Best universities in Latin America 2017

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

July 20 2017
Best universities in Latin America

Explore the full results of the THE Latin America University Rankings 2017 

If you are looking to study in one of the best universities in Latin America, then heading to Brazil might be your best bet according to the results of the 2017 Times Higher Education Latin America University Rankings. The country has an impressive 32 universities in the ranking of just over 80 universities in the region.

The top two universities in the 2017 ranking are the State University of Campinas and the University of São Paulo, both located in Brazil. 

However, students looking to study abroad in Latin America do have options. Other countries in the region that have a strong presence on the list include Chile (17 universities), Mexico (13) and Colombia (11).

In fact, the third and fourth ranked universities (Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and the University of Chile) are both located in Chile, while the fifth university (University of the Andes) is situated in Colombia. 

The Latin America University Ranking 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 (in English, Portuguese and Spanish) can be found here.

1. State University of Campinas 

The State 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 around 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 different undergraduate programmes and 153 postgraduate programmes across four main areas: exact sciences, human sciences, biological sciences and technologies.

2. University of São Paulo 

The University of São Paulo is the oldest and largest university in Brazil. Four of the 11 campuses can be found 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 has many recreational activities available 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. Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

This institution 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, the capital city of Chile. 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.

4. University of Chile 

Founded in 1842, the University of Chile is the oldest higher education institution in Chile. The first woman to attend university in South America, Eloísa Díaz Insunza, attended the University of Chile. She graduated as a doctor in 1887.

Two Nobel laureates have been affiliated with  the University of Chile – the poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral. As well as this, 20 presidents of Chile have attended the institution.

The first and oldest student organisation in the country was also founded at the University of Chile.

Many of the buildings are considered landmarks due to their neoclassical architectural style including the Main House, School Swimming Pool, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Astronomy Observatory of Cerro Calán.

5. University of the Andes 

The final university in the top five is the University of the Andes, in Colombia. The university is situated at the foot of the Andes, the longest mountain range in the world.

The institution provides courses in health, business and administration, engineering and the humanities.

The university’s mascot is a goat called Seneca, a story dating back to the late 1940s when a goat used to wander around the campus. Students adopted it, named it Seneca, and it became a symbol of the university. When it died in 1966, the students weren’t allowed to replace the goat, but the symbol still remains.

The 50 top universities in Latin America 

Latin American Ranking 2017 University Country
1 State University of Campinas Brazil
2 University of São Paulo Brazil
3 Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Chile
4 University of Chile Chile
5 University of the Andes Colombia
6 Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education Mexico
7 Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) Brazil
8 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Brazil
9 Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) Brazil
10 National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico
11 Federal University of Minas Gerais Brazil
12 São Paulo State University (UNESP) Brazil
13 University of Concepción Chile
14 Federal University of ABC (UFABC) Brazil
15 Federal University of Santa Catarina Brazil
16 Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) Brazil
17 University of Antioquia Colombia
18 Federal University of São Carlos Brazil
19 University of Brasília Brazil
=20 National University of Colombia Colombia
=20 Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso Chile
22 Federico Santa María Technical University Chile
23 Austral University of Chile Chile
24 Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ) Brazil
25 Pontifical Javeriana University Colombia
26–30 Federal University of Pernambuco Brazil
26–30 Metropolitan Autonomous University Mexico
26–30 National University of Córdoba Argentina
26–30 University of Santiago, Chile (USACH) Chile
26–30 Simón Bolívar University Venezuela
31–35 Adolfo Ibáñez University Chile
31–35 Federal University of Viçosa Brazil
31–35 University of La Frontera Chile
31–35 University of Talca Chile
31–35 University of Valparaíso Chile
36–40 Del Rosario University Colombia
36–40 University of Desarrollo Chile
36–40 Diego Portales University Chile
36–40 Federal University of Ceará (UFC) Brazil
36–40 National Polytechnic University (IPN) Mexico
41–45 Catholic University of the North Chile
41–45 University of Costa Rica Costa Rica
41–45 Fluminense Federal University Brazil
41–45 Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná Brazil
41–45 University of San Francisco, Quito Ecuador
46–50 University of the Andes, Venezuela Venezuela
46–50 Andrés Bello University (UNAB) Chile
46–50 Autonomous University of Puebla Mexico
46–50 Autonomous University of the State of Mexico Mexico
46–50 Central University of Venezuela Venezuela

Explore the full searchable table of the Latin America University Rankings 2017 

Editor's note: These tables were correct at the time of publication. Rankings tables can often be updated throughout the year. For the latest version of the rankings please see the full table here

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