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Top 10 Universities in Latin America 2015

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This article is for the 2015 Latin America ranking. Click here to see the top 10 universities in Latin America in 2016.

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This year’s QS University Rankings: Latin America is bigger than ever, now extended to feature the region’s 300 leading institutions. Based on a methodology which assesses performance in seven key areas, the ranking highlights strengths and challenges among Latin America’s higher education elite, providing insights into changing trends across the region.

This year, the ranking features universities from a total of 20 Latin American countries are featured, from Brazil and Bolivia to Paraguay and Panama. To explore the full ranking of top universities in Latin America, visit the 2015 rankings table.

For an overview of the 10 top universities in Latin America, along with information on location, subject strengths and student numbers, see below.

1.  Universidade de São Paulo (USP)

Universidade de Sao Paulo, USP, BrazilLocation: Brazil

Last year’s number two, the Universidade de São Paulo (USP, 132nd in the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15) steps up a notch into first place in our 2015 results. The most prestigious among public universities in Brazil, located in the city of São Paulo, Brazil's largest city, and across several campuses, the Universidade de São Paulo is home to almost 90,000 students and the alma mater of 12 Brazilian presidents.

Ranked among the world’s best in 35 out of 36 subjects covered by the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015, it’s no surprise that the Universidade de São Paulo consistently features among the top universities in Latin America. Its best subjects, for which it ranks among the top 50 universities globally, are agriculture & forestry, architecture, art & design, civil & structural engineering, dentistry, pharmacy & pharmacology, philosophy and veterinary science.

2.  Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP)

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), BrazilLocation: Brazil

Also located in São Paulo is the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), climbing one place this year to rank second in Latin America, and currently 206th in the world rankings. Established in 1966, the Universidade Estadual de Campinas is one of the world’s leading young universities, ranked 15th in the latest QS Top 50 Under 50. It caters to around 37,000 students, approximately half of which are postgraduates.

The Universidade Estadual de Campinas ranks among the world’s top 50 universities for agriculture & forestry, dentistry and electrical & electronic engineering, as well as being featured in the top 200 in a further 20 subjects.

3.  Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, ChileLocation: Chile

The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC) loses two places this year to rank third in Latin America, and is currently 167th in the world rankings. One of two Pontifical universities in Chile, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile is one of the oldest, established in 1888, and located across three campuses in capital Santiago, as well as one in Villarrica. A private institution, the school currently has approximately 22,000 students enrolled.

Ranked among the world’s best in 28 subjects this year, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile places among the top 50 universities globally for agriculture & forestry, architecture, art & design, education & training, law & legal studies and philosophy.

4.  Universidad de Chile

Universidad de Chile, UC, ChileLocation: Chile

The highest-ranked among public universities in Chile, the Universidad de Chile is ranked 220th in the world rankings and 4th in Latin America this year – climbing from 6th last year. The oldest of all universities in Chile, established in 1843, the Universidad de Chile is located in Santiago across five campuses and over 1,700,000 square meters of land which incorporate museums, theaters, health care facilities and sports centers. Around 40,000 students are currently enrolled, of which a quarter are postgraduates.

Of the 22 subjects the Universidad de Chile is internationally ranked for, the schools features in the global top 100 for agriculture & forestry, architecture, art & design, Earth & marine sciences; education & training, law & legal studies and sociology.

5.  Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, BrazilLocation: Brazil

Coming third among the top universities in Brazil, the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro loses one place in the Latin American ranking this year, dropping from 4th in 2014. It’s currently 271st in the world rankings, and the highest-ranked university in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second largest metropolis. With over 56,000 students currently enrolled, the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro owns several museums, nine hospitals, many laboratories and research facilities and a total of 43 libraries.

Offering world-leading programs in 24 subjects, the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro ranks highest for development studies (41st in the world) and is also within the top 100 for architecture, history & archaeology, pharmacy & pharmacology and sociology.

6.  Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM, MexicoLocation: Mexico

Consistently heading the list of top universities in Mexico is the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México(UNAM), ranked 175th in the world rankings and gaining two places to rank sixth in Latin America this year. A public research institution established in 1910, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México was the first among universities in Mexico to claim a Nobel Prize winner among its alumni, and now is the alma mater of three winners – for Peace, Literature and Chemistry. Over 342,000 students are currently enrolled at the school, including 28,000 postgraduates.

Ranked within the world’s top 50 for art & design, development studies, history & archaeology, law & legal studies, philosophy and sociology this year, UNAM places among the world’s best in a further 24 subjects.

7.  Universidad de Los Andes Colombia

Universidad de Los Andes, ColombiaLocation: Colombia

A private research institution located in the capital city of Bogotá, the Universidad de Los Andes Colombia remains the top university in Colombia, though falling two places in the ranking this year. Currently at 262nd in the world rankings, the Universidad de Los Andes Colombia was established in 1948 as Colombia’s first nonsectarian university. It currently has almost 17,000 students, including 3,500 postgraduates, across a wide range of disciplines.

Featuring in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015 in 11 subjects, the Universidad de Los Andes Colombia is ranked 44th in the world for development studies and within the world’s top 100 for art & design.

8.  Universidade Estadual Paulista “Júlio de Mesquita Filho” (UNESP)

Universidade Estadual Paulista “Júlio de Mesquita Filho” , BrazilLocation: Brazil

Otherwise known as São Paulo State University or UNESP, the Universidade Estadual Paulista “Júlio de Mesquita Filho” gains one place in the QS University Rankings: Latin America this year. It’s ranked 421-430 in the world rankings and is one of six public universities in Brazil located in the state capital. With over 50,000 students spread between its 23 campuses, the Universidade Estadual Paulista “Júlio de Mesquita Filho” is also home to one university hospital, three veterinary hospitals, 30 libraries and several clinics for dentistry, psychology, physical therapy, and speech and hearing therapy.

Ranked among the world’s best in 11 subjects, the Universidade Estadual Paulista “Júlio de Mesquita Filho” fares best in the rankings for dentistry and veterinary science (top 50 worldwide), followed by agriculture & forestry (top 100).

9.  Tec de Monterrey (ITESM)

Tec de Monterrey, MexicoLocation: Mexico

The Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey goes by many names, fondly known as Tec de Monterrey or just ITESM. Losing two places in the Latin American ranking this year, it’s currently placed 253rd in the world rankings, and is the highest ranked of all private universities in Mexico. Though based in the city of Monterrey, Tec de Monterrey in fact has 31 campuses spread throughout 25 Mexican cities. Its total current enrollment is more than 95,000, including 12,000 postgraduates. It also lays claim to EGADE Business School, one of the top graduate business schools in the region.

Ranked internationally in eight subjects, Tec de Monterrey is placed 31st worldwide for art & design, and in the global top 100 for accounting & finance and business & management.

10.  Universidade de Brasília

Universidade de Brasília, BrazilLocation: Brazil

Rounding off this list of the 10 top universities in Latin America is the Universidade de Brasília, which gains an impressive seven places in the QS University Rankings: Latin America this year. Established in 1962, the Universidade de Brasília is currently within the 551-600 range in the world rankings and is located in Brasília, the counry's capital. It has almost 40,000 students enrolled, including 10,000 postgraduates. A multidisciplinary institution with 105 undergraduate programs, the school also offers a number of evening, distance learning and specialist programs for part-time students.

Ranked by QS in seven subjects this year, the Universidade de Brasília currently features among the world’s top 200 schools for agriculture & forestry, politics and sociology.

For more in-depth exploration of this year’s QS University Rankings: Latin America, the supplementary report is free to access online. Follow the conversation on Twitter with #QSWUR.

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Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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2 Comments

"[...]It’s currently 271st in the world rankings, and the highest-ranked university in Brazil’s capital city, Rio de Janeiro""

Brazil's capital is Brasília, not Rio de Janeiro, since 60s. :)

No excuse for this mistake Thiago! I must be living in the 60s! All changed now - thanks for pointing it out. L