Located in Central America, Panama is known worldwide for its flourishing economy and the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. It provides a wide platform of maritime, commercial, and financial services. It is the Latin American country with the largest economic growth in the last 25 years. But the economy is not the only area where they stand out. They’ve also become educational leaders in the region, so that’s why today we’ll explain everything you need to know to pursue a major in Panama and also give you a list of cheap universities in Panama!

How expensive is life in Panama?

Before we jump into the details of their education system, we’ll quickly cover living costs in Panama.

It is important to mention that Panama’s currency is the “Balboa” (PAB), but the country has a dollarized economy, so dollars are also accepted. In fact, the value of balboas is equivalent to dollars, so 1 PAB equals 1 USD.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost around 750 USD, but if you go to the suburbs or far from the capital city, rent can cost around 520 USD.

The cost of the basic family basket is 280 USD, so an international student would spend around 150 USD per month on food. A monthly pass for public transportation costs 30 USD.


How is the higher education system in Panama?

The higher education system in Panama divides into Superior University institutions and Superior Non-university institutions. The former grants bachelor (4 years), specialization, master and doctoral degrees, while the latter grants technical certificates.

Some major last longer, like engineering (five years), law (five years), and medicine (six years). They also offer daytime and nocturnal programs.

Master degrees have three modalities: academic master’s degrees, professional master’s degrees, and executive master’s degrees.


How is the admissions process in Panamanian universities?

Besides the individual admissions process of each university, which may include interviews or entrance exams, international students must ask for a student visa.

They must submit an acceptance letter from the university, proof of financial solvency, proof of tuition payment, the schedule (daytime or nocturnal), and a certificate from the university with detailed information about the major program.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Do I need to know Spanish to study in Panama?

Although certain courses are offered in English, you’ll probably have to learn Spanish because there aren’t many degree programs completely taught in English. The only exception is for doctoral degrees because fluency in English is mandatory, even for programs in Spanish.


How expensive are universities in Panama?

Public universities are very affordable in Panama. For example, international students at the University of Panama only pay 200 USD per semester. You can see that public universities are the cheapest universities in Panama. However, you’ll have to learn Spanish before starting your studies and most information is only available in Spanish.

Private universities aren’t as cheap, but they are still affordable when compared to universities in other countries.


Cheap Universities in Panama

1. International Maritime University of Panama (UMIP)

The International Maritime University of Panama (UMIP) was established in 2005 and specializes in port and maritime disciplines. It is considered one of the cheapest universities in Panama.

UMIP has four faculties: the Faculty of Nautical Sciences, the Faculty of Marine Sciences, the Faculty of Maritime Transport, and the Faculty of Maritime Civil Engineering. They offer 11 bachelor’s degree programs.

The university also has a Maritime Language Center (MLC) which provides language education in Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, among others. They focus on developing practical and communicative skills that are useful for port-related activities.

In order to be admitted, students must submit a copy of their passports, an apostilled copy of their birth certificate, two passport-size photos, a copy of their high school credits/grades, a copy of their high school diploma, and an already filled form available online. Students also have to validate their high school diplomas at the Panamanian Ministry of Education.

Regarding tuition fees, all bachelor’s degree programs cost 8,725 USD. If you’d like to get more information, click here!


2. Florida State University (FSU-Panama)

The Florida State University in Panama or FSU-Panama is a campus of Florida State University in Central America. It was established in 1957, which makes it the second oldest university in Panama.

All of the degrees granted by FSU-Panama are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). They offer 88 bachelor’s degree programs. Students can start these programs on the campus in Panama and then complete them at the main campus in Tallahassee. The good side is that international students will be able to do it for much less than the tuition prices at FSU in the U.S.

There are also five bachelor’s degree programs that can be fully completed on the campus of Panama. These are International Affairs, Computer Science, Information Studies, Environmental Studies, and Latin America and Caribbean Studies.

It has student residences available that cost 2,700 USD per semester.

Annual tuition fees are 8,400 USD, and because of that, it is considered a cheap university in Panama. Also, if you are from a Latin American or Caribbean country you can apply for the 2+2 scholarship program, with which you can complete your education at the FSU campus in Tallahassee but pay in-state tuition fees instead of international fees.

Visit their admissions page to learn more about the requirements. Be careful because they are different depending on your citizenship and your immigration status.


3. Quality Leadership University (QLU)

The Quality Leadership University (QLU) was established in 1997 with the objective of providing education to young people that contributed to the region’s development.

This cheap university in Panama has agreements with universities that include the University of Louisville, the Illinois State University, Florida International University, the University of Chile, Towson University, and the Polytechnic University of Madrid.

Through these agreements, students can choose to complete their education at one of these universities and pay in-state tuition fees instead of international fees. Therefore, it is considered one of the cheap universities in Panama.

There are different programs depending on the major and the university. Students can choose to study in Panama for one, two, or three years, and spend the rest of the time at a university abroad. There are some bachelor programs that can be fully completed in Panama.

All of the programs are taught in English, except for a couple of exceptions that are also offered in Spanish. To learn more about tuition, fees, and admissions, click here. We recommend you to check their brochure because requirements and fees depend on the program and the university where you want to complete the major.


We hope that this article on cheap universities in Panama was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students to know more information!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

Share this article via