Briefly about education in Argentina

  • Education in Argentina is considered one of the most prestigious in South America. People from all over the region go there to study. For comparison, according to the UN in 2017, 88873 foreign students studied in Argentina, 25125 in Mexico, and 20671 in Brazil[1]. Six Argentine universities are ranked among the top-50 universities in Latin America according to the QS ranking, and the University of Buenos Aires is ranked 8th[2].
  • Cost. Undergraduate programs in state universities are free. Because of this, most foreign students study in state universities. Master's and doctoral studies are paid, but are often very cheap — a program may cost 200 USD per year. In private universities, prices are much higher, averaging 3,000 USD/year.
  • Language of instruction. Classes in Argentine universities are held in Spanish, there are only rare separate lecture courses in English. There are very few proper English-language programs for both undergraduate and graduate programs. SIELE and CELU certificates are suitable for confirming Spanish proficiency in Latin American countries.
  • Receipt. You do not need to take an entrance exam to enter a state university. Instead, you must complete a one-year preparatory program. Based on the results of the final exam and interview, the applicant is admitted to the program. You can enter private universities right after school, but you will have to pass entrance tests.
  • Visa. To study for Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD programs, you will need a Residencia Temporaria — a residence permit. It is received upon arrival in the country. The residence permit is renewed every year.
  • Opportunity to work. For students with a residence permit, there are no legal work restrictions. The only nuance is not to miss classes. Universities are quite strict in this regard: if a student attends less than 75% of classes, they are not allowed to take exams.
Advantages of education in Argentina

  • Free public universities. Undergraduate programs in Argentine public universities are free. To enroll in them, you need to speak Spanish and take a one-year preparatory course.
  • There are no entrance exams. Preparatory programs that take place before a Bachelor’s degree are open to all who meet the requirements, without entrance examinations. The exam has to be passed only at the end of the program or upon admission to a private university.
  • Inexpensive private universities. Prices in private universities start at 1,000 USD/year. The average cost is 3,000 USD/year. This is much lower than universities in Australia, Europe, and the United States. The tuition fees cap at 15,000 USD.
  • Easy to immigrate. Argentina is one of the easiest countries to immigrate to. Citizenship can be obtained after two years of staying in the country with a residence permit. The basic requirements include the Argentine National Identity Document (Documento National de Identidad), proof of income, a police certificate, and proof of residence.
  • Advantages when applying for a job. In Argentina, only 20% of the population has a Bachelor's degree, and only 1% has a Master's degree. Therefore, university graduates have an employment advantage. On average, 81% of graduates are employed, while only 74% of people without a degree are[3].
Disadvantages and specificities of education in Argentina

  • There are no programs in English. In Argentine universities, training takes place in Spanish, there are almost no programs taught entirely in English. Even the country's most prestigious universities, such as the University of Buenos Aires, only offer isolated courses in English for exchange students. It will not be possible to enter a university without knowing the national language. Therefore, the students mainly come from other Latin American countries to study in Argentina: Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay. Students from the USA, Europe, and Asia comprise only 8% of the total number of international students[4].
  • Emphasis on exams. University exams are often more important than the learning process itself. Attendance is important for admission to the exam, but the final grade is based largely on test scores. Due to the large number of disciplines, students accumulate debts they can drag behind for years. The more time passes, the more knowledge gets forgotten. This is part of the reason why many students never finish their studies. In 2013, 73% of students dropped out[5].
  • Decentralization. Decentralization of education has both pros and cons. On one hand, universities create their own curricula. Thanks to this, the choice of programs is wide. On the other hand, due to the great variety, it is difficult to compare programs. Students of the same specialty may study completely different disciplines and, as a result, have different knowledge. Therefore, Argentine employers value work experience more than a degree.
  • Low R&D quality. Reviewers point out that the development of critical thinking does not play an important role in the Argentine education system. At school, teachers do not require students to work independently and allow them to copy from the Internet. This approach extends to higher education as well. A significant number of teachers at universities are not engaged in research, while in other countries this is the main job of professors[6].

Cost and structure of education in Argentina

Type of educationAgeDurationMin. costAvg. costExams
Summer camp6+2-16 weeks.300 USD/week750 USD/weekn/a
Language courses1+1-52 weeks40 USD/week500 USD/weekn/a
Secondary education6-1812 yearsFree5,000 USD/yearn/a
Preparatory programs18+1 yearFreen/aSIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level
Vocational school18+2-4 yearsFreen/aSIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level
Bachelor’s18+4-7 yearsFree3,000 USD/yearSIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level
Master’s21+1-2 years200 USD/year3,000 USD/yearSIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level
MBA21+1-2 year2,000 USD/year7,000 USD/yearSIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level
Doctoral21+2-6 years35 USD/year4,000 USD/yearSIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level

The table shows the approximate prices. Check the data on the website of the educational institution.

Additional costs

Visa62 USD/year
Accommodation122 USD/month.
Food146 USD/month
Utilities15 USD/month
Internet21 USD/month
Transport11 USD/month
Language exams118 USD

Levels of education in Argentina

Options for admission to universities in Argentina
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Admission to universities and study requirements in Argentina

An academic year in Argentina lasts from March to December. Usually, documents are submitted 4-6 months before the start of studies. The exact dates of admission should be checked on the websites of the universities.

There are no entrance examinations for undergraduate studies at public universities. The selection is carried out in preparatory courses. Anyone with a completed secondary education can enroll in them. The criteria for the transition to a Bachelor's degree are attendance (at least 75%), final exam score, and an interview. Private universities select applicants through entrance exams and the school certificate GPA immediately, skipping the preparatory program.

The main language of instruction in Argentine universities is Spanish. Therefore, to enter, you will need a SIELE or CELU certificate. There are very few programs in English, mainly represented by isolated lecture courses for exchange students. Requirements for the programs taught in English, if any, must be found out directly at the admissions offices.

Documents for admission to Argentine universities

Bachelor's degree:

  • Application for admission;
  • Certificate of complete secondary education with recognition;
  • International passport;
  • Photos;
  • Motivation letter;
  • Proof of Spanish proficiency — SIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level;
  • Letters of recommendation;
  • Medical insurance.

Additionally for a Master's degree:

Additionally, for a doctorate:

  • Master's degree/licentiate in a similar field as the transcript;
  • Research proposal;
  • CV;
  • List of publications;
  • Portfolio;
  • Proof of scholarship or solvency certificate;

Legalization and recognition of foreign degrees in universities in Argentina

In order for documents to be valid in Argentina, you need to go through the apostille procedure. Argentina is a member country of the Hague convention of 1961. If your country is also a member, then for legalization of documents you will only need an apostille. Otherwise a more elaborate procedure may apply, check with your country’s foreign affairs-responsible authority. In addition, documents on secondary education must be recognized by the Ministry of Education of Argentina, otherwise enrolling in a Bachelor's degree program won’t be possible. Until recently, for the recognition of the certificate, applicants had to be tested in the major Argentine school subjects. But the resolution of October 2019 has canceled this requirement[7]. Now applicants must go through the following procedures:

  1. Prepare a passport and documents of previous education: a certificate of secondary education and a transcript with grades (original and copy);
  2. Put an apostille on educational documents;
  3. Translate educational documents into Spanish. This can only be done by a translator from the official registry in Argentina;
  4. Send the documents to the National Authority for the Recognition of Diplomas and Degrees (Dirección de Validez Nacional de Títulos y Estudios) at Montevideo 950, Buenos Aires;
  5. Download the certificate recognition document from the Argentine Ministry of Education website.

The recognition procedure is free and takes three working days. Bachelor's and Master's degrees in medicine must also be recognized. Check additional requirements on the websites of universities.

Preparatory programs in Argentina

You do not need to pass entrance exams to enroll in undergraduate programs in public universities in Argentina. Instead, many universities require preparatory courses. They last a year and students study the basic disciplines for their future field. After completing the program, students take a final exam and are interviewed. Based on their results, applicants are approved for a Bachelor's degree. It is important that the attendance at the preparatory courses has to be at least 75%. Many universities only accept graduates of their preparatory courses. The exact information on this matter should be confirmed on the websites of the universities.

Training takes place in Spanish, but some universities offer language courses. Courses can also take place simultaneously with studying for a Bachelor's degree, as it is at the University of Belgrano. Proof of language proficiency is required to enroll in a Spanish-language program.

The system of preparatory courses became especially common in public universities after 2015, when the Argentine government banned public universities from holding entrance examinations. Many teachers, journalists, and politicians criticized the decision[8] because it became more difficult for universities to select motivated applicants. Graduates who do poorly at university become poor specialists. In the case of MDs, this is especially critical. On the other hand, preparatory courses provide equal access to education for all, regardless of the place of birth and social status. Proponents of the reform believe that this will increase the overall level of education in the country.

Documents for admission

  • Application for admission;
  • Certificate of complete secondary education with recognition;
  • International passport;
  • Photos;
  • Motivation letter;
  • Proof of language proficiency — SIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level;
  • Letters of recommendation;
  • Medical insurance.
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Vocational education in Argentina — Pregrado

Vocational education at the secondary school level lasts 6-7 years. Usually, the first three years are general education courses and the rest are devoted to specialty subjects. At the end of the training, a document of secondary vocational education, Título de Técnico, is issued.

After graduating from high school, the next level begins — Pregrado. Training lasts 2-4 years and is conducted in partnerships with universities, colleges, pedagogical and art schools, educational centers. All of these institutions are collectively referred to as terciarios. Depending on the program, graduates are awarded different academic degrees: Técnico Universitario, Técnico, Técnico Superior, Bachiller Universitario. After some programs, you can continue your education in the first year of the undergraduate or ciclos de complementación. Ciclos de complementación are additional university programs that last one to two years. Upon completion, the graduate receives a Bachelor's degree.

The most popular type of terciarios is teacher training colleges. Half of all pregrado students in Argentina study there[9]. Among foreigners, pregrado is not in demand: 90% of all foreign students study for a Bachelor's degree[9].

Undergraduate degree in Argentina — Grado

There is no Bachelor's degree in Argentina as such. Its equivalents are Licentiate (Licenciado) and Professional (Título Profesional) degrees. In English-taugth courses, both terms are often not translated and called "Bachelor's degree" for convenience.

According to the law, to complete the first stage of higher education, you need to study for 4 years (2600 academic hours). The Licentiate degree is usually awarded in the humanities, social sciences, STEM disciplines, and in areas related to business. The degree of a professional is more often obtained by graduates of those specialties that are regulated by the state. The list includes 20 professions, among them are architects, medics, lawyers, accountants, nurses, geologists, programmers. However, universities have autonomy and can decide for themselves what degree to award. For example, depending on the educational institution, you can get both a Licentiate and a Professional degree in psychology. The duration of the program can also vary from four to six years. Programs in Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Architecture, and Civil Engineering are even longer: up to 6-7 years.

Programs are clearly structured, culminating in a thesis, a research project, or an internship. In the first year, students study general subjects and then move on to specialized ones. There are few electives to choose from.

The undergraduate studies at public universities are free, and you do not need to take entrance exams. They are prohibited by Argentine law[9]. In the absence of entrance exams, public universities require special preparatory courses designed for each field of study. During two semesters, students study the disciplines basic for the field of study, and at the end, they take final exams. Ultimately, university admission is influenced by final exam scores, attendance, and interviews.

For admission to private universities, exams may still be required. A year of study there costs an average of 3,000 USD. At the same time, many universities offer installments. You need to pay every month throughout the year, without missing the deadline.

Most undergraduate programs in Argentina are in Spanish. There are only a few selected lecture courses in English. Therefore, for admission, you must prove your command of Spanish at the B2 level.

Documents for admission

  • Application for admission;
  • Certificate of complete secondary education with recognition;
  • International passport;
  • Photos;
  • Motivation letter;
  • Proof of language proficiency — SIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level;
  • Letters of recommendation;
  • Medical insurance.

Master’s degree in Argentina — Posgrado

Masters programs in Argentina are of two types: research (Maestría Académica) and profession-oriented (Maestría Profesional). The former are focused on academic disciplines and the latter — on practical skills.

Most programs are two years long (704 academic hours), but those for international students can last just a year. They are equivalent to 60 ECTS in European universities. At the end of the training, students write and defend their Master's thesis. The training takes place mainly in Spanish. English-taught Master's programs, as well as Bachelor's programs, are rare. They are not available in all universities. Therefore, for admission, it is necessary to know Spanish. Some universities conduct entrance exams and interviews.

Education in the Master's program is paid, but in state universities, the price can be symbolic — 200 USD per year[10]. In private universities, tuition prices start at 1,000 USD per year, and the average cost is 3,000 USD. Both private and public universities charge additional fees: for registering for the program, for passing final exams, for defending a dissertation.

In addition to Master's programs, Argentine universities have specialty programs (Especializaciones). They last a year and upon completion, the student receives a Specialist degree (Título de Especialista). A specialist degree in Argentina is an intermediate between Bachelor's and Master's degrees. For admission to some Master's programs, a specialist degree is required.

Documents for admission

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PhD in Argentina — Posgrado

PhD (Doctorado) in Argentina is the final level of higher education. It lasts from two to six years, sometimes studies can be extended for another two years. There are two types of programs: for some, students write a dissertation and defend it, for others they also have to attend classes.

For admission, not only a Master's degree is suitable, but also a Licentiate, if the program lasted 5 years. You will also need a research proposal, which must be prepared before submitting documents. The main language of instruction is Spanish, there are very few programs in English. Therefore, for admission, you will need proof of proficiency in the national language. Prices in public universities can be very low — 32 USD/year. The average price in private universities is 4,000 USD/year.

After receiving a PhD, you can continue your studies in Posdoctorado courses. The program lasts from three months to two years. During this time, the student must develop a research plan in their academic field. Upon completion, a special committee evaluates the plan and issues a Posdoctorado certificate.

Documents for admission

Academic career in Argentina

The teaching staff in Argentine universities is divided into professors and assistants. Usually, an academic career begins in an Assistant’s position. You can get a job already during your Master's or doctoral studies. Assistants are of several levels:

  • Ayudante Alumno / Ayudante B — Student Assistant (undergraduates);
  • Ayudante de Segunda Categoría — Assistant of the second category (masters);
  • Ayudante de Primera Categoría — Assistant of the first category (masters);
  • Jefe de Trabajos Prácticos — Head of Practice (PhDs).

The professorial position also has four levels (from lowest to highest):

  • Profesor Adjunto;
  • Profesor Asociado;
  • Profesor Titular;
  • Profesor Titular Plenario.

The duties of a professor include teaching, creating curriculum and courses, and research.

Universities in Argentina enjoy wide autonomy, so the system of academic positions may differ from institution to institution. Private universities tend to have fewer positions.

The average salary for an assistant position is 26000 ARS / month[11], for a professorial position — 121000 ARS / month[12]. In comparison, the average salary in the country is 45200 ARS / month[13].

Scholarships and grants in Argentina

Due to the fact that education in public universities is free, there are not many scholarships in Argentina. They are offered either by private organizations or by the universities themselves. Most of the scholarships are for graduate and doctoral students. Information can be found on the websites of universities.

Mente Argentina (MA) Scholarship Program. The educational organization Mente Argentina collaborates with the most prestigious universities in Argentina and offers scholarships for participants in their programs. It is difficult to win a scholarship — you need to pass a competitive selection. The main assessment criterion is an essay on a given topic. Also, the applicant must meet the GPA requirements. Apart from the essay, only a completed application form is required. Applications close 120 days before the start of the program. You can read more about the scholarship here.

In total, Mente Argentina offers three types of scholarships. They cover tuition and travel expenses.

Scholarship typeProgram durationMinimum GPAScholarship size
Academic Merit Scholarship1-2 semestersGPA 3.7500-2,500 USD
Financial Need Scholarship1-2 semestersGPA 3.0750-2,500 USD
Short & ELAP Programs Scholarships4-18 weeksGPA 3.7250-1,000 USD

IAE Business School Scholarship. School of Business and Management IAE Business School of University Austral offers discounts to students of their one-year MBA program. It covers 40% of the tuition costs. To get a discount, you need to:

  • Submit an application;
  • Pass GMAT or the IAE entrance test for 520 points or higher;
  • Have relevant work experience.

Student visa to Argentina

A student visa to Argentina is issued upon arrival in the country, but a tourist visa may be required to enter. According to the rules, upon entering Argentina you must present a confirmed residential address in your home country and a return ticket. However, this is not always requested.

According to Argentine law (Ley N° 25.871), university students enrolled in higher education programs receive a Residencia Temporaria — a residence permit. The educational institution must be included in the special register of the migration service. To check whether the selected institution is included in the register, you need to contact the admissions office directly. If the university is not included in the register, or if the student is studying in a short program (less than six months), another type of visa will be issued — Residencia Transitoria. In general, the type of visa depends on the circumstances. It is recommended to check the details with the embassy.

Plan for obtaining a residence permit after arriving in Argentina:

  1. Get confirmation of registration for the program from the university;
  2. Upload it together with other documents to the RaDEX system;
  3. Pay the 6000 ARS fee through RaDEX;
  4. If necessary, bring the missing documents and wait for an invitation to the migration service. It will come within 90 days.
  5. Get your ID card — DNI.

The residence permit is valid for a year. To extend it, you will need the same package of documents. All documents must be apostilled, translated into Spanish, and certified by an official translation agency in Argentina.

Due to the bureaucracy, the process of obtaining a visa is non-transparent, sometimes downright mysterious. Processing times and interview schedules can vary greatly. For some it will take three weeks, for others it will take three months or more. Locally, some rules are ignored, while others, on the contrary, appear out of nowhere. Sometimes the decision also depends on the mood of a particular officer. Therefore, you must always be ready to act according to the situation.

Documents for a residence permit

  • Foreign passport (valid for at least six months after entry);
  • Certificate of registration at the university;
  • Translated and apostilled police clearance certificate from your home country;
  • Police clearance certificate from Argentina;
  • A mark of entry into the country (stamp in the passport);
  • Certificate of residence in Argentina — it can be obtained from the nearest police station;
  • 6000 ARS administrative fee.
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Work while studying in Argentina

After receiving the DNI, the student can apply for the CUIL — "Individual Worker Number." It is necessary for official employment in Argentina, although many employers will hire you without it. You only need DNI to get one. Then you need to go to the office of the social service ANSES, fill out an application and wait for the document to be issued. The entire procedure is free and usually takes no more than two days. At the same time, students who are in Argentina not on a residence permit, but on a different type of visa, cannot get a CUIL and work officially.

Argentine law does not restrict DNI holders on the number of hours they can work. But combining a full-time job with studies will not be possible: most universities do not allow to take exams, or fine the students if they attend less than 75% of classes.

In large cities, especially in Buenos Aires, it is easiest to find a part-time job in restaurant and hotel business. Tourists come all year round, so there is always work and tips. Also, students often work in libraries, supermarkets, gas stations. The minimum hourly wage per hour in Argentina is 87.50 ARS[14].

Stay and immigrate to Argentina

If during the studies the student manages to find a job, the residence permit can be extended. The package of documents will be the same as for a student visa, only instead of a certificate from the university, a contract with an employer will be required.

Obtaining Argentine citizenship is relatively easy and fast. After two years of residence (including studies) in the country with a residence permit, a foreigner has the right to apply for citizenship[15]. To do this, you need to go to court. In Buenos Aires, it is the Cámara Nacional de Apelaciones en lo Civil y Comercial Federal at Talcahuano 550. In other cities, you can go to the nearest national civil and commercial federal court. There you will be given a list of required documents.

After submitting the application, the judge will open a case for granting citizenship. The paperwork will take at least six months. During that time, you may be asked to bring new documents or take old ones to other authorities. In the end, the court will issue an order to issue an official text on the obtaining of the citizenship. It must be published in the local newspaper, as indicated by the court clerk. Then the copy of the newspaper with the published text goes to court again. There, the judge may require you to pass an exam in Spanish. If all goes well, after taking the oath, the applicant will be issued la carta de Ciudadanía — a certificate of citizenship. With it, you need to contact the nearest document issuance center and get a new identity card.

Documents for obtaining citizenship

  • DNI;
  • Translated and apostilled birth certificate;
  • Translated and apostilled police clearance certificate from your home country;
  • Police clearance certificate from Argentina;
  • Residence certificate;
  • Certificate of income.

Employment prospects

In Argentina. In Argentina, only 20% of the population has a Bachelor's degree, and only 1% has a Master's degree. Therefore, university graduates have a great advantage when applying for a job. 81% of bachelors and 94% of masters are employed, while the average employment for people without higher education is 74%[3]. At the same time, employers value specific skills and experience more than the degree itself. The unemployment rate among immigrants with higher education is only 3.4%[16], which is well below the national average of 9.79%[17]. Argentina's economy is unstable, periods of growth and recession are constantly taking turns[18]. The country has a very high inflation rate: in May 2020 it reached 43.4%[19]. Because of this, it is better to keep money not in the local currency, but in dollars or euros. And the prices for imported goods can be quite high. But despite this, the country, and especially large cities, are developing. The service sector is growing in Buenos Aires, it already accounts for 75% of the city's GDP[20]. Therefore, there is a need for qualified specialists. Manufacturing, advertising, agriculture, and tourism are the main industries in the economy. Every year the number of tourists increases; 300 hotels and more than 300 hostels have already been opened in the city. The financial sector, IT, real estate, oil refining, textiles, food processing, and restaurant business are also growing. So there is a lot to choose from in the labor market.

Abroad. Argentine education is considered one of the most prestigious in the region: people from all over South America travel to the country to study. An Argentinean degree, backed up by knowledge of Spanish, will allow you to find a job in any Latin American country. And the diplomas of the most prestigious universities, such as the University of Buenos Aires, are recognized all over the world.

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