Best of Latin America – Academics 

By Alan Thompson, Site Specialist, Colombia, Peru and Dominican Republic; Kim Sarna, Geographic Oversight Manager, Latin America; Svaja Pakalniskis, Site Specialist, Argentina and Costa Rica;  Madeline Hume, Program Manager, Chile and Costa Rica; and Johanna Alvarado, Associate Director

While we hope that you’ll take away valuable outside of the classroom experiences from your time abroad, there’s no doubting that much of your time overseas will be spent at your new host university. After all, it is called study abroad. So why not pick a university that is known for its academic variety or state of the art campus? We recognize that every student is different. Some want to be able to take electives and courses from a wide array of subjects, while others need to stay on track for their major and take classes in specialized topics. How do you find the best option for you?

No matter what your academic goals are, ISA Latin America has programs that can meet your needs. “But what if I don’t speak Spanish?” Don’t worry! All sites offer the option to take some (if not all) of your courses taught in English. Spanish or Portuguese language learners also have opportunities to take grammar, content, or even courses taught alongside locals in most locations. Here are a few highlighted programs that offer academic variety, prestige, and specialization that will leave you with an unforgettable host university experience.

Barranquilla, Colombia

Host University: Universidad del Norte

Popular Majors: Business, Engineering, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Spanish Language

Ranked number 2 on the NY Times list of Places to Go in 2018, Colombia is a current hot spot for international travelers. ISA was ahead of the trends when we started running our program in 2013 at one of Colombia’s top-rated universities, the Universidad del Norte. ISA Barranquilla combines the adventure of studying abroad in a location off the beaten path while boasting a well-rounded academic offer on an amazing host university campus.

UNINORTE is best known for its generous offer of ABET-accredited engineering courses in civil, electrical, industrial, mechanical, and systems engineering. Concerned about taking core engineering courses in another language? No worries! UNINORTE courses are unique since they are instructed in English for both international and local Colombian students. Not only will you earn important credits that can transfer back to you home university, you’ll also study and make friends with local Colombians. In addition, UNINORTE offers international business courses (also taught in English) in marketing, management, and finance.

If you want to brush up on your Spanish, you can add any level of Spanish Language (beginner to high advanced) to your semester or summer program. If there’s a specific area you’d like to research, you can complete the Research Project course in English or Spanish with the supervision of a university faculty member. You can study Race, Identity and Cultural Diversity in Colombia in English alongside Colombians and volunteer in the local community for credit through the Volunteering and Social Transformation course.

Upon arrival, you’ll be totally immersed in university life on UNINORTE’s campus, which is like a mini-city with its own restaurants, cafes, ATMs, and convenience stores. The office of Bienestar Universitario, or university well-being, can help connect you with dance and music classes, yoga, sports teams and much more. No one likes to get sick, but if you do, there is a student medical clinic on campus with low- cost or free appointments available daily. Feeling tense about an upcoming exam? Set up an appointment for a massage at the student operated Salon and Spa. There are so many amazing opportunities available, so be sure to check in with your UNINORTE buddy with questions. You’ll be paired with a local student during your first days abroad, and they are happy help you adjust to life at UNINORTE. Time will fly, so before your program ends, don’t forget to snap a photo with one the wild iguanas on campus!

Costa Rica

Host University: Universidad Veritas (San Jose)

Popular Majors: Business, Environmental Studies, Health Sciences, Political Science, Spanish Language

Students in San Jose study at Universidad Veritas – a well renowned Costa Rican design school with a strong international students program. Surrounded by colorful neighborhoods, lush vegetation, and only a few blocks from the ISA San Jose office, Universidad Veritas is a great place to study abroad! Since this university has a design focus, the buildings have modern finishes, efficient computer labs and work spaces, and the campus commonly displays student work such as fashion design, digital art, and murals for all to admire. With beautiful weather abound, students can take advantage of open air hallways and courtyards to visit with friends between classes or eat lunch.

At Universidad Veritas, students take courses with other international students in a wide variety of fields, from Ecological Photography to Tropical Medicine. Students here may have the opportunity to participate on field excursions for course work and can improve their language skills during the intensive Spanish courses with levels ranging from beginner to high advanced. Modular Spanish courses are offered as one-month blocks, allowing students to complete up to three semesters of Spanish language credit during just one semester-long San Jose program. Before beginning the semester, students take a placement exam to determine their language level and set them up for success abroad.

When students aren’t in class, they have the opportunity to connect with local Tico students in extracurricular activities. Universidad Veritas offers movie nights where students are encouraged to attend to share a Spanish language or other international film with their peers. ISA participants in San Jose are also encouraged to take advantage of on campus organizations such as Costa Rican dance, language exchange, and drawing to integrate into the local campus community and practice their Spanish skills.

Host University: Universidad Latina (Heredia)

Popular Majors: Business, Latin American Studies, Literature, Spanish, Visual and Performing Arts

Students studying at the Universidad Latina will benefit from learning in an atmosphere that emulates the typical campus of a U.S. university. The campus is made up of several buildings interspersed with sun-lit courtyards, green spaces, and quiet tropical gardens.

Studying abroad in Heredia is the ideal option for students who are looking for an immersive linguistic and cultural and experience. The tight-knit community on campus and in the city provides you with an incomparable opportunity to integrate into the Costa Rican way of life. Semester programs at the Universidad Latina allow students at the advanced level of Spanish to improve their Spanish language skills through ISA-curated Spanish courses and explore other academic endeavors in courses with locals. Subjects for courses with locals include business administration, visual and performing arts, environmental sciences, fun electives like yoga and more. Universidad Latina also has an inviting office of student life so don’t be afraid to grab a soccer ball and play pickup on the campus field with your Tico peers!

If studying abroad for a semester isn’t an option for you, or you merely want to spend a few weeks of your summer experiencing the “pura vida”, the summer programs in Heredia are perfect alternatives. Students at the intermediate and advanced levels of Spanish can take two Spanish language or Latin American Studies courses in an intimate and enriching environment with other ISA students.

Viña del Mar, Chile

Host University: Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez

Popular Majors: Business, Marketing, Economics, Spanish, Latin American Studies

Are you looking for the opportunity to take business courses in an economic powerhouse like Chile? The Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (UAI) offers the perfect program options, which allow you to enroll in business related courses in both English and Spanish. The UAI is a private institution with a modern, urban campus located in Viña del Mar, also known as Chile’s “Garden City.” The UAI was bestowed a “Triple Crown” award, which is attributed to its AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA accreditation. The UAI falls into the 1% of Business Schools in the world who have received this title – which is exactly what your academic advisor wants to hear.

Our programs at the UAI welcome all Spanish language levels. Those who possess an advanced Spanish proficiency will be eligible to enroll in courses with local Chileans. Although ISA only offers semester programs at the UAI, if you’re looking for a summer internship opportunity, you may consider the Summer 3/4: Business Internship, Spanish Language & Latin American Studies program at our sister university, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso.

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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