University terms – Portuguese

Between the US and Brazil, the educational system has many differences and while that would be interesting to go over (I’ll save that for a future post), I’m going to concentrate on some of the terms in Portuguese for university students.

Universidade – University
Faculdade – College (ie, College of Liberal Arts)
Colégio – Elementary, Middle or High School (it doesn’t mean ‘college’)
Escola – School (a general term)

Curso – The degree you are studying
Cursar – The verb to explain the term above
Matrícula – Tuition
Semestre – Semester

Bacharelado – Baccalaureate
Graduação – Undergraduate
Pós-graduação – Graduate
Formar-se – To graduate
Ser formado/a em – To have graduated in

Universitário/a – University student
Aluno/a – Student

Matéria – Course or Subject
Aula – Class
Sala – Classroom
Nota – Grade
Tirar 10 – To get an A (0-10, not letter-based)
Colar – To cheat

4 thoughts on “University terms – Portuguese

  1. Hi Adam,
    As a Brazilian it’s funny when I noticed that Americans use the word “school” for everything. My friends would mention school when if fact they meant University. We don’t do this. We separate things in this case. I noticed that you wrote “high school” for our “colégio”. Well, “colégio” is the same as “school”, it can be grade school, junior high or high school. It’s the institution. High school is “ensino médio”. Also, I learned that college is a two-year course, correct me if I mistaken. We don’t have that. A group of “faculdades” that form the University. Faculdade de engenharia, faculdade de letras, faculdade de filosofia etc..They are all 4-year-course. For “materia” I didnt know you could say course. I thought it was just “subject”.
    Ok, once again..congrats on your blog.

    • Good points! I’ll add your corrections to the post. College is the same as university for us (although university isn’t always teh same as college), so there’s community college (also called junior college) which is 2 years and then there is regualr college (also called university) which is 4 years. If you get confused by the last two terms, we wouldn’t call a community college, a university.

      Matéria is more specifically a subject, yes but we use course to say subject also. It gets confusing because of what course sounds like to a Brazilian’s ear.

      Thanks again!

  2. Cool! I do remember when I was younger someone saying that “colégio” applied only to high school, but in real life, it never caught on. People use escola and colégio interchangeably. They are both general terms.
    You missed some terms related to universities such as: reitor – rector, dean; reitoria – rectorship; trote – every freshman student at a university goes through a ‘trote” carried out by the old students. a trote is like an initiation, the older students (sophomores and juniores) will paint the freshmen and make them do embarressing things in public, also will take them to the nearby street and make them beg for money that will be used in the “choppada”. Some “trotes” end up in tragedy, like the one from a paulista university who drowned in the university swimming pool. choppada – (it comes from the word chopp – beer from a keg) I dont think there is an equivalent in English, but it’s an important part of social life in a university here. The choppada is a party with lots of beer. They buy the beer with money freshmen got from begging in the street during the trote. Choppadas are generally open so anyone can attend. Every degree has it’s own choppada i.e choppada de engenharia, choppada de medicina etc..At my “faculdade” the choppada was held outdoor, in front of the building we studied.
    Ok, I wrote a lot this time, but I guess you could get a picture.

  3. Hi! I’ve just noticed you used “matrícula” to mean “tuition”. “Matrícula” is “enrollment” and “tuition” is “mensaidade”, as schools/colleges charge students in a monthly basis in most, if not all, cases.

    Also, do you know the verb “bombar”? It means “to fail in school or in a subject”. When you’re in college, that means you have to retake that class; when in elementary (maybe 4th grade and up) to high school, it means you have to retake a test and try to get the grade you need. If you fail the test, then you’ll have to go back to the same grade the next school year.

    Hope it helps!

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