Pitzer in Brazil Summer Program

The Pitzer in Brazil Summer Program provides students an opportunity to engage with a city and region that has retained and celebrated its African roots. This summer program is run in collaboration with the Steve Biko Institute, a nationally recognized organization helping Black Brazilians enter and succeed in college settings. Click here to learn more about the institute and view a slideshow from a recent photoshoot.

Program Information

The Brazil Summer Program takes place over six weeks in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. The city is an UNESCO World Heritage site, the capital of Bahia State, the first colonial capital of Brazil, and the center of Afro-Brazilian culture. This cultural uniqueness has a tragic underbelly. The Bahia region was the center of the Brazilian slave trade economy, and racism and the legacies of colonialism are ever apparent. In Bahia, 70% of the population is of African descent, but more than 80% of those who graduate from university are white Brazilians.

During the summer program, participants earn two course credits in only six weeks, but more importantly, they experience a very special opportunity to live with families, connect with peers at the Biko Institute, visit historical locations in and outside Salvador, as well as meet people they will never forget. For students who are willing to immerse themselves in the culture and coursework, the rewards will be great and commensurate with their efforts.

Aerial view of Salvador da Bahia cityscape, Bahia, Brazil.
Aerial view of Salvador da Bahia, Bahia, Brazil.

Program Dates

Late May – Early July

Eligibility and Prerequisites

Students must be in good academic standing and have a 2.0 or higher GPA on a 4.0 scale. Prior Spanish or Portuguese language study and/or coursework is recommended. Note: Students without a background in Portuguese will take a 2-3 week online introductory course in the spring semester.

  • Academics
    Drummers line a cobblestone street in Brazil.
    Photo by Paula Gutierrez

    Below are the courses offered on the program. Students are required to participate fully in all program components and are not allowed to withdraw from individual courses. Students must take all courses for a letter grade. Participating students from Pitzer College will have their grades from the program recorded on their Pitzer transcript and included in their overall GPA. Students from other colleges should check with their study abroad office for information about how grades from a semester abroad are integrated into their transcript.

    Students who wish to receive credit towards their major for a particular course should consult their academic adviser for guidelines. At Pitzer College, the field group decides which courses may be counted towards a major or minor requirement. Students from other universities should check with their study abroad office or registrar’s office about their school’s policy.

    Courses Claremont Course Credits Semester Units
    Intensive Portuguese 1.0 4
    Core Course: Brazil in the Bahian Context 1.0 4
    TOTALS 2.0 8

    Core Course

    This course provides an overview of the history, culture, and society in Brazil with a particular emphasis on community and race in the state of Bahia and the city of Salvador. The course includes lectures by local faculty and specialists from non-governmental organizations and community leaders, site visits, and reading and writing assignments that allow students to explore a variety of topics in Salvador, including but not limited to, the legacy of colonialism and slavery in Brazil, health care, political structures, women’s issues, and environmental issues. A strong community engagement with young former Biko students and the extended family stay for the duration of the program is an important part of the course, providing context to the ideas presented in the core course. Click here to view a sample syllabus for the core class.

    Intensive Portuguese Language Class 

    For students without a background in Portuguese, preparation for the program begins in Claremont during the spring semester with 2-3 weeks of virtual introduction to the Portuguese language. Once in Brazil, Portuguese will be offered at the introductory and intermediate levels through local language faculty. With a maximum of six students per teacher, the course employs a highly communicative, interactive curriculum that emphasizes both spoken and written Portuguese and is closely connected to the family stay experience, the core course, and other field activities. Students attend language classes for 12 to 14 hours a week for a total of roughly 60 hours of in-class instruction.

  • Student Experience
    Photo Credit: Britany Marticorena

    Study Trips

    To deepen students’ understanding of topics covered in the core course, students participate in activities and study trips in or near Salvador. Past activities have included soccer matches (at one of the World Cup stadiums), dance sessions, drums workshops, restaurants, museums, and non-governmental institutions. Students also go on longer trips to nearby destinations such as the Baroque city of Cachoeira, Quilombo Ilha, and Itaparica Island. Click here to view photos from the experiences of Min Nguyen PZ ‘23 and Britany Marticorena PZ ’23 who participated in 2022.

    Photo Credit: Britany Marticorena


    The heart of the Pitzer in Brazil summer program is being a full member of a Brazilian family with all its privileges and responsibilities. Through your family, you have the best opportunity to be incorporated into the social fabric of the local community. Our criteria of selection are primarily based on the family’s willingness to open their homes to our students and make our students feel like members of the family. Students will have their own bedroom and only one student is placed in each home to maximize the use of Portuguese.

    Biko Host Families
  • Next Steps
    Photo Credit: Britany Marticorena

    Next Steps

    Interested in the Pitzer in Brazil Summer program? Great! Learn more by attending an information session or scheduling a meeting with a study abroad adviser.

    How to Apply

    Application Steps and Deadlines for Pitzer College Students:


    Application Steps for Non-Pitzer Students:


    Photo Credit: Britany Marticorena

    Before You Go

    After students apply and are accepted into the program, they will participate in a program orientation before leaving for Brazil. Orientations are required and designed to ensure students get the most out of the study abroad experience. They provide cultural context, health and safety information, and academic guidelines. At orientation, students will receive details specific to the program including program dates, flight arrangements, immunization documents, safety guidelines, and the handbook.

    Typically, U.S. passport holders may receive their visa when arriving in Brazil. However, the visa process can change. Students are responsible for researching country-specific information and the visa process. Everyone in the program needs a passport. Check the expiration date. If you do not have a passport valid for six months after your planned return from study abroad, then you will need to renew your passport.

    Summer Program Fees

    The 2024 Summer Program fee is $12,000. This amount will cover tuition for two courses, all program activities and study trips, full room and board, and round-trip flight. Financial Aid will be available for Pitzer College students who normally receive financial aid. Students on financial aid should contact that office for details on how their financial aid would be applied to a summer program.