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Though it may not be the first place that springs to mind when considering postgraduate study abroad, a Masters in Brazil can be an excellent choice for international students in various subject areas.
With more than 100,000 researchers and scholars engaged in research at private and state institutions, Brazil's economic rise has been matched by the development of a sophisticated, modern university system.
Brazil is a fascinating location for any postgraduate student looking to live in a country known for exciting cities, dynamic culture, stunning beaches and an incredible biodiversity.
A Masters in Brazil gives you the opportunity to experience all of this while studying at some of Latin America’s most renowned universities. Here are some of the reasons why you should be thinking about a postgraduate degree in Brazil this year:
|Masters Study in Brazil - Key Details|
|Oldest University||Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (1792)|
|Course Length||2 years|
|Average Fees||None (at public institutions)|
|Academic Year||February to December|
Brazil has a diverse higher education system, with a relatively small number of public research universities and many private institutions. As a result of government reforms, public universities tend to offer the best quality education in Brazil.
There are nearly 300 public universities in Brazil, and over 2,000 private higher education institutions.
Public institutions in Brazil fall under several categories:
All universities have acronyms (in Portuguese) and those starting with UF are the federal universities.
Brazilian universities dominate rankings in Latin America, with 24 Brazilian institutions in the top 50 in the Latin America Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Brazilian universities consistently rank among the best in Latin America. This is reflected by several universities being included in the top 800 in the world.
|University||THE 2019||QS 2019||ARWU 2018|
|University of São Paulo||251-300||118||151-200|
|State University of Campinas||401-500||=204||301-400|
|Federal University of Minas Gerais||601-800||601-650||401-500|
|Federal University of Rio de Janeiro||601-800||361||301-400|
|Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul||601-800||601-650||401-500|
|Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP)||601-800||=464||-|
|Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)||601-800||601-650||-|
|University of Brasília||801-1000||751-800||-|
|Federal University of ABC (UFABC)||801-1000||-||-|
|Federal University of Bahia||801-1000||801-1000||-|
|Federal University of Pelotas||801-1000||-||-|
|Federal University of Santa Catarina||801-1000||751-800||-|
|Federal University of São Carlos||801-1000||701-750||-|
|Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS)||801-1000||801-1000||-|
|São Paulo State University (UNESP)||801-1000||=491||301-400|
|Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.|
University league tables can help you in your search for a Masters degree, but you need to know what to look for. Our guide to university rankings for Masters study can help.
In Brazil, a Masters-level qualification is known as a mestrado; it’s a preparation for research and lasts two years. Similar to Masters programmes in other countries, it includes a taught component and a research project resulting in a dissertation.
To receive a mestrado, you’ll generally need to:
The dissertation examination is very similar to that of a PhD. This means that it is a public examination in front of a committee. The committee will examine whether you can demonstrate, through your dissertation, that you can use the most advanced techniques for scientific, technological or artistic investigation available in a particular field of knowledge. The committee will be chaired by your supervisor and will have up to three other examiners, all of whom must hold PhDs. As it is a public event, anyone can sit in the audience.
Quality assurance is an important part of the Brazilian higher education sector and graduate programmes are evaluated every two years, with scores ranging from one (lowest) to seven (highest). Programmes with scores of three or below are closely monitored by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), a federal agency within the Brazilian Ministry of Education.
There are no tuition fees for Brazilian students at public universities (a right established in the Brazilian Federal Constitution). The great news is that many public universities don’t charge fees to international students either.
Private universities will generally charge tuition fees ranging from BRL 7,500 to BRL 37,500 (USD $2,000 to USD $10,000).
You may also be charged an application fee at both public and private universities. Other costs will include international student health insurance and student services (such as sports facilities). Your student card will give you access to discounted public transport and university restaurants.
There are several scholarships available to study in Brazil but a large number are for one-year study abroad (for example as part of a joint-Masters). Your university or department may also have funds for your research. The biggest expense (if you are studying in a public university) will be associated with living costs.
It’s worth noting that international students are entitled to all the educational loans available to Brazilian students, for accommodation, transport, meals, and books.
Bilateral agreements may have made by embassies, consulates or government agencies to provide bursaries to study in Brazil:
The Brazilian Student Exchange Program for Graduates (PEC-PG).
PEC-PG is a programme ran by the Brazilian agency CAPES and provides financial aid to Masters and PhD students to increase the qualifications of professors, researchers, professionals and graduates in developing countries with a cultural or educational cooperation agreement with Brazil. More information (in Portuguese) and a list of eligible countries can be found on the CAPES website.
The Council on International Educational Exchange have grants available for American students to study abroad:
Applicants to a Masters programme often have to take entrance examinations, but check with your university as there are also other selection processes. Entrance examinations, when they are required, may include written and an interview during which the panel assesses the applicant’s motivations.
As with most countries, applications for most postgraduate courses can be made online via individual university websites. Sometimes you will have to contact your chosen department and ask for a form to be sent to you by e-mail. Deadlines for applications for postgraduate study vary depending on the university but can be relatively early. Remember that the academic year starts in February so make sure you check with admissions departments of individual institutions when the deadline is.
As part of the application, you will usually have to provide:
The selection process normally consists of reviewing your qualifications, professional experience and the relevance of the course chosen for your future career.
In Brazil, you need a licentiatura (or any international equivalent to a Bachelor degree) to apply for a Masters. If your long-term aims are to do a PhD, then make sure you select a Masters degree considered as strictu sensu.
By contrast, lato sensu degrees represent a specialisation in a professional area (such as Medicine or Law). A Masters in Management is the equivalent of an MBA.
Examinations and courses are generally delivered in Portuguese so it is essential that you have adequate levels of Portuguese proficiency. To demonstrate your knowledge of Portuguese, you will have to provide a Celpe-Bras certificate, the only Portuguese language test recognised in Brazil.
Even if your course is taught in English, you will require at least some Portuguese before you start your studies (and for everyday life). Most universities offer both pre-sessional and in-sessional intensive Portuguese courses so be sure to find out about those.
There is quite a lot of red tape and bureaucracy in Brazil and the process of getting a visa is rather lengthy.
As a student, you will have to apply for a visa belonging to the category of “temporary residence” visas, which involve considerably more bureaucracy than the simple tourist visa (which would not be long enough for your Masters or PhD). Visas for studies in Brazil are issued for up to one year (renewable).
You will have to apply for your student visa well before your departure to Brazil at a Brazilian embassy or consulate in your home country. In most cases the application process takes two to three months, so allow plenty of time.
For a temporary residence visa, students have to submit the following documents:
Once in Brazil you have to register with the federal police within 30 days of your arrival. Beware, federal police offices are sometimes found in international airports rather than the city you are living in (therefore, if you can bear it, complete your police registration when you land in the city you’ll be studying in). Police registration is necessary to formalise your stay and to get an ID card for foreigners. If you fail to present yourself for police registration, a tax will be charged for each day past the 30 days limit. It may prevent you from applying for visa extensions or visa renewal.
As a temporary residence visa holder, you may also apply for a visa for accompanying family members. Note also that as a student in Brazil you are not permitted to take up any paid work, and it’s the same for any dependents or spouse that come with you.
When you need to renew your visa, you will have to submit an application to the Federal Police Department at least 30 days before the expiration date.
Already thinking about post-Masters opportunities in Brazil? As one of the emerging BRICS economies (and the largest economy in Latin America), Brazil offers employment possibilities in many sectors, from oil and agriculture to finance and manufacturing.
Any Portuguese you’ve picked up will stand you in good stead, whether in Brazil or further afield – it’s the sixth most spoken native language in the world.
A Brazilian mestrado is also excellent preparation for PhD study.
Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Brazil on FindAMasters.com
Last updated - 18/01/2019