Empower Brazil Fellowship FAQ

In partnership with the Lemann Foundation, the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, offers fellowships for Afro-Brazilians, indigenous Brazilians, and Brazilians with disabilities in select Master degree programs. This Empower Brazil fellowship will increase diversity among Brazilian citizens in post-secondary studies abroad in order to make a positive social impact in Brazil.

Denis Mizne, CEO of the Lemann Foundation, stated that “so many young, talented Brazilians who come from underprivileged communities can’t even imagine being able to study abroad.” The new funding agreement will thus help “internationalize the educational experience of students who are underrepresented in Brazilian higher education.” Under the new diversity fellowship, students must first be independently accepted by Illinois before being considered for the fellowship. Students can pursue coursework in select Master degree programs at Illinois but are expected to return to create positive social change in Brazil.

What is the duration of the fellowship?

The fellowship covers the full tuition and most university fees for the required time it takes to complete the given Master program, which may be twelve months (two semesters and two summer sessions) to four semesters. Master degree programs vary in their duration. Empower Brazil fellows must complete their studies in the required time for the given degree program.

Which Master degree programs are included in the Empower Brazil fellowship?

Please be advised that participating Master degree programs may vary year to year. Links to the admissions process for each Master degree program can be accessed through their respective main portals. Current participating programs may include:

Master of Arts in Latin American Studies – https://clacs.illinois.edu/academics/graduate-program

Masters in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership – https://education.illinois.edu/epol

Master of Law (LLM) – https://law.illinois.edu/academics/degree-programs/llm-program/

Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) – https://giesbusiness.illinois.edu/msa

Master of Science in Finance – https://giesbusiness.illinois.edu/msf

Master of Science in Community Health –  https://ahs.illinois.edu/master-of-science-in-community-health

Master of Science in Kinesiology –  https://ahs.illinois.edu/master-of-science-kinesiology

Master of Science in Policy Economics – https://economics.illinois.edu/mspe

What is the duration of the Master programs?

Accountancy is twelve-months, starting in the U.S. summer (in June), with an opportunity for students to take a refresher or more basic course, and ends the following summer. Law also has a summer start (in early August) with a research and writing course, and can conclude the following summer.  Finance is to be completed in three semesters, with the two-semester option only available after careful consideration.  Kinesiology is four semesters.  Latin American Studies is four semesters. Policy Economics likewise recommends that students finish coursework in three semesters, though there is the two-semester option in special cases.

Does the fellowship pay for living and travel expenses?

The fellowship will cover travel expenses for a round-trip ticket to and from Brazil. Through an assistantship made possible by the enrolled Master program, or through the Lemann Center, the fellowship will also arrange for a stipend sufficient to pay for living expenses in the Champaign-Urbana area. Assistantships or stipends can total around U$20,000, before taxes, on a nine-month calendar. The specific amount will vary.

Is there a defined number of fellowships available?

There will be up to 2 fellowships awarded in 2021. The number of fellowships will vary year to year, but will likely not exceed two at the maximum per year.

How do I apply?

Students must apply to one of the aforementioned Master degree programs of their choosing in Illinois. The Lemann Center is not involved in the admissions process of each Master degree program, which is up to the sole discretion of each department. For further information on how to apply, interested candidates should click on the link to the given Master degree program above and send a message to the specific program.

What are the deadlines?

The deadlines of each given Master program vary, but in order to be considered for the Empower Brazil fellowship, students should apply no later than December. Please note that candidates can submit their application at this time, and send their GMAT, GRE, and/or TOEFEL score later on, but no later than the recommended deadline of each Master degree program.

Are there any tips to write the personal statement or to ask to be included in the letters of recommendation?

The personal statement should not repeat what is evident in your resume, or CV, but rather should add something new or not necessarily apparent in your file. Please check the FAQ web pages of each Master program in this regard.

Letters of recommendation should come from someone who knows your academic work.  But if you’ve been working for some time and lack academic contacts, a co-worker or manager is fine.

In the U.S. context, letters of recommendation talk specifically about the applicant’s strengths and capabilities. It is important for interested applicants to explain to their Brazilian recommendation letter writers that U.S. admissions committee look for details about the kind of papers the student wrote in a class, or the kinds of reports or problem-solving s/he produces in their job. This specific type of recommendation letter is expected by most admissions committees in U.S. universities.

Is an applicant required to have previous training in the given Master program to which s/he is applying?

Generally, applicants to any Master program should have earned at least a Bachelor’s degree or a comparable degree in any area from a recognized institution of higher learning. Other than that minimum requirement, the specific admission requirements vary by program. Some students have their Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in the field of the Master degree program to which they are applying. Others have taken only one or two classes in the field of a given Master program. Rather than a specific course or field of study, admissions committees look at the entire application.

Are GMAT, GRE, and /or TOEFL needed to apply?

Aside from the TOEFL or IELTS score reported from ETS or IELTS, standardized tests to be admitted to a program vary. Accountancy requires the GMAT, but there is no minimum cut-off. Finance asks for the GMAT or GRE. Law requires TOEFL only. MSPE encourages but does not require applicants to take the GRE.

 Are students required to write a final paper?

There is no final project in Masters programs in Accountancy, Finance, Law, or the MSPE at Illinois. There is in Latin American Studies.

 Are there opportunities to improve English skills?

All classes are taught in English, though students come from all over the world. Master degree programs tend to have large number of international students from across Asia and North America. Accountancy has a conversation partner program for students to improve English skills.  Law students are asked to sign a pledge to speak English. Policy Economics arranges some trips each year to visit federal trade commission or regional federal reserve banks. For family members of enrolled students, Masters students from the Department of Linguistics offer the Special English Class (SEC,  http://publish.illinois.edu/special-english-class/) and there a list of other English resources in the community (http://publish.illinois.edu/special-english-class/english-language-resources/)