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Student’s guide to study in Brazil

Student's guide to study in Brazil

Tarek Floyd

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The name ‘Brazil’ conjures images of pristine beaches, the scent of enticing food, bright, vibrant colours, carnivals and lively parades. On these fronts, Brazil does not disappoint. It’s major cities – Rio, Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Curitiba – have captured the imagination all over the world.

Brazil is a lively and vibrant place full of culture, food, drink and adventure. All this at your fingertips, just waiting to be discovered. There is plenty of room to explore, too. Brazil is a huge country. In fact, it is the fifth largest country in the world. Almost half of the entire South American continent is Brazil.

From the vineyards in the north, to the Amazon rainforests in the south and center, to sprawling cities, Brazil is a country that has a lot to offer — and it has a rising educational star. In fact, the top five universities in South America are located in Brazil, and the University of São Paulo leads the league, according to the QS World University Rankings 2020.

Aside from its warm, alluring and welcoming culture and growing educational prowess, Brazil is also a great place to start your career after graduation. Brazil’s economy is the largest in Latin America, and Rio and São Paulo are at the heart of this boom. With a large economy, the Brazilian labor market is increasingly opening up to those who do not speak Portuguese. The search for people who speak English, Spanish and Chinese is increasing.



Student's guide to study in Brazil

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Ranking of universities in Brazil:

Brazil ranks 22 times in the QS World University Rankings® 2018, with the University of São Paulo (USP) ranked 121st.

Next up is the Universidade Estadual De Campinas (UNICAMP) (joint 182), which is also based in the São Paulo region.

Unsurprisingly, given this strong global presence, Brazil dominates the QS regional rankings for Latin America.

In the 2018 QS Latin America University Rankings, Brazil ranked 83 among the top 400 universities in the region, far more than any other country. This includes four universities in the top 10 in the region. In addition, the Brazilian higher education system is ranked 22nd globally in the QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings.



Universities in Brazil:

  • Universidade de São Paulo (USP)
  • Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)
  • Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
  • Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP)
  • Universidade de Brasília

Education in Brazil:

Brazil was a Portuguese colony until it gained its independence in 1825. This means that its higher education system has a distinct European advantage. There are three types of bachelor’s degrees in Brazil:

  • Bachelor: A university degree in a specific discipline that takes between three and six years to complete.
  • Licentiate: This allows you to become a teacher. It takes three or four years to complete.
  • Associate: These take two or three years to complete and give students a very detailed education in a specialized field (eg; human resource management).

This division continues at the postgraduate level. There are two types of graduate degrees:

  • Lato Sensu: This degree is for those who wish to obtain a postgraduate degree in a specific subject area but do not wish to continue with a Ph.D.
  • Stricto Sensu: Doing well in this degree can open the door to a Ph.D. It takes a year or two to complete both types of degrees.





It takes about three or four years to complete a PhD in Brazil. If you choose to do one on the job, it can take up to six years.

The quality of education in the best Brazilian universities is comparable to that of European universities under the Bologna Process.

As for how you actually study, it’s the same as in most countries. It is a mixture of lectures, readings and independent study. If you study a more practical subject, you will also spend time in a lab or workshop.





Tuition fees and scholarships:

Tuition fees for degree programs in Brazil can vary. Both international and domestic students are expected to pay tuition fees in Brazil, but these fees can vary a lot.

As the reputation of higher education in Brazil rises, so do the scholarship options available to international students. The scholarships available to you depend on your level of study, subject matter, nationality, and whether you will study in Portuguese or English.

The Brazilian Government Exchange Program is among the most popular scholarships available. Students with academic potential from developing countries and conflict areas are given a free flight. Applications open in August of each year. The government does not maintain a regular website, and instead publishes a whole new website every year. You will need to research the program around July to start preparing your application.

Alternatively, the Organization of American States awards the PAEC OAS-GCUB Scholarship every year to masters and doctoral students who wish to study at certain top universities in Brazil. However, you must be a citizen of a member state of the Organization of American States.



Student's guide to study in Brazil





Language and culture:

The national language of Brazil is Portuguese. It is by far the largest country in the Lusophone region. In fact, due to the huge population of Brazil, it has made Portuguese one of the major languages ​​in the world. Brazilian Portuguese has even overtaken the Portuguese spoken in Portugal to become the standard version of the language worldwide.

Brazil is also home to more than a dozen indigenous languages, as well as a wide variety of minority languages, ranging from Spanish to Ukrainian to Korean.

English is compulsory in Brazilian schools and is becoming increasingly popular. Most young Brazilians have a good command of English even if they are not very fluent in English.

In larger cities, older Brazilians are also likely to have some knowledge of English, as well as other languages ​​such as Italian and German. Brazil is becoming increasingly bilingual, with English now overtaking Spanish as the second most learned language.





Whatever you are looking for in a study abroad destination, adventure, quality education, or the opportunity to start your career in another country, Brazil has something to offer.



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