Top 10 Universities in Latin America 2018 | Top Universities

Top 10 Universities in Latin America 2018

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Sabrina Collier

Updated Sep 29, 2023



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Discover the top universities in Latin America based on the QS Latin America University Rankings 2021

The 2018 edition of the QS Latin America University Rankings, published today, features 400 of the region’s top universities – extended from 300 last year. The ranking is based on a methodology which assesses each university’s performance in seven indicators, including academic and employer reputations, faculty/student ratio and citations per faculty member.

Read on for a look at the 10 top universities in Latin America this year, or click here to view the full rankings table. You can find out more about studying in Latin America with our complete guide.

1. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC)

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Location: Chile

The highest-ranked university in Latin America this year is Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC), which climbed from third place last year to now rank first in the region, having last ranked first in the 2014 edition. One of the oldest universities in Chile, UC was founded in 1888 and is one of six Catholic universities in the country. UC has four campuses in capital city Santiago and one in Villarrica, southern Chile, with almost 29,000 students enrolled in total, mostly at undergraduate level. UC currently ranks within the top 50 universities in the world to study law, agriculture, education, communication & media studies, religious studies, art & design and more.

2. Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

Location: Brazil

Retaining its position in second on our ranking of the top universities in Latin America, Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) is located in São Paulo, which was featured among the top 100 cities for students in the QS Best Student Cities 2017. Unicamp is one of the younger universities in this list, having been founded in 1966. It receives the highest score in the entire Latin American ranking for the citations per faculty member indicator, a measure of a university’s research impact. Unicamp also ranks within the world’s top 50 universities to study agriculture & forestry and law.

3. Universidade de São Paulo (USP)

Location: Brazil

Also in Brazil, the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) is down two places to rank third in Latin America in 2018. However, USP is nonetheless considered one of the most prestigious universities in the region, ranking first in the index for web impact and second for four other indicators, including citations per faculty member. USP was founded in 1934 and is the largest university in Brazil, with around 95,000 students enrolled in 11 campuses, four of which are in São Paulo.

If you’re trying to decide between USP and Unicamp, check out our comparison piece here.

4. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Location: Mexico

Consistently the highest-ranked university in Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) is ranked fourth in Latin America this year, and achieves the highest score in the whole index for academic reputation. Its main campus, Ciudad Universitaria (University City), built in a collaborative architectural design project in the 1950s, is so artistic that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. UNAM has several other campuses in the metropolitan area of Mexico City and beyond, and has a huge student enrollment of 346,730.  

5. Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM)


Location: Mexico

The Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (also known as Tec de Monterrey or simply ITESM) continues to climb in this year’s Latin American rankings, up from seventh to fifth. Although its main campus is in Monterrey, ITESM actually has a total of 31 campuses across 25 Mexican cities, with more than 98,000 students enrolled. ITESM is currently ranked in the global top 50 for business & management and art & design.

If you’re trying to decide between UNAM or ITESM, take a look at our comparison piece here.

6. Universidad de Chile

Universidad de Chile

Location: Chile

Retaining its position of sixth in Latin America from last year, Universidad de Chile is located in Santiago and is the oldest university in Chile, founded in 1842. Today it has around 40,500 students enrolled at five campuses, making up over three million square meters of urban land. The university has educated 20 Chilean presidents and two Nobel Prize winners in its 175-year history, and is ranked as the 10th best university in the world to study mineral and mining engineering.

7. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)

Location: Brazil

Next in our look at the top universities in Latin America is Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), down two places to rank seventh in 2018. URFJ is Brazil’s oldest higher education institution, originally founded in 1792 as the Royal Academy of Artillery, Fortification and Design before gaining official university status in 1920. As well as offering an extensive range of courses, UFRJ is also responsible for several museums, hospitals and research institutes throughout Rio de Janeiro.

8. Universidad de Los Andes Colombia

Universidad de Los Andes Colombia

Location: Colombia

Universidad de Los Andes Colombia (also called Uniandes) retains its position of eighth in the Latin American rankings this year, achieving its highest score for employer reputation (the eighth best in Latin America). Uniandes is located in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, and was established in 1948 as the country’s first non-sectarian university. It now has around 19,100 students and welcomed a record number of international students (232) in 2017, many of whom are from Europe.

9. Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)

Universidad de Buenos Aires

Location: Argentina

New to the top 10 this year (having ranked 11th in Latin America in 2016), Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) is ranked 2nd for both the Employer and Academic Reputation categories of the QS University Rankings: Latin America. One of the largest Latin American universities, with more than 120,000 students, UBA’s alumni include several Nobel Prize winners, Argentinian presidents and other notable figures such as revolutionary leader Che Guevara.

10. Universidade Estadual Paulista "Júlio de Mesquita Filho" (UNESP)


Location: Brazil

Concluding our list of the 10 top universities in Latin America in 2018 is the Universidade Estadual Paulista "Júlio de Mesquita Filho", commonly referred to as UNESP, which climbed two places this year to now rank 10th in Latin America. UNESP was established in 1976 and is one of the largest and most important Brazilian universities. As well as having its main campus in São Paulo, the university operates a total of 23 campuses in São Paulo state.

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