Brazil has a number of excellent schools and universities. In fact, universities account for more than three-quarters of the higher education system. Courses can last anywhere between two and six years, depending on the content. The education system differs slightly from other countries and prospective students will need to research the corresponding value of the degrees and diplomas in their home countries before committing to these.
In this section, we highlight the overall performance of Brazilian universities on the institutional level per U-Multirank dimension. The table below shows the national breakdown of Brazilian universities and how they stand across the spectrum of above average (receiving a score of ‘A’ (very good) or ‘B’ (good)), versus below average (receiving a score of ‘D’ (below average) or ‘E’ (weak)). In doing so, U-Multirank offers a clear picture on the country’s strengths and areas for improvement.
It becomes apparent that in general Brazilia's higher education institutions perform strongest in U-Multirank’s teaching & learning, regional engagement and research dimensions.
The Brazilian Federal Constitution has established the right for free public education up to post-graduate level so most public universities only charge a registration fee for students. Most higher education institutions in Brazil are run by the federal government, the state government or the municipal government. Federal and state institutions are generally known as ‘universities’ and tuition is free, while municipal governments tend to run smaller institutions that sometimes charge tuition fees.
Private higher education institutions are primarily university centers or integrated faculties and charge wide-ranging fees depending on the degree programs offered. Private tuition fees can cost from around US$2000 to over $10,000 per year. Despite this, public universities are usually viewed as offering the best quality education. There are nearly ten candidates for every place in public universities, while in private universities the ratio is less than two-to-one.
All prospective candidates to a private or public university in Brazil must take an entrance examination, similar to the SAT or ACT test in the US. Before signing up, you’ll need to choose the university and degree program you are interested in, as each university runs its own exam. Depending on the university, you’ll need to take the “Vestibular” exam, the ENEM exam or both.
The Vestibular exam includes many of the subjects covered in high school including mathematics, sciences, history, geography, literature, Portuguese and a foreign language (candidates can usually choose between English, Spanish and French). The specific questions you will need to answer depend on the degree program for which you are applying – law students will likely be tested on history, geography and mathematics while medical school students might get biology, chemistry and geography.
A fairly new national secondary school exam known as Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio (ENEM) is used by some universities in the place of the Vestibular. Sometimes the ENEM may replace only the first qualifying section of the Vestibular. ENEM results can be used as part of the final overall grade in the Vestibular. A few public universities (such as USP and UNICAMP) have chosen not to use ENEM grades at all – basing their admission criteria on the Vestibular exam only
No matter the reason, paying high tuition fees can be a source of stress for many. However, there are many options for financing your studies, including the use of scholarships. There are various scholarship opportunities available for international students looking to study in Brazil. Depending on your country of origin and the level of studies, there are different options for funding. To explore what scholarship options are available, check this scholarship database.
Most international students will need to obtain a visa to study in Brazil. You can do so through the Consulate General of Brazil (Consulado Geral Do Brazil) in your home country. Student visas are issued for one year and can be renewed.
Visas usually take around two to three months to be processed, so make sure you allow plenty of time before the start of your course. You can fill in the visa application form online.