Portuguese Language Study:
You need Portuguese to study in Brazil. An entry about studying Portuguese in Brazil will be upcoming.
If your objective is to obtain an undergraduate degree (Bachelor) from a Brazilian university, you will have to be fluent in Portuguese as I know of none whose official language is English. The same is mostly true for graduate study with the exception of MBAs or Master of Business programs; some of which are offered in English.
To be accepted into a Brazilian university at the undergraduate level, you have to take an entrance test (vestibular). I don’t know anything about the procedure for transferring, but it will be complicated. Each university has its own entrance test, which usually means you must go to the university to sit the exam – a very inefficient system when you consider Brazil is a continent as well as a country.
Preparing for the Vestibular has become a lucrative industry so I don’t expect any changes in the testing system anytime soon.
For graduate study, it is usually best to work through your home university or find a university in your country that has agreements with their counterparts in Brazil.
UPDATE: 22 June 08
MBA or Master of Business Programs in Brazil (some in English)
Back In The Old Days:
In the 60s, there were few universities and fewer students. Anyone with a degree was called “Doctor”. Almost all degrees given were in the fields of Medicine, Law or Engineering. You seldom, if ever, met a college student in the interior of the country; however, it happened once on a trip from Espírito Santo to São Paulo city in January 1967. As usual in January there was extensive flooding. As a result, our bus switched its route to the State of Minas Gerais. But, the flooding there had blocked the highway and we were forced to spend the night on the bus along with numerous other buses, trucks and some cars. Several of the trucks were carrying bananas, which kept us fed while prisoner on the highway.
The next day the highway was still blocked. We did what many passengers had already done – started walking. We crossed through the flooded area and hooked up with banana truck going to the next town. The next town, I don’t remember the name, was a typical town of the interior of Minas Gerais; cobbled stone streets, praça (square), and a couple of botecos.
My Peace Corps buddy and I made for the boteco where we had a nice cold Brahma beer for breakfast. While in the boteco, we were approached by a couple of fellows who had overhead us speaking English. They asked if we were Americans and then if they could sit down. Turns out they were university students from Rio who, like us, had gotten caught in the flooding. So over cold beer in some small town in Minas Gerais , we resolved Brazil’s and America’s political problems.
All the buses leaving this small town for São Paulo were full. We finally were able to talk our way on to one, but standing room only. After a long, boring and tiring trip, we reached São Paulo late at night.