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City and Academic Overview

City Information

Population: 264,000

Built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Valparaíso boasts a labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleyways, embodying a rich architectural and cultural legacy. Nicknamed “The Jewel of the Pacific”, Valparaíso was declared a UNESCO world heritage site based upon its improvised urban design and unique architecture. Founded in 1536, Valparaíso is not only one of Chile’s most important port cities, it is also its third largest city. Valparaíso remains a source of inspiration for artists of all types, including the well-known Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. Students can visit Neruda’s seaside home in Valparaíso, as well as the Chilean Congress. Offering strikingly beautiful views from the top of its numerous hills, it is reminiscent of San Francisco. Valparaíso, or Valpo for short, is a city where students can amble away an afternoon exploring its steep and winding streets, peppered with colored houses and electric lines, and admire the sparkling Pacific Ocean below. It is also only a two-hour bus ride away from Chile’s capital city, Santiago.

Study Abroad in Valparaíso

Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaíso

The history of the Pontifícia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso began in 1924, though its doors did not open to the Chilean community until 1928. The fourth university to be established in Chile, it is recognized as the leading university in the region of Valparaíso and attracts Chilean students with top scores on the national university entrance exam. It enrolls approximately 14,000 students and has 100 programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Housing its academic departments throughout the picturesque city of Valparaíso, students will enjoy the urban landscape and the opportunity to attend a university that is integrated into city life. Visiting students enjoy taking Spanish courses at all levels, as well as Chilean culture courses. Advanced Spanish speakers are encouraged to take coursework with Chilean students.

Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María

Founded in 1926 under the auspices and vision of the Chilean entrepreneur, Don Federico Santa María Carrera, the University was designed to provide opportunities for academically-gifted Chilean students to study science and technology, regardless of their social class. Today, the University is recognized as one of the best universities in Chile for science, engineering and technology. Visiting international students complete an intensive Spanish course prior to the start of the regular academic semester, during which they complete coursework in Spanish alongside their Chilean peers. Visiting students may study the humanities and social science with Chilean students or complete business, science and engineering courses with local students at more advanced levels.

The Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María main campus is comparable to a campus in the U.S. Academic, athletic and social buildings are all in the same area, so international students have a great deal of interaction with their Chilean counterparts. On a hill overlooking the city and shoreline, USM features both classical and modern architecture and is surrounded by grassy areas where students can relax and socialize. There are top-notch athletic facilities, including an outdoor pool, soccer fields and hiking trails.

Why Valparaíso?

  • A bustling port with beautiful Pacific view
  • A Bohemian flair
  • Access to Pablo Neruda’s Homes in Valpo (“La Sebastiana”) and Isla Negra
  • Host family living
  • 40 “Cerros” or hills to witness the sparking ocean below
  • A historical center recognized by UNESCO
  • Seat of the Chilean Congress
  • Short bus ride away from Vina del Mar and its renowned beaches
  • Only 2 hours from the Chilean capital, Santiago
  • Mediterranean climate