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Portugal Universities and Schools that Accept HND Certificates, Second Class and 3rd Class for Masters Degree Programs

Portugal’s higher education system has long been revered for its high standards and globally recognized degrees. The country offers a wide range of academic programs that cater to various fields of study. For international students or those holding qualifications such as Higher National Diploma (HND) certificates, second class, and third class degrees, Portugal presents a unique opportunity.

Many of its universities and schools have provisions for admitting students with these qualifications into their master’s degree programs. This makes Portugal an attractive destination for furthering your education.  

In this blog post, we will show you list of Portugal Universities and Schools that Accept HND Certificates, Second Class and 3rd Class for Masters Degree Programs

What Are The Eligibility Criteria For Master’s Degree Portugal Universities and Schools

Here’s a breakdown of the general eligibility criteria you’ll encounter:

  • Bachelor’s Degree or Equivalent: Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. This equivalency is crucial for HND holders, as some universities may require additional coursework or a bridging program to equate an HND to a bachelor’s degree level.
  • Class of Degree: While it’s more common for institutions to prioritize first-class or upper second-class degrees, several Portuguese universities and schools accept candidates with second class (lower division) and even third-class degrees, depending on the course and department criteria.
  • Proof of English Proficiency: For programs taught in English, non-native speakers will need to provide proof of English proficiency through standardized tests like the TOEFL or IELTS. The required scores may vary by institution.
  • Portuguese Language Proficiency: For programs taught in Portuguese, international applicants may need to demonstrate proficiency in the Portuguese language, usually through tests like the CAPLE (Certificado de Avaliação de Português Língua Estrangeira).
  • Motivation Letter and CV: Most programs require a motivation letter (also known as a statement of purpose) and a detailed curriculum vitae (CV). These documents allow applicants to showcase their academic and professional backgrounds, research interests, and reasons for choosing the specific program.

It’s important for prospective students to carefully review the specific admission requirements listed on the websites of their chosen universities or contact the admissions office directly for guidance. Each institution may have unique criteria or additional steps in the application process, tailored to assess the comprehensive suitability of each candidate beyond their academic grades.

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Portugal Universities that Accept HND Certificates, Second Class and 3rd Class for Masters Degree Programs 

Below is a curated list highlighting some of the notable universities in Portugal known for accommodating these specific qualifications:

1) University of Lisbon

As one of the largest and most prestigious universities in Portugal, the University of Lisbon offers various programs that provide pathways for HND holders and those with lower-class degrees. The institution emphasizes a holistic review process, considering the overall profile of the applicant beyond just academic grades.

2) University of Porto

Recognized for its strong research output and academic excellence, the University of Porto has departments that are open to considering applicants with diverse academic backgrounds, including HND certificates and lower degree classifications. Prospective students are encouraged to reach out directly to their department of interest for specific entry requirements.

3) Polytechnic Institute of Porto

Known for its practical and industry-oriented programs, the Polytechnic Institute of Porto is another option for students with HNDs or lower-class degrees. The institution values professional experience and may offer bridging courses to align the HND qualifications closer to their bachelor’s degree equivalents.

4) University of Coimbra 

One of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world, the University of Coimbra, provides opportunities for students with second and third-class degrees to pursue master’s degrees, especially in fields related to humanities and social sciences. Admission criteria may include an assessment of relevant work experience or additional academic qualifications.

5) Nova University Lisbon

This institution stands out for its innovative approaches and international outlook. Nova University Lisbon considers applicants with various educational backgrounds, including those with HNDs and lower degree classifications, particularly for programs in business, social sciences, and technology.

6) University of Minho

With a strong emphasis on research and development, the University of Minho has programs that accommodate students with HND certificates and second or third-class degrees, especially in engineering and sciences. The university looks at a comprehensive range of criteria to assess the potential success of applicants in their chosen master’s program.

These universities exemplify Portugal’s inclusive approach to higher education, offering pathways to master’s degrees for students from varied academic backgrounds. Prospective students are advised to consult directly with the admissions departments of these institutions for the most current entry requirements and to understand any program-specific prerequisites.

Portugal Schools that Accept HND Certificates, Second Class and 3rd Class for Masters Degree Programs  

Exploring educational opportunities in Portugal reveals a variety of schools beyond traditional universities that welcome students with Higher National Diploma (HND) certificates, second class, and third class degrees for master’s programs. These institutions often provide specialized courses tailored to the professional and technical skills required in the modern workforce. Here is a list of notable schools that cater to such applicants:

1) Lisbon School of Economics & Management (ISEG)

ISEG is renowned for its comprehensive economic and management programs. The school looks beyond conventional academic achievements, considering professional experiences and potential contributions to the cohort, making it an excellent option for HND holders and those with lower class degrees aiming for a career in business or economics.

2) Porto Business School

This school has a strong focus on real-world applications and leadership development. Porto Business School offers several master’s programs that admit students with diverse academic backgrounds, including HND certificates and lower degree classifications, especially those demonstrating significant professional achievement or potential.

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3) Institute of Art, Design and Enterprise -University (IADE-U)

IADE-U is a pioneer in design and creative arts education in Portugal and provides a platform for students with practical qualifications such as HNDs and those with second or third class degrees, to advance their skills in a dynamic and innovative learning environment.

4) Portuguese Catholic University – School of Arts

Known for its excellence in arts and humanities, this school offers unique master’s programs that accommodate students from various academic standings. It values creativity and critical thinking, making it a suitable choice for applicants looking to expand their expertise in cultural, artistic, or media studies.

 5) Polytechnic of Leiria 

With a strong emphasis on applied sciences, technology, and engineering, the Polytechnic of Leiria provides specialized master’s programs that accept HND holders and students with lower academic grades. The school values the practical experience and technical skills that these students often bring to their programs.

 6) ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon

ISCTE is recognized for its social sciences programs and its focus on research and community service. The institute welcomes students with varied educational backgrounds for its master’s degrees, appreciating the diverse perspectives and experiences they contribute.

Each of these schools has its distinct approach to evaluating applicants, often considering a combination of academic qualifications, professional experience, and personal motivations.


Can I use HND for Masters in Portugal?

Yes, a Higher National Diploma (HND) can be used for admission into a master’s degree program in Portugal. Many Portuguese universities, such as the University of Porto and the University of Lisbon, accept HNDs for their master’s programs. This makes Portugal an excellent choice for students who want to pursue a master’s degree, but don’t have a traditional bachelor’s degree. 

 What do you need for a Masters degree in Portugal?

To be admitted into a master’s degree program in Portugal, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university, as well as a minimum grade point average (GPA). Depending on the university and program, you may also need to submit a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and/or standardized test scores. Additionally, you will likely need to demonstrate proficiency in Portuguese or another language that is relevant to your field of study.

Can I apply for Masters with my HND certificate?

It is possible to apply for a master’s degree with a Higher National Diploma (HND) certificate, though the requirements can vary from university to university. Generally, you will need to have a HND in a relevant subject area to the master’s program you’re applying to. In some cases, you may also need to have a certain grade point average (GPA) or work experience.

Can I do Masters abroad with second class lower (2.2)?

It is possible to pursue a master’s degree abroad with a 2.2 (or second class lower) degree, though the requirements will vary depending on the university and country you’re interested in. In some cases, a 2.2 may be considered equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the local education system. 

Can someone with third class go for Masters abroad?

While it can be challenging, it is possible for someone with a third class degree to pursue a master’s degree abroad. While some universities may not accept a third class degree for admission into their master’s programs, there are many universities that do. Additionally, there are also universities that offer programs specifically designed for students with third class degrees. 


Portugal is a great option for pursuing a master’s degree, as many universities there accept Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and other vocational degrees. The Portuguese education system is renowned for its quality and affordability, and its universities are consistently ranked among the best in Europe. Whether you’re looking to study in the vibrant city of Lisbon or the picturesque town of Coimbra, you’ll find a wide range of options for pursuing a master’s degree with an HND. Portugal is an ideal destination for those looking to gain a world-class education while experiencing a new culture and way of life.

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