IME-USP

FAQ – Graduate Program in Computer Science

1) Who may apply for the Master of Science program?
Any student who hold a University degree equivalent to a certified Brazilian higher education level degree (e.g., Bachelor) at the time of registration are eligible. Equivalence of Degrees obtained abroad is a legal matter related to number of credits taken, and it is very seldom the case that a typical international degree is not granted equivalence. Holding a Bachelor Degree in Computer Science or related fields (Engineering, Mathematics, Physics) is desirable but not required. International students are advised to submit scores of some standardized test (GRE, SAT) in their application; when possible, there is a preference towards a national CS University-Level Exam called POSCOMP
(see e.g. https://www.sbc.org.br/index.php? option=com_content&view=article&layout=edit&id=458).
Note that international students are required to have a valid visa at the time of registration. Unfortunately, our ability to provide assistance to seeking visas is very limited.


2) Who may apply for the Doctorate program?
There are two PhD tracks in our program: Regular Doctorate and Direct Doctorate. Admission at the Regular Doctorate requires a Master’s degree in Computer Science or related field, completed at date of registration (with an official certificate). Direct Doctorate requires only a (Brazilian recognizable or equivalent) University Degree. Note that international students are required to have a valid visa at the time of registration. Unfortunately, our ability to provide assistance to seeking visas is very limited.

3) What is the difference between Regular Doctorate and Direct Doctorate?
The regular doctorate program is the traditional PhD-level program at University of São Paulo, targeting students with some initial research experience (as attested by the MSc Degree) and that wish to deepen their knowledge in Computer Science research. It consists of an initial course taking part, that takes about 2 years, followed by a research intensive part, where the student is expected to carry out world-level research under the supervision of a Faculty. The Direct Doctorate targets excepcional students who have already proven record of considerable research experience, such as students that have carried out extensive research while undergrad students (and are listed as coauthors in relevant scientific publications) or that have outstanding recommendation letters by their academic achievements (backed up by notable recommenders).

4) How much does are the costs for the program?
All Graduate courses at University of São Paulo are free of any charge for any individual (Brazilian or not), that includes tuitions, registrations, library fees, etc.

5) How and when can I apply for the program?
Applications for the MSc. Program are open twice a year, generally at May/June and at November/December. A call is published on the (Portuguese version of the) website when applications are open; the entire process is online. Applications for the Doctorate program can be made at any time during the year and are processed in batches whenever there are sufficient number of applications or a maximum time period has been reached (usually about 2 months). Please refer to the Portuguese version of this page for the link for the online application form.

6) Are there scholarships or fellowships available?
You can request institutional scholarship funding when applying for the program (at either MSc or PhD level). These scholarships are somehow competitive, and are distributed based on academic merit (as attested by the academic records, result in standardized tests, etc). There is also the possibility to apply for individual scholarships granted by external funding agencies or for industry-funded scholarships; these options typically require having already an advisor by and a research project the time of the application.

7) How does the selection process work?
The Graduate Program Office staff verifies if all the formal requirements (documents, filling of online form, etc) are duly submitted or if they are ineligible. A small committee of faculty members from the department then evaluates and ranks the eligible candidacies, with a special focus on academic performance, statement of purpose and recommendations. The committee then actively searches for research advisors among the faculty for the highest ranked candidacies. Those applicants that are accepted to be advised by a faculty are approved at the program.

8) Is it necessary to present a research project or to have a tutor in order to apply?
Having a research project is not mandatory and often faculty expects that students carry out research in a theme proposed by the advisor (this is not a general rule). Having already a faculty that is willing to advise you (if accepted) is also not mandatory, but can help you in the selection process. In any case, we highly recommend that you get familiar with the research interests of the faculty, possibly reaching out for additional information.

9) Can I have an advisor who is not among the department’s faculty members?
Generally, no. Exceptions can be made for well justified cases.

10) How much is cost of life compared to typical student’s stipend?
Cost of life in São Paulo is high for national income standards. You better google about it to have a better view. The University provides accommodation for low-income students, but they are few and very competitive. The University restaurants are subsidized and very cheap. Brazil counts with a free and universal health care system, to which all residents have access; (better) private health care is expensive. An institutional scholarship is sufficient to support your stay here, provided you have a humble lifestyle (possibly having to share a room and with very limited traveling). Some information about life on campus are found here:
https://www5.usp.br/english/campus-life/

11) Do I need to learn Portuguese?
Most likely, yes. The vast majority of the Graduate courses at our CS Program are taught exclusively in Portuguese. It is possible to ask the lecturer to occasionally teach the course in English, at him/her discretion. Most people, including local University staff, do not have a decent fluency in English, and even official immigration bureau employee might not speak English. You can probably get along very well if your native language is of Latin origin (e.g., Spanish). Faculty and most Graduate students speak fluent English and can help with some difficulties.

12) I have a question that is not answered here.
Feel free to address us with any further inquires about the program. See the Contact page for information on how to do so.