Universities in Argentina have a long history and rich traditions. The first universities were founded in the 17th century by Spanish Jesuits. Now the popularity of Argentine education is growing, and so does the prestige of the universities. The universities in Chile, Brazil, and Mexico are still the highest-ranking educational institutions in Latin America, but Argentine universities are catching up. The stream of foreigners who come to the country for free education is also increasing every year. Argentina has already become the country with the greatest number of international students[1] in Latin America.

List of the best universities in Argentina

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Advantages of Argentine universities

  • Free education. In Argentine public universities, undergraduate studies are free. You have to pay for Master's and doctoral programs, but the prices are not too high — starting from 3300 ARS per year. Education in private universities is paid, but it is cheaper than in US and many European universities. The average cost is 3,000 USD per year.
  • There are no entrance exams. To enter a Bachelor's degree program at a state university, you do not need to pass exams, but you need to take a one-year preparatory course. According to Argentine law, every person must have the opportunity to get higher education. Therefore, universities accept everyone with a complete secondary education and knowledge of the Spanish language. The exams will only have to be taken at the end of the preparatory program. Based on their results, it is assessed whether the student is ready to transfer to a Bachelor's program.
  • Large selection of programs. Argentine universities are highly autonomous. This means that they have the right to set standards and determine the curriculum themselves. In regional universities, there are often courses that are significant specifically for the surrounding area, especially in the field of Agriculture. As a result, universities have many diverse and unique programs.
  • Regional prestige. Argentine universities are considered some of the most prestigious in the region. Six of them are in the top-50 universities in Latin America[1]. The University of Buenos Aires, the largest university in the country, is ranked 8th. Therefore, degrees from Argentine universities are also recognized outside the country.
  • There are many foreign students. Argentina is a fairly popular country among international students. It has almost 90000 foreign students, which is relatively high for the region: only 20000 international students study in Brazil, and 25000 in Mexico[2]. However, the student body is not as diverse as it may sound — students come to Argentina mainly from the neighboring countries: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Paraguay. Foreigners from Europe and the USA are less than 8% of the total number of foreign students[1].

Disadvantages of universities in Argentina

  • Few programs in English. The main language of instruction at Argentine universities is Spanish. To be admitted, you need a level B2 or higher. There are very few programs in English and they are not available in all universities. Usually, there are only isolated courses in English meant for exchange students.
  • Crowded classes. The public universities in Argentina are huge. The University of Buenos Aires, for example, has over 320000 students. Because of this, there are often 50 people per classroom in seminars, and up to 300 attend lectures. Teachers do not have time to advise everyone, and study materials and equipment quickly come to disrepair.
  • Decentralization. All university courses in Argentina are certified by the State Qualifications Agency. Despite this, curricula and evaluation standards in universities can be very different. Therefore, employers in Argentina pay more attention to work experience than the degree.
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Requirements for admission to universities in Argentina

Type of studyAgeDurationMin. costAvg. costExams
Preparatory programs18+1 yearFreen/aSIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level
Vocational education18+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
Doctoral21+2-6 years3300 ARS/year4,000 USD/yearSIELE B2 / CELU Intermediate Level

The table shows approximate prices. Check the information on the websites of educational institutions.

There are no entrance examinations for Bachelor's degree programs in public universities. Instead, one-year preparatory courses must be taken. For admission, you will need a certificate of secondary education with an apostille and proof of proficiency in Spanish. Private universities and Master's / doctoral programs may have entrance examinations.

The deadlines for submission of documents are set by the universities themselves, usually 4-6 months before the beginning of studies. The academic year lasts from March to December.

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;

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Types of educational institutions in Argentina

Higher education institutions are accountable to the Argentine Ministry of Education. It issues decrees, determines the directions of development of universities, and controls the quality of programs.

  • Universities are large educational institutions. They offer a variety of programs in a variety of disciplines, from Art History to Agricultural Ecosystem Research. There are 57 public and 54 private universities in Argentina.
  • Institutions of the university level (Instituto Universitario) — unlike universities, they specialize in a single area. They can be public and private, and military schools also fall under this category.
  • Branches of foreign universities there are only two of them in Argentina: the Argentine branch of the University of Bologna and the branch of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO).
  • Vocational educational institutions provide vocational education. Among them are higher schools (Escuela Superior), higher institutes (Instituto Superior), colleges (Colegio), pedagogical institutes (Instituto de Formación Docente), and centers of post-secondary education (Centros Estudios Superior). All of them can be both private and public.

Colleges in Argentina

Vocational education institutions in Argentina are primarily accountable to the governments of corresponding federal regions. Decrees of the Ministry of Education do not apply to them. Because of this, the programs, the learning process, and the rules for admission and graduation vary greatly from province to province.

The most popular educational programs are Business Administration, Computer Science, Agriculture, Tourism, and programs for auxiliary medical personnel. The training takes place only in Spanish[1] and lasts from two to four years. Then you can continue your education either in an undergraduate program or in ciclos de complementación courses. They last one or two years. The graduate receives a Bachelor's degree.

Education in state colleges is free, but it is still not in demand among foreigners — nearly all international students study in higher education institutions.

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Public and private universities

Public universities in Argentina are large, with over 10000 students studying in most of them. There are 57 public universities in the country. The biggest of them are the National University of Cordoba with 111329 students and the University of Buenos Aires with 328361. It is very difficult to gather so many people in a single building, so the campuses of these universities are scattered throughout the city. Public universities are multidisciplinary and offer a wide range of degree and certificate programs.

Undergraduate studies in state universities are free, and Master's and doctoral programs are much cheaper than in private ones. Prices for doctoral programs start at 3300 ARS per year excluding additional fees[3]. Due to their accessibility, 79% of Argentine students study at public universities[1].

The most prestigious university in the country, the University of Buenos Aires, is also public. It is ranked 8th in the list of the best universities in Latin America and 66th in the world according to QS[4].

Private universities are smaller than state ones. The quality of the programs is controlled by the State Qualifications Agency. Therefore, diplomas from private universities are recognized as widely as diplomas from public ones.

Education in all private universities is paid. On average, prices are 3,000 USD per year. There are no compulsory preparatory courses, unlike in state universities, but there are entrance exams.

Education in private and public universities is considered equally prestigious. Both are represented in the rankings in nearly the same numbers: of the top-10 best universities in Argentina, six are private and four are public[4]. Therefore, the prestige of education depends mostly on the reputation of a particular educational institution. At the same time, private universities have a more individual approach to education. In groups of 20 people, not 50, like in overcrowded state universities, the quality and conditions of teaching materials is better, and professors devote more time to each student.

Groups and associations of educational institutions

National Council of Universities (Consejo Interuniversitario Nacional, CIN) is a non-governmental organization that unites 56 public universities. It coordinates the activities of national and regional universities, introduces general rules and plans for university development, and participates in quality control of programs. CIN encourages research projects, provides scholarships for students and teachers, and organizes exchange programs with other Latin American universities.

The Association of Universities of the Montevideo Group (Asociación de Universidades Grupo Montevideo, AUGM) is an international non-governmental organization that includes 40 public universities in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. AUGM standardizes the academic structure, programs, and educational documents of its participating universities. The association encourages collaborations of scientists, conducts exchange programs for students, faculty, and administrative staff, interacts with government authorities, and advocates for the interests of universities. The main goal of the organization is to create a common academic space in the region, similar to the Bologna Process in Europe.

Free universities in Argentina

According to law, undergraduate studies at Argentine universities are free. There are no entrance exams either, everyone is accepted. There are only two conditions: complete secondary education and proficiency in Spanish at the B2 level.

If you want to go to a private university, but don’t have enough money to study, you can try to win one of the scholarships. They are offered by universities themselves, or by governmental and non-governmental organizations. For example, the Mente Argentina Scholarship Program or IAE Business School Scholarship.

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Interesting facts about universities in Argentina

  • The famous poet and writer Julio Cortazar has graduated from The University of Buenos Aires, as well as the revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, and 17 Argentine presidents.
  • The National University of Cordoba is one of the three oldest universities in America. It was founded in 1613 by Spanish Jesuits.
  • The Museum of the National University of La Plata houses one of the largest anthropological and paleontological collections in Latin America. The exposition of the museum is built according to the chronology of evolution. Therefore, the entire history of life on Earth gradually unfolds before visitors passing through the exhibition halls.
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