Top 10 Universities in Latin America 2019 | Top Universities

Top 10 Universities in Latin America 2019

By Sabrina Collier

Updated February 25, 2021 Updated February 25, 2021

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

The QS Latin America University Rankings 2019, released today, highlights nearly 400 of the region’s most prestigious universities. It was put together based on a similar methodology to the QS World University Rankings®, with some different indicators and weightings, such as staff with PhD, international research network and web impact.

Read on to discover the 10 highest-ranked universities in Latin America in 2019, and find out more about studying in different Latin American destinations with our guides.

10. Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Location: Colombia

Up one place to now claim a spot within the top 10, Universidad Nacional de Colombia (or National University of Colombia in English) comes seventh in the region for both academic and employer reputations, and is also placed joint 275th in the world university rankings. Founded in 1867 by an act of the Congress of Colombia, Universidad Nacional de Colombia is the largest higher education institution in Colombia, with more than 53,000 students. It also offers the largest selection of courses in the country, and was featured in the most recent QS World University Rankings by Subject for 23 subjects.

9. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)

Location: Brazil

Down slightly this year to ranked ninth among the top universities in Latin America, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), which is also featured at 361st in the world university rankings*. UFRJ achieved a perfect score for the web impact indicator, showing that it’s enhancing its international engagement with a strong online presence. Founded as the Royal Academy of Artillery, Fortification and Design in 1792, UFRJ now has a large presence in Rio de Janeiro, owning several museums, hospitals and research facilities around the city.

8. Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)

Universidad de Buenos Aires

Location: Argentina

Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) is up one place to rank eighth in the Latin America university rankings, and is also currently ranked 73rd in the world. It receives perfect scores in the academic and employer reputation indicators, and is also placed fifth for its international research network. One of the largest universities in Latin America, UBA currently has around 345,000 students, mainly at undergraduate level. Undergraduate degrees are free of charge for both domestic and international students.

7. Universidad de Chile

Universidad de Chile

Location: Chile

Ranked seventh in the Latin American rankings and joint 208th in the world this year, Universidad de Chile is the oldest university in Chile, having been founded in 1843. It now has around 41,000 students and has established a reputation as one of the most prestigious universities in the region, achieving perfect scores for the academic and employer reputation and web impact indicators. In the latest subject rankings it achieved positions among the world’s best for 30 subjects, including eighth for mineral & mining engineering.

6. Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM)


Location: Mexico

Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (also known as Tec de Monterrey or simply ITESM) is ranked sixth in Latin America and 178th in the world, having climbed in the world university rankings in recent years. Established in 1943, ITESM has since grown to include 31 campuses across 25 Mexican cities, with a total of 91,200 students (including high-schoolers).

Despite its name, ITESM actually earns its strongest score in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for art and design (ranked 45th in the world). It also appears in the global top 100 for business and management.

Discover more of the top universities in Mexico here.

5. Universidad de Los Andes Colombia

Universidad de Los Andes Colombia

Location: Colombia

Heading back to Colombia for the next in our look at the top universities in Latin America, Universidad de Los Andes Colombia (often called Uniandes) climbed three places in this year’s ranking, now coming fifth in the region and joint 272nd in the world. Uniandes was founded in 1948 (therefore celebrating its 70th anniversary this year) in the heart of capital city Bogotá, and boasts a wide range of facilities for students to enjoy: 50,000 square meters of green space and woodland, 163 laboratories, a sports center with a semi-Olympic swimming pool, and more.

4. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Location: Mexico

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) retains its position of fourth in the Latin America rankings in 2019, and is consistently placed number one amongst Mexico’s entries. Also featured at 113th in the overall world rankings, UNAM is first in Latin America for both the academic reputation and web impact categories. Founded in 1910, UNAM now has a huge student enrollment (346,730 students, including those in high school), and a large national and international presence, with satellite campuses and extension schools in other Mexican states and countries such as the US, China and Canada.

3. Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

Location: Brazil

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) is down one place to rank third in the Latin America ranking this year, and also comes joint 204th in the world. Unicamp has a major focus on research, which is reflected in its perfect score in the citations per paper indicator (a measure of research productivity). It’s responsible for around 15 percent of Brazilian research, and also produces more patents than any other university in the country. Like all public universities in Brazil, there are no tuition fees for domestic or international students.

2. Universidade de São Paulo (USP)

Location: Brazil

Universidade de São Paulo (USP) is up one place to rank first in Brazil and second in Latin America in 2019, earning perfect scores for all but one of the eight indicators. USP was established in 1934 (though its law school goes all the way back to 1827) and currently has more than 90,000 students enrolled across 11 campuses, making it the largest public university in Brazil.

USP performed very well in the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject, with places in the global top 50 for art and design, dentistry, mining engineering, law, modern languages, sports-related subjects, and more.

1. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC)

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC)

Location: Chile

The final institution in our look at the 10 top universities in Latin America in 2019 takes us back to Chile, with Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC) retaining its position of first in the region. Also currently placed joint 132nd in the world, UC celebrates its 130th anniversary this year (having been founded in 1888), and is one of the six Catholic universities in Chile. It has four campuses in capital city Santiago and one in Villarrica, towards the south of the country, with a total of 29,655 students enrolled.

UC currently places within the global top 50 of the subject rankings for architecture, art & design, communication & media studies, education & training, law, modern languages, social policy and sociology.

*The top universities in Latin America are listed in a different order to the QS World University Rankings® due to the differing methodologies used to compile the rankings. Find out more here.

This article was originally published in October 2018 . It was last updated in February 2021

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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