Study on Low Tuition in Chile: Application Process, Tuition Fees and Visa

From desert land to glaciers, from volcanoes to lush valleys, from dense forests to open plains, Chile has a lot of extremes.In fact, it is bound to attract international students who have a taste for exploration and the amazing outdoor equally has a rich cultural offering and houses one of the strongest higher education systems available in Latin America. Do read on for more info on what it’s like to study on low tuition in Chile, and a general overview of the country’s highest ranked cheap universities.

When you look on the map, you’ll realize that Chile is easily described as Argentina’s much skinnier neighbor; however what it lacks in size makes up for it in length, stretching more than 4,270km along the western coast of South America. Most of Chile’s population of 15 million is collected in just a handful of big cities, which lie big stretches of uninhabited wilderness and vast lengths of deserted coastline. If it wasn’t for the backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of the Andes in the east, the capital city Santiago might look like a world away from Chile’s uninhabited wilderness.  Although the city has a bad reputation for its loud streets and haze of pollution, Santiago will immerse you in its ambition, culture and quirkiness that will captivate both international students and tourists.

How to Apply to study in Chile

The degree structure in Chile is the same as that used in the EU and US, made up of Licenciatura (that is a bachelor’s degree), Magister (master’s degree) and Doctor (PhD). The Licentiatura runs for four-years, although a few courses such as engineering or architecture could run a bit longer.

Undergraduate students applying to state institutions in Chile are expected to sit for a test called the Prueba de Seleccion Universitaria (PSU), which is similar to the SAT test primarily used in the US. Each university determines  its own PSU entry requirement, with ‘traditional’ universities generally requiring higher scores than the newer private universities. In order to study at universities in Chile, international students are expected to demonstrate their ability to study in Spanish.

For additional information on how to apply to study in Chile, students should connect with  their chosen university directly.

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Living Expenses and Tuition fees

While Chile isn’t cheap when compared to other Latin American countries, it’s very much  relatively affordable for international standards. A standard monthly living budget, including food, transport and residence, would cost about US$700 on a strict budget to US$1,100 on a larger allowance.

Recently, tuition fees at universities in Chile, both public and private, have been rising. Students at private institutions are expected to pay US$5,500 on average a year, and, because of recent tuition fee hikes, public universities now charge similar fees. Students studying STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are likely to be charged slightly more fees, at about US$5,900, while students who do medicine can expect to pay more fees, with average fees standing at around US$6,300 per year.

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Visa information

Students who would study in Chile for less than 90 days can do so with just a tourist visa. These visas are typically issued as stamps when you arrive in the country and cost approximately US$160.Please note that residents from a number of countries, including the UK and the US, are not expected to apply for  tourist visas to enter the country.

If you wish to study in Chile for more than 90 days, however, you will have to apply for a student visa through your local Chilean embassy or consulate at least a month before travelling. For this you’ll be required to provide a passport which must be valid for at least six months beyond the end of your planned program, evidence of sufficient cash to cover tuition and living costs, and proof of a return or onward ticket are required. You’ll equally need a letter of acceptance onto an approved university course, a letter of police clearance and a clean bill of health as well. Student visas are valid for up to one year, but you do well to leave the country before the visa expires. This visa will go for approximately US$160, but fees vary based on your country of residence.

Note that It is illegal to apply for work in Chile as a tourist or student, so do this into account when preparing your budget.

List of Cheapest Universities

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Founded sometime in 1888 and with a current enrollment of more than 22,000 students, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC) is one of two pontifical universities and one of six Catholic universities found in Chile. UC moved from third to first place in the QS Latin America University Rankings in 2018, and is currently joint 137th in the global rankings.  A private institution, the school currently has roughly 28,000 students enrolled across four campuses in capital Santiago, as well as one in Villarrica. 

In the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile is ranked among the top 50 universities around the world for architecture, education, social policy, art and design, law and agriculture.

Universidad de Chile

Another highly-ranked public institution in Chile, the Universidad de Chile came 201st in the latest world rankings and sixth in Latin America in 2018. The oldest institution in Chile, having been founded sometime in 1843, the Universidad de Chile is sited in Santiago across five campuses and over 1,700,000 square meters of land which incorporates museums, theaters, healthcare facilities and sports centers. Around 40,000 students are currently enrolled, of which a quarter are postgraduate students.

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