The Top 10 Universities in the Portuguese-Speaking World

On 5 May we celebrate World Portuguese Language Day and in honour of the celebration of this fascinating language and the cultures it encompasses, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best universities in the Portuguese-speaking world.

The Portuguese-speaking world, or the Lusophone world, covers about 10 countries around the world, most notably Portugal and Brazil. In total, almost 300 million people live in what is considered the Lusophone world. With such large numbers, it’s no wonder that many of the best universities in the world are located in Portuguese-speaking countries.

If you’re interested in spending some or all of your university years in a Lusophone country, check out this article. Once you’ve selected a university that is right for you, you’ll need to find student accommodation. For that, you’ve come to the right place! is the largest student accommodation provider in the world, listing over one million beds in over 400 cities across the world.

The rankings in this post are based on the prestigious QS World University Rankings for the year 2023.

A young woman in the old town of Lisbon
Lisbon, the Portuguese capital is a beautiful city.

1. University of São Paulo, Brazil

Location: São Paulo, Brazil

Local name: Universidade de São Paulo

Global university rank: 115th

The University of São Paulo is a massive university of almost 100,000 students. It’s also a very prestigious one, being ranked as the best university in the Portuguese-speaking world, as well as the third-best university in Latin America. The university was founded in 1934 and is the alma mater of 13 Brazilian presidents, as well as many CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the world. You’ll be surrounded by interesting culture and art studying at the University of São Paulo: the university manages several museums and art galleries, most of them located at the main campus in São Paulo.

São Paulo street view
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil.

2. State University of Campinas, Brazil

Location: Campinas, Brazil

Local name: Universidade Estadual de Campinas

Global university rank: 210th

Located in the city of Campinas, a city of just over one million inhabitants in the São Paulo state, the State University of Campinas was founded in 1962. Unlike most of today’s large Brazilian universities, Unicamp was designed from scratch, rather than formed as a consolidation of several existing institutions. Almost 35,000 students go to Unicamp, about half of whom are postgraduate students, showcasing the university’s strong focus on research. About 15% of all university research work in Brazil is done at Unicamp, a disproportionately high number considering there are several larger universities in Brazil.

An aerial view of Campinas, Brazil
Campinas in the third-largest city in São Paulo state and the home of the State University of Campinas.

3. University of Porto, Portugal

Location: Porto, Portugal

Local name: Universidade do Porto

Global university rank: 274th

Founded in 1911, the University of Porto is today a modern, research-oriented university with about 30,000 students. The main building has an excellent location in the city centre of Porto, a beautiful and historic city in the north of Portugal. It’s especially well-known for its programmes in architecture, engineering and sports science and is a popular destination for Erasmus students, European students doing a year abroad.

Porto city hall
Porto is a beautiful and historic city in northern Portugal.

4. University of Macau

Location: Macau, China

Local name: Universidade de Macau

Global university rank: 304th

Thanks to its colonial history, the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Macau is also part of the Lusophone world. Although the main teaching language at the University of Macau is English, there are also courses in Portuguese and Chinese. Founded in 1981 as the University of East Asia, it got its current name in 1991. Today there are about 12,000 students studying in its seven faculties. The Faculty of Business Administration is one of only  about a hundred business schools in the world to have acquired the prestigious triple accreditation of business schools.

University of Macau library
The University of Macau library.

5. Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Local name: Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Global university rank: 333rd

The oldest higher education institution in Brazil, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro was established way back in 1792 as the Royal Academy of Artillery, Fortification and Design. It got its current name in 1920 and is today home to almost 70,000 students, making it the largest federal university in Brazil, as well as Brazil’s oldest university. The scope of the university is indicated by the fact that it also runs seven museums (among them the National Museum of Brazil), nine hospitals, and 43 libraries. One of the most famous alumni of the university is the architect Oscar Niemeyer, the man who designed the Brazilian capital city, Brasília.

Colourful stairs in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is a colourful city.

6. University of Lisbon, Portugal

Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Local name: Universidade de Lisboa

Global university rank: 335th

The current iteration of the University of Lisbon was founded in 2013, from the merger of two earlier universities, one of which was also called the University of Lisbon. Today it’s the largest university in Portugal, with almost 50,000 students. The university has produced many notable writers and poets, among them Fernando Pessoa, perhaps the most famous Portuguese writer of all times. It’s also one of the few universities in Europe where you can study football: the university offers a postgraduate programme in High Performance Football Coaching.

A game of football going on
You can study football management at the University of Lisbon.

7. NOVA University Lisbon, Portugal

Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Local name: Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

Global university rank: 369th

Founded in 1973, NOVA University Lisbon originally focused on graduate teaching, but has since expanded its offering further. Today there are about 20,000 students at the university, divided into nine academic departments. These departments offer programmes in a variety of topics, ranging from tropical medicine and law to humanities and economics. Still strongly focused on research as well, NOVA University Lisbon is responsible for about 10% of all research papers published in Portugal.

A young woman next to a tram in Lisbon
Lisbon is known for its trams.

8. University of Coimbra, Portugal

Location: Coimbra, Portugal

Local name: Universidade de Coimbra

Global university rank: 438th

By far the oldest university on this list, the University of Coimbra was originally founded in Lisbon in 1290, making it the seventh-oldest university in continuous operation in the whole world. It moved permanently to Coimbra in 1537 and in 2013 UNESCO declared the university a World Heritage Site. The University of Coimbra is the university where the famous Quiema das Fritas festivities were originally held, something which has since been taken up by several other Portuguese universities as well. It’s also one of the most cosmopolitan universities in Portugal, with about 15% of its 25,000 students being from outside Portugal.

The University of Coimbra campus
The University of Coimbra is by far the oldest university on this list, and the seventh-oldest university in the whole world.

9. Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil

Location: São Paulo, Brazil

Local name: Universidade Federal de São Paulo

Global university rank: 441st

The Federal University of São Paulo, or UNIFESP, was founded in 1933 and until 2005 it specialised exclusively in health sciences. Nowadays it also offers programmes in humanities, engineering and business to just under 20,000 students. The original campus, teaching the health programmes, is in the city of São Paulo itself, but the university also has campuses in other cities in São Paulo state.

People waving Brazil flags at a football game
Brazil leads this list with five universities.

10. São Paulo State University, Brazil

Location: São Paulo, Brazil

Local name: Universidade Estadual Paulista “Júlio de Mesquita Filho”

Global university rank: 477th

The third university in this list in the city of São Paulo, and the fourth in São Paulo state, São Paulo State University was founded in 1976. Today it has almost 50,000 students in 23 campuses. The high number of campuses is because the organisation of the university was modelled after the University of California’s multi-campus system. UNESP is heavy on research, boasting almost 2,000 laboratories as well as 30 libraries. It also runs two hospitals, veterinary hospitals and dentistry clinics.

A São Paulo State University building
São Paulo State University is the fourth university on this list that is located in the Brazilian state of São Paulo.

So there you have it, the ten highest ranked universities in the Portuguese-speaking world! Five in Brazil, four in Portugal and one in the former Portuguese colony of Macau. These universities are located in some very beautiful cities that many tourists love to visit. If you want to live in one of these amazing cities and study in one of the best universities in the Lusophone world, pick your favourite and get applying! When you’re needing some student accommodation in your new home city, remember to check out our offering!