Brazil is home not only to some of the best beaches, festive soccer matches, exotic nightlife, and happy-go-lucky people in the world, but also to some of the most elite, prestigious universities in South America. From the bustling metropolises of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to the more off-the-beaten-path cities of Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte, there is an incredible amount of choices for not only degrees in Brazil, but also for living situations and entertainment. When class notes get boring, canoe up the Amazon river, trek through the jungle, go sandboarding down dunes, or pick up a few words of one of the nation’s 180 indigenous languages.
Brazil is the biggest and most diverse country in South America: Portuguese, Italian, German, African, and Lebanese descents all mingle in its colorful cities and beautiful beaches. As a result, geographic areas and cities differ greatly in atmosphere and culture; pick the one that most appeals to your senses!
Sao Paulo. The largest city in the Southern Hemisphere and home to the top-ranking Latin American University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo is an excellent city to live and study in Brazil. It’s a little bit reminiscent of a spread-out, Latino version of New York City. Sometimes referred to as the “Heart of Brazil,” Sao Paulo is loud, busy, impressive, alluring, and teeming with degree programs in any subject or interest area. When you get fed up with the traffic, jump into a helicopter taxi, chill out at a Samba Saturday, or travel to another time and place in Sao Paulo’s many museums and theaters.
Rio de Janeiro. With famous beaches, huge Carnaval parades, and the 2016 Olympics, Rio is a sunny paradise full of fun. The city is a great balance of lush nature and bustling city, filled with iconic places, the Maracana Stadium and Christ the Redeemer to name a few, to keep heads turning. For those looking to get involved in the arts, there is a strong music, drama, and literature scene in Rio, while serious academics will thrive at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Salvador da Bahia. By far Brazil’s most Afro-Brazilian city and probably second only to Rio de Janeiro in terms of natural setting, Salvador is a fantastic city to call home. With a samba class or cozy cafe around every corner, a student’s social life couldn’t be better.
Degree Programs in Brazil
There are more degree options in Brazil than there are insect species (and that’s a lot!). Bachelor’s degrees last between three and six years, while master’s degrees take a year or two to complete. Pick a topic and degree level, and start sharpening those pencils!
Design. As one of the bastions of Latin America’s art and design, Brazil has a strong background of academic excellence and innovation. From street art in Rio de Janeiro to the growing web design sector in Sao Paulo, artistic expression is strong. Thanks to a strong professional environment, there is a push to stay on top in university design degree programs, giving students inspiration and a rainbow of choices when it comes to choosing locations, courses, and projects.
Liberal Arts. While other countries break the liberals arts major into different areas, many universities in Brazil have a general Letras program. Most of these classes have to do with history, language, and culture, focusing on how Brazil’s colonial history affects modern politics. There are also some amazing Brazilian music, Portuguese literature, and poetry classes that can be taken.
Latin American Studies. Brazil has had to deal with a Portuguese king declaring it an independent empire, becoming a republic, and multiple military coups in its lifetime. As a result, political science majors have the unique opportunity to study the political climate of a turmoiled, yet successful, nation. Students can take a look at journalistic practices, understand how Brasilia governs the country, and study the current challenges facing the up-and-coming generation.
Costs & Affordability
In recent years, Brazil has become more expensive due to economic growth and increased involvement in global politics. However, the current recession means that your money will go further, so take advantage of it now!
Universities in Brazil tend to be publicly funded, so the majority of students only pay a registration fee to go to college. In order to get into a public university, students have to take the Vestibular (the state exam) before getting accepted. This test is difficult and unique for each university. If you decide to go through a third-party provider, tuition and program fees are paid directly to them and can be higher. There are also private universities, with tuition varying drastically between institutions.
Affordability in Brazil largely depends on the lifestyle. Besides tuition and your plane ticket to Brazil, daily life is relatively affordable. A good practice is to stick to the mercados, where food is fresh, plentiful, and cheap. A guaraná (Brazil’s most popular soda) sets you back a mere quarter. Rent is $300 a month outside of downtown areas, while more central apartments are around $1000. Public transportation is affordable, with buses, taxis, and motorcycle taxis available even in the most secluded areas.
If you need help funding your travel or degree in Brazil, check out GoAbroad’s scholarship directory.
Accommodation & Visas
Thankfully, Brazil’s housing and visa situations are pretty straightforward. With a reciprocal visa policy and modern housing, most students will be pleasantly surprised at their living situation and the visa process.
Finding a place to live while getting a degree in Brazil isn’t difficult. Rent is pretty affordable, and there’s plenty of Brazilian roommates to make costs even more negligible. Students can choose between independent apartments or university dorms. With third-party providers, students are also often given the option of living with homestays, which gives you a family, home-cooked meals, and plenty of language practice in addition to a roof.
Obtaining a student visa to earn a degree in Brazil is easy, but there are rules to follow. The Brazilian Embassy will need proof of your acceptance to university, sufficient funds for the stay, a clean criminal record, and some other paperwork. Going with a third party organization helps, but it’s still a long process; in other words, start early.
Benefits & Challenges
While getting a degree in Brazil may seem like perpetual sunshine, soccer, and steaks, there are some obstacles you’ll face. The state entrance exam for universities is difficult; Brazilian high school students often take several years of private tutoring specifically for the Vestibular in order to pass it. Even then, it sometimes takes more than one try! However, this is also good news, as it requires a sense of commitment in all university students and creates a competitive atmosphere of academic excellence.
Outside of class, there’s plenty of opportunities to unwind, after you make it in of course. Brazilians have perfected the art of chilling on the beach. Whether it’s sunbathing or surfing some killer waves, there’s no shortage of sandy spots to accompany study sessions. In addition, there’s always a party being thrown: holidays, birthdays, soccer games, just because. Get ready to learn some new dance moves, practice Portuguese with friends waiting to be made, and kick back with friendly locals and classmates.
Brazilians are among the happiest people in the world, and for good reasons! From foods that melt in your mouth to parades that shake your very soul, Brazil is just a downright fantastic place to live and earn a degree abroad. So, crush some lime, sugar, and ice, sprinkle in some cachaça, and get a degree in Brazil!