Internationally famous for its top-quality coffee, stunning beaches, and famous celebrities like Shakira or Sofía Vergara, Colombia is the perfect South American destination for international students. This country offers unique educational opportunities for people from all around the world at an affordable price. Colombian universities are among the best ones in their region and are packed with undergraduate and graduate programs in every field. If you’d like to study in a Latin American country, Colombia could meet all your needs! In this article, we will be discussing cheap universities in Columbia!

Choosing Colombia to study abroad comes with many positive aspects, not only on the educational side but also outside the classroom. Along with cheap tuition fees and the opportunity to learn a new language, Colombia has affordable living costs, tropical weather, and lots of things to do!

Every city is full of museums, parks, and events where you can spend your free time. And during your holidays, you can visit one of the spectacular beaches in its islands, explore the colonial city of Cartage, or walk through the astonishing Andean region.

Depending on the neighborhood you choose, renting a one-bedroom apartment can cost between $200 and $350 per month.  Regarding food, you can get all your groceries at local markets, which are cheaper than supermarkets, or eat a “Menú del día” for lunch. This is a plate that is sold at many restaurants that cost around $3 and comes with soup, rice, beans, meat, salad, and juice.

If this is not attractive enough for your high expectations, let’s take a closer look at Colombia’s higher education system and the best cheap universities in the country.

How is the higher education system in Colombia?

Colombia has different higher education institutions. It has technical institutes and universities that offer vocational and technological education, which have shorter programs of usually two years.

There are also public and private universities with undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Unlike most universities in the world, in Colombia, bachelor degree curriculums are designed to last for 10 semesters or 5 years, instead of 3 or 4 as in other countries. A good number of universities have campuses in multiple cities, so you will have a lot of options when choosing where to study.


Are there any cheap universities in Colombia?

In general, universities in Colombia are affordable for international students. If you choose a public university, which has a great reputation, you should expect to pay less than $1,000 per semester.

For private universities, which double the number of public universities, your budget will have to increase. In this case, each semester could cost up to $5,000. This will depend on the major and the university, but there are many programs at around $2,500.

Colombian universities are affiliated with many universities around the world. They have different exchange programs for international students. If you’d like to be there only for a semester or two, education could actually be free. Some of these exchange programs are free or extremely inexpensive.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students


What are the admission requirements in Colombian universities?

As usual, admission requirements will depend on the university and the major you chose. However, you’ll have to validate your secondary education diploma and properly translate everything.

In the majority of universities, you’ll to pass an admission test and pay the application fees. Some offer an online option for those international students that can’t travel to take the test during the admissions cycle.


Do I have to speak Spanish to study in Colombia?

The number of international students increases each year, therefore, more English programs are being introduced at Colombian universities. However, the majority of them are taught in Spanish, so this is perfect for those who already speak it or want to learn it. In any of those two cases, you’ll have to prove your language proficiency if you aren’t a native speaker.

Universities also offer language courses for those who’d like to learn Spanish (or English) or improve their level before starting.


Cheap Universities in Colombia

1. University of the Andes (Uniandes)

The University of the Andes (Uniandes) is the best-ranked university in our list of cheap tuition universities in Columbia. According to the 2020 QS World University Ranking, Uniandes is the 234th best in the world and the 5th best in Latin America.

Uniandes is a private university that offers over 40 undergraduate programs and more than 80 postgraduate programs. This is a great university for those interested in research, as it has nearly 160 research groups in areas that include engineering, social sciences, and math.

The university has the same tuition fee for all the programs of the 13 faculties, except for medicine, which is more expensive. In 2019, the fee was of 17,156,000 COP (around $5,000), and for medicine it was of 24,412,000 COP (around $7,500) per semester. The admissions process is explained here.

Uniandes is affiliated with 119 universities around the world with which they have exchange programs. If you choose one of these, you’ll have to pay only 10% of the tuition fee. If you need financial help, there are scholarships available for international students.


2. Pontifical Xavierian University

Established in 1623, the Pontifical Xavierian University, also known as Javeriana, is one of the oldest private universities in Colombia with an excellent reputation. It ranked as the 468th best in the world, and the 17th best in Latin America.

With campuses in Cali and Bogota, it has 18 faculties, 13 research institutes, and almost 190 undergraduate and graduate programs. 21 undergraduate programs of this university have received high-quality institutional accreditation and many others are in the process of receiving it.

Tuition fees will depend on the major you choose. For example, philosophy is 6,405,000 COP (around $2,000), biology is 9,015,000 COP (around $2,800), and architecture is 12,873,000 COP (around $4,000). These fees are paid each semester. Because of these fees, Pontifical Xavierian University is selected as one of the cheapest universities in Columbia.

Click here to learn more about the admissions process. When exploring their website, don’t forget to select your preferred language on the upper-right corner or in the language tab on the left area of the website.


3. University of Antioquia

Established in 1803, the University of Antioquia is a public university that has had high-quality accreditation for 9 years, the highest available. According to the QS World University Ranking, it was the 15th best in Latin America.

This is one of the biggest and the cheapest universities in Colombia. The main campus is located in Medellin, but they have more campuses throughout the Antioquia region. These campuses are located in Amalfi, Segovia, Puerto Barrio, Envigado, Andes, Carmen de Viboral, Caucasia, Santa Fe de Antioquia, Turbo, Sonsón, and Yarumal.

The university offers over 90 undergraduate programs in their 13 faculties. It also has 4 institutes, 3 corporations and 246 research groups.

As for tuition fees, this university is practically free for Colombian students. However, international students have to pay the equivalent of six times the Colombia monthly minimum wage per semester. In 2019, this is almost 5,000,000 COP (around $1,500) per semester. To learn more about admissions, click here.


4. Externado University of Colombia

Located in Bogota, the Externado University of Colombia was founded in 1886. According to the QS World University Ranking, it was the 480th best in the world and the 99th best in Latin America.

This cheap university in Columbia has over 12,000 students and 11 faculties that grant bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees.

The admission process here depends on the faculty. Some of them require prospective students to take an exam. The content is adapted and areas evaluated depend on the faculty. All applicants must go through an interview process of about 30 minutes.

Regarding tuition fees, they go from around $2,500 to $5,000 per semester depending on the program.


5. Del Rosario University

Founded more than 300 years ago, in 1653, Del Rosario University is a private university known for its educational quality. In fact, 28 presidents of Colombia were educated in its classrooms.

It is ranked between the 751 and 800th place in the world and the 52nd in Latin America by the QS World University Ranking. The university is located in Bogota and has 5 faculties and 3 schools.

In order to be admitted here, besides submitting the required documents and getting your student visa, you’ll have to take a test and go to an interview. You will be able to skip the interview in a couple of faculties. They also offer exchange programs with the option of taking courses in English.

For the second semester of 2019, tuition fees go from 3,526,182 COP (around $1,100) to 13,535,000 COP (around $4,300). The only exception is medicine, whose tuition fees per semester are of 23,931,000 COP (around $7,500).


6. University of La Sabana

The University of La Sabana is a private university that was established in 1979. It is the 69th best in Latin America according to the QS World University Ranking.

Located in Chía, near Bogotá, this cheap university in Columbia has 9 faculties that offer 24 undergraduate programs, 58 specializations, and 41 master and doctoral programs. They also have 51 research groups, a clinic, and a Media Production Center.

Prospective international students will have to validate their high school diploma, get a student visa, submit the required documents, and prove their language proficiency. Applicants will also have to attend an interview, and in the case of the Faculty of Communication, they will have to take a test.

Tuition fees will depend on the major. For example, education is 7,600,000 COP (around $2,500), philosophy is 6,550,000 COP (around $2,000), and civil engineering is 11,500,000 COP (around $3,600). As usual, the most expensive is the medicine program, which is 20,900,000 COP (around $6,500). These aren’t annual tuition fees, but biannual.


7. University of Medellín

The University of Medellín was established in 1950 with the objective of offering education to the Antioquian region in a free and unlimited way. It has seven faculties that offer 34 undergraduate programs, 70 specialization programs, and 56 master and doctoral programs.

The main campus is located in Medellín, but they recently opened a new campus in Bogota, which is a law school that grants undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Besides submitting the documents required by the university, the application process also comprises an interview and a diagnostic test.

Regarding tuition fees, although this is a private university, they don’t have a flat fee for each program. The calculation of the tuition fee is based on the major, the student’s economic situation, the high school where they graduated, and the country and city where the high school was located.

The website has an interactive calculator that tells students the cost of their tuition fees. However, international students have to email the university with the information required so they manually calculate the fees.

This system can make a HUGE difference for students. In the case of engineering, for example, the cost of a semester could go from 2,524,000 COP (around $800) to 7,997,000 COP (around $2,600). As a result, the University of Medellín makes into our list of cheap universities in Columbia.


8. The University of the Coast

We finish our list with another affordable private university in Columbia. The University of the Coast was established in 1970 and it is located in Barranquilla. They also have extension programs in Cartagena, Villavicencio, Monteria, and San Juan de Pasto.

This university is well known for its scientific research. It is one of the best universities in the Caribbean Region and has a 7th place in the country in terms of scientific article production.

It has almost 80 academic programs that include 23 undergraduate programs, 14 master and doctoral programs, and 39 specializations. It also has research institutional groups in 18 different fields.

The application process is done online. Prospective international students have to submit all the required documents and pay an enrollment fee. Click here to learn more about the admissions process.

Tuition fees are calculated according to the cost of credits. In 2019, a credit could go from 173,000 (around $60) COP to 277,000 COP (around $90). This means that the price of a semester could go from 3,314,000 COP (around $1,100) COP to 4,976,000 COP (around $1,600). Postgraduate and specialization programs are significantly more expensive, starting at 12,000,000 COP (around $3,800).


We hope that this article on the cheap universities in Columbia was helpful. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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