Guatemala is a small country located in Central America. It is well known in the region because of its coffee and cacao production, the historical Mayan temple ruins, the cultural richness, and its warm population. This is a perfect destination for those who want to live the university experience at an affordable place and get to know a completely different culture at the same time. In this article, we will be looking at the cheap universities in Guatemala.

Although Guatemala may be often ignored as a destination for international students, it can be a great choice for the ones that want to discover a part of the indigenous culture of Latin America and a less luxurious side of the continent.

In general, living in Guatemala is affordable for international students. Take into consideration that Guatemala’s currency is called “Quetzal” (GTQ), and 100 GTQ is 13 USD approx.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centers costs around 3,780 GTQ (490 USD approx) per month. In other areas, renting the same apartment can cost 2,300 GTQ (300 USD approx.).

As for food, you will probably spend less than 100 USD on groceries per month. Local restaurants are cheap. You can find meals for 5 USD. However, mid-range or fast food restaurants can be more expensive. For example, a meal at McDonald’s will cost 5$ or more. There are no pieces at McDonald’s for 1 USD here!

Regarding public transportation, you will spend around 15 USD per month. However, you may want to use taxis at first while you get used to Guatemalan buses.

So, now that you have an idea of living costs in Guatemala, let’s talk about education!

Affordable Schools in Guatemala for International Students

1. Francisco Marroquín University (UFM)

Established almost 50 years ago, in 1971, Francisco Marroquín University (UFM) is a private university with an outstanding performance in the country.

UFM has 10 faculties, five research centers with dozens of projects, and five schools. One of those schools is a Bussiness School, which offers a Master’s in Business Administration that is completely taught in English. Check their FAQ section to learn more.

Another great aspect of this university is that they have three campuses. The main one is located in Guatemala, but the other two are in Spain and Panama, so you may be able to visit more Spanish-speaking countries as part of your university experience!

Regarding admissions, you’ll have to pass an entrance exam. Certain majors have extra steps, like taking a specific exam, submitting an essay, or showing a portfolio.

Programs at this cheap university in Guatemala are divided into semesters. Tuition fees are paid in monthly installments but are calculated according to credits per semester. Tuition fees for a complete semester go from 5,250 GTQ (680 USD approx.) to 45,225 GTQ (5,851 USD). These fees are divided into six installments plus additional expenses.

Remember to select your preferred language when exploring the website. Just click the drop-down menu next to or below the search box in the upper bar.

2. Michael Polanyi College (MPC)

Michael Polanyi College is an institution affiliated to Francisco Marroquín University (UFM). Its buildings are located at UFM’s campus, in the capital city of Guatemala.

This cheap college in Guatemala offers a Bachelor of Arts and students choose the focus for their degrees. Some options include film, communication, education, performing arts, creative writing, or entrepreneurship.

In order to be admitted, you’ll have to take an exam and submit your portfolio, an essay, and your TOEFL scores.

Tuition fees are paid monthly but divided into semesters and calculated according to credits. As for the first semester of 2020, fees are of 35,875 GTQ (4,640 USD approx.), which are divided into six installments.

Learn more by visiting their website and checking their FAQ section.

3. University of Istmo (UNIS)

The University of Istmo (UNIS) is a private university located in the municipality of Fraijanes.

It has seven faculties of education, law, engineering, business, architecture and design, economics and business, and communication. They also have three research centers, and many events, seminars, and conferences are organized every year.

As for admissions to this cheap university in Guatemala, you’ll have to take an entrance exam which costs 350 GTQ (45 USD approx.). Tuition fees are divided into six installments per semester. Installments go from 3,027 GTQ (400 USD approx.) to 3,930 GTQ (510 USD approx.).

FAQS About Studying in Guatemala

What is the Higher Education System in Guatemala?

Guatemala has only one public university, which is funded by the government. It is San Carlos University (USAC) and has a great reputation in the country.

Along with USAC, there are 14 private universities that are accredited to grant bachelor, masters and doctoral degrees.

As it happens in other Latin American countries, bachelor degree programs in Guatemala last for five years. Most of them require making internships or writing a thesis project in order to get a degree. Majors related to health and engineering usually last longer.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

What is the Admissions Process at Guatemalan Universities?

Depending on the university and the major, the admissions process may vary. Most private universities have entrance exams. Some of them let international students take a test they consider valid in their own countries (like the SAT or ACT) and use those results for their applications.

Along with this, you’ll have to submit different documents like a valid secondary certificate.

Universities or majors that don’t have entrance exams usually have interviews.

What are the Tuition Fees at Guatemalan Universities?

Tuition fees in Guatemala are paid monthly. So, instead of paying for the whole year when enrolling, fees are divided into installments that are paid monthly.

It will depend on the university and the major, but monthly installments can go from 200 USD to 800 USD. Once again, majors related to health and engineering are usually the most expensive. Compared to other countries, there are many cheap universities in Guatemala.

What is the Language of Instruction at Guatemalan Universities?

If you are looking to improve your Spanish level or learn a new language, Guatemala is the perfect destination for you! Spanish is their official language and finding a program that is completely taught in English will be almost impossible.

The majority of the universities have language departments that will help you overcome the language barrier.

In spite of this, we have included two institutions with programs in English in our list.


We hope that this article on cheap universities in Guatemala 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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