Higher education in Mexico is some of the best in Latin America. They system largely follows the American model, but there are many more types of universities. There are six official types: public state institutions, institutions that depend on the federal government, private institutions with official validity, public autonomous universities, and institutions without official government validity or certification. Public autonomous universities and private independent universities are the most prestigious institutions. Universities in Mexico are overseen by the Subsecretaría de Educación (SES), which is in charge of overseeing the curriculum. That is unless it is a private or autonomous university.
Universities offer Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree and Doctoral Degrees. In order to complete the degree, you must present a thesis. There are many options, and it is generally better to choose a university based on the degree you want to pursue, as some are known for having better all around programs in certain aspects.
Some of the best universities in Mexico (though not all of them) are private institutions. If you want to study at a private university in Mexico, be aware that tuition fees can be very high and often reach US-standard. Some can cost more than $100,000 MXN a semester and others are for the most part, free. You should also make sure that the private university is recognised by the SEP (Secretaría de Educación Pública), as only state-recognised diplomas are officially valid for many careers in Mexico.
If you have a foreign degree, its validity will depend on the similarity between curricula and will have to be apostilled and notarized in order for it to be valid. This process would have to be investigated with individual universities.
A student's eligibility depends on what program they plan on enrolling in: undergraduate, master’s, or PhD. For undergraduate studies, you are required to have a high school cumulative Grade Point Average of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 GPA scale. From then on, Master’s and Doctorates depend on the university and the degree to be pursued.
Where to go?
The National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM, is the oldest and largest university in America. It is also one of the highest ranked universities in Latin America. The Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology, commonly known as ITAM, has one of the most rigorous curricula in the country. It is regarded as the best place to study law and economics. The Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, ITESM, is one of the most recognized institutions of the country with campuses all over. The Universidad Iberoamericana, or Ibero as it is colloquially called, is another top university in Mexico City. The Universidad de las Américas Puebla, or UDLAP has a great medicine program and one of the best american football teams in the country.
All universities require an entrance exam, as well as your high school documentation. The general entrance exam will ask about everything from language, reading comprehension, mathematics, and information technology. You need to pass a certain amount of the entrance exam to be admitted, and if you excel at any section, you can skip the first semester class on the topic. That is the general entrance exam, but some degrees require you to take more exams. You will need letters of recommendation. For example, applying for a degree in Architecture will have more exams that are more specifically tailored to the degree. The system works differently in every university, so visit their individual websites in order to find out more. It does not take long to apply, as most universities have set examination dates and deadlines, but you should get a head start since spaces fill up quickly.
If you are going to study in Mexico through a university exchange programme you will usually apply through your home university.
You will need the following documents in order to apply to a Mexican university:
- Completed university application form
- Pay application fees
- Valid passport
- Evidence of sufficient financial resources or adequate scholarship
- Complete details of educational qualifications
- TOEFL/IELTS scores as proof of English proficiency and the Spanish equivalent
- All official transcripts of previous schooling
Since almost all university courses are held in Spanish, you usually need a good knowledge of Spanish to study there. Each university is different, but expect to be asked for a minimum of A2 or B1. Some universities offer degrees in English, like TEC. Many universities offer special Spanish courses for foreign students during the semester. You can find more information on this at the Mexican University Association’s website, ANUIES.
Tuition fees at public universities in Mexico for an undergraduate degree can be anywhere between $378 and $818 per year. Private universities cost a lot more, and tuition fees can go anywhere between $1,636 and $16,353 per year.