UFPE ranks among the top Brazilian universities, being the ninth university both in size and scientific production, and the seventh among the federal institutes. UFPE's Center for Exact and Natural Sciences is consistently the strongest in research production in the university. CAPES ratings are Physics Department (rating 7/7), the Center of Informatics (rating 6/7) and the Chemistry Department (rating 6/7).
UFPE has been elected twice as the best university of north and northeast Brazil by Guia do Estudante (a national university ranking magazine) and Banco Real (ABN AMRO).
Each year over 6,000 seats are offered in a competitive entry exam (Vestibular). The median and average competition rate is of about 10 applicants for each seat.