Top Universities in Latin America in 2021

By H. Young

Updated November 16, 2020 Updated November 16

The recently released QS Latin American University Rankings 2021 is QS’ biggest Latin America rankings yet. It features 410 of the most prestigious institutions in Latin America.

This year, Brazil takes the lead, with 94 of its universities featured in the Latin America  rankings, followed by Mexico with 66 universities and Colombia with 60. Find out what it’s like to study in Latin American countries with our guides

The index was compiled using eight indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty to student ratio, staff with PhDs, international research network, citations per paper, papers per faculty and web impact. 

It’s worth noting that the data collected for these rankings reflects the period before COVID-19. Find out more about the methodology used here. 

In this article, we will be counting down the top 10 universities in Latin America. Alternatively, you can view the full rankings here


QS Latin America University Rankings 2021: Top 10





Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC)







Universidade de São Paulo (USP)







Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM)







Universidad de Chile







Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)






Universidad de los Andes Colombia







Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)






Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)







Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro







Universidad Nacional de Colombia








10. Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Location: Colombia 

For the third year in a row, Universidad Nacional de Colombia starts off our countdown of the best universities in Latin America in 10th place. Founded in 1867, the university is the largest higher education institution in Colombia. It has eight campuses around the country and more than 53,000 students. 

Universidad Nacional de Colombia earns its highest score in the employer reputation indicator, ranking second in Latin America. The university offers the largest selection of courses in the country, being featured in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 31 subjects


9. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Location: Brazil

Ranking joint 380th in the QS World University Rankings 2021, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) places ninth this year in Latin America. UFRJ is the largest federal university in Brazil and is internationally recognized for its excellent teaching and research. 

The university earns a high score for the web impact indicator. This proves that UFRJ is enhancing its international engagement with a strong online presence. It also has a high proportion of staff with a PhD. 


8. Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)

Location: Argentina

The top university in Argentina this year and ranking in eighth place in the Latin America rankings is Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA). Four Nobel Prize winners, several presidents and the Marxist guerrilla fighter Che Guevara are counted amongst UBA’s notable alumni. 

The university earns a perfect score in the academic reputation indicator in 2021 and is highly respected by academics and graduate employers. Undergraduate degrees are free of charge for both domestic and international students. 


7. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Location: Mexico 

Ranking in 100th in the World University Rankings 2021 and falling one place to seventh in the Latin America rankings this year is Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). The university has over 143,000 students this year and has several campuses in Mexico City as well as others across Mexico and throughout the US, including San Antonio, Chicago and Hull. 

UNAM proves itself to be an all-rounder this year. It earns perfect scores for the academic reputation and web impact indicators, as well as placing second in the region for employer reputation and its international research. 


6. Universidad de los Andes Colombia

Location: Colombia 

Down two places in the Latin America rankings this year is Universidad de los Andes Colombia (Uniandes) in sixth place. Earning its highest score in employer reputation this year, the university demonstrates its popularity amongst graduate employers. The university contains a wide range of facilities, including a sports center with a semi-Olympic swimming pool. 

Uniandes offers over 100 undergraduate courses and has around 15,280 students. Founded in 1948, Uniandes ranks 227th in the World University Rankings 2021 and is located in Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá.


5. Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

Location: Brazil 

Remaining in fifth place this year we have Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp). 

The university scores highest in the staff with PhDs and papers per faculty indicators: a reflection of the high level of research productivity of the university’s teaching staff. As a result, Unicamp is now responsible for around 15 percent of all Brazilian research. 

As with all public universities in Brazil, there are no tuition fees for domestic or international students.


4. Universidad de Chile

Location: Chile 

Rising an impressive three places is Universidad de Chile, stealing fourth place in the Latin American rankings this year. Founded in 1842 and inaugurated in 1843, the Universidad de Chile is the oldest university in Chile and has a rich history in academic, scientific and social outreach. 

The university earns its highest score in the employer reputation indicator, reflecting the strong reputation of the university’s graduates amongst employers. Notable alumni include 20 past Chilean presidents, two Nobel Laureates and 155 National Award recipients in different fields. 


3. Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM)

Location: Mexico

Over to Mexico now, where Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM) ranks third this year. Established in 1943, today ITESM has 31 campuses across 25 Mexican cities. 

ITESM scores well across all the indicators but earns its highest score in the employer reputation indicator. It’s also worth noting that the university earns the highest faculty student ratio in the universities featured in the top 10 in Latin America, demonstrating ITESM’s commitment to high quality teaching. 


2. Universidade de São Paulo (USP)

Location: Brazil

The second-best university in Latin America in 2021 and ranking joint 115th in the most recent world university rankings is Universidade de São Paulo (USP). 

USP was officially founded in 1934, but its law school was established much earlier, in 1827. Today, it is the largest public university in Brazil. USP earns perfect scores across five of the eight indicators, including employer reputation, web impact and international research network. This demonstrates the wide scope of the university’s achievements and dedication to preparing graduates for employment. 

USP has quickly achieved a leading role in many different fields as a research center and is now responsible for around 20 percent of all Brazilian academic output.  


1. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC)

Location: Chile 

For the third year in a row, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC) is once again the top university in Latin America. UC places joint 121st in the most recent world university rankings. 

Established in 1888, UC is one of the six Catholic universities in Chile, with four campuses in the country’s capital, Santiago, and one in Villarrica. It scores highly across all the indicators, with perfect scores for employer reputation and academic reputation – meaning that employment prospects for the university’s graduates are very positive. 


CTA: View the full QS Latin America Rankings 2021

This article was originally published in November 2020 .

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