The Chilean Study Abroad Market

In this market report on Chile we will cover socio-economic, educational and mobility trends. Chile is one of the most affluent nations in South America. With regards to education, this growing national prosperity has led to rapidly increasing university enrollments. However, this enrollment growth has almost exclusively been within the private sector and led primarily by market forces, with 80 percent of students today enrolled at a private institution of higher education. Affordability is a real concern; Chilean universities are among the most expensive in the world when measured against per capita income.

According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the number of Chileans studying overseas has increased by 30% over the last decade. Close to 18,000 Chilean students are studying abroad. The US and Argentina are the main study destinations.

Much of the recent growth in outbound mobility has come from a government scholarship program. Over 30,000 (mainly) graduate-level scholarships have been awarded through the Becas Chile program. (source: All this and more in the Market Report on Chile.

Quick facts

  • Population: 19,12 million (2021)

  • Education: 12 years compulsory

  • Academic year: February – December

Secondary education

  • Starting age: 10 – 11

  • Duration: 8 years (4 years lower secondary, 4 years upper secondary education)

  • Enrollment numbers: 1.5 million (2019)
    Enrollment rate: 102%

Higher education

  • Duration: 4 – 5 years (bachelor) – 1 – 2 years (Master) – 3 – 5 years (PhD)

  • Enrollment numbers: 1,2 million (2019)

  • Tertiary enrollment rate: 88%

  • Universities / Institutions: 61

Chilean Education System

Secondary education

Primary and secondary education combined have a total duration of 12 years (8 + 4) and is compulsory for all pupils. The system comprises 2 types of education: educación básica and educación media with a duration of 8 and 4 years, respectively.

Educación básica

The program consists of 2 phases: an initial phase (primer ciclo básico) – grades 1-4 with a duration of 4 years – for pupils aged 6-9. The second phase (segundo ciclo básico) – grades 5-8 – also has a duration of 4 years and is intended for pupils aged 10-13.

Educación media

Secondary education (educación secundaria or educación/enseñanza media) is also offered at a liceo, colegio or instituto and is intended for pupils aged 14-18. This type of education currently has a nominal duration of 4 years and is divided into two 2-year cycles.

Admission to higher education

Admission to higher education requires a secondary school diploma: Licencia de Educación Media or Licencia de Enseñanza Media.
(source: Nuffic)

Higher Education system

The Chilean education system comprises the following types of institutions:

  • Universidades (universities)
  • Institutos Profesionales (professional institutes)
  • Centros de Formación Técnica (technical training centres)

Higher education is offered by both private and public institutions.

Bachelor /Pregrado
The bachelor stage is called Pregrado. Pregrado programs take 4 to 5 years to complete. Upon completion the degree of Licenciado is awarded.

Postgraduate / Posgrado programs
Posgrado programs  offer 3 different qualifications:

  • postiluto: specialization phase
  • magíster: Master program
  • doctorado: Doctoral program
Chilean Educational System

Latest Chilean Higher Education study abroad stats

At this point a total number of 17,522 Chilean students were studying abroad for a degree in higher education. The most popular study abroad destinations among students from Chile are:

Chilean students studying abroad
UNESCO study abroad data

IB schools in Chile

Best performing Chilean Universities

Looking to partner with Universities from Chile? These are the best performing universities.

University of Dessarrollo

THE Rank: 401 – 500

Diego Portales University

THE Rank: 401 – 500

Universidad Autonoma de Chile

THE Rank: 501 – 600

Upcoming education fairs in Chile

Scholarships for Chilean students

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