Study in Chile

Aspiring to study in one of the best South American countries in the world? Want to make the most of studying in Chile in its numerous world-class universities and the country's famed tourist attractions? Learn here all about Chile, its tertiary educational set up, visa requirements and the lifestyle of the people in Chile.

Why study in Chile

Chile the long narrow strip of land in the continent of South America is an awesome country to live and to study. It is the new popular hunting ground for overseas students to study in the country. There are various reasons why students are travelling all the way to South America to study in Chile. Let us see here, some of the important reasons to do so.

  1. Chile has some of the best educational institutions in the whole of Latin America. The performance of its universities are among the best in this part of the world. A number of institutions are in the QS World University Rankings.

  2. Chile is one of the best in the world for doing business. Among all the Latin American countries it is the most developed one and the people here have a high standard of living.

  3. Chile is the most peaceful country in South America. It is very safe for foreign students to come and study here without worrying much about safety issues.

  4. The country is blessed with natural wonders. It is a very beautiful country that gives you plenty of opportunities to explore it's diverse offerings in the form of mountains, lakes, glaciers, rivers, hot springs, sea beaches and a lot more.

  5. The universities as well as the Chilean government provides you with a number of scholarships especially for the postgraduate and PhD programs.

  6. Among all South American countries it is the most favorable place for overseas students. More than 26,000 students come to Chile for their higher education.

  7. Chile provides for emergency medical attention to all, irrespective of nationality. The country has an excellent healthcare system at all levels. Some of the universities have their own medical set-ups and specialists doctors. However, as an overseas student, you will have to arrange for your own health insurance.

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About Chile

Chile is a country in the form of a narrow strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountain range in South America. At its maximum, the country is just 350 km wide and has an average width of around 180 km. However, it is 4,329 km long and is thus one of the longest countries in the world. Chile shares its land border with Peru to the north, Bolivia to its northeast and Argentina to the east. A few pacific islands, including the famed Easter Islands, also form part of Chile. Chile also lays claim to a significant part of Antarctica the claims are, however, suspended under the Antarctica Treaty.

Historical aspects
Chile has been under Spanish rule, ever since the Incas were defeated by Spanish conquerors. It was in the year 1818 that Chile got independence from Spain. Later years, in the 19th century, saw Chile growing economically as well as in terms of territory. It was able to liquidate the Capuche resistance, which was all this while an independent territory. In the War of the Pacific from 1879-83, Chile was able to defeat both Peru and Bolivia and thus gained in its present northern territory. Things went well with Chile until the 1960s, when in a right wing military coup in the year 1973, the civilian left wing government got replaced by a 16 year long military dictatorship.

Government system Chile is a democratic republic and presidential in nature. The President is the head of the government with the main executive powers resting on him or her. The political system is representative in nature, where the President is elected for a term of four years through direct voting by the Chilean population. Any Chilean citizen over 18 years of age can vote for the presidential elections. Like most democracies, the powers of the state have been divided amongst three independent bodies – the executive, legislative and the judicial. The Chilean parliament, known by National Congress, is bicameral, with the Senate and Chamber of Representatives forming the two houses.

International relations
In terms of international relations, Chile had always been active in its foreign affairs. It was one of the founding members of the United Nations in 1945. However, in 1973, Augusto Pinochet took hold of power in a military coup. As a result of his numerous human right abuses, Chile got isolated from the international community. It was later in 1990 that democracy returned to the country and Chile regained its lost position in the international political arena. Other than the United Nations, Chile is also a member of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Ever since, it has been playing a leading role in all Latin American affairs.

Chile is one of the most prosperous and developed nations in the continent of South America. The country maintains a high standard of living and is considered as a high income economy. Among all Latin American countries, it ranks very high in terms of Human Development Index, per capita income, economic freedom, competitiveness, globalization and relative peace. It ranks low on the corruption index, but high in terms of democratic values and political stability. Copper is an important natural resource that the country greatly depends upon. Copper export makes up 60% of all its export earnings. Copper mining has a high share of 20% of the country's GDP. Chile has the largest copper mine in the world and has one-third of the share of the world market. The country is thus greatly dependent on copper. Other than copper, agriculture and tourism generate substantial employment for the people in Chile. Historically, agriculture had played a dominant role in Chile's economy. The country's isolated location in the southern hemisphere has been of an advantage for the development of agriculture in the country. The country has signed Free Trade Arrangements (FTA) with a number of countries including the United States. It has growing trade relations with Asian countries including China, Thailand and South Korea.

The country is famed for its numerous tourist spots. Tourism has been a big foreign exchange earner for the country. Travelers from all over the world visit Chile to experience its numerous natural wonders. The Atacama Desert in the north is famous for its lakes, the Valley of the Moon and its numerous architectures from the Inca period. Then there are the volcanoes and the various ski resorts in the Andes Mountains that lure the tourist to experience them all. In southern Chile you find numerous national parks, glaciers, lakes, rivers and mountains. Easter Island that is located in the Pacific Ocean is one of the most famous tourist spot in Chile.

Long and narrow strip of land that Chile is, at times one needs to travel very long distances. Fortunately, the transport network in Chile is a very efficient one and reasonably priced. There are a number of ways to travel in Chile. There are the intercity buses, regional buses, taxis, collectivos or shared taxis, subway, metros, trains and of course flights. As distances can be huge, sometimes, flights are a popular way to travel. As a student in Chile, you can avail of discounts in the public transport systems if you have the National Student Card that stands for TarjetaNacionalEstudiantil (TNE) in Spanish.

Climate in Chile is diverse and extremely unpredictable. Summers are from December to March and winters from June to August. The central; regions have a Mediterranean climate with cold, wet seasons in winter. The southern regions are damp and cool with very high rainfalls. The Atacama Desert in the north is very dry and temperatures falling to -2 degree C in winters.

Quick Facts

  • Chile has its capital city at Santiago, one of the largest in South America.
  • The country has a population of more than 18 million and is largely Catholic.
  • The official language is Spanish. Other than Spanish, German, English and a few native languages like Mapucho are quite popular with the natives. To study in Chile it is essential to know Spanish, as most of the courses are in Spanish.
  • The currency of Chile is Chilean Peso. In dollar terms, one dollar is equal to 647 Chilean Peso.
  • Christianity is the dominant religion in Chile. Catholics constitute 66% of the population and Protestants are 16%. The others, largely, do not identify themselves as belonging to some religion and some are of different faiths.
  • Easter island, located in the Pacific Ocean is one of the remotest inhabited islands. The island is famous for its 15 gigantic sculptures that are representative of the sculptural splendor of the island's historic past. The islands are as distant as 3,700 km from the shores of the city of Caldera in Chile.
  • As with other countries located in the southern hemisphere, the Chilean summer is from December to March.
  • Chile is also a country of hot springs. There are more than 250 hot springs scattered across the country that are favourite tourist attractions.
  • Chile has some of the best vineyards in the world. The wine routes in Chile are famous attraction with the tourists.
  • The Atacama Desert, which is one of the driest deserts in the world is a tourist attraction too, with hot spots such as the Valley of the Moon and the hot springs.
  • valley of Cactus up north in Chile is known for its famed cactuses that are over a hundred years old and are as tall as seven metres.
  • As a student in Chile you are privileged to obtain a National Student Card, that permits you to use public transport at a discounted cost.

Admission Process in Chile

To seek admission at a university in Chile you need to begin much in advance. Most universities conduct a test that is called the University Selection Test (PSU). The students are selected based on the test scores and past academic performance. The PSU test is organized in between November to December. So you will have to register online months in advance for the test.

Before applying for any of the universities, do your research well. Seek out which university and which program fits you best. Find out the cost of living and the tuition fees. Check out whether you will be able to afford or not. To seek admission in a Chilean university, you will need proficiency in the Spanish language, even though there are English language courses that one may undertake. But courses in English are few and far between. So check for DELE and CELE, Spanish language proficiency tests. DELE stands for Diploma de EspanolcomoLenguaExtranjera, whereas, CELE stands for Cetificado de Espanol: Lengua y Uso. DELE is the more popular test.

On receipt of acceptance letter from your university, apply for the student visa at the nearest consulate or embassy of Chile. Submit the visa application form along with necessary fees and supporting documents. Allow few weeks of processing time. Once your visa is approved, you have 90 days to travel to Chile.

After landing at Chile
The first thing you could do after landing at an airport in Chile is to exchange your money to Chilean currency to take care of your immediate expenses. An exchange office can be found at the airport itself. If you have landed at Santiago airport, you could then hire a cab, taxi or shuttle buses to drive you to the city centre which is around 30 minutes' drive from the airport. The cabs and the conventional taxis cost around 15-30 US dollars, whereas the shuttles a mere $3 USD. On reaching the Los Heroes subway station, you could then take the subway or other form of public transport to take you to your destination and thus begins your study abroad program in amazing Chile.

Student Visa Application Process

Student visas are needed if one wishes to study in Chile for more than 90 days. For courses less than 90 days a simple tourist visa is enough for you to come and study. Students from countries like USA, Canada and the UK don't even have to procure a tourist visa. Students from most South American countries also do not need a visa. Only those countries with which Chile does not have any arrangement need to procure a visa. The student visa can be obtained from your country of origin at the local Chilean embassy or consulate office. While applying for the visa you will have to provide for your passport, proof of return or onward air ticket and evidence of funds to support your stay in Chile. Other than these, you will have to produce the letter of acceptance obtained from the concerned university in Chile. You will also have to provide for a police clearance certificate, proof of health insurance and a medical health certificate.

Once you receive the visa, you have 90 days to enter the country. The student visa is issued for a period of one year. You should be in a position to return from Chile well in time before expiry of your visa. However, depending upon the duration of your course, you can get your visa extended. The visa processing and application fees come to around 160 US dollars.

Paperwork once you are in Chile
After coming to Chile, within the next 30 days you have to register your visa at the offices of Chilean Investigation Police near to your residential area. Once registered, you need to go to the Civil Registration Office in your city and obtain the Chilean Identification Card.

For registering your visa, you will need the following information as well as documents.
  1. Address and telephone number of the place you are staying in.
  2. Four number ID pictures in colour, with your name and passport number.
  3. Your passport.
  4. Stamped visa.

It is worth remembering that you should register your visa within a month of your arrival and subsequent stay in Chile, otherwise you will be fined. It is also to be noted that students are not permitted to work while they study in Chile.


Chileans get to maintain a high standard of living with all modern comforts. They have a modern lifestyle comparable to the West. At the same time, like their Latin American counterparts, Chileans are very fond of music, dance, art, theatre, movies, concerts and festivals. 'Fiestas Paritas' is particularly special for the Chileans as during this celebration, they commemorate the First National Government Meeting in 1810 that ultimately led to the Declaration of Independence in 1818. It is a weeklong celebration, when the streets are all decked up with Chilean flags, skies full of kites of all shapes, sizes and colours. There is food, drinks, rodeos and contests everywhere. It is worth mentioning that the largest music festival in Latin America is organized in the city of Valparaiso, every year. Similarly, there are art and harvest festivals celebrated with much fanfare.

San Pedro festival is one of the most celebrated traditional activity in Chile. It is a fishermen's festival, when fishermen pay thanks to San Pedro, their Patron Saint. It is a carnival kind of atmosphere, especially in the city of Valparaiso. Music, dances, costumes, drinks and lots of local food, including seafood, are part of the celebrations, as in every kind of celebration in Chile.

The native population also has its moments of celebration. 24th of June is celebrated as the indigenous New Year, thanking the earth and the sun for their fruits and warmth, respectively.

Blessed with a long coastline, Chile has a bountiful of beach resorts. When they are not busy with music, dance, food and drinks, Chileans simply love to cool themselves at the beaches during the summer months from December to March. Chileans are fond of almost every outdoor activity. Skiing, snowboarding, surfing and polo are the popular outdoor sports. The country's national sport is rodeo that is mostly played in the rural areas of the country and where men get to show their horse riding and cowboy skills. Other than the above, Chileans are very fond of hiking, trekking, climbing, horseback riding and touring vineyards. Like every other South American nation, Chileans are very particular about soccer. Tennis and basketball also have good fan following among the youth.

Cost of Living for Students

Living costs in Chile are favourably priced, compared to many western nations. The costs are at par with other South American countries. Typically, your monthly living budget will come to around 700 to 1,100 US dollars. Your monthly budget will include expenses on food, accommodation, transport, etc. A major portion of your living expenses will be on accommodation. The costs depend on the type of accommodation you are likely to opt for. In Chile, you have options like shared dormitories, residential hostels, studio apartments and you will even find Chilean host families who are glad to put up with overseas students. In general, you have to pay 300-400 US dollars per month or more for a typical room in the cities. While leasing an apartment, you will need a Chilean resident to sign as a guarantor for you. This is to ensure that in case of any default in payment by the tenant, the guarantor will have to pay for him or her. In case you stay with a Chilean host, it may cost around 600 US dollars with your food bill also taken care of.

Among other things, you will have to spend on food, transport, leisure and other miscellaneous needs. You get student discounts while travelling by subway. Travelling by subway and buses is quite cheap compared to cabs and taxis. An inexpensive restaurant meal costs around 5 US dollars. A litre of milk costs 2 dollars and a kg of rice 1 dollar. A movie ticket after student discount may cost you around 4 US dollars.

Tuition fees
As far as tuition fees are concerned, your monthly expenses will come to around 5,500 US dollars. Students who take up the STEM subjects like science, technology, engineering and mathematics are likely to pay more, say around 5,900 US dollars. For studying medicine, you will have to pay around 6,300 US dollars. Since skills in the Spanish language is essential for taking up a study abroad program here, you may brush up your skills in the language by taking up Spanish courses. This may add up to your study costs.

A number of scholarships are available for the overseas students. Some of the scholarships are available based on academic merit and some on financial needs. There is a scholarship program on Nelson Mandela that is meant for students from South Africa, Angola and Mozambique for master's programs. Then there is CONICYT National Master Scholarship that are meant for master's and PhD programs. To find a scholarship suitable to you can search through the university websites and government agencies dealing with scholarships.

Documents for University Admissions in Chile

Following are the essential documents that you will need for applying to a university in Chile.
  1. Your academic certificates and transcripts that show the courses taken by you and the grades earned.
  2. Passport with at least six months validity beyond your stay in Chile.
  3. Statement of purpose giving reasons why you intend to study in Chile.
  4. Evidence to prove that you have enough funds to afford your stay in Chile. This could be in the form of a bank statement, etc.
  5. Passport photographs, recently taken.
  6. Proof of proficiency in the Spanish language. There are two main tests, DELE and CELE, whose scores you may append.

While applying for the visa, you will require a few other documents including those mentioned above. They are as follows.
  1. Filled in and signed visa application form along with the necessary visa processing fees.
  2. Letter of acceptance from the university where you have applied for admission.
  3. Onward or return plane tickets showing your intention to come back, once your studies are over.
  4. Medical certificate
  5. Police clearance certificate
  6. A health insurance policy taken from your own country
  7. Receipts of all fees paid.

Higher education in Chile

Higher education in Chile is achieved through the numerous universities, professional institutes and the technical training centres located in the country. A number of courses, including, bachelor's, master's and PhD programs can be undertaken here. There are two categories of universities in Chile. The traditional and the non-traditional. The traditional ones are those institutions that were founded before 1981. In these universities the students are accepted based on their scores in the university selection test. The non-traditional universities have their own selection criteria and tests. Chile has both public and private universities. The public universities get funding from the government, whereas the private ones are run by private entities or religious bodies.

Chile has a number of universities that feature in the QS World University Rankings 2018. At last count, there were eleven universities that featured in these rankings. Two of those universities are in the top ten as per QS Latin America University Rankings 2018.

Some of the top ranking universities in Chile are listed as follows.
  1. Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
  2. Universidad de Chile
  3. Universidad de Santiago de Chile
  4. Universidad de Concepcion
  5. Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso
  6. Universidad Adolfo Ibanez
  7. Universidad Austral de Chile
  8. University de Talca
  9. Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria

Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile is the top university in Latin America as per the QS Rankings 2018. It ranks joint 137th in the whole world. The university has four campuses in and around Santiago. The university ranks high among the top 50 universities in the world in subjects such as education, architecture, art, design, law and agriculture. Similarly, Universidad de Chile ranks 201st as per the latest QS rankings. The university has five campuses in Santiago and has numerous facilities like museum, theatre, healthcare and sports. The institution is well known for its courses on mineral and mining engineering subjects.

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