Best universities in Latin America 2019

Explore the best universities in Latin America from data collected by Times Higher Education's World University Rankings 

June 18 2019
Best universities in Latin America

If you are looking to study at one of the best universities in Latin America, heading to Brazil might be your best bet, according to the results of the 2019 Times Higher Education Latin America University Rankings. The country has an impressive 52 universities in the ranking of approximately 150 universities.

Despite Brazil being the most represented country in the ranking, the top university is the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. This is the first time that a Chilean university has taken first place in the Latin America University Rankings. Coming in at number two is the University of São Paulo in Brazil. 

Chile is another good choice for students looking to study in Latin America, with 30 universities in the ranking. Other countries with a strong presence include Colombia (22 universities) and Mexico (21).  

The rest of the top five includes the University of Campinas (ranked 3rd) and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) in 4th place, both in Brazil. Completing the top five is Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico.  

Universities from Cuba and Puerto Rico feature in the table for the first time this year. 

The Latin America University Rankings use the same methodology as the World University Rankings but some of the indicators have been recalibrated to reflect the profile of higher education in Latin America. The full methodology can be found here.


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1. Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Chile

The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile is one of six private Catholic universities in the Chilean university system and one of two pontifical universities in the country.

The university originally taught law, mathematics, legal sciences and physical sciences. However the faculty of theology was established in 1935 and since then the course catalogue has expanded to include subjects such as philosophy, commerce and technology.

Four of the university’s campuses are located in Santiago, Chile’s capital. Santiago is the cultural, political and financial centre of Chile, home to the headquarters of many multinational companies.

The fifth campus is in Villarrica next to the city’s lake.

2. University of São Paulo, Brazil 

The University of São Paulo is the oldest and largest university in Brazil. Four of the 11 campuses are in the city of São Paulo, while the remaining campuses are in the cities of Bauru, Lorena, Piracicaba, Pirassununga, Ribeirão Preto and two in São Carlos.

The university offers many recreational activities to students, including 245 museums and galleries, two theatres, a cinema, a TV channel and an orchestra.

There are also five hospitals affiliated with the institution.The University of São Paulo Medical School Public Hospital is the largest hospital in Latin America and is a major training hospital for the university’s School of Medicine. 

3. University of Campinas, Brazil 

The University of Campinas, or Unicamp, is located in the city of Campinas in the São Paulo region of Brazil. 

Although the university is one of Brazil’s youngest (it opened in 1966), it has established itself as a primary medical and scientific research centre. The institution is responsible for about 15 per cent of the research conducted in Brazil.

International undergraduate students will need to sit an exam before acceptance. The exam requires prospective students to have a good grasp of Portuguese.

Both Brazilian and international students do not pay tuition fees, as is the case in all state-run universities in the country.

The university offers 70 undergraduate programmes and 153 postgraduate programmes across four main areas: exact sciences, human sciences, biological sciences and technologies.


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4. Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Brazil

The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) is a private non-profit Catholic university located in Brazil. Established in 1941, it is a research institution that primarily focuses on research in science and innovation. 

It has 26 departments grouped into four academic centres: theology and human sciences; social sciences; science and technology; and biomedical sciences.

PUC-Rio is located in Gávea, a small, green neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Its campus includes computer centres and free internet access; libraries; restaurants; a book shop; and cultural and community service projects.

5. Monterrey Institute of Technology, Mexico

The Monterrey Institute of Technology is a private university system founded in 1943 in Monterrey, Mexico. 

It offers undergraduate, master’s and PhD programmes across a number of disciplines, including engineering, management, social sciences, arts, science and medicines. There are 31 campuses across 25 cities in Mexico. 

The university encourages students to study abroad for a period of time. Students at the university represent more than 70 nationalities.


The 50 top universities in Latin America 2019

Latin America Rank 2019  Latin America Rank 2018 University Country World University rank 2019 
 1  3 Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Chile  601–800 
 2  2 University of São Paulo Brazil  251–300 
 3  1 University of Campinas Brazil  401–500 
 4  7 Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) Brazil  601–800 
 5  5 Monterrey Institute of Technology  Mexico  601–800 
 6  4 Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) Brazil  601–800 
 7  6 University of Chile Chile  601–800 
 8  9 Federal University of Minas Gerais Brazil  601–800 
 9  8 University of the Andes, Colombia Colombia  601–800 
 10  11 São Paulo State University (UNESP) Brazil  801–1000 
 11  10 Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul Brazil  601–800 
 12  14 Federal University of Santa Catarina Brazil  801–1000 
 13  12 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Brazil  601–800 
 14  13 National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico  601–800 
 15  16 University of Brasília Brazil  801–1000 
 16  15 Federal University of São Carlos Brazil  801–1000 
 17  21 Federal University of Viçosa Brazil  1001+ 
 18  26 Metropolitan Autonomous University Mexico  801–1000 
 19  51–60 Federal University of Ceará (UFC) Brazil  1001+ 
 =20  18 Pontifical Catholic University of Peru Peru  801–1000 
 =20  33 Pontifical Catholic University  of Rio Grande do Sul  (PUCRS) Brazil  801–1000 
 22  31 National University of Colombia Colombia  1001+ 
 23  27 Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso Chile  1001+ 
 24  23 University of Santiago, Chile (USACH) Chile  1001+ 
 25  =41 Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia Peru  501–600 
 26  36 Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) Brazil  1001+ 
 27  51–60 Austral University Argentina  NR 
 28  29 Pontifical Javeriana University Colombia  501–600 
 29  35 Federal University of Pernambuco Brazil  1001+ 
 30  25 Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ) Brazil  1001+ 
 31  30 Federal University of Bahia Brazil  801–1000 
 32  37 The University of the West Indies Jamaica  501–600 
 33  45 Fluminense Federal University Brazil  1001+ 
 34  44 Federal University of Lavras Brazil  1001+ 
 35  22 National University of Córdoba Argentina  1001+ 
 36  20 University of Antioquia Colombia  1001+ 
 37  51–60 University of Costa Rica Costa Rica  601–800 
 38  19 National University of San Martín Argentina  801–1000 
 39  48 Londrina State University Brazil  1001+ 
 40  61–70 Federal University of Goiás Brazil  1001+ 
 41  34 Federal University of ABC (UFABC) Brazil  801–1000 
 42  61–70 University of La Frontera Chile  801–1000 
 43  46 University of Valparaíso Chile  1001+ 
 44  =41 Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná Brazil  1001+ 
 45  17 University of Concepción Chile  1001+ 
 46  51–60 Federal University of Santa Maria Brazil  1001+ 
 47  50 University of the Andes, Chile Chile  NR 
 48  NR University of Havana Cuba  NR 
 49  NR University of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico  NR 
 50  40 National Polytechnic University (IPN) Mexico  1001+ 

Explore the full searchable table of the Latin America University Rankings 2019

Read more: Best universities in the world

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