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Fundação Getulio Vargas Schools of Law, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo

Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) was founded in 1944 to prepare leaders for the public and private sectors in Brazil. The country was then laying the foundations for its future economic growth, a process that resulted in fast-paced development. In recent decades, institutional reforms in Brazil have given rise to new problems that require a new perspective on teaching law, and Brazil’s increasingly important role in international trade and foreign investment has led to a questioning of classical approaches to law and to the emergence of new areas of scholarly interest.

Drawing on FGV’s vast experience in teaching and research in the areas of economics and public and business administration, FGV established law schools in Rio de Janeiro and in São Paulo in 2002. Since their founding, both FGV Direito Rio in Rio de Janeiro and FGV Direito SP in São Paulo have played an important role in the transformation of corporate law and legal studies in Brazil and in serving as interlocutors in judicial reform and policy-making. FGV is also home to the FGV Chamber of Mediation and Arbitration and the Center for Social Policies.

Samantha Glover Ferreira ’14 spent the fall of her 3L year at FGV Direito Rio. After living and working for several years in Brazil, she is now a foreign service attorney with USAID. Read about her experiences.

Course Offerings and Credits

FGV’s law schools in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have developed an innovative curriculum that has received the highest classification granted by Brazil’s two institutions that evaluate academic rigor: the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Brazilian Bar Association. HLS exchange students may choose to study at either Direito Rio or Direito SP.

Classes are conducted using the Socratic method, with students called on to actively engage in discussion. Instructors use case studies, role playing, reading workshops, debate panels, mock courts, and other techniques. which take place in small groups, to create an interactive environment.

At both schools, course loads will vary from student to student. HLS students may receive a total of 10 to 12 ungraded classroom credits in relation to work done through the semester abroad program. Please see Semester Abroad: Academic Requirements for more information about course requirements and how semester abroad credits are calculated.


FGV Direito Rio

HLS students may enroll in courses in both the undergraduate curriculum and Direito Rio’s graduate programs (LL.M. and Master’s in Regulatory Law), schedule permitting. Direito Rio maintains a strong profile in corporate and public law, offering courses at the undergraduate level such as tax law, social security law, contract law and Law for Startups and Entrepreneurs.  In addition to the Master’s in Regulatory Law, specializations offered through the LL.M. programs include contemporary criminal lawbusiness law, and innovation and technology law. While studying at Direito Rio, HLS students may also take advantage of opportunities to  engage with one of FGV’s research centers, such as those focusing on technology and societylaw and economics, and justice and society.

Subject to specific approval, students may cross-register in courses offered by FGV Schools of Economics and Finance or Business Administration.  In order to take full advantage of the experience of studying at Direito Rio, international students are encouraged to take the courses offered in Technical Legal Portuguese and Brazilian Legal Interpretation during their time there.

The grading system at FGV Direito Rio is from 0 to 10. Students must receive a minimum grade of 7 to pass. Grading criteria are determined by each professor and generally include written exams, class participation, presentations in seminars, and academic assignments. To pass, students must attend at least 75% of the classes for each course.

FGV Direito SP

At Direito SP, HLS students may enroll in courses offered in the undergraduate and graduate programs, schedule permitting. Class size usually ranges from 15 to 60 students.

Through its Global Law Program, FGV Direito SP offers a number of courses that may be of interest to HLS students, including an introduction to the Brazilian legal system and courses on capital markets and the Brazilian regulatory and financial systems. With permission, HLS students may take one or two of these classes.

The grading system at Direito SP is from 0 to 10. Grading criteria are determined by each professor and generally include written tests, class participation, presenting seminars, and academic assignments. To pass, students must receive a minimum grade of 6 in undergraduate-level courses and 7 in graduate-level courses and must participate in at least 80% of the classes for each subject. Faculty members strongly encourage class participation (which usually counts 20–30% of the final grade), and attendance is mandatory.

Detailed information on teaching, grading, curriculum structure and requirements can be found on the FGV Direito SP website and in FGV’s guide for exchange students.

Language Proficiency

Most classes at FGV are taught in Portuguese. It is highly recommended that students have prior knowledge of Portuguese; given the high degree of similarity between Portuguese and Spanish, fluent Spanish speakers are eligible to apply. In their applications, students fluent in Spanish must describe the program of studying Portuguese they intend to follow in order to prepare sufficiently for a semester abroad.

The presumption of the HLS Study Abroad Committee is that students applying for a semester abroad are proficient in the primary language of the destination country such that they are able to navigate university systems and take one or more law classes in that language. If not, the students must explain how they propose to manage these challenges and derive full benefit from a program of study abroad.

Prior to study abroad, HLS students may improve their language proficiency and receive credit for foreign language courses at Harvard College in accordance with the HLS cross registration policy. Students may also find it helpful to arrive in Brazil early for language acclimation and/or to take a language training course before law classes begin. Direito SP offers a free 30-hour intensive Portugese language course in August and February; please note that neither credit nor certification is available with this course.

Academic Calendar

The academic year at FGV, in both Rio and São Paulo, is divided into two semesters: the first semester runs from February through June, and the second semester runs from early August through mid-December. Each semester includes two six- to eight-week teaching periods followed by one to two weeks of exams. Exam dates are determined at the beginning of each semester.

Application Process

Students interested in the FGV exchange program should follow the HLS Semester Abroad application process described on the Semester Abroad: Planning and Application page.

Students approved by the HLS Study Abroad Committee must also submit an application and supporting documents (such as transcripts, CVs, passport photos and insurance forms) to FGV. HLS will provide more information about this process to students nominated to study at Direito Rio or Direito SP.

The exchange agreement stipulates that FGV reserve at least one spot for an HLS J.D. student each year. HLS may recommend more than the allotted number of candidates but ultimately selection of the students will be made by FGV.


Direito Rio is located in Botafago, a beachfront neighborhood filled with parks, cafés and museums. The campus is accessible by public transportation, including the city’s subway and bus systems. The historic Centro district, Copacabana and other famous southern beaches, and stunning views from Corocovado and Sugarloaf Mountains are all nearby. In addition to Rio’s captivating natural beauty, many Brazilian oil, mining and telecommunications companies are headquartered there.

Direito SP is located just blocks from Avenida Paulista, home to Brazil’s stock exchange and many global financial institutions. São Paulo , Brazil’s largest city, is also one of the country’s cultural capitals, and many museums and cultural are nearby.

HLS students studying abroad in Brazil have access to the support and resources of the Brazil Office of Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, which include online pre-departure orientation information as well as on-site support once students arrive.


FGV does not offer on-campus housing. However, both FGV and the David Rockefeller Center’s Brazil Office can offer assistance with finding accommodations close to the law schools.

Contact Information

For further information, please contact Sara Zucker at (617) 495-9030 / or Andre Barbic at (617) 496-8732 /

For questions about FGV Direito Rio, please contact Rodrigo Vianna, Coordenador de Relações Institucionais, at or Carolina Magalhães, International Affairs Assistant, at

For questions about FGV Direito São Paulo, please contact Prof. Maria Lucia L.M. Pádua Lima, Associate Dean, International Affairs Office, at, or Maria Christina Castilho, Coordinator, International Affairs Office, at