When was the last time that you saw a tango performance in the middle of the street, traveled to the Amazonian rainforest, or had the chance to try cuy (guinea pig)? Pursuing a degree in South America will get you one step closer to these experiences and will help you improve your Spanish or Portuguese language skills at the same time! When seeking a degree abroad in South America, you’ll have more than one year to get to know a new city, country, and continent and make it your home away from home. Even better, South America is extremely affordable and easy to travel around meaningfully!
Some of the most reputable universities in South America are unsurprisingly located in some of the continent’s largest cities. It is easy to get a quality education while living in any of the business or travel hubs located in each particular country, however, degree programs in South America are most widely available in Brazil, Peru, and Argentina.
Brazil. As the business center of the region, Sao Paulo offers plenty of out of classroom activities to supplement studies in fashion, transportation design, and promotional design. This city is a mammoth; with over 30 million people in its metropolitan area, it can be a bit overwhelming for international students at first. Design students will definitely need to check out Barra Funda, a Paulista neighborhood filled with street art, galleries, and museums. If you are looking for something a bit different, only hours away you’ll find the countryside, making it easy to take a break from the megalopolis and experience some of Brazil’s other destinations.
Peru. Lima is a growing and increasingly modern city, but it has managed to maintain a beautifully preserved colonial city center. Universidad del Pacifico is located only minutes away from this historic neighborhood, so on your break between seminars you can make sure to spend some time on a bench in Plaza Mayor to people watch. While you’re at it, grab a choclo con queso from a street vendor. If you’re interested in seeing the famous Machu Picchu, its trailhead in Cusco is only an hour flight away (or a 16 hour bus ride).
Argentina. Buenos Aires is perhaps the most “European” city in South America, especially in terms of architecture. This is a city that lends itself to plenty of people getting lost in it. In most neighborhoods, you’ll find street vendors selling artisan crafts or food, inspiring graffiti, and incredible architecture. In La Boca, you’ll find colorful houses, tango dancers in the street, and delicious Argentinian barbeque. Take a boat ride on Rio de Plata and catch glimpses of Montevideo, Uruguay on a clear day!
Degree Programs in South America
You’ll be at an advantage in the competitive job market with a master’s degree from an accredited South American university. Whether you are interested in earning a degree in fashion and interior design, business, journalism, or culinary arts, there are loads of degree programs in South America to choose from. In particular, political science is an especially interesting topic of study in South America, because of the current events and history of the region.
It is typical that full degree programs in South America will require students to take the majority of classes in their host country’s language. There are some exceptions to this, such as with some classes related to international business, but overall it is the norm.
Degrees in South America traditionally take 18 months to three years to complete, depending on how many credits you choose to take per term and, of course, what type of degree you pursue. The class structure in South America will be similar to that of the U.S., although some degree programs may have more options for experiential learning components within your host university city, which may come at an extra cost, so keep an eye out for upcharges!
Costs & Affordability
The cost of living varies from country to country in South America. Brazil and Chile tend to be the most expensive, Argentina is in the middle, and countries like Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia are the most affordable. Overall, prices of food and rent are much lower than in a large U.S. city, but the prices of technology (like a new computer) will be higher than in the U.S. The cost of degree programs in South America can be around $13,000 for 15 months in Buenos Aires with an apartment, tuition, and cultural activities included. While in Lima, you should expect to pay $5,000 to $7,000 per semester, including housing.
For an even better chance to make your degree abroad dreams come true, check out GoAbroad’s South America Scholarship Directory. Scholarships may also be available directly from the program provider or host university’s website too.
Accommodation & Visas
Some degree programs in South America include housing in program costs. Most universities, however, leave international students to find housing on their own. Accommodations available in South America can be much smaller and more basic than what you might be used to in your home country. For example, it is not uncommon to have cold water more often than hot water for your morning shower; when you feel the urge to complain about this, remember, it is character building!
Shared apartments are very easy to find from newspaper ads, website listings, and flyers at your university, and are probably the most common choice for international students in South America. Although, homestays are also widely available. In general, website listings are the easiest way to start your research for housing. Once on the ground, you can visit, meet potential host families, and ultimately make your housing decision!
Visa requirements vary from country to country, but you’ll need a student visa to enroll in degree programs in South America. Make sure to start the process at least six months in advance to ensure that you receive the paperwork necessary in time for your appointment. Most degree programs in South America offer some type of assistance with visa preparations.
For the latest information on visas for specific South American countries, check out GoAbroad's Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Don’t forget that some South American countries lie in the Southern hemisphere, so the seasons are flipped. You may have a summer break at a time that you are used to having a winter break.
This flipped schedule makes it easy to take advantage and travel meaningfully through the rest of South America. The continent is is very affordable to travel through; in some countries a general rule is $1 per hour by bus!
Be aware that in many South American countries, stores and vendors may only take cash as a form of payment. Credit cards are not nearly as common as in the United States.
The concept of time and punctuality can also be a big change for newcomers to Latin America. Buses are late, meetings don’t start on time, and you’ll have to wait much longer to be served at a restaurant. Once you get used to these cultural norms, you may become a much more patient person and you may have some great conversations with locals while you wait!
Explore South America through a full degree program paired with experiential learning in the city of your choice. You’ll improve your communications skills, boost your resume with intercultural competencies, and get to know one of Latin America’s treasures!