Thanks to a recent public education reform, you can now receive a high-quality, low-cost degree while basking in Brazil's vibrant sights and dynamic culture

With numerous world-famous landmarks as well as more than 2,300 registered higher education institutions offering hundreds of courses, there's no doubt that studying for a postgraduate degree in Brazil will be a colourful, enriching experience.

Brazilian universities

Brazil is home to a mixture of publically and privately funded universities.

As a result of the reform, it is generally accepted that public universities offer a higher standard of education - meaning there is stiff competition in securing a place. There are nearly ten candidates for every place in public universities, while in private universities the ratio is less than two to one.

Brazil dominates the top five of the QS University Rankings for Latin America for 2016/17:

  • Universidade de Sao Paulo (1st)
  • Universidade Estadual de Campinas/Unicamp (2nd)
  • Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (5th).

The Brazilian academic year begins in February. Prospective students must pass an entrance exam before they can enrol: the Vestibular, the ENEM exam, or in some cases both.

Exchanges and placements

There are a number of exchange opportunities for students hoping for a taster of Brazil:

There may be exchanges or placements at postgraduate level on offer at some UK institutions, so check with your university to see if they have any available opportunities.

Bachelors degrees in Brazil

The Brazilian higher education system loosely corresponds to the European Union’s Bologna system of Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees that are used in the UK, although there is no formal link between them.

Quality assurance is integral to the higher education system - once every three years, courses across all levels of degree are evaluated with internationally recognised methodology on a scale of 1 to 10, with those scoring 3 or below being closely monitored by the Co-ordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES).

Brazilian institutions offer three types of Bachelors degree:

  • Bachelors (bacharelado): the broadest option, taking anywhere from three to six years to complete
  • Licentiate (licenciatura): an elementary or secondary teaching degree; takes three to four years to complete
  • Technology (tecnologia): specific professional courses offering specialised knowledge; takes two to three years to complete.

Masters degrees

A Mestrado, or Brazilian Masters, is usually a two-year course comprised of taught lectures and research projects resulting in a dissertation. Satisfying a number of credits and high attendance to lectures are crucial components in receiving your Masters. Institutions in Brazil award 30,000 Masters degrees to students every year.

For more information about the postgraduate courses on offer, visit CRUB: Conselho de Reitores das Universidades Brasileir (the council for Brazilian universities).

PhDs

A PhD - or a Doutorado, as it is called in Brazil - is the highest level of postgraduate degree, and takes three to four years to complete.

You will need a Mestrado (or international equivalent to a Masters) to start a doctoral programme in the country.

Fees and funding

Brazilian funding for higher education is an attractive alternative to the UK system, with the same opportunities open to Brazilian and international students alike.

The Brazilian Federal Constitution has cemented the right for free public education up to postgraduate degree level, meaning publically funded degrees are free of charge. Private institutions will always ask for tuition fees which vary greatly from one to the next - anywhere from £1500 to £8000 per year. It is always best to check tuition fees with specific universities.

International students are entitled to financial aid subsidising the costs of meals, books, accommodation and transport through their university in Brazil. Each university sets its own figures. If you’re enrolled in a public institution your biggest expense will be living costs, so this is worth looking into.

How to apply

You can apply for most postgraduate courses via individual university websites, although the majority of these will be written in Portuguese.

Many public institutions offer vacancies for students who have taken the ENEM entrance exam via the national system SISU.

When applying for postgraduate study, you'll need to prove you have a bacharelado degree (or an international equivalent to a Bachelors degree) as well as evidence of the following:

  • a completed application form
  • official copies of your qualifications, stamped by authorities at your local Brazilian embassy
  • a CV displaying relevant professional and teaching experience
  • references
  • a letter of confirmation from your university supervisor
  • a copy of receipt for application fee payment where applicable.

Language requirements

In order to study in Brazil, you’ll need to prove your proficiency in Portuguese, the country's official language.

The only test recognised by the Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC) for international students is the Celpe-Bras, involving a range of listening, reading, writing and speaking tasks.

The MEC-accredited institution for administering the test in the UK is King's College, London.

Student visas

The 'temporary residence' visa allows for one year's study, which can be extended to suit your needs. The application process takes up to three months, so allow time and begin your application early.

To obtain a visa, you’ll need:

  • a valid passport
  • two printed and signed application forms
  • two passport-sized photos
  • evidence of no criminal record, original and duplicate
  • proof of sufficient funds
  • medical records
  • a letter of confirmation from your MEC approved institute.

You will be required to register with the Federal Police within 30 days of your arrival. This formalises your visit and ensures you acquire a foreigners ID card. To renew your visa, you'll need to submit your application to the Federal Police at least 30 days before it expires.

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