Best universities in Latin America

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

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July 13 2021
Best universities in Latin America

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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 2021 Times Higher Education Latin America University Rankings. The country has an impressive 67 universities in the ranking.

The 2021 ranking includes 177 institutions in 13 countries, up from 166 institutions last year.

Despite Brazil being the most-represented country in the ranking, the top university for the second consecutive year is the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, although Brazil’s University of São Paulo comes in second place.

Chile is another good choice for students looking to study in Latin America, with 28 universities in the ranking. Other countries with a strong presence include Colombia (24 universities) and Mexico (23).  

The rest of the top five comprises the University of Campinas (ranked third), the Monterrey Institute of Technology, in fourth place, and the Federal University of Minas Gerais, in fifth position.

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 and the Caribbean. 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 Chile and one of two pontifical universities in the country.

Founded in 1888, the university originally taught law, mathematics, legal sciences and physical sciences. However, the course catalogue has since expanded to include subjects such as theology, philosophy, commerce and technology.

Four of the university’s campuses are located in Santiago, Chile’s capital and its cultural, political and financial centre, 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 São Carlos, which has two.

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

Five hospitals are also affiliated with the institution, including the University of São Paulo Medical School Public Hospital, which 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 was founded in 1964), it has established itself as a primary medical and scientific research centre. The institution is responsible for about 15 per cent of academic research conducted in Brazil.

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

Neither Brazilian nor international students pay tuition fees, as is the case in all state-run universities in the country.

The university offers 66 undergraduate programmes and 152 graduate programmes across four main areas: exact sciences, human sciences, biological sciences and technologies.


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4. Monterrey Institute of Technology, Mexico

The Monterrey Institute of Technology is a private university system founded in 1943 in Monterrey, Mexico. Today, there are 31 campuses across 25 cities in Mexico. 

It offers undergraduate, master’s and PhD programmes across disciplines such as engineering, management, social sciences, arts, science and medicine. 

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

5. Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Federal University of Minas Gerais is located in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, in Brazil. It is one of the largest universities in Brazil and offers 77 undergraduate degrees, 57 PhD programmes, 66 MSc programmes, 79 post-baccalaureate programmes and 41 medical residency programmes.

The university teaches across subjects including music, information science, nursing and engineering. 

The university also has campuses in Tiradentes and Montes Claros. Most courses, however, are taught at the main campus, located in the Pampulha neighbourhood of Belo Horizonte. 


The 50 top universities in Latin America 2021

Latin America Rank 2021 Latin America Rank 2020 University Country WUR Rank 2021
1 1 Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Chile 501–600
2 2 University of São Paulo Brazil 201–250
3 3 University of Campinas Brazil 401–500
4 4 Monterrey Institute of Technology Mexico 601–800
5 =5 Federal University of Minas Gerais Brazil 601–800
6 8 University of Chile Chile 801–1000
7 7 Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) Brazil 601–800
8 13 Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul Brazil 601–800
9 =5 Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP) Brazil 601–800
10 12 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Brazil 801–1000
=11 10 Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp) Brazil 801–1000
=11 9 Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina Brazil 601–800
13 11 University of the Andes, Colombia Colombia 801–1000
14 20 Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) Brazil 801–1000
15 15 Federal University of São Carlos Brazil 1001+
16 14 University of Brasília Brazil 801–1000
17 16 National University of Colombia Colombia 1001+
18 17 National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico 801–1000
19 18 The University of the West Indies Jamaica 501–600
20 19 Federal University of Viçosa Brazil 1001+
21 24 Federal University of Lavras Brazil 1001+
22 22 Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPR) Brazil 1001+
23 29 Pontifical Javeriana University Colombia 401–500
24 23 Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso Chile 1001+
25 32 University of Costa Rica Costa Rica 501–600
26 28 Universidade Federal da Bahia Brazil 1001+
27 21 Metropolitan Autonomous University Mexico 601–800
28 25 Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) Brazil 1001+
29 51 Federal University of Santa Maria Brazil 1001+
30 27 University of Santiago, Chile (USACH) Chile 1001+
31 30 Fluminense Federal University Brazil 1001+
32 34 Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC) Brazil 1001+
33 37 National University of San Martín Argentina 1001+
=34 33 Federal University of Pernambuco Brazil 1001+
=34 39 Federal University of Rio  Grande do Norte (UFRN) Brazil 1001+
=36 45 University of Antioquia Colombia 1001+
=36 49 Austral University of Chile Chile 1001+
=36 31 Pontifical Catholic University of Peru Peru 1001+
39 40 Federal University of Pelotas Brazil 801–1000
40 35 Universidade Federal do Ceará (UFC) Brazil 1001+
=41 36 Austral University Argentina NR
=41 56 Universidad San Francisco de Quito Ecuador NR
43 41 National University of Córdoba Argentina 1001+
44 42 Federal University of Goiás Brazil 1001+
45 =47 Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná Brazil 1001+
46 38 Unisinos University Brazil 1001+
47 50 Londrina State University Brazil 1001+
48 81 Universidade Estadual de Maringá Brazil 1001+
49 63 Federico Santa María Technical University Chile 1001+
50 43 University of the Andes, Chile Chile 1001+

Explore the full searchable table of the Latin America University Rankings 2021

Read more: Best universities in the world


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