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Education System of Chile

Chile, officially known as the Republic of Chile is situated in the south-west part of South America. The country is located in south of Peru and west of Argentina and Bolivia, with a thin strip between the Pacific and the Andes. Chile's climate and geography are diverse.

The Ministry of Education manages the education system in Chile. As per the Chilean constitution, compulsory education lasts for 13 years. The Chile education is split up into following levels:
  • Preschool
  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Higher education

Education Profile of Chile

Preschool (educacion parvularia)

Preschool education in Chile is not mandatory to attend Children aged 85 days to 6 years may attend this educational level. The preschool education is split up into two stages:
  • Nursery (Sala cuna): This is for children up to two years old. In Chile, there are both public and private nursery schools. 
  • Nivel medio : This is for children aged 2 to 4. 
  • Transicion: This is for children aged 4 to 6.
This educational level provides basic knowledge of arithmetic, reading and writing and also prepares children for primary schools. 

Primary Education (Educacion basica)

The primary education in Chile is compulsory and lasts for 8 years. Children at age of 6 start primary school in Chile and this educational level is also known as basic general education. 
Primary education in Chile is split up into two stages:
  • Stage 1: Covers grades 1 to 4
  • Stage 2: Covers grades 5 to 8

Secondary Education (Ensenanza media)

Secondary education in Chile is compulsory and lasts for 4 years. This educational level provides specialised education and training, and prepares students for higher education or vocational educational and training. Secondary education is split up into 2 cycles of 2 years each. 

Curriculum: The curriculum of secondary schools comprises of compulsory as well as optional subjects.In the first 2 years, pupils have a common general curriculum, and in the last 2 years, pupils get to select up their specialisation:

Types of Secondary Education Paths: Secondary education is split up into:
  • Scientific-Humanities: This concentration if study prepares students for higher education
  • Technical-professional: This is vocational-oriented study.
Certificate awarded: Students who successfully complete this educational level are awarded a secondary education completion certificate- Licenciado en Ensenanza Media. This certificate enables them to apply for higher education.

Higher Education (Educacion superior)

Higher education in Chile is offered by the higher education by the universities, professional institutes and technical training centres. Higher education institutions in Chile provide academic as well as professional education.

Higher Education Institutions: At a Glance

  • University (universidad): In Chile, there are both public and private universities. The universities in Chile offer education at bachelor, master and PhD level. 
  • Professional Institute (Instituto Profesional, IP): These institutions provide professional educational programmes that lead to employment.
  • Technical Schooling Center (Centro de Formacion Tecnica, CFT): These are private institutions that provide technical degree programmes only. 

Higher Education Qualifications: Snapshot

Following are the higher education qualifications awarded by the universities in Chile:
  • Bachelor degree (Bachillerato): This degree lasts for 4 to 5 years
  • Licenciatura: This degree lasts for 4 years and lead to a title of Licenciado.
  • Master’s degree: This degree lasts for 1 to 2 years and is of 2 types: academic master’s and professional master’s.
  • Doctorate (Doctorado): This degree required 2 to 5 years of study and lead to a title of Doctor. 

To know in detail about the Chilean Education System, read the post "Chile Education Overview".

Admission Requirements

In order to gain admittance into the higher education institutions in Chile, students must hold a secondary school diploma- : Licencia de Educacion Media or Licencia de Ensenanza Media. 
To know in detail about the admission requirements and procedure for different levels of study and programmes, click here.

Entrance Examination 

University Selection Test (Prueba Seleccion Universitaria, or PSU)

The PSU is a national examination required for entry into the higher education institutions in Chile. Students after the completion of the secondary education must undertake this exam.
  • This test comprises of 2 compulsory exams- 
  • Mathematics
  • Language exam
Along with the compulsory exams, there are 2 elective examinations (depending on the students’ choice for the undergraduate programme)- 
  • History
  • Sciences that cover biology, chemistry and physics

Special Needs Education

Students with special needs are offered education in special educational units or are merged into the mainstream schools.

Adult Education

The adult education provides an opportunity to adults to start, complete or continue their studies at the primary or secondary education level.  In Chile, there are many Integrated Adult Education Centres (CEIAs) operating for adult education. 

Cost of Study and Living

The cost of study and living in Chile are:

Tuition fees: The tuition fees vary depending on the level of study, programme and type of institution-public or private. Many institutions and organizations conduct formal and non-formal education programmes under the supervision of the Ministry of Education of Chile. 

Living expenses: The cost of living varies depending on the lifestyle and location. Larger cities have high living cost than the smaller cities.

Student Visa

Students who wish to study in Chile for a period of more than 90 days must apply for a student visa at their nearest Chilean embassy/consulate. If the studies are less than 90 days, tourist visa is sufficient. This visa is issued as stamp upon entering the country. 

Scholarships to Study in Chile

The Ministry of Education of Chile offer many scholarship programmes for Chilean and international students to study in Chile. Also, many higher education institutions in Chile provide scholarships for students. Contact the respective higher education institution to know about the scholarships offered by them.
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