Higher Education in Brazil

The secondary education is mandatory for those wishing to pursue higher education. In addition, students must pass a competitive entrance examination (known as vestibular) for their specific course of study. The number of candidates per available place in the freshman class may be in excess of 30 or 40 to one in the not so competitive courses at the top public universities. The most competitive ones excess 80 or 150. In some courses with small number of vacancies, this number can be as high as 200 (medical school, for example).

As is the case in many nations, higher education in Brazil can be divided into undergraduate and graduate work. In addition to providing education, universities promote research and provide separate classes to the community. The Brazilian standard for technology, licentiate or bachelor's degree is awarded in most areas of the arts, humanities, social sciences, exact sciences, or natural sciences, and lasts two to three years for technology courses, three to four years for licenciate and bachelor's courses in general and five to six years for special bachelor's courses such as law, architecture, engineering, human medicine and veterinary medicine.

After graduation students can take postgraduate courses being these latu sensu or stricto sensu. Latu sensu graduate degrees are specializations and refinements lasting one to two years and do not confer academic title. At the end of the course the student must present a course completion work. (Example of latu sensu: MBA, specialization, medical residency, among others). Graduate degrees stricto sensu are courses that confer academic title. After graduation, the student must do a master's degree with a duration of two years and after that period present a master's thesis. If it is approved by the examining board, it will receive the master's degree. The doctorate course in Brazil is the most academic degree course. In order to study this postgraduate course it is necessary to have the title of Master. The doctorate has a duration of four years and must be unpublished. After four years of course the student will present the doctoral thesis to an assessment bank, if approved will receive the title of Doctor.

There are more than 2,600 universities in Brazil, between private and public, according to MEC. Higher vocational education is in general assumed by non-university institutions and the federal Institutions for Education, Science and Technology (38 in 2008).