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CHILE - ISEP PUC Valparaiso: Courses for International Students

Discover the warmth of Chile with the welcoming people and beautiful beaches. From the Atacama Desert in the North, the coastal region to the West, the Andes mountains to the East, and glaciers, fjords, and lakes in the South, this land of “Fire and Ice” has some of the most diverse landscapes in the world. Enjoy the finest vineyards while eating an amazing array of fresh seafood in Latin America’s most economically and politically stable country. See political history in the making as the first female President takes office, read world-famous literature by Pablo Neruda and Isabel Allende, and perfect your Spanish - all while soaking up the beauty of Chile!

The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV), founded in 1928, has established itself as one of the most prestigious, traditional higher educational institutions in Chile. The Programa Internacional de Intercambio Estudiantil (PIIE) is a great fit for students who want to improve their Spanish language skills and study Chilean culture. ISEP students immerse themselves in Chilean culture and daily life by taking university classes and living with a homestay family in the community. 

This program would be suitable for students that are ready to be abroad, but would still like some of the academic services that a U.S. college provides.  However, due to the nature of relationships with professors, students will have to be used to advocating for themselves and communicating in class rather than expecting office hours. 

Learn more about Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV) here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  
  • Language Requirement: Students usually have at least one semester of university-level Spanish or the equivalent before the beginning of the program. The student must submit ISEP language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker.

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).


The university is distributed in different campuses and university centers located in the main cities of the Valparaíso region. The region combines beautiful weather, wonderful beaches, and the splendid Cordillera de Los Andes. With a population of more than one million, the region has a multicultural flavor. The city of Valparaíso is the cultural and legislative capital, and the main commercial harbor, of Chile. Seventy miles from the capital city of Chile, Santiago, Valparaíso fascinates visitors with its history, geography, and architecture.


The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV), founded in 1928, has established itself as one of the most prestigious, traditional higher educational institutions in Chile. The student body numbers over 14,000 students. The PUCV facilities include a modern library system, sports centers, specialized laboratories, and recreational centers. The university runs a television channel, radio station, and film storehouse. 

Lecturing is the principal method of instruction in Latin American Universities, with one final exam or paper counting as the only grade in the class. Still, some professors will also give midterm exams or papers. In most Latin American countries, the grading philosophy is that the student starts at 0 (has no knowledge of the subject) and needs to work hard to obtain a good grade. The student’s grade rises as he proves his gain of knowledge throughout the semester. As such, Latin American universities tend to be severe in their grading and a grade of Muy Bueno (7 - the highest grade possible in Chile) is rarely awarded. In most classes, the majority of students will receive either sufficient or bueno (from 4 to 6).

When coming to PUCV you can choose from wide, diverse and flexible, academic options that are aimed at giving you a study experience regardless of your Spanish entry level. Options are not programs but sets of courses from which you can choose from in order to fulfill your home university requirements. 


The Programa Internacional de Intercambio Estudiantil (PIIE) is especially designed for international students. The program combines Spanish language, grammar and writing courses with Chilean and Latin American history and culture courses in Spanish and English. It is ideal for students who want to improve their Spanish skills in a full immersion environment.

Students can mix and match any courses from PIIE.  Syllabi are available upon request, please discuss course selections with your advisor. For questions on course syllabi, contact



Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.

Student Life

The student body numbers over 14,000 students. The PUCV facilities include a modern library system, sports centers, specialized laboratories, and recreational centers. The university runs a television channel, radio station, and film storehouse.  The university has an active student body, and ISEP students can participate in sports teams, cultural activities and student groups.


During Orientation, students are advised about courses, student visa status, university life, Chilean culture, the city of Valparaíso, volunteer opportunities offered by the university, etc.

  Volunteer Opportunities
PUC Valparaiso works with 6 volunteer organizations within the Valparaiso region. Every semester, the university holds a Volunteer Job Fair in which the international students can speak with representatives from the volunteer organizations to obtain more information. If students decide they want to volunteer at one of these organizations, the student can then speak with the International Office. Visit the Volunteer in Valparaíso page for more information.
Housing and Meals

All students are housed with host families and receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the host family. 

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Direct to Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso English program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing, insurance and the equivalent of 19/meals per week.  

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College




ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance (estimated, $90/m)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office