International Education

Higher Education in Chile

Chile has a higher education system of 25 public universities and over 50 private universities. There are also technical and professional training institutes which focus on programs leading to specific vocational careers rather than academic degrees. Admission to the public universities and some of the older private universities is based on scores on the University Selection Test, known as the PSU, and secondary school grades. The PSU is made up of several subtests and is similar to the SATs that are used by US schools. Each university sets its own admission criteria with the more highly regarded public universities having more selective criteria than newer private universities. Accreditation of universities is the responsibility of the National Accreditation Commission which provides evaluations in five different areas. Fewer than 20 universities have received accreditation in all five areas and many smaller, private universities have no accreditation. Public universities receive about one-third of their funding from government sources with the remainder primarily coming from student fees. Tuition fees are substantial but there are a number of student grants and loan programs to help financially needy students. Tuition fees at private universities are not substantially higher than at public universities. Types of Schools and DegreesMost universities offer programs in a wide range of subject areas while some specialize in one or more specific areas. The 25 "traditional universities", which were founded prior to the 1981 higher education reforms, are the most highly regarded. Some of these universities offer master's and doctoral degrees and a small number of them conduct most of the country's university research. Large universities, such as the Universidad de Chile, are distributed among multiple campuses with each campus focusing on a particular area of study. Degrees available include a four-year bachelor's degree (also known as Licenciatura), one or two year master's degree and doctoral degrees, although many universities only offer undergraduate degrees. Universities also award professional titles for those who will practice in fields such as law, medicine, engineering, architecture and business. International StudentsAlmost 8000 foreign students attended Chilean universities in 2008, according to a UNESCO report. International students may study at many of the universities through exchange programs from their own school or through an international program conducted by the individual university. Students may be limited to attending for a semester or two through these programs. Independent study-abroad programs that typically focus on culture and language studies are another option for individuals who want to study in Chile. Students who plan to attend regular classes at a Chilean university will need to have strong Spanish language skills. A student visa and health insurance are other requirements. In many cases, tuition for international students is the same as for local students. About ChileChile is a South American country that occupies a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Its climate ranges from dry desert in the north to a rainy and mild climate in the south. Its population of about 17 million people primarily speaks Spanish with German and English also spoken as secondary languages. Santiago, which is located in the center of country, is the capital and has a large population of over five million people. Chile is a stable, democratic country that has experienced significant economic growth and decreased poverty rates since the 1980's. It ranks highest among Latin American countries in many measurements including human development, quality of life, political stability and economic freedom. Free, public education is mandatory for all residents until the age of 18. Secondary school is attended by over 87 percent of 14 to 18 year olds and about 38 percent of 18 to 24 year-olds start a university education. ResourcesMinstry of Education (Spanish language) Visit Chile