Education in Chile: What do I need to know?

19 February, 2021


Have you ever wondered about education in Chile? If it’s something that interests you and you’d like to know more about it before you visit our country, here is some useful information.

Level division

The education system in Chile is divided into 4 levels, which are: pre-school, primary, secondary, and higher level.

The pre-school level is directed to kids up until they’re 6 years old. After that, the primary level is the initial cycle of studies, also known in Chile as “Enseñanza Básica” (Basic Education), which lasts for 8 years.

The secondary level is also known as “Enseñanza Media” (the equivalent to high school), which lasts for 4 years. This corresponds to the formation that is given to students so they can opt to pursue professional studies at a higher level.

Lastly, the higher level is directed to everyone who completes the secondary level. In Chile, different institutions offer the possibility to pursue professional training.

Types of Institutions

Those who opt to continue their studies at a higher level have different options to fulfill their objectives.

In the case of universities, they are divided into two types: “traditional”, which are labelled as such since they were established before 1980 and are grouped under the Consejo de Rectores de Universidades Chilenas (Board of Rectors of Chilean Universities). On the other hand, one can find private universities.

Technical Schools: In this type of institution, programs can last 2 years and students obtain a technical degree.

Professional Institutes: In these institutions, students can obtain technical degrees as well as professional ones. Programs can last from 2 to 5 years, depending on the type of degree.

Universities: Here, students can obtain a professional degree as well as the equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. Moreover, they can also obtain Master’s and PhD degrees. The duration of the programs can vary, ranging from 4 to 7 years.

Selection Process

Those who wish to enroll in university in Chile have to take an exam that until 2019 was known as the University Selection Test (Prueba de Selección Universitaria in Spanish, or PSU). The test aims to measure the knowledge the students acquired during their secondary education, covering the subjects of Spanish, History, Math, or Science.

Currently, the test is being reformulated and the 2020 version was known as “Transition Test”.

Scholarships in Chile

In Chile, there are different alternatives and support for students.

In 2018, Chile implemented university gratuity, a program which allows students from certain segments of the population to study for free.

On the other hand, scholarships are aimed for students that have demonstrated excellence. Some of the scholarships cover National Master’s Degree, National Master’s Degree for Education Professionals, National PhD scholarships, among others. All of these scholarships are backed by Chile’s National Organism for Research and Development (ANID)

International students also have the option to access different funding opportunities. Learn more about those here.