How is higher education organized?

The Portuguese higher education includes university and polytechnic education. University education is taught in public and private universities and polytechnic education in non-university public and private higher education institutions. The private schools obtain previous recognition of the Ministry of Education and Science. The higher education network also includes a concordat educational institution.
In 2005, the first steps to reform the higher education system, with the introduction of a new credit system (ECTS) to courses of study, mobility mechanisms, the Diploma Supplement, among others. Changes were made to the Basic Law on Education in order to implement the Bologna Process.
The new structure, organized into three study cycles, was introduced in 2006 and fully implemented in Portugal, since the 2009/2010 academic year.
 
The university and polytechnic institutions confer the degree.
The cycle of studies leading to a Bachelor's Degree in polytechnic education normally lasts six semesters of student work corresponding to 180 credits, or exceptionally, in cases covered by national legal standards or the European Union, a normal length of up to seven or eight semesters of work and training of up to 240 credits.
The cycle of studies leading to a Bachelor's Degree in university education has 180 or 240 credits and a normal length between six to eight curricular semesters of students' work.
In the first study cycle of university and polytechnic institutions the Bachelor's Degree is conferred to those that, after concluding all the curricular units that integrate the plan of degree course studies, have obtained the established number of credits.
 
The university and polytechnic institutions confer the degree of Master.
The course of study leading to a Master's Degree is 90 to 120 credits and a normal length of between three to four curricular semesters of students' work or, exceptionally, as a result of a stable and consolidated practice internationally, 60 credits and a two-term semesters.
In polytechnic education, the cycle of studies leading to a Master's degree must ensure predominantly that the acquisition of a professional specialization.
In university education, the cycle of studies leading to a Master's Degree must ensure predominantly that the acquisition of an academic specialization resorting to research activity or expansion of professional competences.
In university education, a master's degree may also be conferred after an integrated cycle of studies with 300 to 360 credits and a normal length between 10 and 12 semesters of work in cases where the duration for access to the exercise of a certain professional activity is established by legal standards of the European Union or the result of a stable and consolidated practice within the European Union. In this course of study, it is awarded to an undergraduate degree who have completed 180 credits corresponding to the first six semesters of work.
In the second study cycle of university and polytechnic institutions, a master's degree is conferred to those that, after concluding all the curricular units that integrate the course syllabus master and pass the public act of defense of the dissertation, project work or internship report, have obtained the established number of credits.
 
The doctorate degree is awarded by universities and university institutes to those who have passed the course units of the PhD course if any, and the public defense of the thesis.
 

Source: Ministry of Education and Science


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