The Federal University of São João del-Rei - UFSJ originated from the three institutions of higher education existing in São João del-Rei in the 1980s: Dom Bosco (School of Philosophy, Sciences and Language) and the Municipal Foundation (School of Economics, Administration and Accounting and the School of Industrial Engineering). In the context of historical rescue, the Foundation of Higher Education of São João del-Rei - FUNREI, was born, after the signing of the Law No. 7555 of December 18, 1986 by the then-President Jose Sarney. Finally, on April 19, 2002, the institution was transformed into a federal university, Law 10,425.

UFSJ has three campuses in São João del-Rei: Santo Antônio, Dom Bosco, and Tancredo Neves, and a Cultural Center: "Solar da Baronesa." In São João del-Rei, the following undergraduate courses are offered: Administration, Life Sciences, Accounting, Economics, Physical Education, Industrial Electrical Engineering, Industrial Mechanical Engineering, Philosophy, Physics, History, Literature, Mathematics, Education, Psychology, Chemistry and Music.

Even here in São João del-Rei, UFSJ offers Graduate Programs, such as that of Chemistry and Physics and a Masters in Literary Theory and Cultural Criticism. In 2008, UFSJ started offering masters degrees in Education, Psychology, History, and Energy Engineering. Since 1997, the Federal University of São João del-Rei has been offering specialization courses in several areas, such as Administration, Economics and Agricultural Business Management, Mathematics, Philosophy and History.

A fourth campus has been implemented to meet the expansion project of the federal government. It is located in Alto Paraopeba in the city of Ouro Branco. It started in 2008 and offers five undergraduate courses in the field of Engineering: Civil Engineering, Mechatronics, Telecommunication Engineering and Chemical Engineering. A fifth campus was built in the city of Divinópolis, with four new courses in Health: Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and Biochemistry.

With the developments in teaching, research and extension, UFSJ now has 482 professors and 336 effective technical and administrative staff. More teachers and technical-administrative public employees are to work on the new campuses of Divinópolis and Alto Paraopeba.

The high standard of training of our professional staff and the availability of evening courses at UFSJ give this public institution an outstandingly high quality and inclusiveness, with about 70% of its entrants being high school graduates.