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Top 10 Universities in Brazil 2016

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Home to some of the most prestigious universities in Latin America, Brazil claims 54 out of the 250 total positions in the QS University Rankings: BRICS 2016. Published annually since 2013, the ranking aims to highlight the best universities in BrazilRussiaIndiaChina and South Africa, five major developing economies which each offer a number of highly regarded universities.

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Read on to discover the 10 top universities in Brazil this year, as well as how each institution performed in the recently published QS University Rankings: Latin America and the QS World University Rankings by Subject. Alternatively, click here to see the full BRICS ranking table.

1. Universidade de São Paulo (USP)

Universidade de São Paulo

The Universidade de São Paulo (USP) features at 10th in the BRICS ranking this year and has also been ranked 1st in the QS University Rankings: Latin America twice in a row. Established in 1934, USP is often referred to as the most prestigious university in the country, and has educated 12 Brazilian presidents. It’s the largest of the public universities in Brazil with over 90,000 students enrolled, spread across 11 campuses. Four of these are in São Paulo – the largest city in both Brazil and the Southern Hemisphere.

In the QS World University Rankings by Subject, USP performs exceptionally well, ranked among the top universities in the world for 40 out of a possible 42 subjects. Of these, it’s in the global top 50 for seven subjects, including agriculture, veterinary science and architecture. 

2. Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

Unicamp

Also located in São Paulo, the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) retains its position of 12th in the BRICS ranking this year, and also features at 2nd place in the Latin America ranking. It was established in 1966, and is consistently ranked as one the world’s best young institutions. Unicamp is responsible for around 15% of Brazil’s research, with its three campuses containing a total of 22 teaching and research centers. It has a large student body of around 35,600 students, of which almost 16,000 are studying postgraduate degrees.

Unicamp currently features among the world’s top universities for 29 subjects, with positions in the top 50 for dentistry and agriculture and forestry, as well as many more top 100 places.

3. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Ranked 29th in the BRICS countries this year, the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) is currently placed 5th in Latin America and is the oldest of all universities in Brazil. It was established in 1792, when the precursor to its technical school, the Royal Academy of Artillery, Fortification and Design, was founded. Now home to around 67,000 students, the university owns a range of museums, hospitals and research centers around the city of Rio de Janeiro, the second-largest in the country and 2016 Olympic Games host city.

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) is included as one of the best universities in the world for 30 subjects, with eight of these in the top 100, including performing arts, sociology and mineral and mining engineering.

4. Universidade Estadual Paulista "Júlio de Mesquita Filho"

UNESP

Universidade Estadual Paulista “Júlio de Mesquita Filho” is ranked 36th in BRICS and 12th in Latin America this year. It’s one of the six public universities in Brazil to be located in São Paulo, and is also sometimes known as São Paulo State University or simply UNESP. Another of the younger universities in Brazil, it was founded in 1976, and now has around 50,600 students enrolled in 23 campuses in São Paulo state.  It’s considered one of Brazil’s leading research universities, and has 33 libraries, two university hospitals, three veterinary hospitals and several other clinics and complementary units.

Internationally ranked for 13 subjects this year, UNESP achieves positions among the top 50 institutions in the world for dentistry and veterinary science, as well as the top 100 for agriculture and forestry.

5. Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP)

 Universidade Federal de São Paulo

Staying in São Paulo state for the next of these top universities in Brazil, and the Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP) is ranked 45th in BRICS and 27th among Latin American countries. Founded in 1933 as a private medical school, UNESP’s teaching hospital was the first to be founded in Brazil. It was exclusively focused on the health sciences before becoming multidisciplinary, following government reforms in 2005.  

The university’s background in health sciences is reflected in the subject rankings, in which UNESP ranks among the world’s best for four subjects. This includes a place in the global top 50 for nursing, top 150 for pharmacy and pharmacology, top 200 for medicine and top 250 for biological sciences.

6=. Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro – (PUC-Rio)

Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro

The Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (or PUC-Rio) is up one place in the BRICS ranking this year to now share 46th place with the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. Also ranked 15th in Latin America, PUC-Rio was founded in 1940 by the Society of Jesus and was the first of the private universities in Brazil to be established. It is a non-profit, philanthropic and Catholic institution with humanistic principles, and is located in the Gávea neighborhood, south of Rio de Janeiro, in an attractive position on the edge of the Tijuca national forest.

PUC-Rio is this year included in nine subject rankings, including the global top 200 for politics and philosophy.

6=. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)

Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

Featured at joint 46th in the BRICS ranking this year along with PUC-Rio, the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) also places 16th in Latin America. UFRGS has one of the highest numbers of scientific publications amongst these top universities in Brazil. It’s mostly located in the vibrant city of Porto Alegre (the capital of the Rio Grande do Sul state, in the south of the country), but has some off-campus buildings for its business school and art institute.    

UFRGS is internationally ranked in an impressive 18 subjects this year, achieving positions in the top 100 for performing arts, philosophy, and mineral and mining engineering. 

8. Universidade de Brasilia

Universidade de Brasília

The Universidade de Brasília is up two places from last year to place 51st in the BRICS ranking. It also comes 9th in the Latin America ranking, and is the only one of these 10 top universities in Brazil to be located in the country’s capital, Brasilia. Founded in 1962, the university currently enrolls around 40,000 students in 26 faculties and has 18 centers dedicated to specialized research. Other facilities include a hospital, sports center, seismological observatory, physical experiment facilities, an ecological station, a farm and more.

Ranked among the world’s best for eight subjects this year, the Universidade de Brasília achieves its best positions for anthropology (top 100) and agriculture and forestry (top 150).

9. Pontificia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP)

Pontificia Universidade Católica de São Paulo

Pontificia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, also known as PUC-SP for short, is a private, non-profit Catholic university located in the Perdizes neighborhood of São Paulo. Ranked 52nd in BRICS and 38th in Latin America this year, PUC-SP was founded in 1946 and currently educates around 23,000 students. It was the first university in Brazil to offer graduate programs in the fields of multimedia, social service, psychology of learning, applied linguistics and speech-language therapy, and is highly regarded for its research in the social sciences.

PUC-SP is currently only internationally ranked for one subject, claiming a place in the world’s top 200 for modern languages.

10. Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG)

 Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

The final of our list of the 10 top universities in Brazil is the public Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, placing 53rd in the BRICS ranking and 14th in Latin America. One of the largest Brazilian universities, UFMG was established in 1927 and today has a student body of around 49,000. It’s located in the city of Belo Horizonte (the state capital of Minas Gerais) across a 2,000 acre campus in the Pampulha neighborhood.

Currently ranked among the world’s best for 18 subjects, UFMG achieves its highest positions (all in the top 150) for philosophy, agriculture and forestry, pharmacy and pharmacology, and statistics. 

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Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for TopUniversities.com, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 

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