“Tonight I can write the saddest lines. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too”. This is a verse of the most famous poem written by Neruda, a literature Nobel Prize winner and one of the most important Chilean figures. Allende, Pinochet, and Bachelet are other important people that were born in Chile, a land that mixes sunny coasts with freezing landscapes. It has been considered as the most prosperous nation in Latin America for its strong economy and competitiveness.

Along with this, Chile has developed great universities that have earned high places on international rankings. The 2020 QS World University Ranking features six Chilean universities in the top 800 worldwide. The quality of Chile’s higher education system is the result of important changes made in the last four decades, which have definitely been fruitful. In this article, we will be looking at the cheap universities in Chile.

Chile’s Higher Education System

Chile has four types of higher education institutions: technical training centers, professional institutes, institutions of the armed forces, and universities.

Universities are divided into traditional and private. Traditional universities are older and receive funds from the government. Private universities started to be created in 1981, after an important education reform. These are more expensive. However, unlike other Latin American countries where institutions that receive public funds are free, both traditional and private universities are paid in Chile.

There are 25 traditional universities that belong to the Rectors’ Council of Chilean Universities (CRUNCH).

The Admission Process at Chilean Universities

In order to study at traditional universities, students have to take an exam called the University Selection Exam (PSU in Spanish). Some private universities also belong to this entrance system.

There’s also another option for international students in which the admissions committee reviews all the documents submitted, including grades, diplomas, results of university tests in the country of origin, etc.

To get a student visa, prospective international students need to have an acceptance letter from the university. The cost of the visa depends on the nationality of the student, and it has to be renewed each year.

Take into consideration that most degree programs in Chile are taught in Spanish, the official language of the country. This means that you’ll have to learn it if you want to increase your study options.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Tuition Fees at Universities in Chile

As we mentioned, traditional or public universities are cheaper than private ones. Annual tuition fees go from 2,000 USD to 7,650 USD approximately. We will cover the list of cheap universities in Chile in the later sections.

Certain majors can be more expensive at certain universities. These usually are medicine and dentistry and can cost up to 9,000 USD per year.

Living Costs in Chile

Living in Chile can be slightly more expensive than in other Latin American countries, especially if you live in the capital city, Santiago de Chile.

Chile’s official currency is the Chilean peso (CLP). 10,000 CLP is around 15 USD.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs 350,000 CLP (500 USD) approximately. If you don’t go to the capital city, renting the same apartment will cost 100 USD less.

For transportation, you can expect to spend around 50 USD per month.

Regarding food, the price of the basic food basket was 60 USD approximately. If you go out, eating at an inexpensive restaurant can cost around 10 USD, and at a mid-range restaurant, it can cost around 45 USD for two people.

Cheap Universities in Chile

1. University of Chile

We start our list of cheap universities in Chile with the University of Chile. Created in 1842, the University of Chile is the oldest and the most important public university in Chile. According to the 2020 QS World University Ranking, it is the 2nd best in the country and the 189th best in the world. The Times World University Ranking places it a little bit lower, between the 601 and the 800th best universities.

Located in Santiago de Chile, the university has 14 faculties that offer 69 bachelor degree programs, 116 master degree programs, and 38 doctorate programs.

Each year, more than 40,000 students are educated in its facilities that include five interdisciplinary centers, four museums, a publishing house, two radio stations, a television studio, among others.

Important figures had received their degrees at this university. This includes 20 former presidents of Chile and 2 Nobel Prize winners.

The application process is done online. After you submit the information and documents required, you’ll have to take a test. Once the results of the test are published, you will be able to postulate to up to four majors. After that, the list of admitted students and the waiting list will be published.

There are certain majors like music or theatre acting that require taking special tests. Contact the Direction of International Relations to get more information!

In 2019, tuition fees go from to 2,000,000 CLP (2,825 USD) to 6,000,000 CLP (8,475 USD).


2. Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (UC)

The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (UC) is a traditional and private university that was established in 1888. It is the best private university in Chile and stands out for its exhaustive work of research in different areas.

According to the 2020 QS World University Ranking, it is the best in the university in Chile and the 127th best in the world. As it happens with the University of Chile, it ranked on a lower place by the Times World University Ranking, between the 601 and 800th best institutions. Important figures have been studied here, including two Chilean presidents and Pritzker Prize winners.

It is located in Santiago de Chile and has four campuses throughout the city. Additionally, it has a regional campus called “Villafranca campus”.

This cheap university in Chile has 18 faculties comprised of 34 schools and institutes that offer 104 bachelor programs, 97 master programs, and 35 doctorate programs. Around 31,200 students are educated here. 1,400 of them are international students (2016).

If you want to apply to the UC, you’ll have to do it through the Selection Exam (PSU in Spanish). Along with this, international students will have to go to the Ministry of Education of Chile so their secondary studies are recognized in the country.

Tuition fees go from 2,400,000 CLP (3,400 USD) to 6,800,000 CLP (9,600 USD). Learn more about programs, prices, and admissions here!


3. Austral University of Chile (AUCH)

The Austral University of Chile (AUCH) is another traditional and private university that is located in Valdivia, in the Southern region of Chile, and was founded in 1954. It is one of the eight Chilean universities that appeared on the top 1000 of the 2019 Times World University Ranking and one of the 11 on the top 100 of the 2020 QS World University Ranking.

The university has five campuses: Isla Teja, Miraflores, Osorno (clinical campus), Puerto Mott, and Patagonia. It has 10 faculties with over 50 institutes, more than 20 research, language, and experimental centers, two specialized labs, and two experimental stations. There they have 500 active research projects.

AUCH also has six museums, a publishing house, a TV channel, and a radio station.

More than 15,000 students receive education in one of the 70 bachelor degree programs, 7 master degree programs, and 12 doctorate degree programs. They also have 46 specializations and certificate courses.

The admissions process is explained in their international students’ section. You’ll have to make an application via email and then you’ll receive information about the next steps to follow. They require having at least a B1 Spanish level but highly recommend a B2.

Regarding tuition fees, they depend on the major. In 2019, they went from 2,500,000 CLP (around 3,600 USD) to 5,600,000 CLP (around 8,000 USD).


4. University of Talca (UTalca)

The University of Talca (UTalca) is a public university that was established in 1981. Also, it is a cheap university in Chile. Talia appears on the top 1000 of the 2019 Times World University Ranking and the QS World University Ranking.

UTalca has five campuses throughout the country. The campus in Talca is the main one. There’s also the Curicó campus, which specializes in engineering; the Linares campus, which specializes in Education; the Colchagua campus, which specializes in viniculture, and the Santiago campus, which has the faculties of Business and Economics, and Law and Social Sciences.

The campus in the capital city also works in cooperation with the LehrerBildung Innovativ Wilhem von Humboldt (LBI) to offer pedagogical programs in German.

The university has nine faculties that offer 44 bachelor degree programs, 26 master degree programs, and 11 doctorate programs where over 11,000 students receive an education. It also has six institutes and 13 research and technological centers. In the last five years, they have published over 1,000 articles and developed 166 research projects.

Admissions for international students are done online by submitting the required documents. The admissions department will decide who is admitted based on the information submitted. Here they explain all the details.

Tuition fees depend on the major. For example, civil engineering and psychology cost 3,628,000 CLP (5,200 USD), biochemistry costs 3,056,000 CLP (4,300 USD), and architecture costs 3,991,000 CLP (5,700 USD).


5. Andrés Bello University (UNAB)

Andrés Bello University (UNAB) is another private university that was founded in 1988. According to the Superior Scientific Research Council, it is the 8th best in Chile.

The university has three headquarters in Santiago, Viña del Mar, and Concepción. Each of these cities has different campuses which include clinical, creative, and academic campuses. It has 13 faculties, eight research centers, and 10 departments.

They offer 37 bachelor’s degree programs, 6 master’s degree programs, four doctorate degree programs, and two medical specialties to more than 40,000 students.

International students are admitted at UNAB through the special entrance process, which consists of submitting the required documents and validating the secondary education studies at the Ministry of Education in Chile.

Tuition fees depend on the campus and the major. They go from 2,500,000 CLP (around 3,550 USD) to 8,000,000 CLP (around 11,300 USD). Because of these cheap tuition fees, Andrés Bello University is considered to be a cheap university in Chile.


6. University of La Frontera (UFro)

The University of La Frontera (UFro) is a public institution that came into existence in 1981. It was created by merging two campuses of the University of Chile and the Technical State University.

It is located in the city of Temuco and is the research and postgraduate education leader of the region. It is one of the 11 Chilean universities that have a place on the 2019 Times World University Ranking.

Along with the campus in Temuco, this cheap university in Chile has other two campuses in the cities of Angol and Pucón where nearly 10,000 students are educated. It has six faculties that offer 40 bachelor’s degree programs, 28 master’s degree programs, and seven doctorate programs.

Additionally, UFro has six institutes, 11 technical, research, and excellence centers, and more than 20 student organizations.

As it is done at UNAB, international students are admitted through a special admissions process. They will have to send certain documents and will be admitted according to their performance during secondary education

Tuition fees depend on the major. They go from 2,000,000 CLP (around 2,850 USD) to 5,000,000 CLP (around 7,100 USD).


7. Central University of Chile (UCentral)

We finish our list of cheapest universities in Chile with the Central University of Chile (UCentral). This university was founded in 1982 as a private institution. The main headquarters is located in Santiago, but they also have buildings in the city of La Serena since 2003. There are different campuses in both cities.

It has five faculties of engineering and architecture, education and social sciences, law and humanities, health sciences, and economy, governance, and communication. They offer 31 bachelor’s degree programs, 30 master’s degree programs, and 6 technical majors.

The university also has sports facilities, research and extension centers, and clinical simulation centers.

Admissions for international students are done through a special process where they’ll have to validate their secondary studies and submit the required documents. They’ll also have to show proof of economic solvency. The university will choose the admitted students based on their general academic performance during high school.

In 2019, tuition fees go from 2,147,000 CLP (around 3,050 USD) to 4,778,000 CLP (around 6,800 USD). Majors offered at La Serena campuses are cheaper than those offered in Santiago.


I hope that this article on the cheap universities in Chile was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students!

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