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CHILE - ISEP Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria

Founded under the auspices and vision of the Chilean entrepreneur, Don Federico Santa María Carrera, the University was founded with the intent 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 students may study the humanities and social science with Chilean students and complete business, science and engineering courses with local students at more advanced levels. 

The UTFSM (which Chileans refer to simply as the USM) main campus is like a US campus, with academic, athletic and social buildings all in the same area, so international students have a great deal of interaction with their Chilean counterparts. 

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.  

Please note that this site observes the Southern Hemisphere academic calendar. If you want to study for a full-year in the southern hemisphere, consider starting your program at the beginning of their academic year in February or March. Some institutions offer annual rather than semester courses. For southern hemisphere programs, ISEP benefits do apply during the recess between semesters (June-July), whereas they do NOT apply between the end of one academic year and the beginning of a new academic year (December to February-March).

Learn more about UTFSM 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: A minimum of 6 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to the program. Students must have an advanced level of Spanish. Native Portuguese speakers must have completed a minimum of 2 semesters of university-level Spanish prior to the start 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).


Santiago is the capital and largest city of Chile. It is located in the country’s central valley. Chile’s steady economic growth has transformed Santiago into Latin American’s most modern metropolitan area, with extensive suburban development, dozens of shopping centers, and impressive high-rise architecture. It has a modern transportation infrastructure, including the steadily-growing underground Santiago Metro, a public bus transport system that is being continually modernized, and a free flow toll-based ring road and inner city highway system. Part of the ring road travels underneath a section of the city’s main river, Mapocho, to connect the eastern and western ends of the city in a 25-minute drive. Santiago is the regional headquarters to many multinational corporations and is a financial center.


As one of Chile’s oldest universities, USM is a traditional private university, belonging to the prestigious Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities. USM is systematically ranked at the top of the local rankings and holds 5 years of accreditation granted by the National Commission for Accreditation.

USM recommends courses in business, engineering, informatics, and humanities (although USM doesn’t offer degrees in Humanities, they offer a number of courses on subjects such as Literature, Spanish Language, German Language, Mandarin Language, History, and Philosophy).  

Students typically enroll in 4-5 classes per term which average to 15 hours in class per week. A term runs for 16 weeks.  In addition,15 in-class contact hours are equal to one credit at most US institutions; students should enroll in 225 hours of classes for 15 US credits or 4 Lake Forest credits. To earn 12 US credits or 3 Lake Forest credits, students must enroll in 180 hours of class.


1. Go to the Academic Offering page
2. Scroll down to “Browse Course Offering
3. In the Academic Offering box, select the location: “Santiago Campus” and then choose department. 
TIP: Humanities, International Studies, and Social Science courses can be found under “Estudios Humanísticos” and Business courses can be found under “Industrias”.  
TIP: Brief course descriptions can be found next to the course titles. 
4. If you are studying March-July, only the classes listed in the ODD semesters will be available to you. If you are studying July-December, only the classes listed in the EVEN semesters will be available to you. 

Note: The courses may not be available each semester. Some courses are full-year only (February – December) and these are known as annual. Upon receipt of your application, the ISEP coordinator at USM will confirm whether or not your desired courses are available during your requested study period.

Language Courses: Spanish language courses are offered in addition to regular classes during the academic year or semester for the Intermediate level (subject to minimum enrollment requirements). 
Pre-session: A 2-week pre-session, intensive Spanish language course is offered before both semesters for an additional fee for Intermediate level students. Contact hours per course: 50 



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).

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

Student Life

Prior to arrival in Chile, USM students selected by the International Affairs Office contact the exchange students in order to provide them with useful information. After arrival, the orientation program lasts for 3 days and usually takes place the week before the official start of the semester. It includes an information session, a welcome reception, a campus tour, and relevant information about the city, campus life, paperwork, and student visa.

International students have many opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities, such as theatre, orchestra, scuba diving, soccer, judo, basketball, swimming, tennis, etc. Also, the International Affairs Office brings together international and local students for a “Conversation Partner” program.

  Volunteer Opportunities
The International Affairs Officer provides many opportunities for volunteering in the community through campus organizations; contact your ISEP Coordinator and faculty advisor upon arrival.
Housing and Meals

All students are housed in student hostels off campus and receive a meal plan for 19 meals per week at the university’s dining hall and restaurant that accept student meal plan vouchers.

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 Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing and a stipend to cover 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/mo)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award


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