Higher Education Categories in Brazil

Higher education in Brazil is divided into three categories:

Universities are institutions that conduct research and community outreach, with at least one third of the teaching staff with PhD qualifications.

University centers are multi-course institutions that are not required to carry out research, but with autonomy to open new courses without seeking permission from the Ministry of Education.

Integrated Faculties and Schools of Higher Education are smaller institutions with little autonomy and must obtain approval from the Ministry of Education when opening new courses, certificates, or degrees.

In 2009, the federal government was overseeing 94 higher education institutions with centralized control (spanning all three categories); state governments were managing 84 higher education institutions; and municipal governments ran 67 higher education institutions, mainly providing technical courses in integrated faculties (see INEP, 2009). Most federal and state institutions are universities and tuition is free, while municipal governments tend to run smaller institutes, sometimes charging tuition. Private higher education institutions primarily fall within the latter two categories and charge wide-ranging fees, based on the degree programs offered.