Located in Porto Alegre, capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (UFCSPA) is a Federal Institute of Higher Education, in operation since March 1961, when it was founded under the title of Catholic College of Medicine of Porto Alegre. Federalized in 1980, it was named Federal College Foundation of Medical Sciences of Porto Alegre (FFFCMPA). In January 2008, it obtained the status of university, being re-named as Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (UFCSPA).
UFCSPA holds undergraduate programs, stricto (master's and doctorate) and lato sensu (specialization) graduate programs, as well as medical residency programs. Example of excellence in education, 97% of the university’s faculty staff hold master’s and doctorate degrees. In 2019, when considering only undergraduate programs by the Brazilian Ministry of Education (according to its punctuation in IGC), UFCSPA scores as the best institution in Brazil. In the general index, it is the second best in the state and the eighth best federal university in the country. It is also among the best universities in the world, among the 150 best universities in Latin America and among the 500 best universities in emerging economies according to the last Times Higher Education rankings, as well as among the 600 best institutions in Medicine according to the last QS Rankings by Subject. In the last Times Higher Education impact ranking, which is related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UFCSPA is among the top 400 institutions in the world in the general ranking, and is the 57th best positioned institution regarding SDG 3, “Health and Well-Being”.
Under the name of Catholic College of Medicine of Porto Alegre, it was founded on December 8th, 1953, by a decree of the Archbishop of Porto Alegre, Dom Vicente Scherer. Activities began after an authorization that came through the Decree No. 50165 on January 28th, 1961, and the Decree No. 54234 officially recognized the college on September 2nd, 1964. On August 22nd, 1969, the college was authorized to operate as a "foundation governed by private law" under the Decree-Law No. 781, under the name of Catholic College of Medicine of Porto Alegre.
The main feature of this institution, in addition to its high scientific technical level, is the fact that it started as an “isolated” Medical School. Although this characteristic could initially appear to be a hindrance, it served to consolidate the university instead. Under that interpretation, in 1980, the college was once again accredited and then federalized by the Ministry of Education. On December 11th of that same year, Law No. 6891 changed the college’s name to Federal College Foundation of Medical Sciences of Porto Alegre (FFFCMPA). In 1987, under Law No. 7596, of April 10th, the institution was acknowledged as a Public Foundation. On January 11th, 2008, under Law No. 11.641, the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre – UFCSPA – was set up to replace the former Federal College Foundation of Medical Sciences of Porto Alegre.
Initially, the institution offered a single undergraduate program: Medicine. In 1964, with the implementation of the Medical Residency program, the strong ideal of pursuing the highest qualification in medical education was demonstrated. This essential goal kept guiding the university’s actions when in 1968 it implemented its first specialization program. This added experience enabled the institution to, from 1988 onwards, begin offering graduate programs at Master’s level, followed later on by Doctorates.
Continuing to expand the range of actions within the realms of education and research, in 2004, with the consolidation of its graduate programs, UFCSPA broadened its activities beyond the circumscribed medical field and started to engage in health sciences on a broader scope. That was when the University started to offer two new undergraduate programs: Nutrition and Biomedical Sciences. In 2007, the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences program welcomed its first incoming class. In 2008, the Psychology program was added to UFCSPA’s list of undergraduate program options, strengthening its potential for growth and development.
This expansion exemplifies UFCSPA’s pursuit in being a highly specialized educational institution in the health segment, having its origin and competence in the medical field driving its doings. For such reasons, UFCSPA has been sparing no efforts to qualify and expand its scope of action, within every field of health care.
UFCSPA’s quality infrastructure meets the needs of students and faculty demands alike. The laboratories are a perfect example of such attention, equipped with first-line material and state-of-the art technology. All rooms display a comfortable environment and a complete infrastructure at the professors’ needs.
The university has four auditoriums with different capacities, the largest holding 672 seats. There is also a room exclusively used for video conferencing that allows real-time transmission and reception of classes and lectures from and to other locations.
UFCSPA's library offers a collection of more than 40,000 copies of works on health as well as consultation terminals, research portals, and study rooms with Internet access.