Many people chose to study one semester abroad. But, why not take a chance a drive into studying a whole degree abroad? Argentina is an interesting and different destination to study for a university degree abroad.
There is a lot of information to take into consideration when you are deciding whether to study for a university degree in Argentina.
After having studied both a semester abroad on my undergraduate and two whole Masters’ Degrees here in Buenos Aires, I believe I have gotten some good insights into studying in Argentina.
In this post, I want to share these insights with you and cover some of the basic facts about studying for a university degree in Argentina.
Let’s drive into these 10 facts you need to know about studying for a university degree in Argentina:
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#1 Your university degree will be completely in Spanish
When you choose to study for a whole university degree – whether undergraduate or master’s degree – in Argentina, all your classes will be completely in Spanish.
When enrolling in a program in Argentina, you are excepted to be able to follow along in Spanish. Both with classes in Spanish and course materials in Spanish. Some universities might also ask for a Spanish test before accepting you.
In my experience, Argentine university teachers are pretty flexible if you are struggling with your Spanish. And they will, for example, allow you to write some of your assignments in English. Or they will be extra nice to you if you stumble a bit over words in presentations.
I have never heard of whole degrees in English in Argentina. The only exception I know of is if you are studying a semester abroad during your degree at home. Here some universities do offer classes in English.
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#2 Public versus private universities in Argentina
In Argentina, there are both public and private universities. The biggest difference is that the public universities at the undergraduate level are free – meaning no tuition fee at all! Whereas, undergraduate degrees at private universities have a tuition fee. For Master’s Degree programs both public and private universities have tuition fees.
Mind that in both cases you will still have to buy the materials (books, compendiums, etc.) for your classes.
Most foreign students choose to study in Buenos Aires where there are many different universities to choose from.
University of Buenos Aires (UBA) is considered the best public university in all of Argentina. However, if you choose to study there, you need to prepare yourself to handle some confusing, slow, and non-responsive university administration (see more below).
Among the best private universities in Buenos Aires are:
- Universidad Torcuato di Tella (UTDT)
- Universidad de San Andrés (UDESA)
- Universidad Católica de Argentina (UCA)
- Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA)
However, there are many more public and private universities for you to choose from. Do your research beforehand since: the academic level differs a lot between the Argentine universities (read more below).
What should you see in Buenos Aires? Check out this bucket list for Buenos Aires!
#3 The academic levels at universities in Argentina
In my opinion, the academic level of the universities in Argentina is one of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing where to study.
The academic levels at the local universities are VERY different from one university to another! You can’t be sure that an expensive private university necessarily means a great academic level.
Some might have a level lower than what you are used to from your home country. While others will have a similar level.
In some cases, especially if your Spanish is still a bit rusty, it can be an idea to choose an academically less demanding university.
However, if you want to be able to challenge yourself on an academic level, keep this in mind when you choose where to study for your university degree in Argentina.
And do your research before settling on a degree! I didn’t do that, and I have regretted it a couple of times. Even though I generally have had a good experience studying in Argentina.
Looking for tips about Argentine Spanish? Check out these 10 phrases you should know before visiting Argentina!
#4 Admission to the university in Argentina
For admission to a university degree in Argentina, you will need your previous diplomas certified in your home country. For example, by an apostille (most common) or another international certification. Remember to get this done before leaving for Argentina.
When you arrive in Argentina, you’ll need your diploma translated to Spanish. The translation then needs to be certified by the Colegio de Traductores Públicos. There are different translator associations in Argentina. Search for the one based in the province where you are doing to stay. For Buenos Aires, you can search for certified translators by language on their website: Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires
Ask the specific university you are applying for in Argentina for the details of their enrollments. Most of them have online enrollments or enrollments via email.
Admission for Undergraduate programs in Argentina
For an undergraduate program, most universities in Argentina will ask you to show a finalized high school degree and some other standard forms.
Furthermore, in most universities in Argentina, you will have to pass an admission test (in Spanish: exámenes de ingreso) before being accepted to the program.
The big difference here is for Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) where instead of the admission test you have to pass a 1-year introduction course called CBC (Ciclo Básico Común). The CBC substitutes the admission test that the university had previously.
Admission for Master’s Degree programs in Argentina
The admission procedure for the Master’s Degree programs differs a lot. However, for all Master’s Degree programs, you need to show a finalized undergraduate degree.
Most universities will have some sort of formal admission test for the Master’s degree programs. These tests differ from university to university. In the end, they seem to be nothing more than a formality.
In my case, for my first Master’s Degree program, I had to answer a questionnaire. It was mostly questions about my previous academic and professional experiences and why I wanted to study that specific program. Actually, I highly doubt that anybody ever read through my answers.
For the second one, I had to attend a small written test at the university campus (pre-pandemic). According to the program director, the idea was to check whether we had just the slightest idea on how to organize a written argument. The questions were actually the exact same as the ones on the university example of the admission test.
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#5 Grading systems at the university in Argentina
Generally speaking the grading system in Argentina goes from 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest and 10 the highest).
However, some universities choose to use an alphabetical scale similar to the one used in the US (I’m looking at you, Universidad Torcuato di Tella!). While others again use a percentage – which, of course, is more similar to the 1 to 10.
It might also differ from teacher to teacher what they prefer to use. Kind of confusing… But now you know!
#6 Studying a Master’s Degree while working
If you do your Master’s Degree in Argentina, your classes will most likely either be at night or on weekends.
It is common for Argentines to study for their Master’s Degree while working full-time jobs. This means that universities have adjusted their schedules according to this.
#7 Thesis writing not included in the course program
Universities in Argentina tend to not include the time to write the final thesis in their duration estimates. The duration estimates normally only include the time to finalize the courses for your university degree in Argentina.
So, if you see a Master’s Degree with a duration of two years, it actually means two years plus the thesis.
Depending on the program, the thesis can be a long written assignment or a shorter one. So, it is a good idea to check these details before you settle on where to study. Because you will not receive your official diploma before you have presented your thesis. And it can take up a lot of time to write a thesis after finalizing your courses.
#8 Dealing with the university’s administration
The academic challenge of studying in another language can be pretty overwhelming. Another almost equally big challenge when studying in Argentina is to learn how to deal with the university’s administration.
Some of the private universities have good and well-functioning university administrations. However, the fact is that most universities in Argentina don’t!
While it might seem like a minor thing when deciding to study abroad in Argentina, trust me it is not!
When you have to face payments not going through, registrations not being completed on time (which ultimately can result in you not being able to take your exam on time), or the simple fact that everything isn’t always available for you online, then you start to realize that dealing with your university’s administration has become a huge part of studying abroad in Argentina.
How much do you actually know about Argentina? Check out these 20 things that nobody tells you about Argentina!
#9 Getting your student visa for Argentina
If you go to study for a university degree full-time in Argentina, then you will need a student visa. Most universities will be able to help you out. But you will need to take the papers to the Migration Office yourself.
The first time you go, you need a paper that shows that the university has registered you as a full-time student in the Migration Office’s system.
For the subsequent renewals of your student visa, you simply have to show an official certificate from the university saying that you are still a regular student (called Certificado de alumna regular) and an official overview of your grades and passed exams (called Analitico).
The important part is that both of these papers need to be legalized with the Argentina Ministry of Education. Your university should send the papers to the ministry to get it legalized. Sometimes, they will make you pay a small fee for doing this paperwork for you.
Renewal of your student visa
For the first three years of your stay with a student visa, you will have to renew your student visa once a year. After three years you will be able to apply for permanent residency in Argentina.
If you are a citizen of a MERCOSUR country, the permanent residency is after two years.
If you have a valid reason for wanting to stay longer in Argentina than the two years – for example if you are doing the research for your thesis in Argentina. Then you can submit a request to the Migration Office for extending your student visa for another year. I did this, and they did grant me a third year without much trouble.
#10 Exams at the university in Argentina
Exams differ a lot among the different universities in Argentina. Some degrees will have very difficult exams while others will have way too easy exams.
In my experience, the exams at the undergraduate level in Argentina are a lot about memorizing content and having closed book exams. At least, it was a lot more memorizing than I was used to from Denmark.
The Master’s Degrees’ exams seem to be a lot more about writing essays or practice tests about the subjects studied in class.
My experience with exams at the two Master’s Degrees was also very different:
On the first one, the exams were super easy. Normally, we had to write an assignment of around 10 pages in groups of 2-3 students. The subject for the assignment was within the field of what we had studied in the course. The final “exam” was more a quick chat with the teacher or a presentation in class about the assignment.
On my second Master’s at Universidad Torcuato di Tella, most of the exams were more demanding and required a lot of work. The standard exam form was to get 48 hrs to write 10-15 pages individual answering 2-3 questions related to the course material. Sometimes we got more time to write the same amount of pages. And other times, we could choose our own subject within the course material. However, we never had to do class presentations.