Recognised by the Vatican’s education authorities in 2010 as the largest Catholic university in the world, Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais has its earliest roots in the vision of Dom Cabral, the first Archbishop of Belo Horizonte.
He founded a seminary in the Brazilian city in 1926 and from the late 1940s drove the diocese’s development of higher education through its Mining Society of Culture, still the body through which it runs the university. Faculties of law, philosophy, science and mining were created in 1948 and 1949, leading to the formation of the university in 1958. Pontifical status was conferred by the Vatican in 1983.
Under the motto of "Knowledge that Transforms", it aims to "promote human and social development" with principles which include "faithfulness to Christian doctrine and respect for the principles of the Catholic Church in its missionary commitment to higher education".
More than 60,000 students are spread across seven campuses in the state of Minas Gerais, around a third of them on the main campus in Belo Horizonte. In Belo Horizonte there are 250 laboratories including one of Brazil’s first devoted to climatological studies, created in 2003. There are also substantial numbers of distance and extension students.
They have access to the state’s largest library system, with more than 900,000 volumes, and a range of financial support including Senior Scholarships for those over 40 and Pastoral Agent funding for active church workers studying social work.
It has been rated the best private university in Brazil six times by the annual Guia do Estudiante, most recently in 2017 when its courses in accounting, international relations and information technology were given the highest, five star rating.