. A largely coastal country, fish and seafood make up a large part of traditional Portuguese cuisine. Once you eat a traditional Portuguese meal, you’ll begin to understand the importance of mealtimes as you settle in to the Mediterranean culture and lifestyle.

Visit a café in Portugal to sip on coffee and eat a pasteis de nata to get the true local experience. Cafés are used as a meeting place to socialize and communally watch important televised events, like political broadcasting or the futbol (soccer) games! Three of Portugal’s major cities, Lisbon, Porto and Guimarães have been designated as European Capitals of Culture, and cities and towns across the country all boast a wide variety of art, music, theatre and dance performances throughout the year.

Portugal may be small compared to neighboring Spain, but that comes with its advantages! If you have a day off from studying you can easily make day trips to other cities and towns in Portugal, and the beach is never too far away. Portuguese people are well-known for their hospitability, and while locals will be sure to make an effort to speak to you in English, making the effort to learn some Portuguese is a great way to make the most of your time studying abroad in Portugal. Learning Portuguese will make day-to-day life significantly easier and increase your chances of finding either a part-time job in Portugal during your studies or pursuing your career goals in Portugal after graduation.

A member of the romance language family, using these four tips for picking up a new language, or even knowledge of some basic Spanish, French, Italian or Romanian, you'll have a significant leg up when learning Portuguese. Once you’ve gained some knowledge of Portuguese, having it in your back pocket will be hugely beneficial if you decide to add any other romance languages to your language roster. No matter your reasons for choosing Portugal as your new home, when you make the move to study abroad in Portugal, you’ll surely be welcome with open arms.

Does Portugal sound like the study destination that you’ve been dreaming of? There are a huge number of things to consider when it comes to studying abroad, and research is the first step. Read on to discover everything you need to know in order to join 50,000 other international students in Portugal for an experience you’ll never forget!

Portugal - Quick facts & figures






10.3 million

Area Size

92,212 km²

International students


Academic Year

September - July


Euro (€)

Calling Code


Time Zone


Woman looking out at Portugal view

More about Portugal

Portugal has had a profound cultural influence across the globe, including a present-day legacy of 260 million Portuguese speakers, political significance as a member of the United Nations and the European Union, and historical importance as one of the founding members of NATO and the Eurozone. Traditionally a land of knowledge and innovation, Portugal is also a nerve-center of educational institutions. The higher education system underwent profound reform when Portugal became a signatory to the Bologna process, aiming to modernize higher learning across the European Union. An education in Portugal offers a wide selection of state-of-the-art public and private institutions, in a multitude of disciplines and courses that welcome international students.

Portugal’s rich and complex history has contributed to the uniqueness of Portuguese society as it stands today. In just the last century, Portugal has deposed their monarchy, had their government superseded by an authoritarian regime and subsequently restored democracy. Each chapter of Portugal’s eclectic and expansive history has left its distinctive mark on the nation. History is a tangible thing in Portugal, where you can contemplate stone carvings made 20,000 years ago in the Vila Nova de Foz Côa, gaze upon mysterious megaliths outside Evora and hike amid the granite peaks of the Serra da Estrela.

In the 21st century, Portugal is a developed nation with an advanced economy, high living standards and progressive politics. The nation continually champions the legislative protection of LGBTQ rights and in 2001 became the first nation to decriminalize the personal possession of drugs which saw significant improvements in the public health issues Portugal was facing pre-2001. The higher education system was ranked 35th in the world and the country’s universities feature five times in the 2018 QS World University Rankings, making an education in Portugal a popular and attractive choice for international students. 

Learn more about study abroad in Portugal:

Education System

The higher education in Portugal follows the traditional three-cycle format, split into undergraduate (Bachelor’s), graduate (Master’s) and postgraduate (Doctorate) certifications. Take a minute to learn more.

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Student Visas

The student visa requirements for studying Portugal depend on your nationality. The rules differ for EU/EEA nationals and non-EU/EEA nationals. Read here to learn more about what you might need.

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Housing & Living Costs

Compared to many other European nations, students who choose Portugal as their study abroad destination can look forward to a more budget-friendly experience overall.

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Tuition Fees & Scholarships

Higher education institutions in Portugal independently choose how much they want to charge both national and international students. Take a look at some of these costs here.

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Language & Culture

With about 260 million speakers worldwide, Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world. Find out more about what the country offers in terms of language, culture, and more!

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Application Process

All countries have specific admissions requirements for students to gain acceptance into a university. Learn more about the ins and outs of admission to programs in Portugal, and what you need to apply.

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Interested in studying in Portugal? Use our search engine to find and compare top programs in Portugal today!

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Last update: 11 Dec 2019

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Compared to many other European nations, students who choose Portugal as their study abroad destination can look forward to a more budget-friendly experience overall. From the price of rent, cinema tickets, the average price of beer and beyond, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about how to budget for your study abroad experience in Portugal in one convenient place!
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