The mission of Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Brazilian School of Economics and Finance (FGV EPGE) is to contribute to education and the expansion of knowledge in the area of economics. Always supported by the research activity of its faculty and students, excellence is pursued in the school’s undergraduate and graduate courses. In particular, this excellence can be seen in the professional success and civic contributions of its alumni.
Since it was founded in 1961, EPGE has educated a significant share of Brazil’s most prominent economists in the professional world, as well as researchers and professors who now teach at some of the best economics departments in Brazil and abroad. EPGE alumni are made up of senior civil servants, ministers, governors, presidents and directors of the Brazilian Central Bank. They also include the directors and CEOs of prestigious private sector companies, in Brazil and other countries.
Through its faculty and students, the school has also contributed effectively to national economic development. This contribution has happened not just through the equitable provision of access to high-quality education, but also though the practical usage of knowledge generated by the school’s studies and research in the formulation of public and private sector policies.
In order to achieve its long-term goals, the school is guided by the principles of permanent unity between education and research, the promotion of critical thinking rather than exogenous indoctrination, international diversity of professors and students, academic merit and (in the case of scholarships) social need as important parameters for decisions, interdisciplinarity and equity. I will elaborate a little on each of these points below.
By combining the research of its faculty and students with education, the school provides the latest in the international specialized literature, as a natural consequence of this process.
When they enter the classroom, our professors generally base their lectures around the work they have just discussed, done and published internationally. They are incentivized by the school to do this. As is natural and usual, their publications are subjected to prior scrutiny by domestic and international peers. Thus, professors (and their students) are necessarily at the cutting edge of scientific knowledge.
As they continually learn about the latest scientific and technological developments, students are not subject to the external depreciation of knowledge (generally referred to as technological obsolescence). Their studies are not only based on textbooks written years before (as is often the case at centers that do not combine research with education), which compile knowledge arising from even older research. This is a major threat to the quality of teaching dissociated from research.
The international diversity of professors and students is crucial for teaching not to be lost in the context of geographical frontiers. As a result, EPGE’s professors are hired in the international market, and they can always compete on an equal footing with their peers at the world’s best centers in their fields of knowledge.
When allocating scholarships and other forms of student aid, EPGE emphasizes not just each student’s academic merit, willpower and dedication to studies, but also his or her material needs, in the context permitted by the school’s possibilities.
The objective, when it comes to the latter aspect, is to allow and foster equality of access. Put another way, the aim is to try not to allow circumstantial and idiosyncratic material difficulties to in any way hinder access to world-class education in the area of economics for those who wish to pursue it.
In today’s world, interdisciplinarity in the analysis of practical and scientific problems is of immense importance. This is enabled and facilitated at Fundação Getulio Vargas by the existence of numerous other schools of excellence in the social sciences. Complementary studies in related areas are encouraged.
By provoking students to think, rather than merely being a vehicle for preestablished teachings, the school emphasizes solutions and conclusions that naturally emerge from students themselves. This is the most active role of education, together with the provision of economic theory and mathematical, statistical, econometric, philosophical and sociological instruments.
This is a Socratic method, using the term “education” in its etymological root, “ex-ducere,” or “er-ziehen” in German. That is to say, it means developing the potential and knowledge of every human being. In particular, in line with people’s specific dimensions, it means developing knowledge or skills to allow them to live out their full potential. Knowledge generated in this way, through deduction instead of induction, is less susceptible to internal depreciation. In other words, students are less likely to forget it.
At EPGE, prior training is important, and so is resilience in pursuing the objective of learning. We value both prudence in setting learning and research objectives, and also reasonableness in interpreting the results. The idea is for education to adapt to new ideas and technologies, permanent and constructive questioning, the proper formulation of problems and their subsequent resolution. We teach students using simple and direct economic language, based on the fundamentals of the profession, but without neglecting the use of instruments and techniques at the frontier of knowledge.
Our faculty’s publications in the foremost international scientific journals have been frequent and growing, especially since the mid-1990s. The school’s professors are dedicated to teaching and research, and they are invited to teach and present the results of their research at the world’s best economics and business departments. In 2018 and 2019, the school had three publications in the most important journal in the field of economics, Econometrica.
EPGE periodically receives visits from the most distinguished professors and researchers in the area. Since 2010, more than 350 professors at the best economics departments around the world have visited EPGE, including 13 visits by eight Nobel Prize-winning economists: Robert Engle, Christopher Sims, James Heckman, Edward Prescott, Robert Lucas Jr, Eric Maskin, John Nash and Jean Tirole. This type of visit makes it much easier for students who wish to continue their studies abroad to get into the best and most outstanding economics departments.
The school offers undergraduate, professional master’s, academic master’s and academic doctoral courses. It also publishes the Brazilian Review of Economics, the country’s oldest economics journal.
The school’s biggest asset is obviously its faculty and students. Nevertheless, while any performance index is incomplete and has scope for improvements, the use of rankings is widespread to evaluate university departments.
Performance indexes can be useful insofar as they enable meaningful signals for society. This is particularly true when the results are repeated and they come from different sources and different points in time. In both cases, the robustness of results is corroborated, making it suitable for potential students and society to use them.
Accordingly, Tilburg University’s global ranking classifies EPGE as the best economics department in Latin America. In the ranking’s two most recent years, 2018 and 2019, EPGE came 118th in the global ranking. In Latin America, the top three economics departments were EPGE (118th), the economic department of the University of the Andes (130th) and the economics department of the Catholic University of Chile (181st).
Looking at the Brazilian Education Ministry’s assessments, EPGE came first in the latest General Course Index (IGC) evaluation. As a result, the school has taken first place nationwide in nine of the Education Ministry’s 13 IGC evaluations. These evaluations cover around 2,050 higher education institutions in Brazil, across all fields of knowledge.
The school also came first in the last two National Student Performance Exam (ENADE) evaluations in the area of economics (in 2015 and 2018). The Education Ministry has now carried out five evaluations of this kind and EPGE has come top three times.
In the area of undergraduate studies, EPGE continues to maintain its long-term standard of excellence. In the last six years, more than 23% of its undergraduate students who took the National Association of Graduate Economics Centers (ANPEC) National Selection Exam were among the top 10.
Every year, around 1,000 students from across Brazil take this exam as a means of applying for economics master’s and doctoral courses.
Four of the five Econometric Society Fellows in Brazil work at EPGE.
With regard to evaluations by CAPES, the Brazilian Education Ministry’s graduate education support agency, all the school’s programs have the maximum possible score.
For more information about rankings, evaluations and their coverage in the media, click here.
To see testimonials from friends of EPGE and some of its alumni, click here.
For an overview of the numerous conferences and other events recently held by EPGE, click here.
In this text, I hope I have been able to give readers and potential students of our school an overview of our way of thinking and acting – of course, from the perspective of someone who subscribes to it.
Rubens Penha Cysne
Professor and Dean of EPGE
Rio de Janeiro, May 2021.