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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. From this, the inclusion of psychologists in legal settings was occurring gradually and slowly. Psychologists introduced themselves to the judicial system by volunteering. The early work was in the field of criminology, being involved with adult criminal cases and juvenile delinquents. Thereafter, the involvement spread to the prison system in the Brazil.

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

Currently, the inclusion of psychologists in the juridical context is massive, but training still leaves a bit to be desired, as it does not prepare future psychologists for questions and challenges they will encounter in the judicial system. The main areas of practice in psychology in the Brazilian judicial system are: Children and Juvenile Courts (involved in cases of abuse, neglect, abandonment, sexual abuse and adoption; watching the social and educational activities of youth offenders); Criminal Justice (making assessments, psychological diagnoses and psychopathology, psychological counseling of inmates in the prison system) and family courts (following custody dispute cases, paternity acknowledgment, interdiction and trusteeship).

There are also services for the monitoring of cases involving drug addiction and violence. After the creation of Maria da Penha Law in 2008 the involvement of psychologists was required in cases of domestic violence against women.

Given this background, you can see which areas of are of greatest strength in Legal Psychology in Brazil, which ultimately reflects on the training possibilities for performance in this area. The possibilities of study and training in Forensic Psychology in Brazil can occur as specializations, master’s or doctorate degrees.

Graduate School in Brazil

In Brazil, master’s and doctoral programs offered by public universities are free to Brazilians and foreigners who can pass in the selection process. In general, the programs require applicants to submit a research project, which involves presenting their work proposal. After this, the candidates have to do a written test on expertise on the the post-graduate program.

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

The Celpe-Bras is the only certificate of proficiency in Brazilian Portuguese that is officially recognized. 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.

The specializations in public universities in Brazil tend to be paid. The value depends on each institution, but the cost is between $ 250.00 and $ 400 per month. The duration of these specializations is between a year and a half and two years. The admissions for the specializations usually involve written test, analysis of applicant’s resume and interview with teachers 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. The selection process is always done in the second half of each year. The Invitation is disseminated through the electronic address http://www.cepuerj.uerj.br. E-mail: psijur@uerj.br

Specializations: Private Universities

Another possibility is to do a specialization in private schools. Here is an option:

Specialization in Forensic Psychology from the Catholic University of Brasilia

Location: Brasília

Description: The course aims to train professionals (psychologist, social worker, educator, and legal professionals) to work together to justice, from the study of basic concepts of Forensic Psychology, examining their scope, boundaries and limitations ethical / social in different instances of the judiciary; equipping – to the critical and interdisciplinary practice, which values human rights and citizenship.

Duration: one and a half years

Cost: 18 installments of $ 386.00

Contact: penso@ucb.br

More information:  http://www.ucb.br/Cursos/110PsicologiaJuridica/Conheca/

Masters and Doctoral Programs in Forensic Psychology

Unfortunately, there are no Brazilian public universities that offer master’s or doctoral programs in Forensic Psychology and provide titles like “Master of Forensic Psychology” or “PhD in Forensic Psychology.” There are some universities and private schools that provide up to the master’s degree in this area, but there is no way to vouch for the quality of these courses.

However, some instructors at public universities supervise academic work in the context of forensic psychology. Here are some individuals and programs you can work with:

University of Brasília – UnB

Location: Brasília, Distrito Federal

Description: The Program of Clinical Psychology and Culture of UNB has a tradition to supervise academic papers the area of Legal Psychology, both at Masters and at the doctorate. For more information about the Program of Clinical Psychology and Culture of UNB visit: http://www.psicc.unb.br

The main forensic researchers at UnB are:

  • Liana Fortunato Costa. 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. E-mail: lianaf@terra.com.br
  • Fatima SudbrackCoordinator of the Program of Studies and Attention to Chemical Dependency (PRODEQUI) 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. She is fluent in French and has contacts and works done in France. Currently coordinates a course in Distance Education for 70 000 educators from throughout Brazil. The focus of the course is to train teachers for the prevention of drug abuse in the school context. E-mail: 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 poor and women, and domestic violence against women. E-mail: glauciadiniz@gmail.com
  • Prof. Julia Bucher-Maluschke. She is a pioneer in the work in Forensic Psychology in Brasilia and Brazil. Professor emeritus at the University of Brasilia and current professor of the graduate program at the Catholic University of Brasília, she has extensive experience in the legal field. She works with juvenile offenders; issues of family courts; principle of the best interests of the child, etc. E-mail: 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

How to get a scholarship in Brazil

Each country usually has its program of scholarships abroad. Your country should have some policy or some program that grants scholarships outside of your country. This can be your first choice. Also, those who want to study in Brazil, have the option to apply for the programs of International Cooperation of Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel of Brazil (CAPES). This institution is responsible for launching the tenders and select scholarship students.

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. The main activity of International Cooperation of CAPES is through bilateral agreements, programs that foster joint research projects between Brazilian and foreign groups. The CAPES finances missions work (teacher exchange), scholarships (exchange students), plus an amount to fund the project activities. It is imperative that the Brazilian research groups are linked to postgraduate programs recognized by MEC (Minister Of Education), preferably graded 5, 6 or 7 in the last CAPES.

University partnerships binational. The CAPES has also binational programs university partnerships. These programs were initiated in 2001 and aimed primarily to increase the exchange of graduate students and foster the exchange of graduate students and professors. Partnerships are implemented between Brazilian and foreign universities, being fundamental to ensuring the mutual recognition of credits for students in the area chosen for the project. The program also seeks to approximate the curriculum structures among the participating institutions and courses.

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

Other Important 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
  • For information on the main Brazilian universities, click here.
  • For information about admission to higher education institutions in Brazil, click here.