Education System in Portugal

PrimaryBasic First Stage1–46–104Basic First Stage- Ensino Básico - 1 Ciclo
PrimaryBasic Second Stage5–610–122Basic Second Stage- Ensino Básico - 2 Ciclo
MiddleBasic Third Stage7–912–153Basic Third Stage- Ensino Básico - 3 Ciclo: Certificate/diploma awarded: Certificado/Diploma
SecondarySecondary15–183Secondary-Escola Secundária: Certificate/diploma awarded: Diploma de Ensino Secundário
SecondaryProfessional Secondary-Escolas profissionais15–183Certificate/diploma awarded: Diploma de Formação Profissional de Nivel III and Diploma de Estudios Profissionai
VocationalSpecialized Tech./Voc.15–183Specialized Tech./Voc.- Escolas Secundárias Profissionais (Professional Schools): Certificate/diploma awarded: Diploma de Ensino Secundário, Certificado de Qualificação Profissional de Nível III.
VocationalPolytechnic3Polytechnic institutions award the Licenciado degree after the 1st cycle of studies and the Mestre degree after the 2nd cycle of studies. The Licenciado is awarded after a period of study of 180 credits corresponding to six semesters. In certain cases, namely education and training leading to regulated professions, the Licenciado is awarded after seven or eight semesters, corresponding to 210 to 240 credits.The Mestre degree is awarded after a period of studies of three to four semesters, corresponding to 90 to 120 credits. Access to the Mestre is open to holders of the Licenciado or a foreign higher education qualification that is recognized as satisfying the objectives of a Licenciado by the appropriate competent body of the institution the student wishes to attend. Before the publication of the law 49/2005: Polytechnic institutions awarded the degrees of Bacharel (3 years) or Licenciado (4 years). "Cursos bietápicos de Licenciado" were also offered at polytechnic institutions. These courses were divided into two cycles, the first leading to the Bacharel degree and the second to the Licenciado degree. The first cycle lasted for six semesters, whilst the second varied between two and four semesters. Post-secondary courses were offered to those who wished to enter the labour market with a high level professional qualification. They were offered at universities and polytechnics. After completing one of these courses, the student could pursue studies leading to a licenciado.
TertiaryLicenciado3–6As from the publication of the law 49/2005: The Licenciado at universities is awarded after a period of study of six to eight semesters corresponding to 180 to 240 credits. Before the publication of the law 49/2005: The Licenciado was conferred after completion of a course usually lasting for 4 years. Many courses, however, lasted for 5 or even 6 years. Most Licenciatura courses were organized in credit units, although some were still organized per semester or academic year.
TertiaryMestre2As from the publication of the law 49/2005: The Mestre is awarded after a period of study of three to four semesters, corresponding to 90 to 120 credits. The Mestre can also be awarded after 10 to 12 semesters, corresponding to 300 to 360 credits for professions that are subject to EU regulations regarding their duration. Before the publication of the law 49/2005: The Mestre was an advanced degree in a specific scientific field, indicating capacity for conducting practical research. Courses usually lasted for 4 semesters and included attendance at lectures and the preparation and discussion of an original dissertation. It was only open to those who had obtained 14 out of 20 in the Licenciado or a legally equivalent course. Those who had obtained a mark below 14 could also be eligible for a Mestrado course after analysis of the curriculum by the competent academic bodies.
TertiaryDoctorate3Doutor - doctorate: The Doutor degree is awarded by university institutions following the writing and defence of an original thesis (doctoral thesis). There is no fixed period to prepare for the Doctorate examinations. This degree is only open to holders of a mestre degree or equivalent and those who have been awarded the licenciado degree or a legally equivalent qualification with a final mark of 16. Holders of a relevant academic scientific and professional curriculum may also apply for the doutor degree following analysis of the curriculum by the competent academic body.
TertiaryPost Doctorate1Agregação - Post Doctorate: This is the highest qualification reserved to holders of the Doutor degree. It requires the capacity to undertake high level research and special pedagogical competence in a specific field. It is awarded after passing specific examinations.

Primary Education

Primary and secondary education is compulsory in Portugal. Children aged 6 are required to enrol in primary education (Ensino Básico – 1º Ciclo) where they take a spread of academic subjects through grades 1 to 4 plus personal and social education. Study content is more advanced during Ensino Básico – 2º Ciclo, at the end of which they have completed 6 grades and are prepared for middle school.

Middle Education

The 7th and 8th grades known as Ensino Básico – 3º Ciclo correspond to middle school. Subjects include Portuguese and two foreign languages, plus mathematics, natural sciences, physics, chemistry, social sciences and a choice of art. Physical, moral and civic education completes the curriculum, plus light technical orientation to perhaps unlock a talent for a vocation.

Secondary Education

At grade 9, the education system divides. Students choose between an academic or a more practical program (multimedia, electronics, computing and so on). Both share the same core subjects of Portuguese, philosophy, physical education, foreign languages and moral / religious education, with the balance of their schooling directed towards achieving their work goals in life.

Vocational Education

In Portugal, initial vocational training is effectively a third stream of secondary education. Following middle school, pupils enrol for three year vocational certificates. These include practical skills in technical and artistic crafts. Outside of this formal system, numerous vocational colleges offer short and longer-term training too.

Tertiary Education

Portuguese EducationHigher tertiary education is provided by polytechnics and universities. The former have a practical bias while the latter are more academic. There have been numerous complaints that poor controls have seen tertiary education standards fall, and protests by students and academics have been vociferous.

Notwithstanding this, Portugal boasts many fine academic institutions. The first medieval universities were established in the 13th Century. The oldest in continuous operation, the Universidade de Coimbra is illustrated here.

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