Study in Panama | Top Universities

Interested in studying abroad in the central American nation of Panama? Click on the tabs below for an insight into the range of universities in Panama, the lifestyle and practical information.

Universities in Panama

Studying abroad doesn't get much more affordable than in Panama, where living costs are relatively low and public universities are free for everyone, including international students. However, private institutions do charge, with fees varying depending on your course.

Panama has almost 90 higher education institutions, including large universities and smaller colleges. Seven of these appear in the QS Latin America University Rankings 2018, including the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá (UTP)  (101st in Latin America) and the Universidad de Panamá (UP) (139th in Latin America). Both are based in the country’s capital, Panama City. 

The universities in Panama featured within the QS Latin America University Rankings are:

A number of US universities also have branches in Panama, including Florida State University and the University of Louisville.

The Panamanian academic year is divided into two semesters: summer and fall, beginning in March and December respectively. Institutions are closed in January and February and there is a two-week holiday in June and July. A bachelor’s degree is four years and a master’s degree lasts for one year, with some exceptions (MBAs, for example, are two years). Spanish is the main language of tuition for undergraduates, but some universities offer courses in English at master’s level.

See the results of the QS Latin America University Rankings 2018

Life in Panama

Central America’s southernmost nation is a thriving commercial hub, with a capital city that boasts nearly as many skyscrapers as Miami.

Manmade attractions such as the colonial splendour of Panamá Viejo and one of the world’s most famous canals join with Panama’s natural assets – including lush rainforest and unspoiled beaches – to ensure a plenitude of interesting things to see and do.

Despite its sometimes chequered past, Panama is now a very safe country with low crime rates, whose inhabitants are known for their warmth and friendliness. Unsurprisingly, this traditionally business-focused nation has also begun to gain popularity as a tourist destination.

The famous Panama Canal is not only a historic site; it’s also still very much a working waterway, and the country is currently in the process of widening the canal to increase its capacity.

While Spanish is the official and main language, English is also fairly widely spoken.

See the results of the QS Latin America University Rankings 2018

Student visas for Panama

International students need to obtain a student visa for Panama. To be eligible, they must have a place to study full time at an institution, public or private, which is accredited by the Department of Education. Candidates are required to be physically present at an immigration office in Panama at the time of their application.

Foreign students are not allowed to work during term time, unless this is a course requirement. Candidates are also expected to list in advance what they will be studying and the time they expect it will take.

Documents needed:

  • Letter of acceptance
  • Proof that administrative fees have been paid
  • Proof of qualifications
  • Proof of financial independence
  • If you’re being sponsored by a Panamanian resident you’ll need documents to prove his/her identity and financial commitment.

Extensions can be for a maximum of six years, and any applications for residence or to further extend the stay have to be made before the agreed period elapses. For more guidance on getting a student visa, please click here.

See the results of the QS Latin America University Rankings 2018

Fast Facts

  • Southernmost country in Central America
  • Borders with Costa Rica, Colombia, Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean
  • Capital and largest city is Panama City
  • While the official currency is the balboa, this is pegged to the US dollar, and US paper notes are used
  • Major exports include bananas, fish, shrimp and oil
  • Known for the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
  • Climate is tropical, and temperatures high year round
  • Popular sports include baseball, boxing, basketball, volleyball and soccer