Best universities in Brazil 2018

Find the best universities in Brazil using Times Higher Education’s World University Ranking data

October 31 2017
Best universities in Brazil

Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and the fifth largest country in the world, with a population of over 210 million people. Its official language is Portuguese, which is spoken by 98 per cent of the population.

It boasts over 7,200km of coastline, 2,000 beaches and the world’s largest rainforest (and a quarter of the world’s total rainforest area). Anthropologists estimate that there are 60 undiscovered tribes in these dense jungles.

Its cities are also world-renowned – from São Paulo, the largest city in the world, to Rio de Janeiro, home of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, to Brasília, the utopian-esque capital designed by Oscar Niemeyer – there is no end to its urban treasures.

Brazilians are known for their warm-heartedness and happiness, and although not everyone is football-mad or can dance the samba, these two traditions run deep throughout the country.

Like the United States, Brazil has a relatively low trade dependency ratio. Based on its GDP, it has the world’s eighth-largest economy and is a member of the BRICS group, among the world’s fastest growing major economies, with economic reforms that are constantly pushing it forward on the international stage.

Opportunities for travel within the country are inexhaustible, but Brazil is also a great springboard for exploring the neighbouring Buenos Aires, Patagonia, Machu Picchu and the Andes.

Below are some of the best universities to study at in Brazil based on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018

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Top universities in Brazil

1. University of São Paulo

Founded in 1934, the University of São Paulo was the result of the collaboration of the Faculdade de Direito do Largo de São Francisco (Law), the Polytechnic School (Engineering) and the Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (Agriculture).

It is Brazil’s largest public university and one of the largest higher education institutions in Latin America. The city of São Paulo is home to four of its 11 campuses and the others are in Bauru, Lorena, Piracicaba, Pirassununga, Ribeirão Preto and two in São Carlos. 

The university campuses include 70 libraries, five affiliated hospitals, 24 museums and galleries, two theatres, a cinema and its own student-run TV channel. A large proportion of Brazilian scientific papers are produced at the university too.

Notable alumni include the president of Brazil Michel Miguel Elias Temer Lulia, Antonio Candido de Mello e Souza, a Brazilian writer, professor, sociologist and literary critic, and Guido Mantega, Brazil's former finance minister.

2. State University of Campinas

Opened in 1966, the State University of Campinas (UniCamp) is based in the São Paulo state region, although it has affiliate campuses in Limeira and Paulínia.

It has established itself as a primary medical and scientific research centre and produces a large amount of patented material. 

International undergraduates will need to sit an exam before acceptance, which will require a strong understanding of Portuguese.

The most common airport for international students to fly into is the Guarulhos International Airport, located around 135 km from the Campinas campus. Campinas is known not only for its temperate climate at the Tropic of Capricorn but also its wide range of cultural centres such as dozens of cinemas and bars, known locally as “barzinhos”. 

Alumni of UniCamp include actor Petrônio Gontijo, historian and gay rights activist Luiz Mott, and economist Paulo Renato Souza.

3. Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP)

The Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) began as the Paulista School of Medicine in 1933 and became a federal institution in 1994. It specialises in health science and aims to produce health professionals and contribute to medical research.

The main part of UNIFESP is based in Vila Clementino, São Paulo, although it has many other buildings in the nearby area including the São Paulo Hospital, the largest hospital in Brazil.

The university began to spread outside of São Paulo in 2005, with campuses in Santos, Diadema, Guarulhos, São José dos Campos and Osasco. These move away from UNIFESP’s medical grounding, offering the study of philosophy, history and economics.

The city of São Paulo, with 11 million residents, is one of the most populous in the world. It is one of the most productive economies in Brazil and is one hour by car from the Paulista Coast, which boasts stunning beaches and seafood.

=4. Federal University of ABC (UFABC)

Established in 2006, the Federal University of ABC (UFABC), focuses on science and technology and is the only Brazilian institution to hire academics with PhDs.

It has campuses and buildings across the ABC region (the industrial belt of the Brazilian capital city, in Santo Andre and Sao Bernado do Campo.

Admissions are extremely competitive and it aims to accept a multitude of students from minority backgrounds and poorer communities. It is free of charge to attend and the degrees last three to five years. 

UFABC was the only university in the country in 2011 with impact factor in scientific publications above the world average. It was involved in research with the Large Hadron Collider and the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, and collaborates with the Max Planck Institute, Paris Sud 11, the Australian National Acoustic Laboratories and the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan, among others.

=4. Federal University of Itajubá 

Established in 1913 as the Electrotechnical and Mechanical Institute of Itajubá – the first technological university in the country, the Federal University of Itajubá (UNIFEI) gained its university status in 2002. It is based in the large town of Itajubá in Minas Gerais, Brazil. 

It is one of the most revered engineering institutions in the country, with a focus on electrical engineering. UNIFEI has one of the best research institutes on power systems in Latin America, covering mechanical engineering, environmental engineering, automation and control engineering and computer engineering. 

There is a theatre, library, gym, aquatic centre and outdoor playing courts, as well as a new campus in Itabira, designed in 2012 by architect Gustavo Penna. 

It has owned and operated its own radio station, Rádio Universitária 1570 kHz, since 1961.

Several other universities have made the fourth place position. Scroll down to see the full list of top universities in Brazil 

Top universities in Brazil 2018 

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2018 profile

Brazil rank 2018 World University Rank 2018 University City
1 251–300 University of São Paulo São Paulo
2 401–500 State University of Campinas São Paulo
3 501–600 Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) São Paulo
4 601–800 Federal University of ABC (UFABC) São Paulo
4 601–800 Federal University of Itajubá Minas Gerais
4 601–800 Federal University of Minas Gerais Minas Gerais
4 601–800 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro
4 601–800 Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul Rio Grande do Sul
4 601–800 Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) Rio de Janeiro
4 601–800 São Paulo State University (UNESP) São Paulo
11 801–1000 University of Brasília Brasília
11 801–1000 Federal University of Ceará (UFC) Ceará
11 801–1000 Federal University of Pelotas Rio Grande do Sul
11 801–1000 Federal University of Pernambuco Pernambuco
11 801–1000 Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) Rio Grande do Norte
11 801–1000 Federal University of Santa Catarina Santa Catarina
11 801–1000 Federal University of São Carlos São Paulo
11 801–1000 Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná Paraná
11 801–1000 Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) Rio Grande do Sul
11 801–1000 Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ) Rio de Janeiro
11 801–1000 State University of Ponta Grossa Ponta Grossa
22 1001+ Federal University of Goiás Goiás
22 1001+ Federal University of Lavras Minas Gerais
22 1001+ Federal University of Ouro Preto Minas Gerais
22 1001+ Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) Paraná
22 1001+ Federal University of Santa Maria Rio Grande do Sul
22 1001+ Federal University of Viçosa Minas Gerais
22 1001+ Fluminense Federal University Rio de Janeiro
22 1001+ Londrina State University Paraná
22 1001+ University of the Sinos Valley Rio Grande do Sul
22 1001+ State University of Maringá Paraná
22 1001+ State University of Western Paraná (Unioeste) Cascavel

Read more: Best universities in emerging economies: BRICS rankings 

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