Study in Colombia: the ultimate guide for a PhD in 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Studying in Colombia in 2024

Browse all PhD programmes in Colombia

  • Jan-Jan Academic Year
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  • 5,000 Int. Students
  • 2,356,000 Students
  • 51,513,000 Population

Study in Colombia

Surrounded by beautiful sceneries, having a large multicultural environment and a warm weather all year round, Colombia is truly a fascinating country and an option worth considering for a degree abroad.

Over the last years, the Colombian government has allocated significant funds for education, being specifically interested in drawing a larger number of international students.

Colombia is also probably one of the best locations in the world if you are interested in learning or improving your Spanish. The Spanish language spoken here is standardised, clear and easy to understand by any foreigner.

Find the best information about what it’s like to study in Bogotá, including degree course offers, career opportunities, student life, living costs, and more.

Education System

Although in Colombia, a big part of the costs for higher education is covered by the state, around 70% of higher education institutions are private.

The type of higher educational institutions includes: universities, university institutions (offering undergraduate programmes up to professional degree level and specialisations - career-related qualification above Bachelor’s but below Master’s level), technological institutions and professional technical institutions. Technical and technological institutions provide only undergraduate degrees.

Two important institutions that keep track of the higher education system in Colombia are: The National System of Higher Education Information (Sistema Nacional de Información de la Educación Superior), and The Labour Observatory for Education (OLE, Observatorio Laboral para la Educación).

In Colombian universities, the academic year starts in July and ends in May.

Study Options

In Colombia, students have the option to enrol in one of the twenty accredited universities, including both public and private institutions. You can choose from a wide variety of study options like: architecture, arts, sciences, education, law, philosophy, medicine, social sciences, economics and more.

Some of the top universities in Colombia were best ranked for subject areas, such as: engineering and IT, social sciences and management.

Application Requirements

The application process for a university in Colombia is usually not complicated. Most universities have set an online application format, in which applicants simply have to register, complete the application form and upload copies of requested documents.

Most common required documents for university application

  • Application form
  • Personal statement (explaining the reasons why you want to study at the university)
  • Official transcripts
  • Spanish/English Language Certificate
  • Copy of passport photo
  • Colour photographs
  • Additional documents may be requested, depending on the university or the programme you wish to enrol in. It is advisable that you always consult with the university directly and see the exact list of required documents.

    Language of instruction

    Spanish, the official language in Colombia is also the language of instruction used in universities. International students must prove their proficiency in Spanish, either by obtaining the DELE diploma B2 level or by being certified as having advanced proficiency by a licensed Spanish teacher.

    In some of the Colombian universities, you can find several degrees available in English; to enrol in these programmes, you will also have to provide evidence of your language knowledge, mainly TOEFL, PTE Academic and IELTS are the accepted language certificates.

    English language preparation for studying in Colombia

    Develop your academic English language skills in order to meet the English language requirements at Colombian universities offering degree studies for international students. Choose an English language school anywhere in the world and pick your preferred English exam preparation course from diverse language course options.

    Living in Colombia

    • Universities in Colombia set their tuition fees according to the income of the student and the subjects of study. Average tuition at Colombian universities is about 6,000 USD per year and can reach to 14,000 USD per year.
    • The national currency is Colombian Peso.
    • Colombia is home to nearly 9 million people that are 15-24 year old, with nearly 98% of them are literate.
    • Colombian universities require from international students about 50.000 pesos (16 USD) to pay per semester for medical insurance.
    • You can get a meal in a budget restaurant with just 4 USD.
    • Monthly living costs in Colombia range between 250 – 300 USD (not including the accommodation).
    • Places worth visiting while in Colombia are Arenal Volcano, in central Costa Rica that still spurts out rocks of cooled lava and the Amazon Jungle with its dense vines.
    • The world-famous Barranquilla Carnival, the second after that of Rio de Janeiro, has been designated by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
    • At 8,360 feet above sea level., Bogotá is the highest city in the world, having a population of around 3 million.
    • The name "Colombia" is derived from the last name of Christopher Columbus.
    • Gabriel García Márquez, one of the world’s most famous writers that hold a Nobel Prize for literature, was born in Colombia.

    About Colombia

    Colombia is located in the North Western corner of South America, bordered by Panama, Venezuela and Brazil to the east and sharing the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest. Colombia has beaches along both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

    The country’s official language is Spanish, and 90% of the population is Roman Catholic.

    Colombia is a republic with a democratic government, headed by the president, who is both head of state and head of government, the vice president and the council of ministers. The president is elected by popular vote to serve a maximum of two four-year terms. Colombia is divided into 32 departments plus the capital district of Bogota, which is treated as a department.

    The country is rich in natural resources, having substantial oil reserves and is a major producer of gold, silver, emeralds, platinum and coal. Colombia is also a large exporter of coffee, meat, cereals and vegetable oils, cotton and oilseed.

    Colombia is a republic with a democratic government, headed by the president, who is both head of state and head of government, the vice president and the council of ministers. The president is elected by popular vote to serve a maximum of two four-year terms. Colombia is divided into 32 departments plus the capital district of Bogota, which is treated as a department.

    With numerous forests and mountains, the largest number of species of flowers, birds, amphibians, Colombia is considered the most biodiverse country in the world.

    Since the equator passes through the southern tip of Colombia, there is a warm weather all year round.

    Colombia is ethnically diverse, its people descending from the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, Africans originally brought here as slaves, and starting with 20th-century, many immigrants from Europe and the Middle East decided to settle here.

    Interested in scholarships for Colombia? Check out our scholarship search page.

    How to Apply to a Master's in Colombia

    If you've decided to study a Master's degree at a university in Colombia, you will have to gather the right documents to prove that you fit the university requirements. Provide complete personal information, previous qualifications, financial information, and a personal statement.

    What documents do I need to provide to apply in Colombia?

    To apply to a university in Colombia you will likely be asked to provide some of the following documents:

    • birth certificate;
    • recent photos;
    • your passport or national identity card;
    • one or more reference letters from past employers or teachers;
    • copies of past diplomas or certificates, including your graduated Bachelor's degree;
    • academic transcripts;
    • letter of intent;
    • Curriculum Vitae;
    • Some form of proof that you can support your stay in the country during your studies.

    Depending on the subject or specialization of your chosen Master's, you might also be asked to provide scores for additional tests like the GRE, GMAT or LSAT. Check if your programme requires any of these, or others.

    The list of documents depends on the specific requirements of universities in Colombia so you might be asked to include additional documents. It’s also likely you’ll have to provide official English translations of your documents, or translations in the local language.

    Prove your English skills

    Because you’ll study an international degree in English, you'll have to present a language certificate. Some popular options for international students are IELTS, TOEFL or C1 Advanced language certificates. You’ll have to meet a minimum language score set by the university, and your test scores shouldn’t be older than 1-2 years. If you don’t meet the minimum language requirements, you will have to improve your skills and scores by taking an English preparation course.

    Application deadlines for Colombia

    The deadlines for applying to a Master's in Colombia are usually during summer (June-July), or in winter (January-February). Keep in mind that some universities don’t have application deadlines, which means you can apply whenever you are ready.

    To avoid delays or missed deadlines send your required documents with plenty of time in advance.

    Interesting programmes for you

    Find PhDs Degrees in Colombia

    Recent international policies promote international university cooperation and student exchange between countries worldwide. High-quality study and PhD degrees are made more available to students in order to create a global educational network, achievable through student and staff mobility. Career and research oriented programmes support international student development.

    University cooperation enables students study worldwide, for instance in Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States and provides ways of recognizing previous degrees. Different study options offer appropriate alternatives to students, depending on their preferred mode of study.

    Many study programmes in Australia, Asia, Europe and North America are English-taught. The most popular international student destinations include the following countries: Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, the United States, and more. However, these are not the only countries offering English-taught education. The rest of the world is full of endless study choices, from highly ranked to smaller, more specialized, universities.

    PhD (postgraduate) Degrees

    If you want further education beyond the undergraduate level or if you want more personal development or a career in academia, you could obtain a PhD degree. PhD degrees are postgraduate programmes that usually follow a Master's, MPhil or MRes, but there might be additional requirements depending on the university. Students are required to do their own research in a chosen topic. With the help of a supervisor, you develop knowledge and analytical skills in a specific or multidisciplinary field and you carry out independent research. The duration of a PhD degree differs per country and institution. Sometimes your own research is accompanied by work for the department such as giving seminars or small group teaching.

    PhD students are required to study on campus under close supervision, but there are universities that accept students enrolled into a part-time distance education PhD degree. Studying on campus can also be full-time as well as part-time, in which case the part-time variant is normally twice as long as the full-time study.

    Discover other countries

    The Netherlands is a very popular study destination. Internationals choose this beautiful country because Dutch universities are some of the best in Europe, the living standards are high, foreigners are always welcome, and you get to live in one of the happiest and safest countries in the world. The Netherlands is also renowned for innovative technologies and engineering solutions, which is reflected in the wide range of Engineering degrees offered by universities. English is spoken by around 90% of Dutch citizens, so forget about language barriers. Also, bike lanes and the “cycling culture” will help you to stay fit and healthy, and there are diverse job opportunities and internships for international students.
    Finland is an excellent choice for all internationals and especially for EU/EEA students who can study at local public universities for free. The beautiful Nordic country has one of the best education systems in the world and ranks among the safest and happiest nations in the world. You can also choose from over 400 English-taught programmes. In your spare time, you can explore the breathtaking Finnish nature and landscapes, as well as the numerous lakes that give the country the nickname ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes.’ From here, you can easily travel to neighbouring countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, or Estonia.
    Ireland is among the top countries in the world in terms of quality of life, peace, safety, and development. It represents an appealing blend of beautiful landscapes, English-speaking environments, and a strong, welcoming, and rich culture — of which the Irish people are very proud. International students also enjoy the full support of Irish universities, which hire and train staff that are able to help with accommodation, studies, visa details, or any other challenge.
    Norway is a paradise for anyone who wants to study abroad for free. Public universities don’t charge any tuition fees. This policy applies to all international students, regardless of their nationality. The academic standard is very high, and professors are easy to approach, always willing to go the extra mile for their students. Additionally, classes are organised in small groups, which further improves learning and cooperation. You can choose from a wide range of English-taught programmes, and you don’t need to worry about language barriers outside of classes either, because most Norwegians speak English as a second language. Internationals should find it easy to adapt to Norway’s society, which is based on equality and fair opportunities — reflected both in the legal system and in people’s behaviour.
    Greece is the cradle of European civilization and the birthplace of philosophy. Greek universities and colleges have a long history in academics, attracting international students from all over the world. Classes are not typically formal, so you can expect open discussions between students and professors, in line with the classical philosophical debate tradition. EU/EEA students don’t pay any tuition at public universities, while non-EU/EEA citizens pay low fees. In Greece, you’ll also enjoy the well-known local hospitality and the wonderful Mediterranean climate. There are many landmarks and monuments waiting to be explored, including the Acropolis, Delphi, the Parthenon, and many others.
    Sweden is a very ambitious, eco-friendly, and visionary country. For example, by 2040, it aims to produce all its energy from renewable sources. Universities play an important role in achieving development goals, thanks to their world-class research facilities. If you’re from the EU/EEA, you can study at public universities for free. As a student, you will discover and easily adopt the three main values of Swedish society: freedom, equality, and sustainability. These values are reflected in every aspect of the local society, and you’ll quickly learn to appreciate them. Language barriers are also almost non-existent since around 80% of Swedes speak English.
    Switzerland has one of the most advanced free-market economies, which is reflected in the high living standards and the satisfaction of people living here. In terms of higher education, Swiss universities are constantly ranked among the best in Europe, and they shine in areas like Business, Tourism, Culinary Arts, and Engineering. When compared to Western universities, tuition fees in Switzerland are affordable, and all studies — especially PhD programmes — are world-class. You’ll have the opportunity to develop in a multilingual environment and try learning international languages like German, French, or Italian. If you settle down here, the unemployment rates are low, and salaries are well above the European average.
    United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    Universities in the UK are some of the most highly regarded in the world, and for good reasons. Some of the world's most highly regarded research takes place in British universities, which are regularly featured in international rankings. While studying in the UK, you will be able to develop in a highly multicultural environment with high chances of pursuing lucrative careers after graduation. The teaching in the UK is designed to encourage new idea generation, encouraging individual research and group cooperation, through class discussions and creative assignments.
    Canada is one of the most popular study destinations in the world due to its high focus on the quality of its universities and its emphasis on attracting international students who can later immigrate. Canadians are very welcoming to international students and they invest a lot into making sure students are safe, treated fairly, and enjoy their stay in the country. Study in one of the strongest economies in the world while enjoying a high living standard and a flexible study environment. Classes have smaller student groups ensuring everyone gets the attention they need, and encouraging group assignments and debates.
    United States
    United States
    The United States is home to some of the most prestigious universities and colleges in the world. With over 150 universities featured in international rankings, the U.S. has some of the best business schools, medical schools, and engineering schools. Universities and colleges in the U.S. are well known for academic flexibility and ways to customize your study experience with optional studies and extracurricular activities. Depending on where you will be studying, you will be able to visit iconic places like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Goldengate Bridge, The Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Disney's Magic Kingdom Park, and much more.
    Israel attracts international students through high standards of education and a wide range of English-taught degrees. Local universities shine in areas like Technology, Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship. In fact, Israel is a renowned land of innovation, having earned itself the nickname ‘Start-Up Nation’. While living and studying here, you will discover a wonderful culture developed throughout 4,000 years of history; different cultural influences are noticeable everywhere, especially in Israeli food, art, and history. In major cities, English is widely spoken, so communication shouldn’t be a problem. In your spare time, you can visit one of the over 400 nature reserves and 80 national parks.
    By studying in Australia you will take advantage of the great student environment both inside and outside classrooms. In addition to some of the best business and engineering schools in the world, you will be able to explore a greatly developed country that still retains its wild side with its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and the Great Outback, with over 500 national parks. Many Australian universities provide internships and work placements, preparing students early on for the job market.


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