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After 12 years of school you are finally ready for higher education - Ensino Superior. The access is done taking into consideration your high school average (ranging from 10 to 20 and calculated by averaging the results in every subject expect PE) and your results on the national exams. These national exams are done on the 11th year in the two specific subjects in your course (Biology, Philosophy, Geometry, French...) and then on the 12th year you have your Portuguese exam and the main subject in your course (History, Maths...). Normally you take into account your average and the results of your exams in a 50/50 distribution. Some courses offer different conditions though. Some of them only require one exam, some distribute the formula into 25(exams)/75(school average) or some variation as it's largely at the higher education institutions' discretion.
There are two main systems of higher education in Portugal:
- The university system and;
- The polytechnic system.
The university system is the oldest and is normally more focused on theory and has a broader approach to a topic. The polytechnic, on the other hand, normally has a very practical approach and has one specific profession in mind. Sparing you from the long history behind the creation of polytechnic institutions they were created in the 80s as a national response to the international phenomena of "institutes of technology", they were further legitimized in the late 90s by allowing to offer a higher degree then the one they were previously allowed to.
I will also spare you from the pre-Bologna system since it is now obsolete - the Bologna process consists, in very short form, in a set of agreements between European countries with the purpose of ensuring comparability of the standards and quality of higher education qualifications, hence creating the European Higher Education Area.
You have 5 levels of degrees in Portugal. In ascending order of difficulty:
- Pós -Graduação or Especialização
1. The Licenciatura is a degree that normally takes from 3 to 6 years and is the first possible one in the higher education department.
2. The Pós-Graduação normally takes one year and is a specialization on the area you chose on the first level.
3. The Mestrado is consists with of a complement of 1 or 2 years to the first level or an integrated degree with the first level that makes it be from 5 to 6 years in total.
4. The Doutoramento degree is given to people who want to pursue teaching or a researching career at university level after defending a thesis. There is no set time for this degre.
5. Agregação, the highest qualification possible that requires the capacity to undertake high level research or a special aptitude for teaching.
That's about it.
Hope you enjoyed these tedious terms and definitions... Have a nice year!