A combination of relatively low living and tuition costs makes Portugal a desirable destination for studying nursing within the European Union. The advantage of a nursing program in Portugal is that you will obtain a degree recognized across the EU while living and working in a country that is well-known for its rich history and culture and great climate.

Nursing is a very respected profession in Portugal, too, and this is evident in the high quality of the country’s programs aimed at training the next generation of nurses.

Here is a guide to the best nursing schools in Portugal.

Best Nursing Schools in Portugal

1. Escola Superior de Enfermagem de Lisboa

  • Nursing Program
  • Degrees offered: Nursing Degree Course (undergraduate) and various postgraduate
  • Language of Instruction: Portuguese

The ESEL, the Superior School of Nursing of Lisbon, is the best nursing school in Portugal. It has a mission to be a center for the creation, development, transmission, and diffusion of nursing culture and science. The school came about as part of a merger of four other nursing institutions and has been operating in its current guise since 2007.

The undergraduate nursing degree is designed for students finishing high school degrees, who have a good grounding in biology, physics, and chemistry, and who want to prepare for a career in nursing after graduation. The program prepares students to become qualified nurses for individual, family, and community patients, while also enabling nurses to work in private healthcare institutions or work as self-employed carers.

ESEL’s undergraduate nursing degree takes four years to complete.

2. Escola Superior de Enfermagem de Porto

  • Nursing Program
  • Degrees offered: Undergraduate nursing degree, various postgraduate
  • Language of Instruction: Portuguese

Porto’s nursing school, known as ESEP, was created in 2007 by merging together the Higher Schools of Nursing of D. Ana Guedes, City of Porto, and Sao Joao. Some form of nursing school has existed in Porto, however, since 1896, when a course for nurse training was created at the Hospital General de Santo Antonio.

At this top nursing school in Portugal, the Nursing Degree Course takes four years to complete and is the first level of degree instruction that you can obtain at ESEP. Afterward, the school has various postgraduate specialization options for students wishing to progress in their nursing careers or for professionals looking to delve deeper into specific areas of nursing.

The study plan for the nursing degree is split across two 2-year periods: the first one integrates theoretical courses and the second one focuses more on clinical practice and internships. Once you have successfully graduated from ESEP’s undergraduate program, you will have access to the title of general care nurse which is awarded by the Ordem dos Enfermeiros.

3. Escola Superior de Enfermagem de Coimbra

  • Nursing Program
  • Degrees offered: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, various postgraduate
  • Language of Instruction: Portuguese

The Coimbra School of Nursing is also the result of merging two nursing institutions with a long tradition dating back to the 1880s. This makes it the heir to the oldest nursing school in Portugal, a title which ESEnfC is proud to link to its modern-day practice. They are committed to training nurses from a humanist, scientific, technical, and cultural viewpoint.

ESEnfC is located across three campuses in Coimbra, offering the opportunity of clinical training in different neighborhoods.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is 4 years long and covers theoretical and practical training with a view to enabling nurses to be independent and efficient.

The ESEnfC has a dedicated mobility program, both nationally and internationally, whereby they encourage students to study and work through exchange programs around the world as part of their degrees. Internationally, ESEnfC is linked to numerous other nursing schools in Europe through the Erasmus Program.

4. Portuguese Red Cross Higher School of Nursing – Alto Tamega

  • Nursing Program
  • Degrees offered: Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, numerous postgraduate
  • Language of Instruction: Portuguese

The Portuguese Red Cross has created this Higher School of Nursing as an additional educational institution to train nurses and allow them to specialize further in their trade with postgraduate studies as well. Its mission is to develop nursing education in the context of polytechnic higher education, research, lifelong learning, and the provision of services to the community.

The Bachelor of Nursing program is a small degree program with only 80 students admitted every year to the 4-year course. It provides a solid scientific and technical base for nursing practice, ultimately enabling students to exercise nursing as a profession according to the values and principles of the Red Cross, international law, and the Geneva Protocols. The school also participates in the European Erasmus exchange program and encourages students to experience a semester abroad thanks to this network.

5. School of Nursing S. Francisco das Misericordias

  • Nursing Program
  • Degrees offered: Bachelor of Nursing, various postgraduate
  • Language of Instruction: Portuguese

The School of Nursing S. Francisco das Misericordias, one of the best nursing schools in Portugal, started off in 1950 as an Overseas Social Action of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and was a women-only school run by nuns. It changed regimes subsequently multiple times and is now a registered higher education institution awarding undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in nursing and related fields.

The Bachelor of Nursing degree provides scientific training with a strong anchoring in human and cultural training, aiming to enable students to perform general nursing care on patients after their graduation. The style of teaching is alternating: during the 8 semesters, each semester of theoretical training follows a semester of clinical practice in care delivery settings. Each block of clinical practice is directly linked to the theory covered beforehand, thus creating a logical connection that helps students learn effectively.


We hope that this article on the best nursing schools in Portugal was helpful. If you are interested in knowing more information like this, check out the Programs in Europe for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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