Located in Southeast Europe, Portugal is an old nation-state famous for its mild Mediterranean weather. This – among many other things – has made it a popular destination not only for tourists but for students as well. 

Portugal’s 69,000+ international students choose the country because of several things. For one, it’s rich in culture – with the capital of Lisbon being tagged as one of the safest in the world. Secondly, Portugal has a relatively low cost of living. International students in the country enjoy these things as they complete their studies. More importantly, Portugal is home to 50 universities – 7 of which are ranked the best in the world. They’re also quite cheap, which makes them attractive to prospective students all across the globe. 

In this article, we will be looking at the cheapest universities in Portugal for international students.

What Are the General Requirements to Study in Portugal?

The requirements needed for international students to study in Portugal will depend on their nationality and study program. However the basic requirements include academic transcripts, passport, student visa, and language proficiency results.

Some universities and specific programs will request additional documents, be sure to check with your preferred department for further details. Also, please expect some expenses to be incurred during the admissions process. Usually, you’ll need to pay for the application process, student visa, and others.

Check Also: Programs in Europe for International Students

Do Universities in Portugal Offer English-taught Programs?

The answer is yes! There are Portuguese universities that offer programs in the English language. The Lisbon School of Economics and Management has two undergraduate courses, and 5 Master’s courses are taught in English. Also, the master’s and doctorate programs at the University of Porto are fully instructed in the English language.

Affordable Universities in Portugal for International Students

1. University of Évora

The University of Évora is Portugal’s second-oldest university. Founded in the year 1559, it was established by the future King Cardinal-Infante Dom Henrique. Thru the Papal Bull, the university was granted a permit to teach several subjects, except Medicine, Civil Law, and some Canon Law.

Although it ran successfully for 2 centuries, it was pressured to close due to its Jesuit administration. As such, it seized operations in the year 1779 before finally reopening in the year 1973.

With a tuition fee of €2,500 a year, the University of Evora is the cheapest university in Portugal for international students. Today, the university is home to about 10,500 students – including 1,000 foreigners from over 70 countries. Its academic offerings have also grown in number, as the university currently offers programs in the Arts, Social Science, Science & Technology, Health & Human Development, and Nursing.

2. University of Algarve

The University of Algarve or UAlg is a public educational institution located in Southern Portugal. It currently operates 2 campuses – one in Faro and another in Portimão.

While UAlg only has a small student population, approximately a fifth of this (19%) comes from more than 70 countries across the globe. This appeal is often attributed to the university’s cheap tuition – as well as its prestige. To date, it is ranked one of the best in Portugal – and the whole of Europe. It’s also listed as one of the top universities in the world – together with 11 other Portuguese universities.

This cheap university in Portugal is noted for its Social Science courses, which are globally bracketed at 301-400. It’s also listed in the 501-600 category for Life Science, Physical Science, and Business & Economics. Its Health Science courses, on the other hand, are listed in the 601-650 division.

3. University of Lisbon

The University of Lisbon is the largest educational institution in Portugal, as it stems from the merger of 2 universities in the year 2013. To date, it has more than 49,000 students, 15% of which are foreigners. This high demand is made possible by the university’s reputation – which is currently listed as the 28th best institution in the European Teaching Rankings.

With a history tracing back to 1290 as the Lisbon General Study, the university has evolved into a world-class institute with 400 degrees. These are divided into the faculties/schools of Fine Arts, Architecture, Law, Pharmacy, Science, Medicine, Dental Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Letters, Psychology, Human Motricity, Social Science, Education, Agronomy, Geography & Territorial Planning, Social & Political Science, Engineering, and Economy & Management.

4. University of Porto

The University of Porto, one of the cheapest universities in Portugal for international students, started in 1836 as the Polytechnic Academy and Medical-Surgical School. It was finally granted university status in 1911, thus paving the way for the subsequent growth of the institution. Today, the University of Porto is the second-largest university in Portugal with a population of 32,500+. It also has a significantly larger percentage of international students, which represents 18% of the total enrollment rate.

The numbers account for the university’s various degree offerings, which are currently organized into 15 schools. These are the Faculties of Architecture, Economics, Dental Medicine, Fine Arts, Engineering, Letters, Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, Nutrition, Psychology, Sport, Business, Biomedical Science, and Science.

5. University of Minho

The University of Minho, which has 3 campuses in Braga and 1 in Guimarães, offers programs in the fields of Arts & Human Science, Architecture, Social Science, Education, Psychology, Engineering, Economics & Management, Law, Medicine, and Science.

Founded in 1973, it is one of Portugal’s younger universities. In fact, it is named one of the world’s best institutions under the age of 50.

Despite being a new institution, it has steadily become one of the country’s best in terms of education and impact. This popularity has led to a mid-sized student population of 18,500+, including foreign students who correspond to 13% of the total.

6. University of Beira Interior

The University of Beira Interior or UBI is a public educational institution established in the year 1979. It is named after the region of Beira, which used to be one of the six provinces of Portugal.

Located in Covilhã, this cheap university in Portugal has a sprawling international community despite having a low enrollment rate. Currently, 18% of its 7,100+ students come from abroad.

This influx of foreigners is made possible by the university’s reputation, as it is currently touted as one of the best in Portugal. It’s also listed in the Young University rankings, as well as the Impact Rankings.

UBI’s highly-rated programs include Computer Science, Engineering & Technology, and Business & Economics, all of which are ranked 301-400 in the world. The Social Science and Life Science programs, on the other hand, are ranked 401-500 and 501-600, respectively. Last but not least are its Clinical Science degrees, which are categorized in the world’s 601+ bracket.

7. ISCTE – Lisbon University Institute

The ISCTE – Lisbon University Institute, formerly the Higher Institute of Business and Labour Sciences, was founded in Lisbon in the year 1972. This affordable university in Portugal eventually dropped its name in 2009 after it was transformed into a foundational university. With this recognition, the school has expanded its offerings to postgraduate courses, from the usual undergraduate degrees it delivered as a Higher Institute.

The university currently has 9,000+ students enrolled in the Schools of Business, Social & Human Science, Sociology & Public Policy, and Technology & Architecture. It also has research units in the fields of Business, International Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Socioeconomics, Telecommunications, Information Technology, and Architecture.

The university is accredited by both the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Association of MBAs.


We hope that this article has provided you with insights that Portugal is an incredible country that offers relatively low costs of tuition. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Programs in Europe for International Students.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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