Study Abroad in Brazil

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Brazil

From the tropical regions of the north to the quaint German towns of the south to the tourist hub of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is as diverse a country as one can find in South America. If you’re thinking about studying abroad in Brazil, prepare yourself for a country that goes far beyond the stereotypes of bikinis and soccer balls. Brazil will overwhelm you with a plethora of hugs and kisses, sun, music, delicious food, amazing beaches, caipirinhas (the national drink of Brazil) and the nicest people you’ll meet in the world. So, it is time to add study abroad in Brazil to the top of your priority list!


As the largest country in Latin America, you definitely aren’t short of locations to choose from when it comes to studying abroad in Brazil. Stretching from the Amazon Basin in the north to the mighty Iguazu Falls in the south, Brazil has cities surrounded by rainforest and accessible only by river, coastal cities drenched in sunshine all year round, and cities that are vast, sprawling urban jungles. It all depends on what kind of experience you would like to have.

One of the most popular cities for study abroad in Brazil is Rio de Janeiro. Rio is a visually spectacular town, with jungle-covered granite peaks rising up all over the city, and a fringe of golden sand along the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. If you’re looking for the party, Rio is your best place to study in Brazil.

Famous for its beaches and saltwater lagoon, Florianopolis is another study abroad hotspot in Brazil. Split across the mainland and Santa Catarina Island, this city is island living and cosmopolitan vibes all wrapped up in one,

Another option for study abroad in Brazil, for those looking for a less traveled experience, is Salvador da Bahia. This northeast city has amazing beaches, great seafood, and a completely different culture than that of its counterparts in the south.

If you’re looking for a purely academic and Portuguese learning experience, Sao Paulo might be the place for you to study in Brazil. The economic and commercial hub of Brazil, Sao Paulo has the clearest accents and most prestigious universities.

Studying abroad in Brazil

Brazil has many world-ranked universities and is home to some of the best educational institutes in South America. Despite being a developing country, Brazil is a global player in education, making it an exciting choice for study abroad in South America.

Choosing to study abroad in Brazil is an opportunity for international students to deepen their understanding of Latin American studies, and of course Portuguese. As a developing nation, there are also ample opportunities for students to delve into subjects such as development studies, international business, law,  and humanities. With severe social inequality, Brazil is known for its sprawling favelas, where extreme poverty and crime are rife. In this context, economics and political studies are especially relevant. As well as good course options, health and medicine students can often find volunteering opportunities to complement their studies in local communities in need of aid.

Brazilian universities typically have day and night schedules for students to choose from. Morning classes usually run from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and evening classes from 6 to 10 p.m. If you choose the morning schedule, your day might go like this: wake up at 6 a.m., eat a quick breakfast, hop on the bus to school (usually two reais), go to your three classes that morning, come home for a big lunch (as lunch is the biggest meal of the day in a Brazilian household), and then the rest of the day is yours. The evening course schedule is obviously better for late sleepers who are studying in Brazil!

The best universities are the public universities in Brazil, and private universities have a bit of a lower reputation; this is because admission to public universities rests solely on an intensely difficult admission test, so those who can’t pass the test pay tuition at a private university.

Scholarships & Costs

Brazil is not a cheap study abroad destination. The cost of living in Brazil is relatively high, compared to other South American countries. Having said that, tuition is free at state universities for international students. Private institutions charge fees, but they are usually only around $2000 per academic year.

In general, the costs of study abroad in Brazil, such as accommodation, food, entertainment, and transport, will be only marginally cheaper than North America. Despite rampant poverty in the favelas, international students will be living in areas classed as wealthy, where there are more conveniences but costs are higher.

To explore financial aid options, be sure to check out GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory. There are a number of organizations that sponsor students who want to study abroad in Brazil, it’s just a matter of finding a scholarship that fits your program and financial needs.

Accommodation & Visas

Study abroad programs in Brazil usually include accommodation, taking the stress out of your big move! The most popular living arrangement for international students studying in Brazil is homestays. However, some provided housing arrangements will involve sharing an apartment with other students in your program. If your accommodation isn’t provided, you can find rooms to rent online. This is a good way to break out of the international (typically English-speaking) crowd, and find local friends. Universities in Brazil don’t usually offer campus housing, however they can help in arranging homestays.

Most international students will need to apply for a student visa in order to study in Brazil. Student visas are valid for one year, but can be renewed if necessary. The application process is fairly straightforward, as long as you have a letter of acceptance from an approved Brazilian university, proof of funds to support yourself throughout your stay, and of course a valid passport. Then it is just a matter of filling out the relevant visa application forms, and waiting for your visa to be issued. This can take up to three months, so be sure to get started on the process early. You will need to apply for your visa via a Brazilian consulate in your home country, which will also be able to help you out with more detailed information about visa costs and requirements.

Benefits and Challenges

Language can be a potential barrier for international students who study in Brazil. Although the majority of Brazilians take English classes in high school and college, most of them do not speak a workable level of English. There’s good news, though!

Portuguese is not a difficult language to learn if you put your mind to it. If you can even slightly communicate in Portuguese, Brazilians are much more likely to open up to you, and you will do better in every aspect of Brazilian life. Brazilian professors love having foreign students and are extra willing to help you learn the Portuguese language.

Learning Portuguese has many benefits, including learning words like saudade. This is a Portuguese term that has no English equivalent, but it means a longing for a love that is gone. Studying abroad in Brazil will definitely rank as one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of anyone’s life.

One of the great benefits of study abroad in Brazil is the vibrant culture. A big part of a Brazilians lives is music, meaning if you study abroad in Brazil, it will become a big part of yours too. Brazilians have actually created their own genres of music. From axé (pronounced ash-shay) to samba to alternative, Brazilian music can get you on your feet to party with 10,000 people at Carnival (Brazil’s Mardi Gras) or propel you to a jazz club to chill with friends for a couple of hours. At first, when you hear the Carnival music with all its trumpet fanfare, you might ask yourself  “what is this?” But when you’re in a group of thousands, pounding your feet to the same beat, you realize this might be the best music ever and could possibly explain why Brazilians are such a happy people!

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Brazil


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Study Abroad in Sao Paulo, Brazil with AIFS!

Spend a summer, semester or academic year in Sao Paulo, Brazil with AIFS. You’ll earn up to 17 credits through a variety of courses studying at Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado (FAAP). AIFS offers a Portuguese Language and Brazilian Studies curriculum to begin or strengthen your skills in Portuguese, and take courses that focus on Brazil and South America. Volunteer opportunities available.

Sao Paulo skyline in Brazil

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University Studies Abroad Consortium

University Studies Abroad Consortium offers students the opportunity to study at one of the most prestigious universities in South America. Participants get the chance to study courses in Global Economy, Natural Resource Management, and Cultural Studies while engaging in the dynamic and diverse culture of Brazil.

USAC student on top of the mountain.

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Study Abroad in Brazil with ISA

This International Studies Abroad program takes students to Florianópolis, a breathtakingly beautiful, contemporary island city off the coast of Southeastern Brazil. Participants will attend a technologically-advanced learning institution, Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina (UNISUL), and may enroll in courses with local Brazilian students or other international students.

ISA student at the Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil

Study Abroad with Semester at Sea

Students have the chance to make the world their classroom with Semester at Sea. Participants of the shipboard academic program earn credits from the University of Virginia as they take interdisciplinary coursework and gain hands-on training along their way to the rich culture of Brazil.


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Low Cost Academic Programs in Brazil with CSA !

For more than 20 years, the Center for Study Abroad has been providing low prices and high quality study abroad program to undergraduate students worldwide. Throughout the year this comprehensive program administers Portuguese Language courses in Maceio. Explore the Brazilian culture and lifestyle and appreciate its beauty with CSA.


Develop Your Skills and Competency in Brazil with CIEE!

Through Council on International Educational Exchange international academic studies programs, students will be able to develop their Portuguese language fluency, gain knowledge, and learn about the Brazilian culture. Explore Brazil through cultural and educational activities including visits to the country's tourist attractions, music, excursions, and much more!


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Temple University

The Temple University International Programs office invites participants to learn about Brazilian culture in Salvador. Students can learn Portuguese, Spanish, and performing arts. The program includes accommodation and trips to colonial towns like Cachoeira.


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Sea|mester Study Abroad at Sea

Enjoy taking classes in Brazil with Sea|mester Study Abroad at Sea. In this enriching educational program, participants learn about marine science as well as oceanography through diving and performing research studies on the reefs. Participants also learn about meteorology, navigation, and geology. The voyage lasts from 20 to 90 days.


Study Abroad at Istituto Europeo di Design

Partake in a study abroad program created by IED - Istituto Europeo di Design in colorful and vibrant Brazil. Located in Sao Paulo, this program aims to tackle aspects surrounding Luxury and Fashion Management and may include courses into many other areas including the fields of Merchandising, Communication and Events, and Marketing.


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Study Abroad in Brazil with SIT Study Abroad

Study public health and human rights or social justice, the environment, and development in Brazil with SIT Study Abroad. All programs include educational excursions, experiential learning, and immersion in Brazilian culture through homestays. Or choose to examine urban studies or health on a program that travels to Brazil and three other countries.


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Brazil: Soccer & Social Change

Kick off your summer as you land in Brazil, known for its natural beauty, diverse cultures, and national soccer team, which has won the FIFA World Cup five times. In São Paulo, you will learn and practice soccer skills through training clinics as you play with local teams comprising high school students. You will also learn about Brazil's community development efforts by visiting local nonprofi...


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Study Abroad in Brazil

Get ready to embark on a journey of discovery. A Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) study abroad program is an experience that will immerse you in the lives, cultures, and communities of real family in one of more than 40 countries around the globe. An adventure where you'll learn in a year, semester, or a summer, what life is life for teens in another part of the world. An experience that wi...