Study System in Brazil

Study System in Brazil

Brazil occupies about half of the South American continent . As big and wide as the country, so diverse are its charms. Brazil is best known for its dream beaches, the rainforest and the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil is a football nation: Brazilians worship their national team, the Seleção, with almost religious devotion.

During your studies in Brazil you will find out: The Brazilians are very open, hospitable and cheerful. Their temperament seems to match the warm temperatures in the country. Unfortunately, the gap between rich and poor in Brazil is wide: this becomes evident when you take a look at metropolises like São Paolo or Rio de Janeiro , in whose outskirts the huge slums known as favelas are located. This poverty stands in stark contrast to the lifestyle of the “top ten percent” of Brazilians, who make up almost all of the national income.

The Brazilian economy benefits from the country’s immense wealth of raw materials : These include natural resources such as crude oil, ore, precious stones and natural gas. It also has an abundance of wood. In an international comparison, the economy is booming here. The tourism sector has so far played a comparatively minor role. The country’s infrastructure can still be greatly expanded here. However, the Brazilian government is keen to quickly improve this: After all, Brazil hosted the soccer World Cup in 2014 and will host the Summer Olympics in 2016.

University landscape in Brazil

There are over 2,000 higher education institutions in Brazil, a country located in South America according to usaers. They are under state, municipal or private sponsorship. There are around 150 universidades (universities) in total .


Every state has at least one federal university. The public universities are completely financed by the state, so there are no tuition fees . The rush of applicants is correspondingly large. And although the public universities are sometimes huge, they don’t have enough places to study to meet demand. For this reason, every applicant has to pass a strict entrance test , the so-called vestibular .

Through this selection process, only the best applicants get to the public universities. The level of study there is therefore at a consistently high level. Accordingly, national research focuses primarily on these institutions.

Private universities

The private universities in Brazil are smaller and focus almost exclusively on teaching . Admission is mainly regulated by the tuition fees. The entrance tests are usually much easier than the state vestibular . Anyone planning to study at a private university in Brazil should find out in advance whether the institution is recognized by the state and what reputation it enjoys. The numerous papal Catholic universities ( Pontifícias Universidades Católicas ) , for example, have a good reputation .

Quality assurance in higher education in Brazil

The Ministério da Educação (MEC) controls all Brazilian educational institutions. It evaluates all universities annually through the so-called Provão . However, this exam only covers student skills, not faculty or the quality of college equipment. In this respect, the results are only partially meaningful with regard to the overall condition of a university.

Study system in Brazil

The Brazilian academic year is divided into two semesters . Instead of a large exam at the end of the semester, there are several exams spread over the semester. Half-day tuition is common at most universities, as many Brazilian students also work. In Brazil, despite the size of the universities, there are hardly any mass lectures like in Germany. The small courses enable a good exchange with the lecturers and fellow students.

The study achievements are calculated in Créditos , which are similar to the European Credit System . At the end of the 1970s, the Brazilian government brought its study system into line with the American study system . Since then, the course has been divided into

  • Graduação ( Graduate ) and
  • Pós-graduação ( Postgraduate ).


In the graduate area, students in Brazil can choose between different degrees depending on the desired subject area and professional field. A three to six-year undergraduate degree in Bachalerado corresponds to the Bachelor’s degree . A Bachalerado degree is possible in almost all subject areas .

The Licenciatura corresponds to a teacher training course , for which three to four years are to be planned. With this, the graduates receive the teaching permit from elementary school to middle school. Another study option is a two- to three-year course in the Tecnólogo . This short course is very practice-oriented and is mainly common in technical and natural science courses . The Bachalerado or the Licenciatura is a qualification for the next level of study.


Studying in the postgraduate area leads to the academic degree Mestrado , the Brazilian equivalent of the Master’s . This stage of study lasts one to two years, depending on the course chosen. Students can choose between

  • a shorter Latu sensu -Studies (also Especialização called) or
  • a longer Stricto-Sensu -Studies .

In the Latu-Sensu , the course content is compressed according to the subject. The Strictu-Senso, on the other hand, is more research-intensive. In both cases, the final exam consists of a written paper that is more or less research-oriented.

After completing the Stricto Sensu degree , it is possible to pursue a doctorate . In Brazil, this is an intensive and school-based postgraduate course . Doctoral candidates in Brazil receive the title Doutorado after at least four academic years. During this time, you will attend numerous courses and lectures and write your dissertation. As in Germany, the doctoral students have to defend this at the end of their studies. They then have the opportunity to do their habilitation. The title Pós-Doutorado (professor) then enables teaching at universities.

The practice-oriented postgraduate courses for MBA , the Mestrado em Adminstracao de Negócios, are very popular in Brazil . They are aimed at those with a first university degree and professional experience and usually last one to two years. The private business schools in particular offer such courses. Here, applicants should pay attention to aspects of quality assurance and include the reputation and state recognition when choosing to study in Brazil.

Study System in Brazil

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