Stages of the education system
Compulsory education lasts 12 years, between the age of six and 18 or until the conclusion of upper secondary education.
The Portuguese education system is divided in pre-school education (from the age of three until the start of basic education), basic education (6 to 15 years old) and upper secondary education (15 to 18 years old).
Pre-school education covers children from three years old up to the age of compulsory schooling (six years old). Attending pre-school education is optional.
- the first cycle corresponds to the first four years of schooling (grades one to four).
- the second cycle corresponds to the next two years (grades five and six).
- the third cycle lasts for three years and corresponds to lower secondary education (grades seven to nine).
Upper secondary education
Upper secondary education lasts for three years and corresponds to grades 10, 11 and 12 of upper secondary education, organised into different types. Some are geared towards further studies, others via dual certification (academic and vocational), the latter combining general, technical and work placement training.
Post-secondary non-higher education
This level is taught through technological specialisation courses, which provides highly qualified technical training geared towards the world of work or continuation of higher-level studies. It usually lasts for one year and is designed for young people over 18 years of age who have completed 12 years compulsory schooling.
Portuguese higher education is a binary system that includes the university and polytechnic systems. Universities are oriented to offer solid scientific training, combining the efforts and competences of teaching and research units, while polytechnics focus on professionally oriented vocational and advanced technical training.