Potential applicants to CTSP programmes may be:
- graduates of secondary education or holders of an equivalent qualification;
- holders of a technological specialisation certification or a high-level technician diploma or a higher education degree, seeking professional requalification;
- successful candidates of tests specifically designed for entering CTSP programmes (Decreto-Lei -Decree-Law- n.º 64/2006, de 21 de março).
Existing scholarships offer all learners access to training and education.
Admission to certain CTSP programmes of public or private HEI, except for military or police facilities, is granted through an annual contest organised by each HEI. The application and admission rules are also set up by each HEI. Applications for the national higher education access contest take place online on the website of Direção Geral de Ensino Superior (DGES).
CTSP are taught in polytechnics: successful completion results in an award up to 120 credits. They last four semesters of general and scientific training, plus technical and practical at the workplace (through an internship). Each component is divided into curriculum units.
Even if learners are not considering a higher education degree (), each programme leads to a high-level technician diploma, in training areas linked primarily to regional needs. CTSP programmes are characterised by a strong link to the local labour market involving interaction with local enterprises and business associations in order for their needs to be met.
Learners may subsequently apply for a degree (bachelor or master). If they continue their studies in the same thematic area, they can request the appropriate equivalence from the HEI, but the sum of the credits awarded may not exceed two-thirds of the study cycle. When CTSP graduates apply for public higher education, they have access (via a contest) to specific placements, offered every year by the respective HEI.