Academic Ranking of World Universities

Catholic University of Portugal
English Name: Catholic University of Portugal
Region: Southern Europe
Country: Portugal
Found Year: 1967
Address: Palma de Cima


Universidade Católica Portuguesa was established in 1967 by decree of the Holy See (Lusitanorum Nobilissima Gens).

The creation of the University constitutes a milestone in modern higher education in Portugal: for the first time the State was not directly involved in and responsible for a university.

The late seventies and eighties saw the establishment and development in Portugal of a privately-owned sector in higher education (including both universities and polytechnics). Within that context, there has been a generalised acceptance of the distinctive position held by the Catholic University - a public, non-State and non-profit-seeking institution.

From the 1990’s onward and following the country’s new needs for capacity building in strategic higher education areas, UCP expands into new areas of knowledge. In Lisbon, the creation of the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Economical and Management Sciences (1991) promotes the development of new study areas at the Faculty of Human Sciences, namely Media Studies, Languages and later Social Work and Psychology (2008). The university expands into previously untested research areas, by creating the first School of Biotechnology in the country (1984, Porto), the School of the Arts (1996, Porto). In the 90’s new academic units are created: The School of Sciences and Technology (1996), the Faculty of Engineering (1999 and closed in 2013), bringing several new STEM degrees such as dentistry, architecture and engineering. The Institute of Political Studies is created in 1997, the Institute of Bioethics in 2002 and the Faculty of Education and Psychology in 2007. Having a project of development in the field of Health Sciences in mind, the Institute of Health Sciences with a seat in Lisbon and two brenaches in Porto and Viseu is created on January 20, 2004. It further includes a Health Polytechnical School as a result of the merger into the university of two Nursing Schools, namely the S. Vicente de Paulo School of Nursing, in Lisbon, and the Imaculada Conceição School in Oporto. 

The university further founds the School of Postgraduate Studies at the Business School (FCEE) in Lisbon (1991), making it the first university in Portugal to venture into executive education and offering MBA’s and similar degrees. This model is followed by the Law School, thrpugh the creation of the GEFAP and the Global School of Law, and FCH through the EPGAFA, offering professional courses in the field of media and culture. In Porto, the Business School creates the EGE.

Since its inception, UCP was concerned with setting up effective research structures. In 2015, a restructuring of the research ecosystem was made. Currently, the university hosts 1 Associate Laboratory of Fine Chemistry and 13 R&D units in areas ranging from biotechnology, health, communication and culture, law, business and economics, technology of the arts, political sciences, theology, history, philosophy, education and psychology.

Within the scope of the university’s 3rd mission, a strong emphasis has been placed on the development of knowledge transfer centres such as CESOP (Public Opinion Survey and Polling Research Centre, 1991), CCR (Heritage Conservation Centre, 1996), CCD (Digital creation Centre, 2014), CINATE (Food and Packaging Test Lab), amongst others.

Nowadays, and following the general trend in Portugal and abroad, UCP enjoys a large degree of autonomy in the creation and running of new campuses, faculties and courses.

Taking advantage of the fact, it has been a pioneer in some aspects of university development in Portugal, e.g. business administration and management, food engineering, multimedia, digital arts.

Nobel Prize

In 1996, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Universidade Católica Portuguesa Theologien Bishop Ximenes Belo. 

The University’s Legal Status

UCP is an autonomous higher education institution of public interest, created by the Congregation for Catholic Education (Holy See) under the Concordat between Portugal and the Vatican.

Ours is a nationwide university located in four regional centres (Braga, Oporto, Beiras and Lisbon), as well as in Macao.


Governing Bodies

The University´s current statutes, issued in 1993, establish the following ruling bodies - High Chancellor, Rector, Board of Trustees, Financial Management Board.

The Board of Trustees comprises the University’s main officers – Rector, Vice-Rectors and Deans of Faculties and 10 external independent members drawn from business, under the chairmanship of the High Chancellor. It is the governing body responsible for the affairs of the University, setting the University’s strategic direction, ensuring effective management and control of the University’s affairs, property and finances and determining the structure, staffing and overall composition of the University.

The Rector is the principal academic and administrative officer of the University. The Congregation for Catholic Education and the Portuguese Bishops´ Conference are the senior ruling bodies.



"UCP recognises that academic research is a prerequisite for the proper achievement of its cultural and teaching activities, and shall make every effort to provide the means to foster this research” (Article 7 of the Statutes)

The research centres are based within the Faculties and most of the academic staff belong to one or more of the centres. The centres and their projects are funded from a variety of sources: institutions and societies; the EU; the Portuguese government departments and initiatives; commercial and industrial organisations. They are regularly subject to external assessment exercises, where their ratings have been very good or excellent.


A very broad reform of all degree-granting courses has been carried out in the past years, within the framework of the Bologna process.

The already-existing three-cycle system has been maintained.

The duration and organisation of each cycle, however, has considerably changed.


The University offers:


1st cycle – between 180 and 240 ECTS credits;


2nd cycle – between 90 and 120 ECTS credits; there are masters by teaching and research and professional masters;

“mestrados integrados”

integrated 1st and 2nd cycle – 300 ECTS credits


3rd cycle – doctoral programmes or traditional doctorates by research and thesis


Quality assessment

As part of the quality assessment procedure all courses taught at UCP are accreditated by the portuguese accreditation agency A3ES.

Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics is triple crown accredited (AMBA, EFMD & AACSB and Equis). 

Catolica Porto Business School is AMBA, EFMD and Equis accredited

The University was also one of the first to undergo an institutional evaluation within the framework of the EUA (European University Association) International Evaluation Programme.



UCP is a tuition driven not for profit organization. The University relies as well on competittive research funding from public and private organizations. As far as funding is concerned, 95% of the university´s budget derives from tuition, private research funding and fundraising and 5% is from public funds.

The University awards several merit based and needs based scholarships.


UCP publishes in a broad range of areas, including collections, academic journals and newsletters from the faculties and study centres. In economics, nutrition and biotechnologys, UCP enjoys the higher citation impact factor amongst all other Portuguese Universities.

Several publications have existed for many years and enjoy considerable prestige in academic circles.

In 1998, the university created its own publishing company - Universidade Católica Editora - which publishes in a wide range of academic areas, from theology to biotechnology and the social sciences to engineering.

Clarivate analytics (Web of Science): H index: 84; Scopus: H-index 38; Category normalized citation impact: 1.11



The internationalisation strategy of UCP dates back to its beginnings but has focused on different aspects over the years.

Currently it is aligned along three main axes:

-Comprehensive internacionalization;

- Convergence of higher education systems and degree structures in Europe (the Bologna process);

- Student and staff mobility: enhancement of the international experience of home students and staff through exchange and internship schemes; integration of international students into campus life, recruitment of foreign staff, internationalisation of curricula; organisation of joint or dual degree programs; introduction of English as language of instruction;

Universidade Católica Portuguesa aims to contribute towards national development even while extending its mission as a university included within the European ecosystem and as well as a university interconnected with the Portuguese speaking world and with a vocation for developing its activities in the priority geographic region bordered by the Atlantic. This geostrategic positioning furthermore leverages its identity as a Catholic university sustained on the universalism that informs the Christian vision of the human being. This is precisely the reason the University identifies itself as ‘Built locally in order to act globally’.

From the outset, the UCP has stood out as an institution integrated into supranational models of teaching, research and service to the community. To this end, it has always contributed through fully integrating into the FIUC and FUCE Catholic university networks, actively participating in its meetings and having been the institution hosting the annual meeting of FUCE in 2017. The foundation of the Inter-university Institute of Macau, in 1996, now the University of S. José, equally provides a convincing example of the ways in which the UCP understands that the services provided to the community reach far beyond its immediate geography. With the adoption of the Erasmus Program over the 1990s, UCP expanded its range of mobility that has since grown on a sustained basis.

The UCP Internationalisation Strategy does not stem from any conjunctural objective, as a result of any demographic fluctuations, higher education trends or the lack of sustainable resources. The UCP internationalisation strategy is rather inherent to the very identity of the university, a feature that structurally underpins all of its activities and not as some mere recourse. Internationalisation is embedded in the UCP mission and guides its strategy that may thus be perceived as an institutional commitment implemented through concrete actions and initiatives undertaken with the objective of introducing a comparative perspective and a global focus into its teaching, research and services to society. This reflects in both the percentage and the diversity of the international student base (19% of students are international from over 90 nationalities), the contracting of non-national lecturers and researchers, incentives for student, faculty and researcher mobility, publications in international scientific journals, participation in international research and teaching networks, in the running of various foreign language courses and in the study cycles and/or courses and seminars in English. Integrated internationalisation constitutes a strategy which is embraced and demands the commitment of every sector of the university, from the Rector’s office, to the management of units, to faculty, students, researchers and their administrative and support services. This strategy incorporates general lines of orientation, organised into two principal vectors, one internal and the other external. The internal reflects organisational empowerment and includes actions designed to boost awareness about international expansion and strengthening the human resources to this end, the appropriateness of the management structures for internationalisation processes as well as the sustainability and returns from expenses incurred with this objective. The external refers to the growth in scale and fostering the actions necessary to improving the international recruitment of students, attracting talent and the international profile of the UCP quality standard. Within this framework, the performance of the Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics (CLSBE), has proven an important motor in the international expansion strategy in terms of both students and staff, leading the way in nurturing an international profile for the institution. In the 2016/17 academic year, the Faculty began lecturing its international undergraduate programs entirely in English.

Beyond the mobility of students and lecturers, we would highlight the rise in joint study programs or those that award dual degree titles (currently around 20), the growth in the number of study cycles taught entirely in English (UCP currently has 29), the drive displayed in the internationalisation of research with an expanding presence in international networks and the presence of academic units and specific programs in international rankings. For example, the Global School of Law ranks as among the most innovative Schools of Law evaluated by the Financial Times (FT); the FT also places the CLSBE as the leading school in Portugal, ranked 23rd in Europe and 19thin executive education; the Master’s Degree in Culture Studies – The Lisbon Consortium, of the Faculty of Human Sciences is the 3rd best in the world in the field of Arts and Culture Management according to the Eduniversal ranking.

UCP has also adopted various other internal internationalisation enabling measures, for example: staff English language programs; translation of the means of communications with the academic community; international student support mechanisms, establishing the Liberal Arts Curriculum, which congregates the English taught subject and enabling students to attend complementary subjects to their core program and across different academic units.

In addition to its integral role in the global UCP vocation and mission, the internationalisation process is today essential to the sustainable development of any higher education project. In the case of the UCP, this rests upon the core assumption that the University constantly strives to gain a position of global recognition in the supranational research and teaching market.



In the Financial Times ranking for the 2016 Top European Business Schools, the Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics has reached the 23rd position. It has been consistently the best ranked Portuguese School.

Also Católica Global School of Law's LL.M.s are among top LL.M. programs in the world according the Financial Times 2016 Innovative Law Schools Report. For the seventh consecutive year, the Global School of Law offers the best master programme in Portugal, according to the 2017 Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking in Business and Commercial Law.

The Faculty of Human Sciences offers the Master in Cultural Studies/The Lisbon Consortium, that reached the 3rd position in the world in the Masters degrees ranking in Art and Cultural Management from Eduniversal for third consecutive year (2014, 2015, 2016). The Master in Comunication was ranked in the 1st position in Portugal and 25th in Europe in the Eduniversal Ranking. 

Performance in Academic Ranking of World Universities
ARWU 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Performance in Academic Ranking of World Universities by Broad Subject Fields
Broad Subject Fields 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Performance in Academic Ranking of World Universities by Subject Fields
Subject Fields 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
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