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Brazilian Higher Education

Types of Institutions

Higher education institutions in Brazil fall into three categories: universities, which offer a wide range of academic programs; “federations” of schools, which offer a more limited number of programs; and individual schools, which are smaller and focus on one or two areas of knowledge, like ESPM.

ESPM is one of a growing number of private institutions in Brazil, although our non-profit status differentiates us from many of the for-profit institutions being created to take advantage of the strong Brazilian economy, ever-increasing middle class, and quickly growing demand for higher education. Publicly funded institutions still represent the vast majority of students in Brazil. There are over 7 million undergraduate students in Brazil at the moment, a number which is set to grow.

Undergraduate education

Undergraduate education in Brazil generally results in a bachelor’s degree, teaching licensure or technology degree, while graduate programs are classified either as “lato sensu,” which includes professional programs such as the MBA, or “stricto sensu,” which includes more research-based and academic master’s and doctoral programs.

Internationalization in Brazil

Most of the courses in Brazilian higher education are taught in Portuguese, although institutions are increasingly developing limited offerings taught in English. The recent Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program “Ciência sem fronteiras” has started a new wave of international activity within Brazilian higher education, although it focuses more on the natural science and technical fields.

Courseload and Evaluation

Students in undergraduate degrees – and at ESPM – generally take eight to twelve classes per semester, roughly equivalent to 15-20 US-style academic credits or 30-40 ECTS credits. Grades are given on a scale from 0 to 10 and are based on a paper and oral exam throughout the semester.