Aerial view of Sugarloaf Mountain and Rio de Janeiro coastline

Summer Portuguese Program in Rio de Janeiro

Language of Instruction: Portuguese
Rio de Janeiro,
Term: Summer

Strengthen your Portuguese and explore Brazilian culture in the Cidade Maravilhosa

This four-week summer program, based at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica (PUC-Rio) in Rio de Janeiro, offers intensive training in Portuguese at the Intermediate level. Through the program's excursions and Community Involvement Project, you will be immersed into the local community which will allow you to gain insight into both historical and contemporary Brazil and to improve your language proficiency.

Program Overview

All students enroll in Comprehensive Intermediate Portuguese, which covers the equivalent of a full year of Intermediate Portuguese. The course and its accompanying Community Involvement Project, program excursions, and lecture series are designed to maximize your Portuguese language fluency and to enhance your understanding of this Brazilian life and culture.

Eligibility and Application

  • Currently enrolled undergraduate students in good academic and disciplinary standing
  • Graduate students and post-graduates are all eligible to apply
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Minimum 3.0 average language GPA
  • Student must have completed Elementary Portuguese for Spanish-Speakers, or Elementary Portuguese II, or the equivalent

How to apply

Want to apply? Click the “Start an Application" button at the top of this page. You will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:

  • Application questionnaire(s)
  • Personal statement
  • Letter of recommendation from someone who has recently taught you Portuguese
  • Official transcript(s)


The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.

Program participant learning capoeira in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

PORT W1220x. Comprehensive Intermediate Portuguese. 4 points
Prerequisites: Elementary Portuguese for Spanish-Speakers, or Elementary Portuguese II, or the equivalent
Instructor: Jose Antonio Castellanos-Pazos and PUC-Rio faculty

This course will foster intensive practice in reading and composition based on short literary and journalistic texts. Discussions will focus on contemporary issues based on articles from Lusophone newspapers and magazines. Students will review grammar, expand their vocabulary and improve oral expression, writing and reading skills. Students will also be exposed to audio-visual material that will deepen their understanding of Lusophone societies and culture.

Community Involvement Project (CIP)

As part of the language program, you participate in a Community Involvement Project which will engage with the local Carioca community through dance classes, capoeira classes, or volunteer work with the NGO Criança Esperança. You have the opportunity to try all three CIP options at the beginning of the program. After doing so, you will select one CIP option to continue for the rest of your time in Rio de Janeiro.

Academic Schedule

Class is held Monday-Friday from 9:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. The first half of each class session will focus on learning Portuguese with the latter half delving in Brazilian culture.

In-classroom learning is complemented by course-related excursions, guest lectures, and cultural activities that take place in the afternoon several days a week. As part of the immersion portion of the program, students participate in a Community Involvement Project. The CIP takes place once or twice a week in the late afternoon and evening. The days and times your CIP occurs will depend on the CIP you select.

Due to the intensive nature of the course and the number of excursions outside of class, students should not plan any weekend travel in advance. Please note that attendance at all classes and related activities is mandatory.

Life in Rio de Janeiro


All students will be housed together in shared, furnished apartments in Ipanema, which is a neighborhood in the Zona Sul. Apartments include a bathroom, kitchen, telephone, TV and internet access. The commute from Ipamena to PUC-Rio is approximately 30 minutes from door-to-door.


Students are responsible for their own meals. You can cook for yourself or eat in the many local restaurants, bars, and cafes in your neighborhood. Rio de Janeiro boasts a vibrant culinary scene and many choose to eat out, taking advantage of the diverse food options available at all budgets.

PUC-Rio has several student cafeterias, offering lunch options at varying prices. Following class, many students on the program frequent the cost-friendly PUC-Rio cafeterias for lunch.


The program includes numerous course-related excursions, guest lectures, and cultural activities that will help you practice your Portuguese and deepen your understanding of Carioca and Brazilian culture. Past activities have included a city tour of Sugar Loaf, Christ the Redeemer and the Selaron Steps, cooking classes, and lectures on Brazilian music and a walking tour. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities available to them and to explore Rio de Janeiro on their own.

Daily Living and Schedule

This program has a full schedule and students should expect to spend most of their time in Rio de Janeiro to partake in the program and its complementary activities. In their free time, students are encouraged to explore all the city has to offer and to travel on the weekends, if they so choose.


Street view of the Rochinca Community in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rochinca Community in Rio de Janeiro

With a population of over 6 million people spread across a landscape of sweeping bays punctuated by lush, swooping mountains, Rio de Janeiro is one of Latin America’s most vibrant and beautiful cities. Cariocas, as Rio’s denizens are called, are proud of their city’s natural beauty, rich artistic & cultural heritage, and the dynamism of Brazil’s current trajectory on the world stage. Cariocas, like many Brazilians, have immigrant roots from across the globe-European, African, Latin American, Asian, mixed together to form a culture uniquely Brazilian. One can’t neatly sum up the essence of Rio-it is a place of contrasts and parallel lives: from futebol to Carnival, from the beaches of Copacabana to the heights of Corcovado, from the poverty of the comunidades to the designer shops of Ipanema, Rio is a city of diverse neighborhoods, packed with cheek-to-jowl social contrasts.

Pontifícia Universidad Católica do Rio de Janiero

Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janiero (PUC-Rio), pronounced 'pookie', is a wooded campus located in the Gavea district of Rio de Janeiro. PUC-Rio was the first private institution of higher learning in Brazil and is regarded as one of the country’s best universities. The university has more than 12,000 undergraduate students and is comprised of 23 departments, all of which fall into one of three centers: the Center of Social Sciences, the Center of Theology and Human Sciences and the Technical-Scientific Center.

There are numerous on-campus facilities, including cafés and cafeterias, libraries, computer labs, as well as copy centers and other useful shops. It is well served by the local bus system, though many local students choose to bike there. While summer session is quite common in the U.S., most Brazilian students will be away for their winter break. However, there will be numerous other international students at PUC-Rio while you are there.



José Antonio Castellanos-Pazos is the Director of the Rio program. He has been a lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese since 1998. At Columbia he has taught Spanish and Portuguese language courses. His main interest is teaching Portuguese to speakers of other Romance languages, mainly Spanish. For the past twenty years he has been developing materials for the teaching of Portuguese for Spanish Speakers. He received his M.A. in Latin American Literature from SUNY at Albany in 1995 and his M.Phil. from NYU in 2005, with a proposal for a dissertation on the rhetoric of the secret in the fiction of Mexican writers associated with the Revista Moderna at the end of the 19th century.

The language course will by taught by Columbia and PUC-Rio faculty.

Columbia Summer in Rio de Janeiro staff

José Antonio Castellanos-Pazos, Director

Main contacts in New York

Professor José Antonio Castellanos-Pazos
Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures
612 W 116th Street (Casa Hispánica)

Office of Global Programs
606 Kent Hall
Columbia University
1140 Amsterdam, Mail Code 3948
New York, NY 10027
Fax: 212-854-5164


For questions related to:

Financial Considerations

Program fee: $7000
Includes tuition, housing, some local transportation, and course-required excursions and activities.

Estimated Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Program Duration: $3250
Please note that out-of-pocket expenses are estimates and will vary considerably by student.

If you are on financial aid, check to see if it can be applied to your study abroad. In general summer financial aid is not available to Columbia College students or The Fu Foundation of Engineering and Applied Science students, but may be available to School of General Studies students. Non-Columbia students will need to check with their home schools for funding availability.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Graduate Student Summer Tuition Credit
Columbia Ph.D. students who wish to use the summer tuition credit must apply directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Since the program fee covers both tuition and housing, please note that you will be responsible for paying out-of-pocket the portion that is attributed to housing.

Graduate students from other schools should check with their home schools and their departments for funding.

Summer Language Fellowship for International Students
The Summer Language Fellowship for International Students supports international Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences who need to study a foreign language (applies to all languages) abroad during the summer. GSAS will endow summer fellowships with a maximum award of $3000.

Other Financing Opportunities:
For current Columbia University students and alumni, reach out to the Office of Global Programs and Fellowships to explore and apply for internal, national, and international fellowships. The Fellowships team will inform students about a full range of opportunities and help them determine which programs best meet their goals.

Financial Aid:
For Columbia College & SEAS students, financial aid is usually not eligible to be applied to study overseas in the summer. Please note that different schools do follow different policies. For this reason, meet with your financial aid advisor as soon as you can to discuss your personal financial situation.

Other resources

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Program Dates: 
Saturday, July 1, 2017 to Saturday, July 29, 2017
Admissions Decision Date: 
Wednesday, March 29, 2017