Picture of a girl in front of a board with Portuguese.

Our curriculum is designed for students at all levels of proficiency who want to learn the Portuguese language and culture.

The program enrolls a diverse mix of undergraduates, graduate students, recent graduates, and professionals.

Portuguese Variants

Portuguese is a language with several variants. We emphasize the Brazilian Portuguese variant and culture and provide classes that emphasize Portuguese language and culture and, as much as possible, we include other variants.

We have been offering a European Portuguese component as part of the curriculum since 2008, bringing faculty, scholars, and writers from Portugal. We have also offered courses on African culture and literature and have hosted Portuguese speaking African ambassadors and writers. We are committed to diversity, not only in terms of variants, but also in terms of faculty, staff, and students.


Daily activities typically include four to five hours of classroom instruction plus additional homework and assignments. Schedules, texts, and staffing are subject to change. All students engage in extensive reading activities using the texts from the invited lecturers, novels, short stories, plays, and journalistic accounts. Three required units encompass grammatical forms, stylistics and composition, pronunciation and phonetics, oral expression in formal contexts, as well as interpersonal oral expression.

Students are encouraged to spend four to five hours per week in cocurricular activities of their choice.

Thematic Units

Students also enroll in courses that emphasize language through cultural contexts. These classes are divided into thematic units and team-taught by the Portuguese School faculty or invited writers, scholars, or artists.

The classes are carefully chosen and prepared to match student ability level and faculty expertise. In addition, the content is appropriate and relevant to the specific level of the program.

Past Thematic Units

The Amazon Rainforest and its Environment
Brazilian History
Brazilian Theater
Brazilian Literature
Brazilian Rhythms
Brazilian Cultural Studies through film
Cultural Studies and Film
Paradoxes of Brazil
Culture and Civilization of Brazil
Portuguese and African Culture and Civilization
Portuguese Literature
Brazil Today
Angolan History and Politics
History of Samba


Placement in a specific level is determined by language proficiency. All students take a language assessment prior to the start of the program. The language assessment is not part of the application process. Read more about level placement.