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Top Universities in Mexico: UNAM vs ITESM

Top Universities in Mexico: UNAM vs ITESM main image

Consistently the two highest-ranked universities in their country, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM) will be at the top of your list if you want to study in Mexico.

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Both universities feature within the global top 200 and are in the top 10 for Latin America according to the most recent QS University Rankings: Latin America. Rankings aren’t the only way to choose a university though, so here’s a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of both of these top Mexican universities.

 

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM)

QS World University Rankings® 2018

Ranked joint 122nd in the world overall in 2018

Ranked 39th in the world by academics and 62nd by employers

272nd for faculty/student ratio

Ranked 401+ for both percentage of international students and faculty members

Ranked 401+ for research impact (citations per faculty member)

Ranked 199th in the world


Ranked 233rd in the world by academics and 81st by employers


135th for faculty/student ratio

Ranked 401+ for percentage of international students and 71st for percentage of international faculty members

401+ for research impact (citations per faculty member)

 

Subject strengths*

Ranked joint 81st in the world for arts & humanities

Joint 192nd for engineering & technology

Joint 176th for life sciences & medicine

Joint 194th for natural sciences

119th for social sciences & management

Ranked 401-450 in the world for arts & humanities

Joint 267th for engineering & technology

Unranked for life sciences & medicine

Unranked for natural sciences

Joint 209th for social sciences & management

 

Location

Located in Mexico City on a large, artistically detailed campus

Total population in Mexico City, including the metropolitan area: 8.9 million people

Flagship campus is in Monterrey, state capital of Nuevo León and Mexico’s third-largest city

Total population in Monterrey including the metropolitan area: 4.5 million people

Has a total of 31 campuses

 

Student community

349,539 students were enrolled in 2016/17:

112,624 in high school; 205,648 undergraduates; 30,363 postgraduates

Around 95,000 students enrolled; no data available for how many are studying at each level

 

International tuition fees

Undergraduate fees are between US$0 and US$1,000 per year.

Postgraduate tuition fees vary between US$1,000-2,500 per year.

Undergraduate tuition fees are $15,600 pesos (~US$900) per semester (US$1,800 per year).

Postgraduate tuition fees are around $33,400 pesos (~US$1,900) per semester (US$3,800 per year).

 *Based on the broad subject areas of the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.

ITESM

QS World University Rankings® 2018

As you can see, UNAM ranks 77 places higher than ITESM in the latest QS World University Rankings®. When you take a closer look (using the indicators used to compile the rankings), UNAM is the clear leader both for its reputation among graduate employers and academics, with positions in the top 100 for both. However, ITESM is not too far behind UNAM for its reputation among graduate employers, ranked 81st while UNAM is 62nd.

ITESM does beat UNAM in two of the indicators – faculty/student ratio (in which ITESM places in the global top 150, and percentage of international faculty members, in which it ranks 71st while UNAM is in the 401+ range. The former is particularly notable as it suggests students enjoy smaller class sizes and more individual contact time with tutors. Both universities score 401+ for percentage of international students, suggesting improvements could still be made in terms of recruiting talented students from other countries.

Subject strengths

If you’re still unsure as to which one of these top universities in Mexico gets your vote, the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017 can be a useful reference point, showing you which institution out-ranks the other for your chosen area of study. Looking firstly at the five broad subject areas covered in the ranking, UNAM is the leader in each one, achieving its highest score (joint 81st) for arts and humanities. ITESM meanwhile is ranked in the global top 300 for engineering and technology and social sciences and management, achieving a stronger score in the latter.

The table below shows how UNAM and ITESM are ranked in this year’s ranking:

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Tecnológico de Monterrey in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017

 

UNAM

ITESM

Accounting & finance

--

101-150

Anatomy & physiology

50th

--

Anthropology

28th

--

Archaeology

47th

--

Architecture

51-100

--

Art & design

24th

46th

Biological sciences

101-150

--

Business & management

101-150

49th

Chemistry

151-200

--

Computer science & information systems

101-150

201-250

Development studies

37th

--

Earth & marine sciences

51-100

--

Economics

151-200

151-200

Education & training

38th

--

Engineering (chemical)

51-100

251-300

Engineering (civil)

101-150

--

Engineering (electrical)

101-150

251-300

Engineering (mechanical)

151-200

151-200

Engineering (mining)

16th

--

English language & literature

201-250

--

Environmental sciences

51-100

--

Geography

51-100

--

History

51-100

--

Law

31st

201-250

Linguistics

51-100

--

Mathematics

51-100

--

Medicine

151-200

451-500

Modern languages

=25th

101-150

Pharmacy

51-100

--

Philosophy

46th

--

Physics & astronomy

101-150

--

Politics

101-150

--

Psychology

101-150

--

Social policy & administration

42nd

51-100

Sociology

36th

=8th

 

 Mexico City

Location

UNAM is located in the capital city of Mexico, Mexico City, which was ranked 51st in the latest QS Best Student Cities index. The city is ranked as one of the top 10 most affordable cities for students, benefiting from low average tuition fees and living costs.

As well as being affordable, Mexico City is known for its grand colonial-era architecture, delicious street food, vibrant carnivals, and interesting historical sites. UNAM’s campus is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its masterpieces of architecture and modern art, having been built as a collaborative architectural design project in the 1950s.

As well as the large Ciudad Universitaria (University City) main campus, UNAM maintains several other campuses in the Mexico City metropolitan area and elsewhere in Mexico, including a Center of Teaching for Foreigners in the small city of Taxco, 170 kilometres (106 miles) southwest of Mexico City.

Another one of the most affordable cities for students in the Best Student Cities index is Monterrey, where Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM)'s main campus is based. Living costs in Monterrey are generally lower than Mexico City, but tuition fees are slightly higher on average. The third-largest city in Mexico (with around half the population of Mexico City), Monterrey is a booming industrial city, known for its modern outlook. 

However, Monterrey is more than just a commercial hub, and students will find many interesting attractions to explore in their spare time, such as the city’s famous Museum of Contemporary Art. If you’re not swayed by either location then don’t worry: both UNAM and ITESM maintain a large number of satellite campuses across Mexico (with ITESM running a total of 31 campuses in 25 cities), so you’re by no means limited to studying in Mexico City or Monterrey.

Student community

UNAM has a significantly larger student community than ITESM, hosting a whopping 349,539 students in 2016/17, most of which are at high school or undergraduate level. ITESM is much smaller, but is still a large university, with around 95,000 students enrolled. According to ITESM, 300 international students arrive every semester, while at UNAM there are 6,935 international students currently enrolled.

Monterrey

Tuition fees & funding

Tuition fees vary at both universities, although ITESM’s status as a private institution means it has higher tuition fees than those at UNAM, with an undergraduate degree costing roughly US$1,800 per year while postgraduate tuition fees are around US$3,800 per year. At UNAM, you’ll generally be able to study an undergraduate degree for less than US$1,000 per year, while postgraduate tuition fees range between US$1,000-2,500 per year. You’ll also need to pay registration fees.

Living costs in Mexico are low, with most students needing around US$270-350 per month for accommodation. However, if you need help with funding, there a number of options available, including scholarships from the Mexican government, which aim to help foreign students study in Mexico. For example, there’s a government scholarship available to study a bachelor’s degree at UNAM. To be eligible, students must be less than 26 years old, have an interest in the dissemination of science, and have at least the minimum grade and percentage of academic credits.

Scholarships are also available at postgraduate level at UNAM, with master’s and doctoral students (with a grade average of at least 8.5) eligible to apply for scholarships in the form of monthly maintenance grants.

ITESM also offers various scholarships, including the Socioeconomic Support scholarship, aimed at students with a grade average of 85/100 who require financial aid. They also offer Cocurricular Talent scholarships, for students with an outstanding performance in cultural, sports and leadership activities, and Distinction to Academic Talent scholarships, which are aimed at students of any nationality or economic background who have excelled at high school.

Which of these top universities in Mexico gets your vote? Tell us in the comments below, and let us know which universities you’d like to see compared next!

Omar L, Angélica Janet P & 3 others saved this
Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for TopUniversities.com, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 

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4 Comments

This article is erroneous, in at least two aspects: the cost of studying at ITESM is $ 10,000 per year. And ITESM is not only located in Monterrey. It has 30 campuses, in many states of the country, including Mexico City.

Totally agree with you Pablo, buy the cost per semester at ITESM is $10,000 .

Hi Pablo, thanks for your feedback. The article did originally state that both universities have a large number of satellite campuses throughout Mexico, but I have now edited the article to clearly state that ITESM has a total of 31 campuses. Please could you tell me your source for the cost of studying at ITESM? 

Hi Sabrina, your article has several mistakes and you are giving false information that can mislead the persons, for example the cost of Postgraduate degrees in tec de monterrey, that the cost per subject not per semester, Tec is one of the most expensive universities in México, and you should show other renown rankings, as Tec outranked UNAM in several areas, for example in research, currently Tec de Monterrey is the leading institution in México with more successful research