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If you are interested in studying forensic psychology, either as a graduate or post-graduate student, this resource will be perfect for you! This article was written by the former EAPL-S representative for Brazil: Josimar Alcantara Mendes


The consolidation of Psychology in Brazil is very recent. The first experiments of psychology in the judicial system occurred along with the legalization of the profession of psychologist in the 1960s. Since then, the inclusion of psychologists in legal settings occurred gradually and slowly. Psychologists introduced themselves into the judicial system by volunteering. The early work was in the field of criminology regarding adult criminal cases and juvenile delinquents. Thereafter, psychology’s expertise spread to the Brazilian prison system.

The 1980s and 1990s were crucial for the consolidation of psychology within the Brazilian legal system. During this time, psychologists began act on behalf of the newly created Brazilian childcare system and also to work in other sectors of justice, especially in family courts.

Currently, number of psychologists working within legal system is massive, but training and qualification still is an issue. It is because the foundation does not properly prepare future psychologists to issues and challenges they will face in their practice. The main practice areas in forensic psychology in the Brazilian are: 1) Children and Juvenile Courts (mainly related to public law regarding maltreatment, neglect, abandonment, sexual abuse and adoption; 2) Following-up adolescents serving social and educational correctional measures (youth offenders); 3) Criminal Justice (making assessments, psychological diagnoses related to psychopathology, psychological counselling of inmates in the prison system) and; 4) Family Courts (following custody dispute cases, paternity acknowledgment, interdiction and trusteeship – private law).

There are also services to follow-up cases involving drug addiction and violence. After the Maria da Penha Act was enacted in 2008, psychologists started to work with domestic violence cases assessing risks and giving support to women under this situation.

Those are the main areas for Forensic Psychology in Brazil. Studying and training in Forensic Psychology in Brazil can be though specializations, master’s or PhD degrees.

Postgrad in Brazil

In Brazil, masters and doctoral programs offered by public universities are tuition-fees-free for Brazilians and foreigners that can pass through the selection process. In general, the programs require applicants to submit a research project. In addition, the candidates have to do essay based in the program’s expertise/research line.

There is also the language proficiency which for foreigners may be proficiency in Portuguese. The Brazilian proficiency test for foreigners is called Celpe-Bras (Certificate of Proficiency in Portuguese Language for Foreigners). This certificate is awarded to foreigners with satisfactory performance on Portuguese standardised test and it is developed by the Brazilian Ministry of Education. The test is used in Brazil and other countries with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Internationally, Celpe-Bras is accepted by organisations and educational institutions as proof of competence in the Portuguese Language and, in Brazil, it is required by universities for admission into undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

The Celpe-Bras is the only certificate of Brazilian Portuguese proficiency that is officially recognised. It is awarded at four levels: intermediate, upper intermediate, advanced and advanced higher. For more information, click here.

Forensic Psychology Specialization Programs in Brazil

Specializations: Public Universities

Brazilian strictu-sensucourses (a.k.a specializations) offered by public institutions tend to be paid. The tuition fees amount will vary according to each institution. These specializations can last one or two years. The admission process usually involves tests, analysing applicant’s resume and interview with professors from the specialization program. Here is an option:

Specialization in Forensic Psychology at the State University of Rio de Janeiro

Location: Rio de Janeiro

Description: This course aims to train psychologists to work in the interaction between psychology and law, focusing primarily in the areas of Children and Youth Justice System, Criminal and Family Divisions.

Coordinator: Prof. Sonia Elizabeth Altoé

Who’s who (faculty):

  • Sonia Elizabeth Altoé.
  • Anna Paula Uziel
  • Heliana Conde Rodrigues de Barros
  • Amana Matos Rocha
  • Marlan Navy Junior
  • Leila Maria de Brito Torraca
  • Luciana Francischetti Piza
  • José César Coimbra

Research Areas

  • The law and practice of psychology for Children and Youth.
  • Psychoanalysis and Law.
  • Psychology and the practices family law.
  • The Institutional Analysis of Law and Institutions.
  • City, Modernity and Subjectivity.

Admission: is always conducted in the second half of each year. More information can be found at: http://www.cepuerj.uerj.br. Email: psijur@uerj.br

: Private Universities

Another possibility is to do a specialization in private institutions. Here are some options:

Pontifical Catholic University of Goiás. 

Location: Goiania, Goiás

More information: http://www.pucgoias.edu.br/ucg/prope/poslato/home/secao.asp?id_secao=1425&id_unidade=121(in Portuguese)


Location: Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul

More information: http://www.unisinos.br/global/en

Sagrado Coração  University

Location: Bauru, São Paulo

Fees: 20 instalments of $80 (American Dollar)

More information: https://en.usc.br/pos-graduacao/psicologia-juridica


Masters and Doctoral Programs in Forensic Psychology

Unfortunately, there are no masters or doctoral programs in Forensic Psychology nor titles like “Master of Forensic Psychology” or “PhD in Forensic Psychology” offered by Brazilian Public Universities.

However, some professor at public universities supervise give supervision on researches related to the forensic psychology context, such as:

University of Brasília – UnB

Location: Brasília, Distrito Federal

Description: The Program of Clinical Psychology and Culture has a tradition masters and PhD dissertations on Forensic Psychology. For more information about the Program of Clinical Psychology and Culture visit: http://www.psicc.unb.br(in Portuguese)

The main forensic researchers at UnB are:

  • Liana Fortunato Costa.Emeritus professor, she works with research projects linked to the issues of child custody and child sexual abuse (especially those committed by adolescents); transgenerational issues and family therapy. Email: lianaf@terra.com.br
  • Fatima SudbrackFormer coordinator of the Program of Studies and Attention to Chemical Dependency (PRODEQUI), she works with issues related to drug addiction during adolescence and young offenders, drug use in the school context, and programs to prevent drug abuse. She has a strong psychoanalytic orientation, but converses well with the systemic perspective too. She is fluent in French and has contacts and partnerships in France. The focus of the course is to train teachers to prevent drug abuse in schools Email: fatsudbr@unb.br
  • Gláucia Diniz. Family therapist with training in the United States, is fluent in English. Works with issues of family, gender and violence; effectiveness of public policies linked to the poverty and women, and domestic violence against women. Email: glauciadiniz@gmail.com
  • Julia Bucher-Maluschke. She is a pioneer on Forensic Psychology in Brasilia and Brazil. Emeritus Professor at the University of Brasilia and currently working in a private high education institution, she has extensive experience in the legal field. She speaks English, German and French. She works with juvenile offenders; issues of family courts; principle of the best interests of the child, etc. Email: psibucher@gmail.com

Fluminense Federal University (UFF)

Location: Rio de Janeiro

The main forensic researcher at UFF is:

  • Teresa Cristina Lamb Othenio Wagoner. She is an important reference, with several publications in the area. Works with issues related to adolescence, family, drugs and family. E-mail: tecar2@uol.com.br

For more information access: http://www.slab.uff.br/docentes2.php(in Portuguese)

Personna Group

It is a research group ran by Dra. Elisa Walleska Kruger Alves da Costa. The group studies criminality, Violence, Perversion and “Psychopathy” (as she has deconstructed ‘psychopathy’ in her PhD). She has a lot of experience with Criminology and Mental Health. Email: institutopersonna@gmail.com


More information: https://personnagrupo.wordpress.com/(in Portuguese)


How to get a scholarship in Brazil

Each country usually has its program of scholarships. Your country should have some scheme or some program that grants scholarships to study abroad. This should be your first choice.

In addition, Also, there is an option to apply for schemes run by the  International Cooperation of Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel of Brazil (CAPES).

 The website of CAPES offers the following information:

Goals of International Cooperation: Develop activities of Brazilian graduate in the global context. The International Cooperation from CAPES intent to support  Brazilian research groups through international exchange, striving for excellence in our graduate.

How it works?

Bilateral Agreements. CAPES’ international cooperation is maily through bilateral agreements, programs that foster joint research projects between Brazilian and foreign institutions.

University partnerships binational: CAPES also has binational partnerships with foreign universities.

For more information, access: http://www.capes.gov.br/cooperacao-internacional(in Portuguese)

Other Useful Links

  • To access a complete and detailed guide of “How to study in Brazil?”, click here.
  • For those who want to know more about the functioning of higher education in Brazil, click here for more information.
  • More information, click here.