How to Study Medicine in Portugal

2 de May, 2024

How to Study Medicine in Portugal

Discover how it's possible to study medicine in Portugal as a foreigner. Who can apply and how to streamline the admission process.
Estudantes de medicina
Reading: 8 min

Is it possible to study medicine in Portugal as a foreigner? The Medicine course at public universities in Portugal is excluded from the international student statute, which means that places are reserved primarily for national candidates. Therefore, if you do not have Portuguese nationality, you may face some obstacles when trying to enroll in these courses. However, do not be discouraged, as there are alternative paths that can make your dream of studying Medicine in Portugal a reality.

In this article, we will explore how the Medicine course works in Portugal for foreign students, who can apply, and provide some valuable tips to streamline the admission process.

Studying medicine in Portugal with European nationality

For those who have European citizenship, including Portuguese citizenship, entry into Portuguese universities is through the National Access Exam.

Also, read articles on our website on how to study in Portugal, the education system in the country, and the best universities for your undergraduate or master’s degree.

Do you want to live in Europe?

Realizing your goal of living in Europe or obtaining European citizenship can be simpler than you think. We offer personalized support to make the immigration process more accessible and uncomplicated.

How to Study Medicine in Portugal without European Nationality?

There are two ways to enroll in a medicine course in Portugal without necessarily having European nationality.

Students must legally reside in Portugal for at least two years (without interruption) before applying for the National Competition.
It is recommended to complete high school in Portuguese territory to qualify for the exam and compete for places in medicine courses. Even if you have already completed high school in Brazil, you can take Secondary Education again in Portugal if you want to improve your grades.

It is worth noting that to reside legally in the country, the student will need one of the residence visas available in Portugal. It may even be the family reunification visa.

Another alternative is to validate your high school grades at a Portuguese secondary school. See more below.

2. With Equal Rights and Duties Status (for brazilians)

For those that are brazilian citizen and already reside legally in Portugal, an alternative is to apply for the Equal Rights and Duties Status, which grants them access to the National Competition.
However, this process can take 6 to 8 months to complete, making the option to study the last two years of high school in Portugal more favorable. It is essential to emphasize that the two years of residence in Portugal must be fully completed by August 31 of the academic year in which you intend to enter university.

3. Family member of a European citizen

Even if you do not have European citizenship, if the candidate is the child of a European parent, they can take the National Exam in Portugal to compete for medicine vacancies according to Article 3 of Decree-Law No. 62/2018. In other words, in this way, the student will not be considered an international student.

4. Access for those who already have a degree in the field

For those who already have a diploma in natural sciences and health sciences, there is another way to access medicine courses in Portugal. You need to check which courses are accepted and by which universities, as this path is a bit more restricted. The University of Algarve and the University of Beira Interior, for example, are some that accept students graduated in other courses. It is worth noting that access is only possible after the revalidation of your first degree by a Portuguese university.

Learn here how to validate your medical diploma in Portugal.

How to enroll in a medicine course in Portugal?

The national exam (in portuguese) takes place in two phases and usually requires only the completion of three tests: Biology/Geology, Physics/Chemistry, and Mathematics. These tests include a combination of multiple-choice and essay questions, which test the knowledge and analytical ability of the candidates. The tests are worth 200 points each. To compete for medicine, the minimum score is 140.

In addition, the grades obtained in the tests are not the only criterion evaluated; the secondary education average also plays a fundamental role in the admission process, representing 50% of the student’s final grade. The other 50% of the final grade is determined by the average of the three tests of the national exam.

If you completed your high school abroad, you will need to present the equivalence of the High School Completion Certificate and Transcript along with a secondary school in Portugal.

What is it like to Study Medicine in Portugal

Since the implementation of the Bologna Declaration, medicine courses in Portugal have been offered as Integrated Master’s degrees, with a total duration of at least 6 years. Some of them, such as Coimbra’s, are offered full-time, with practical and theoretical classes, requiring significant commitment from students. Education is of quality, with opportunities for research and scientific development.

Although the study period is the same, the cycles operate differently. In Portugal, three years are dedicated to the basic cycle and another three to the clinical cycle. This last year is reserved for supervised internship.

After six years of academic training, students seeking independence must necessarily complete the seventh year, known as General Training Internship – equivalent to Medical Residency in Brazil. Only after completing these seven years is it possible to enroll in a medical specialty course through a single exam, held annually.

This integrated cycle involves a series of curricular units, and to complete the degree and obtain the Master’s degree, it is necessary to complete the final stage, which includes the presentation of an essay and the defense of a thesis or project report or internship, equivalent to the TCC in Brazil.

Medicine Courses in Portugal: Which Universities?

The medicine course is currently available at eight public institutions and only two private institutions (Portuguese Catholic University and Fernando Pessoa University).

  • Covilhã: University of Beira Interior
  • Coimbra: University of Coimbra
  • Lisbon: University of Lisbon, Nova University of Lisbon, and Catholic Medical School (private)
  • Braga: University of Minho
  • Porto: University of Porto, Abel Salazar Biomedical Sciences Institute, and Fernando Pessoa University (private)

In addition, there are two universities that offer basic medicine courses (without integrated master’s degree). They are:

  • Madeira Island: University of Madeira
  • São Miguel Island: University of the Azores

And there is also, in Faro, the University of Algarve, which offers a master’s degree in medicine.

In the case of studying Medicine at one of these two universities, the student will have the possibility to continue their studies at universities in Lisbon or Coimbra.

Is it easy to get into medicine in Portugal?

Do not be fooled. The medicine course is competitive worldwide, and in Portugal, it is no different. It is necessary to study hard and have a very high score on the national entrance exam to be approved.

What is the average score to enter Medicine in Portugal?

For students who completed secondary education in Portugal, the average score to enter a public university for Medicine is one of the highest among higher education access, typically above 180 points (with the maximum value being 200 points).

See the minimum score for approval in the 2023 national competition:

  • University of the Azores (Basic cycle of Medicine): 177.0
  • University of Madeira (Basic cycle of Medicine): 177.5
  • University of Beira Interior: 177.8
  • University of Lisbon: 179.5
  • New University of Lisbon: 180.2
  • University of Coimbra: 179.5
  • University of Minho: 182.8
  • University of Porto (Faculty of Medicine): 183.5
  • University of Porto (Abel Salazar Biomedical Sciences Institute): 186.8

How much does it cost to study medicine in Portugal?

It’s always good to remember that public universities, although cheaper, are not free in Portugal.

The course fees vary according to the university, its location, and whether it is private or public. Additionally, students without Portuguese citizenship pay higher fees. Tuition fees for nationals are around 6,500 euros per year (tuition fees, as they are called in the country).

Learn how to get your student visa in Portugal.

How to speed up the medicine course in Portugal?

Some students use a resource to, let’s say, not waste time and accelerate the progress of the medicine degree. While waiting for equality status or studying to enter a medical university, many choose to enroll as international students in other health-related courses where this is allowed. The goal is to eliminate some subjects when finally entering medicine. Additionally, the student can also conduct research and review theoretical subjects required in the entrance exam. Among the chosen courses are nursing, biomedical sciences, among others.

University of Coimbra: A Centennial Institution

The University of Coimbra has a rich history and internationally recognized reputation. Founded 729 years ago, it is one of the oldest and most respected educational institutions in the world. The Coimbra Medical School is the oldest in Portugal and throughout the Lusophone space. It predates the university’s own foundation!!

Every year, over 3,000 students enroll in the Medicine course at the University of Coimbra, which offers modern facilities, excellent laboratories, and an environment conducive to learning and scientific research.

Universidade Católica: Medical course in English in Portugal

The medicine course at the Catholic University is entirely taught in English. Therefore, it is essential for the candidate to have at least a C1 level of proficiency in the language.

To enroll, it is necessary to have equivalence to Portuguese secondary education.

The admission tests include Mathematics A, Physics/Chemistry, and Biology/Geology. They can be conducted in various ways:

  • Replacement by equivalent exams from foreign exams, such as IB, BAC, AICE, among others.
  • Completion of the Portuguese national exam, available in the National Exam Kit (exams in Portuguese).
  • Internal exams at the Católica Medical School (exams in English).

In addition to the tests, it is necessary to present a Motivation Letter or Portfolio in English.

Candidates must also undergo a mini in-person interview in English during the month of July.

Due to the institution’s high standard of demand, there are some cut-off grades in the selection process:

  • Minimum score in English Language: IELTS (7 points), TOEFL iBT (94 points), Cambridge (180 points), internal C1 assessment test, or completion of secondary education in English.
  • Cut-off grade in admission tests: 140 points (Portuguese scale).
  • Minimum grade in secondary education: 160 points (equivalent to 16 values).

Where can you work with a Portuguese medicine diploma?

With a Portuguese medicine degree, you can practice as a doctor in Portugal and also in any European Union country.

Count on Atlantic Bridge

If your goal is to study Medicine in Portugal, Atlantic Bridge is here to help. As experts in educational consulting, we can guide you in all aspects of the application process, from university selection to obtaining visas and planning your move. Don’t miss out on our personalized services to turn your dream of studying Medicine in Portugal into reality. Contact us today and take the first step towards a promising career in the healthcare field!

Silvia Resende


Silvia Resende

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