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Latin America’s top universities by reputation

The most prestigious universities in Latin America according to a reputation survey are concentrated in Brazil and four other countries.

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Carly Minsky's avatar

Carly Minsky

May 26 2016
National Autonomous University of Mexico - second in the Latin America reputation ranking


If you’re looking to study at a prestigious university in Latin America, Brazil would be a good bet.

Half of Latin America’s top 10 universities ranked in a reputation survey are in Brazil. Universities in Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Colombia also feature in the list, compiled using scholars’ votes for the best universities for teaching and research in the World Reputation Rankings 2016.

This is the first time that Times Higher Education has published a reputation ranking for Latin America, surveying the best universities in South America and Central America. A more detailed pilot ranking for the region will be released in July 2016.

- See an alternative view of the top universities in South America

Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings, said: “It is great to see so many countries represented among the continent’s elite.

“Institutions in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Colombia are all seen among the leaders in the continent. This new data gives us a fresh insight into the university landscape in Latin America.”

Top 5 Latin American universities with the best reputation

Scroll down for the full table.

1. University of São Paulo, Brazil

As well as the region’s most prestigious university, the University of São Paulo is the largest Brazilian university.

Twelve Brazilian presidents are alumni of the university, and a significant number of graduates have gone on to become CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies.

The university – known as USP – has five hospitals and teaches about 250 undergraduate degrees and 240 graduate programmes.

Out of more than 80,000 students, only 4 per cent are international.

2. National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico

The largest university in Latin America is also a Unesco World Heritage Site, designed by renowned Mexican architects in the 20th century.

The campus – called “University City” – features murals by Diego Rivera, among other prominent artists. It is home to about 40 faculties, a cultural centre, the Central Library and an ecological reserve.

Out of all universities in Latin America, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) has the most Nobel Prizes affiliated to its faculty or alumni, including Octavio Paz for literature and Mario Molina for chemistry.

3. State University of Campinas, Brazil

Commonly known as Unicamp, the State University of Campinas, was purposefully designed as a comprehensive research and educational centre.

Like other Brazilian state universities, students do not have to pay tuition fees or administrative fees.

The university is particularly renowned for its high level of research output. It offers about 70 undergraduate programmes across all scientific disciplines, and also includes arts in the Social Science faculty.

The flagship campus is designed around a central plaza, with streets named after prominent scholars and intellectuals, such as Brazilian singer Elis Regina and computer scientist Alan Turing.

4. University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

The University of Buenos Aires is home to no less than 10 museums and six hospitals. Unsurprisingly, it is the largest university in the country in terms of the size of its student body.

All students, including international students, benefit from free tuition for undergraduate programmes, but postgraduate programmes do charge tuition fees.

There is no central campus, instead all the schools are spread across the city in various locations; the “University City” contains only two of the 14 faculties.

Many notable alumni have graduated from the university, including the revolutionary Che Guevara and film director Juan Cabral. Four Nobel Prizes have been awarded to graduates or faculty.

5. Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Since 1792, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) has educated students in Brazil, making it the country’s oldest continuous higher education institution.

It offers significantly more postgraduate courses than undergraduate courses: 580 and 157 programmes respectively.

The National Museum is run by the university, in addition to a number of hospitals, laboratories, research centres and a staggering 43 different libraries.

Over the course of more than 200 years, the university has contributed to the intellectual and cultural development of Brazil, producing graduates including renowned politicans, architects and economists.

The 10 most prestigious universities in Latin America

Ranking position




University of São Paulo



National Autonomous University of Mexico



State University of Campinas



University of Buenos Aires



Federal University of Rio de Janeiro



Universidade federal de Sao Paulo (UNIFESP)



University of Chile



University of Chile



Federal University of Minas Gerais



Universidad Nacional de Colombia


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