Top 10 Universities in Latin America 2016 | Top Universities

Top 10 Universities in Latin America 2016

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Sabrina Collier

Updated Oct 31, 2018



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Click here to see the latest version of this article, based on the QS Latin America University Rankings 2019.

The results are in for the 2016 edition of the QS University Rankings: Latin America, featuring the region’s leading 300 universities across 20 countries. The ranking is based on a methodology which assesses universities’ performance in seven key indicators, including each institution’s reputation amongst both employers and academics.

Read on for an overview of the 10 top universities in Latin America in 2016, including each institution’s location, student numbers and subject strengths, or view the full rankings table.

To find out more about studying in Latin America, download our complete guide, covering admission requirements, visas, tuition fees and more.

1.  Universidade de São Paulo (USP) 

Location: Brazil

Holding onto the top spot in the Latin American rankings this year, the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) is Brazil’s largest public university, with over 90,000 students enrolled. USP is spread across 11 campuses, four of which are in Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo – featured among the best locations for students in the QS Best Student Cities 2016. USP’s excellent reputation is cemented by its status as one of the best universities in the world for 40 of the 42 subjects covered in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016. Of these, USP appears in the top 50 for dentistry, agriculture and forestry, anthropology, mineral and mining engineering, veterinary science and architecture.

2. Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) 

Location: Brazil

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) also retains its position from the previous year, and is also located in São Paulo. Established in 1966, Unicamp is one of the world’s most prestigious younger universities, consistently ranked in the top 15 of the QS Top 50 Under 50. Unicamp is a research-intensive university, producing around 15% of the country’s research, and has a large number of postgraduate students (almost 16,000). It has a total of around 35,600 students at its three campuses, which are also home to 22 teaching and research centers. Unicamp is ranked among the world’s top 50 universities for dentistry and agriculture and forestry, and is among the top 200 for a further 27 subjects.

3. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile 

Location: Chile

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile retains its position in 3rd place in the Latin American rankings. It’s located in Chile’s capital city, Santiago, which ranked joint 49th in the latest QS Best Student Cities index. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile is one of the oldest universities in the country, having been founded in 1888 by the Archbishop of Santiago. It currently has around 28,000 students enrolled at its four campuses, and features as one of the world’s top universities for 30 subjects, achieving top-50 positions for architecture, education, social policy, art and design, law and agriculture.

4. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) 

Location: Mexico

Climbing two places this year from 6th to 4th place, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) is consistently recognized as one of the best universities in Latin America. Its main campus, Ciudad Universitaria (University City) was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007 for its impressive architecture and landscape design. UNAM is the largest university in Latin America, with a whopping 346,700 students currently enrolled. The QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 saw UNAM ranked in the top 50 for art and design, anthropology, development studies, law, education and training, philosophy, modern languages, archaeology, and mineral and mining engineering. It features among the world’s best in a further 25 subjects.

5. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Location: Brazil

The next highest ranked of the universities in Brazil is Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, which retains its position of 5th in Latin America. It’s Brazil’s oldest higher education institution, dating back to 1792, when its polytechnic school was known as the Royal Academy of Artillery, Fortification and Design. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro has around 67,000 students and owns several museums, hospitals and research facilities around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second-largest city – and host of the 2016 Olympic Games.  The university is in the global top 100 for eight subjects, including history and architecture, and is also ranked as one of the best universities for a further 22 subjects.

6.  Universidad de Chile 

Location: Chile

Heading back to Chile, the Universidad de Chile falls two places in this year’s Latin American rankings, though still remaining firmly within the top 10. Established in 1842, the Universidad de Chile is the oldest university in the country and frequently considered one of the most prestigious. It has more than 1,700,000 square meters of land across its five campuses, including research buildings, museums, theaters and healthcare centers. Just under 40,000 students are currently enrolled, and the Universidad de Chile’s alumni includes 20 Chilean presidents. The university features 24 times in the latest subject rankings, and is in the worldwide top 50 for mineral and mining engineering.

7. Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) 

Location: Mexico

The Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (also known as Tec de Monterrey or simply ITESM) climbs two places to rank 7th this year. Its flagship campus is in Monterrey, which was a new entry in the Best Student Cities 2016, and Tec de Monterrey actually has a total of 31 campuses across 25 Mexican cities, teaching just under 91,000 students in total. The university is ranked among the world’s most prestigious for 11 subjects, including a place in the top 50 for art and design, and the top 100 for business and management and social policy and administration.

8. Universidad de Los Andes Colombia 

Location: Colombia

The Universidad de Los Andes Colombia (also called Uniandes) is Colombia’s highest-ranked institution in the Latin American rankings. Located in Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá, it was founded in 1948 as the country’s first non-sectarian university.  The Universidad de Los Andes Colombia teaches around 18,000 students, of which around 3,000 are postgraduates. It’s ranked as one of the top universities in the world for 15 subjects, including top 100 positions for modern languages, law, art and design, development studies and social policy.

9. Universidade de Brasília 

Location: Brazil

Climbing one place from last year, the Universidade de Brasília is located in the heart of Brazil’s capital city Brasília. Universidade de Brasília was founded in 1962 and has around 40,000 students, including 9,000 postgraduate students. It offers 105 undergraduate programs, including evening and distance education, as well as 22 specialist programs. Universidade de Brasília features among the world’s leaders in eight subjects this year, including a top 100 position for anthropology.

10. Universidad Nacional de Colombia 

Location: Colombia

Heading back to Colombia to conclude this year’s Latin American top 10, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia has climbed from 13th place to 10th this year. The largest university in Colombia with around 46,000 students, Universidad Nacional de Colombia has its main campus in Bogotá, as well as campuses in four other major cities and more remote areas of the country. In the QS World University Rankings by Subject, Universidad Nacional de Colombia is ranked in 16 subjects this year, including top 100 positions for modern languages and art and design. 

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