Competition is intense for places in Brazil's federal universities, which exist alongside state, municipal, private, and Catholic institutions.

Region Overview

Brazil is the largest, most influential, and economically powerful country in South America. It also is one of the world’s biggest democracies. It was a Portuguese colony from 1500 to 1822, when it gained independence; its population continues to speak Portuguese. Coffee exporters dictated political life until 1930, the onset of populist and military rule. In 1985 power was ceded peacefully by the military. The country is rich in natural resources and self-sufficient in oil.  Yet longstanding problems – the chasm between rich and poor, the deforestation of the Amazon, the ownership of arable land by wealthy families – continue to throw a shadow across its growing stature in a world that already loves it for its soccer artistry and its music, especially the bossa nova and samba.


There are five climatic regions in Brazil: equatorial, tropical, semi arid, highland tropical, and subtropical. The hottest part of Brazil is the northeast where, during the dry season, between May and November, temperatures of more than 38 C (100 F) are recorded frequently. The northeast has greater seasonal variation in temperatures than does the Amazon region. Along the Atlantic coast from Recife to Rio de Janeiro, mean temperatures range from 23 to 27 C (73  to 81 F). Inland, on higher ground; temperatures are lower, ranging from 18 to 21 C (64  to 70 F). South of Rio, the seasons are more noticeable and the annual range of temperature greater. The average temperature for this part of the country is in the range between 17 to 19 C (63 to 66 F).

Annual rainfall
Brazil's most intense rainfall is found around the mouth of the Amazon River near the city of Belém, and also in the vast upper regions of Amazônia where more than 78 inches (2,000 millimeters) of rain falls every year. Another important region of heavy rainfall is along the edge of the great escarpment in the state of São Paulo. Most of Brazil, however, has moderate rainfall of between 1,000 to 1,500 millimeters  (39 to 59 inches) a year, with most of the rain falling in the summer, between December and April. The winters tend to be dry.





Overview of Higher Education

Universities in Brazil are organized into five categories: federal, state, municipal, private, and Catholic. Federal universities are far and away the most popular; competition is intense for the limited spaces. State universities are funded by individual states, while municipal universities usually focus on one subject or provide professional training. Catholic universities are open to students of all religious denominations.

Undergraduate study typically lasts four or five years and results in a bacharelado (excludes teacher training), licenciatura (includes teacher training), or título profissional (professional title). The value of postgraduate study is determined by “strict” and “wide” approaches. A strict approach applies to classical studies resulting in a mestrado (master’s) or a doutorado (doctorate degree), whereas a wide approach applies to professionals seeking specialization valued in the private sector.

Some 4.5-million students were pursuing an education in the country’s 2,270 institutions of higher learning in 2006.

(Sources: BBC, The Europa World of Learning, U.S. Department of State)

Number of Colleges, Universities, Technical Institutes

Number of Colleges, Universities, and Technical Institutes (total):  161

Number of Higher Education Students

Number of students enrolled: 5,273,000

Contact Information

Ministry of Education 

Esplanada dos Ministerios Bl L
Ed Sede - 8th floor room 805, Brasília - DF Brasília - DF , CEP: 70047-900

Web site: http://portal.mec.gov.br/mec/index.php

Phone: (61) 2022-7842/7861

E-mail: chefiadegabinetegm@mec.gov.br

Contact: John Paul Bachur, Chief of Staff