Higher Education in Brazil
Three different types of higher education institutions exist in Brazil: the universities, which conduct research and employ faculty that possess PhDs; university centers that offer a variety of courses but are not research-oriented; and integrated faculties that are smaller, higher education institutions needing approval from Brazil's Ministry of Education before offering new degrees, certifications and courses. While the majority of state and federally-operated universities do not charge tuition, smaller schools run by municipal governements may charge fees to attend their school.
Because Brazilian degrees do not follow the traditional educational degree hierarchy found in most other countries, students should take note that undergraduate degrees (associate's and bachelor's) are referred to as "graduate" (graduação) degrees in Brazil. Earning a bachelor's (bacharelado) degree takes between four to six years and allows the student to work as a doctor or lawyer in Brazil
A licentiate (licenciatura) degree takes about four years to complete and permits the degree holder to work in such professional jobs as secondary or elementary school instructors. Earning a technology degree takes the shortest amount of time--about two years-- and provides individuals with skills to work in highly specialized career fields, such as a tourist manager or agricultural business manager.
Postgraduate degrees called "Lato sensu" are also available that indicate a student has specialized in a particular academic subject. However, this degree will not allow a student to pursue a PhD. Instead, the student interested in a doctorate degree will need to earn a strictu sensu master's degree rather than a "Lato sensu". Masters of Business Administration degree programs in Brazil are considered to be lato sensu programs.
Brazil's Ministry of Education does not recognize the use of credits in its higher education system but relies on how many hours a student has accumulated during his or her academic career. For example, students earning between 850 and 1200 hours of university instruction in Brazil (one full-time year in a university) would have accumulated about 30 U.S. credits or 60 ECTS if they attended college in the United States or a European Union country.
The Vestibular is Brazil's university entrance exam that can only be taken once a year. Similar to the ACT or SAT exams given in the U.S., the Vestibular may take between one to five days to complete and tests students in their knowledge of math, literature, biology, physics, history and the Portuguese language. Because public university tuition in Brazil is free and open slots are limited, there is intense competition among students taking the Vestibular. Alternately, students attending a private university where tuition is required are not subjected to the competitiveness afforded to public universities and usually gain entrance with less than perfect Vestibular scores.
Requirements for Obtaining a Student Visa
Students wishing to attend a Brazilian university will need to take the Vestibular if they do not already possess scores from a similar entrance exam (such as the U.S. SAT or ACT) that may be used in place of Vestibular scores. A completed visa application form must then be submitted online to the Brazilian Consulate, along with a notarized copy of the student's driver's license or identification card. Two passport photos, a copy of the student's flight itinerary or airline tickets (proof of departure), a copy of the student's birth certificate, proof that the student has sufficient funds to pay for living expenses while studying in Brazil and a letter of invitation by the university the student is attending is also needed before Brazil's Ministry of Education will issue a student visa.
Why Study in Brazil?
Brazilian universities offer thousands of different degree programs ranging from fields like social justice and hydroengineering to biodiversity resource management and electrical engineering. Technological research is generously funded by government agencies that place great emphasis on aeronautics, agriculture and the utilization of renewable resources. Brazil's most highly regarded technology centers include the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and the Brazilian Space Agency, which boasts having the most advanced space and astronomy program among all other Latin countries.
Brazil covers nearly half of South America and is the continent's largest nation. It extends 2,965 mi (4,772 km) north-south, 2,691 mi (4,331 km) east-west, and borders every nation on the continent except Chile and Ecuador. Brazil may be divided into the Brazilian Highlands, or plateau, in the south and the Amazon River Basin in the north.
The Federative Republic of Brazil is the biggest country in South America, home to nearly 200 million people who enjoy one of the world's fastest growing economies. Brazil's coastline is contiguous to the Atlantic Ocean, with its remaining borders edging the countries of Guyana, Venezuela, Suriname, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia and French Guiana. A founding member of the Latin Union, the G20, the Union of South American Nations and the United Nations, Brazil is considered a "megadiverse" country, one of only 17 in the world. It is home to many varieties of natural environments and wildlife as well as protected habitats containing a vast amount of natural resources. Politically, Brazil is a democratic republic governed by a president who is the head of government. This country has also been recently identified as a significant emerging power among other developed nations.
Essential Facts about Brazil
- Brazil has a complex and compact system of rivers that include the Amazon, Negro and Parana Rivers. The Amazon River has the largest volume of water contained in any river in the world and is the second longest river on Earth
- Nearly one-quarter of the world's rainforests are found in Brazil, mostly consisting of the Amazon jungle. The Amazon rainforest is also home to more species of monkeys than any other place on Earth
- Soccer (futebol) is Brazil's most popular sport. Students will find that any medium to large city they visit while studying in Brazil has one or more soccer stadiums
- One-third of Brazil's two million inhabitants work in the agricultural industry. Coffee beans, corn, wheat, sugar cane, rice and soybeans are Brazil's primary crops
- One of the seven wonders of the world, the Christ Redeemer statue, is found in Rio De Janeiro
- The capital of Brazil is Brasilia, where major higher education institutions such as the University of Brasilia, the Cental University of Brasilia (UniCEUB) and the Catholic University of Brasilia (UCB) are located
- Anthropologists have estimated that as many as 60 tribes exist in the Amazon rainforest that have yet to make contact with civilization
Although mostly tropical, Brazil's climate does encompass several other different subtypes such as semiarid, temperate, equatorial and subtropical. The northern section of Brazil exhibits hot and humid equatorial temperatures conducive to the growth of vast rainforests while central Brazil offers tropical savannas. Semiarid deserts greet visitors traveling in northeastern Brazil and people living in southern Brazil are surrounded by temperate forests thick with coniferous trees. Northern and central Brazil experience large amounts of rainfall and do not have a so-called "dry" season. Average temperatures over the entire country range from 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 Celsius) to a low of 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius), with the lowest temperatures occurring around the Sao Paulo area.
Languages in Brazil
The Constitution of Brazil affirms the official language as Portuguese, which is spoken by 98 percent of the population. In addition, Portuguese is the only language used on television, the radio, in newspapers and for the purpose of all business transactions. Recently, the government enacted a law that mandates using Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS) in government and education-related services. The only country in the Americas to speak Portuguese, Brazil considers the language a vital part of their culture and national identity that distinguishes them from neighboring countries that speak mostly Spanish.
Religion in Brazil
Brazil is home to more practicing Roman Catholics than any other country, with 75 percent of the population claiming to practice Catholicism. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Protestantism and Afro-Brazilian religions comprise the remaining 25 percent. Currently, Brazil's Ministry of Education reports that nearly 35 Catholic universities have been established in the country.
The "real" is the name of Brazil's currency, which is indicated by a "R$" sign or the code "BRL". Each real equals 100 centavos. Students desiring to earn a degree in Brazil should be aware that the cost of living in Brazil is relatively high, especially expenses related to accommodations, manufactured items (appliances, clothing, electronics) and transportation. Moreover, having some kind of health insurance is highly recommended because the average cost of visiting a doctor is approximately 250 reals, or over $100 in U.S. dollars. Monthly utility charges vary widely, with electricity and water usually included in the monthly rental fee for an apartment.
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