Skip to main content

Academics

Fields of Study: Humanities, Social Sciences, Science, Engineering

The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile is considered among the most prominent education institutions in Chile and Latin America. In spite of the name, there is no requirement for religion at ​La Católica, as the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile is known. In many ways it is the strongest university in Santiago for UC students because of its predictable program of academic course work in most disciplines. Its unified central administration functions much like a US university even though its 16 facultades (roughly equivalent to a college or school) are distributed on four campuses throughout Santiago. The UCEAP study center is located at the Campus Oriente in Ñuñoa.

Unique study opportunities

  • Accelerated Spanish language learning the first three weeks of the program.
  • Multiple excursions and field trips in and out of Santiago.
  • Internships with NGOs as well as government, human rights, and indigenous organizations.

Language

Language of Instruction: Spanish

Spanish Language Study: Required

Intensive Language Program (ILP)

You will take the ILP at PUC. The language class will be at your learning level based on two placement exams: a written exam before you leave the US and an oral exam after arrival in Chile. To complement classroom instruction, the ILP includes cultural activities and field trips.

The mandatory three-week ILP:

  • Improves your language skills and introduces key aspects of Chile
  • Provides prearranged housing so you can get to know the city as you search for your own housing
  • Prepares you for academic success in Chilean university classes

Additional foreign language study may be available. Check the university catalog.

Courses and credit

Requirements While Abroad

To successfully complete this program during the academic year:

  • Take a full-time course of study: A minimum of four courses and 18 quarter/12 semester UC units each semester.
  • If you are from a semester campus (i.e., UC Berkeley or UC Merced), consider taking 19.5–22.5 quarter/13–15 semester UC units.
  • You may take one course for pass/no pass.

Most classes at both universities range from 5–7 units. If the course is listed in the UCEAP Course Catalog, unit values will be listed there. If the courses you enroll in have a lower unit value, the study center staff may have you add more than four courses to your schedule.

Intensive Language Program

To successfully complete the ILP:

  • Take one course for a total of 3-4.5 quarter/2-3 semester UC units.
  • You must take the ILP for a letter grade.
  • Attend all class sessions and related activities.

Current Program Courses

Finding the right courses is critical for a successful semester. Both universities offer advising assistance and provide lists of courses suitable for international students. Each facultad provides all the courses needed by its own students; for you as a visitor, finding the right courses can require persistence.

Do not limit your search to the particular facultad that specializes in your field. For example, history courses may be part of the curriculum for sociology majors, and thus found not only in the Facultad de Filosofia y Humanidades—where you would find the history major—but also in the Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, which sponsors the sociology major.

Visit the host university websites as you complete your academic planning.

Remember that not all listed courses will be available. Consult the study center staff for their assessment of all courses before you enroll in classes.

​La Católica offers regular university courses in virtually all disciplines. La Católica excels in the fields of education and psychology. It also has a strong program in the arts.

For most facultades at La Católica, a general syllabus is readily available online and more detailed information is provided in class.

Catalogs and resources

Academic Culture

The Chilean system of higher education is organized the way graduate programs are organized in the United States. Most Chilean college students enter directly into a professional program and devote themselves immediately and almost exclusively to their field of study. At both Chilean universities, economics and business courses are offered by professional schools. Expect your Chilean classmates to be highly focused.

General education requirements are not typically part of a Chilean student’s academic program; thus they are admitted to and take courses in only one facultad. This restriction does not apply to you as a UC student; you may take courses from any facultad (provided you meet the course prerequisites).

Chilean students follow strict degree programs in their majors (carreras) with few elective courses. Any allowed electives are provided within the student’s facultad. Thus, Chilean university students tend to have more experience in their major field of study than their UC counterparts. Coursework at the third- and fourth-year levels is more advanced than it is in the US, and in many cases may also be more specialized. Seek out and follow the advice of the host university advisors and the study center staff when you make your final course choices.

Courses tend to be more lecture-style with less student participation than at UC, although this can vary according to field. Classes are relatively small, with an average of 30 students. A group of 75 students would be considered a large class. Since the supply and use of textbooks is limited, students depend on photocopy services or the library reserve system.

The academic calendar is based on a semester system that runs from March through December, with a semester break in late July. Chilean semesters offer 16 weeks of instruction and an additional one- to two-week schedule of final exams.

Grades

You will earn direct UC credit and grades for all coursework. Grading in most courses is based on a combination of exams and a final paper. Grades for this program are typically available in early to late January to early February for the fall semester, and late September to early October for the spring semester. Because grades will not be available for spring graduation deadlines, graduating seniors completing their participation in the spring term should plan for a summer or fall graduation. Do not declare candidacy for the spring term.