How to Get Into University in Medellín

TLDR? You can get into university in Medellin with a student visa and certified diplomas from your home country. 

Many tourists come to Medellin wanting to stay a lot longer. And, while there are plenty of ways to go about that, one way is to go to University here. 

While you can definitely just study at a Spanish language school, there are also some great universities to check out (Hello University of Antioquia)!

So, are you wanting to get into uni here in the City of Eternal Spring?

Here’s a complete guide on what to do and what you need to know. 

Requirements for Studying in Colombia

Requirements for Studying in Colombia

There are quite a few rules and regulations surrounding studying in Colombia. In other words, you’re going to need to do your research before jumping headfirst into a university program.  

For starters, in general, you’ll have to take the ICFES test (Instituto Colombiano para el Fomento de la Educacion Superior) in order to get into a Colombian university. 

If you don’t want to take the test, there is an alternative. You can always present a supporting document that shows you’ve taken an equivalent test in your home country. 

If you choose to go this route, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to get it notarized. And, if it’s not in Spanish, you’ll likely have to get a certified translation as well. 

On top of that, if your study program lasts less than six months, you’ll need to get special permission from Migración Colombia. This basically allows you to stay on an extended tourist visa without having to go through the hoops of applying for a migrant visa. 

Universities Requirements 

Universities Requirements

Aside from the general requirements put in place by the state, there are also some university-specific requirements. These generally include:

  • Having a foreigner ID (Cédula de extranjería) 
  • Providing your high school diploma and undergraduate diploma (if you have one)
  • Submitting a copy of your high school transcript and undergraduate transcript (if you have one)
  • Providing proof of affiliation to a Colombian health insurance
  • Presenting a copy of your passport
  • Sending in certified translations of any documents not in Spanish

Now, keep in mind that this may vary from university to university. 

Before you apply for a school in Medellin, make sure that you check what the exact requirements are for your specific program. 

You should also be aware that some documents will need an apostille either done by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or by your home country. Sometimes, you might have to provide both.  

If you already know you’re going to study in Medellin, it’s a good idea to get these documents together before you travel to Medellin. Otherwise, you may have some difficulty getting into school once you arrive. 

Scholarships for Foreigners in Medellin

Scholarships for Foreigners in Medellin

Although studying in Colombia is generally much cheaper than studying in the US, that’s not to say that it won’t cost you anything!

One way that you can fund your studies is to apply for a scholarship. 

There are quite a few different scholarships that you can apply for. One of those is ICETEX, a group that offers scholarships to foreigners who don’t live in Colombia. 

ICETEX is only available for foreigners who want to do a specialization, Master’s degree, or Ph.D. You can use it for both public and private institutions.

To apply, the requirements are:  

  • To be a first-time applicant for the ICETEX program
  • Have an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree
  • Have completed your undergraduate degree outside Colombia
  • Not be currently enrolled in postgraduate studies in a Colombian University
  • Have a certificate proving a Level B2 in Spanish
  • Be between 25 and 50 years old
  • Submit a medical certificate
  • Have completed your undergraduate with an equivalent of a Colombian 4.0 or 5.0 GPA (US GPA of 3.5 or higher)

If you’re unsure if you meet those requirements you can always call ICETEX. They’ll help walk you through what you need to do in order to apply for the program. 

Why Study at a Colombian University

Why Study at a Colombian University

This is a decision that will change your life completely. Studying in Colombia will open the gates of a new world and a new culture.

Medellin is the second-largest and most developed city chosen by foreigners to develop their professional studies.

But why?

Well, let’s take a look at a couple of reasons why you might want to study at a Colombian university. 

Quality Education

Quality Education

While you can study in any country in Latin America, Colombia is a country that has some pretty great programs. 

In fact, Colombia is actually ranked as the #3 country in Latin America for education following Brazil and Venezuela. And, it’s ranked the #22 in the world for education. 

That puts it much higher on the list than many people think!

Easy Access to Education

Easy Access to Education

For foreigners, permits, procedures, and visas to study in Colombia are less cumbersome than studying in other countries.

While some countries have processes that can last months or even a year, the Colombian application process to get a visa and acceptance to university typically takes six months or less. 

You can cut that time down even more if you start preparing early and getting your documents together before you leave your country. 

Specialized Programs

Specialized Programs

Colombia offers few academic programs that are difficult to find in other countries. Among them are:

  • Pedagogy of Mother Earth with a specialty in indigenous customs and traditions, from the Universidad de Antioquia
  • Engineering in Nanotechnology, from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana
  • Latin American Cultural Studies, from the Universidad Autónoma de Occidente

If you’re interested in taking a specialized course, this might be a good place to look. You can get some pretty specific certifications that are hard to come by in other places. 

Quality Life

Quality Life

Another major reason why studying in Colombia (and specifically in Medellin) is such a great move is that the quality of life here is great. 

Living in Colombia, especially in Medellin, is much cheaper than any European country and even in other countries in Latin America.

On top of that, Medellin is a super multi-cultural city which means you shouldn’t have a problem finding foreigners who speak your mother tongue. Plus, there are great language exchange meetups to get involved in for making new friends. 

Top Universities in Medellín

op Universities in Medellín

If you want to study in Medellin, there are a couple of universities that you might want to look into.

While you can complete lots of degrees online and stay in Medellin at the same time, the city is actually home to some great places to study. 

Here are a few of the top universities and what you need to do to apply.

Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Universidad Nacional de Colombia, or the national university of Colombia, is recognized as one of the best in Colombia. It’s also known for having some of the best engineering programs in the country. 

Foreigners wanting to study here will have to meet all requirements for Colombian nationals to apply. They’ll also have to meet a few special requirements depending on whether they’re entering as a graduate or undergraduate student. 


  • Have a valid Migrant Visa (TYPE M), as established in Resolution 6045 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Hold a current foreign identity card.
  • Have a high school diploma and state examination (ACT, SAT, or equivalent) validated by the Ministry of National Education of Colombia.

Grad students: 

  • Have a valid TP3 student visa, as established in Decree 834 of 2013 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Hold a current foreign identity card.
  • Have an undergraduate degree legalized through an apostille

University of Antioquia

University of Antioquia

The University of Antioquia is the second-best public university in Medellin. This has a wide catalog of programs with over 90 different courses of study!

There are a few different ways to get into this university, depending on what type of applicant you are. 

New Applicants: 

  • Be in your final year of high school or complete high school
  • Apply with the same requirements as a Colombian national
  • Have a TP-3 temporary student visa with an admission letter

Transfer Applicant: 

  • Be currently enrolled in a university program (either within or outside Colombia)
  • Complete two semesters or more in your current program
  • Receive a certification from the Colombian Ministry of Education recognizing your completed education
  • Pass at least 40% of the classes in your current program 
  • Have a TP-3 temporary student visa with an admission letter

Postgraduate Applicants:

  • Meet your chosen program’s requirements
  • Submit an original certificate of your undergraduate degrees completed
  • Provide a resume or CV
  • Present a certificate of competency in a foreign language other than Spanish
  • Validate your undergraduate studies through a notary or apostille


What’s cool about the University of Antioquia is that they offer a couple of scholarships for foreigners. 

A few of these include: 

  • University of Antioquia Doctoral Scholarship Fund
  • Antioquia University Master’s Scholarship Fund
  • OAS Scholarship Program

Before you apply, you might want to look into these programs to see if you qualify for any of the scholarships. 

Start Your Studies in Medellin

Now that you know what’s required to get into school in Medellin, it’s time to start your studies! 

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