Being the largest country in South America, Brazil is also the fifth one in the world in size. It has the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon, an intact and unexplored ecosystem. The wilderness of the Amazon meets mountains on one side and massive coast surrounding a large chunk of the country. The coast covered with endless beaches attracts both citizens and international tourists.
Brazil’s nature is undoubtedly attractive to tourists seeking leisure activities. Still, vibrant and sleepless metropolises show evidence of Brazil’s growing economy, which appeals to visitors who wish to work, study, or migrate to Brazil. São Paulo, the country’s largest city, houses over 12 million people, making it the largest in the Americas and the South and West Hemisphere. The country’s population of over 211 million ranks it as the sixth most populous state, and luckily for international students, Brazil has over 2600 registered higher educational institutions universities. Therefore, international students planning to pursue a degree in Brazil have plenty of options to choose from.
Moreover, Brazil’s public universities are entirely tuition-free for both its nationals and international students who wish to explore this South American giant. Of course, the only obstacle students have to pass is learning Portuguese and getting a certificate of proficiency, but this is a small investment that would yield a fantastic return since Brazil has a highly reputable educational system and degrees recognized worldwide.
Cheap Universities in Brazil
1. University of São Paulo (USP)
- Annual Undergraduate Program Tuition Fee: Free
- Annual Graduate Program Tuition Fee: Free + up to R$ 200.00 for the selection processing
The University of São Paulo is Brazil’s highest-ranked and largest university with a student body of almost 100,000. It is considered to be the best-rated university in all Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries of the Americas. USP is a public university, which means tuition is free for both Brazilian citizens and foreign applicants, making University of São Paulo one of the most affordable universities in Brazil for international students.
According to Top University Rankings, in 2024, USP was ranked in the top 250 world universities. On the other hand, QS University Rankings rated USP in the top 125 world universities. International students interested in applying should note that USP is ranked in the first 50 top world universities in subjects such as Civil Engineering, Architecture, Agriculture and Forestry, Geography, Dentistry, Veterinary Sciences, Art, and Design. Moreover, USP is known for its well-developed and successful graduate and postgraduate programs.
2. University of Campinas (UNICAMP)
The University of Campinas is the second best-rated public university in Brazil. Considering that public universities are the highest-ranked ones in Brazil, UNICAMP is a tuition free university in Brazil for international students. Tuition at public institutions is free in Brazi, and applicants are expected to pay a minimal fee for processing their applications.
UNICAMP is ranked in the top 100 universities coming from the emerging economies, and it is rated top one in innovation since it has the highest number of patents in Brazil. Hence, international students searching for expertise in Engineering Technologies and Computer Sciences can benefit from enrolling in UNICAMP since they are the leaders in the field. Moreover, the University of Campinas is perfect for young entrepreneurs and applicants who wish to learn more about sustainability.
3. Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC)
The Federal University of Santa Catarina is one of Brazil’s most prominent higher education institutions. UFSC is located in Florianópolis, the seat of the Santa Catarina state in Brazil. Even though UFSC is situated in a province, this university accommodates 50,000 students, who have the privilege to study at one of the top eight institutions in Brazil.
This free university in Brazil offers over 60 master’s degree programs and over 50 doctoral programs, making it a favorable graduate institution for Brazilian citizens and internationals.
International applicants are welcome to apply for a minimal administrative fee and study at this tuition-free university. However, the prospective applicants should provide proof of proficiency in Portuguese, and have their documents attested and notarized in Portuguese.
4. Federal University of Minas Gerais
Founded in the 19th century, the Federal University of Minal Gerais is the oldest university in this federal unit of Brazil. Located in Bello Horizonte, the largest city in Minas Gerais, FUMG is famous for its roots in the Pharmaceutical School, Mining College, and School of Law. Nowadays, FUMG is celebrated for excellence in the programs such as Architecture, Fine Arts, Music, Engineering, Law, Pharmacy, Pedagogy, Dentistry, Medicine, among others.
Undergraduate studies cater to a body of 19,000 students who can opt for 44 different majors in 19 academic units. The graduate school offers 141 courses out of which 35 are Ph.D. degree courses.
5. The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS)
- Annual Undergraduate Program Tuition Fee: R$ 1.411,00
PUCRPS or the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul is a non-profit Catholic university located in the southernmost region of Brazil. Its mission was to promote human rights and humanity and share the ideas of Christianity at the same time.
It is one of the best private universities in the country, and its fees are pretty affordable for international students. PUCRS has an undergraduate student body of 25,000, 6,300 master’s, and 1,800 Ph.D. students.
6. Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
- Undergraduate Annual Tuition Fee Per Credit: R$ 4.788,00
- Graduate Annual Tuition Fee Per Credit: R$ 4.590,00
PUC-Rio, or the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, also known as PUC-Rio, is a private, Catholic, Jesuit university in Rio. PUC-Rio’s ranking as the fourth-best university in South America by Times Higher Education qualifies it as one of the best universities in Brazil. It is especially popular with foreign applicants worldwide.
Future first-year students enrolling in PUC-Rio studies may note that this university is a leader in research and innovation. As this is not a public university, some fees apply, but it is a cheap university in Brazil. For instance, the undergraduate annual fee is R$ 4.788,00 per credit, while graduate students need to pay R$ 4.590,00 per credit for two semesters of study.
7. Mackenzie Presbyterian University
- Annual Business Administration Tuition Fee: R$ 5.442,00
- Annual Electrical Engineering Tuition Fee: R$ 6.420,00
Mackenzie Presbyterian University is located in São Paulo as one of the private universities with the strongest tradition in Brazil. It is also one of the oldest private institutions in Brazil, dating back to the 19th century. MPU was founded by an American couple, reverend Chamberlain and his wife, tied to the Presbyterian Church.
This affordable university in Brazil is the leader in progressive thought and pedagogical practices. It was the first university that abolished racial segregation in admissions and introduced mixed-gender classes before any other university in Brazil. Nowadays, it is known for fostering the entrepreneurial spirit.