Students all over North America view Mexico as a wonderful place. The low cost, beautiful beaches, and spectacular food make it an ideal place for spring break holidays. However, unbeknownst to many, and for decades already, Mexico has been attracting students from the US, Canada, Latin America, and all over the world.

This is because Mexico has carved for itself a distinguished position as a study destination. It is an exceptional place to study subjects such as Spanish language and Literature, Medicine, Architecture, Anthropology, Art History, Cinema, Marketing, etc.

As far back as the 70s, the stratospheric cost of medical studies in the US had attracted to Mexico many medical students who, after studying there, were well placed to pass the licensing examinations back home. This is a tradition going back decades. The Mexican social medical care system offers students great exposure and potential for gaining clinical experience.

Furthermore, because Mexico is a country of high seismic activity, its civil engineers and architects must construct to demanding standards and have established a high reputation: so much so that experts come from as far as Japan to learn about Mexican construction techniques and to experience the bold modern architectural trends being developed in the country’s architecture schools.

As a country of vast ethnic diversity encompassing hundreds of different aboriginal tribes and languages, Mexico is one of the world’s great centers for the study of Anthropology and Archeology. Almost all the most respected Anthropology programs in US universities (Berkeley, Yale, Arizona, Brown, Austin) have specialists working in the field of Anthropology in Mexico as well. So Mexico offers many possibilities for students who wish to study all aspects of Anthropology including Archaeology, Ethnography, and Linguistics. In short, the country is much more than tacos, margaritas, and beaches.

In this article, I would like to focus on a few high-quality Mexican universities that offer English-taught programs.

UNAM – Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Unam is the largest public university in Latin America. Founded in 1910, it is a public research institution with abundant government funding and high rankings. All three of Mexico’s Nobel Laureates are graduates. UNAM has research poles in San Antonio, Boston, Chicago, London, Paris, etc. Its main campus in Mexico City is a UNESCO world heritage sight. This school houses the CEPE: arguably, one of the best places in the world for learning Spanish, and every year, students from all over the world come to CEPE to learn Spanish in complete immersion. UNAM has a few programs in English but most of its teaching is in Spanish therefore, the rest of the article will be devoted to English-taught programs.

Universidad de las Americas, Puebla

This is a Mexican private university located in the beautiful colonial city of Puebla. Puebla is located about four and a half hours from the capital. This university is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It also offers dual degree programs with several European Universities in Britain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and France. A complete guide to these programs is available here.

Tecnologico de Monterrey (aka “El Tec”)

This is widely considered the most prestigious private university in Mexico. Its beautiful state-of-the-art main campus is located in the northern city of Monterrey, but it has another 30 campuses spread all over Mexico. It has many English-speaking programs and international exchanges. Initially “el Tec” was an engineering school for the country’s elite, but it now has excellent programs in medicine, business, law, etc. For more information on Tec’s international programs, you can click here.

Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara

This is a four-year medical school that is both highly ranked and taught in English. Many students from the US come to study medicine here. It is a student-centered program. All classes are tailored to presenting the USMLE Board exams, and allow students to obtain clinical experience in any of the school’s affiliated hospitals in Mexico the US, and Puerto Rico. Admission standards are the same as for an American MD program and tuition fees are high. (over 60,000 US for the first year).


Besides the universities listed above, there are other excellent choices with vast arrays of undergraduate and graduate programs: Universidad Iberoamericana, Universidad Anahuac, ITAM, and Universidad La Salle. All of these are private universities, but their tuition fees are still lower than those in the United States. Most universities offer programs in Spanish that are open to foreigners. A few programs exist which are entirely taught in English.

For many international students, the most economically rational choice seems to be to enroll in UNAM’s CEPE to learn Spanish, which then gives access to all of the universities in the country including the staggeringly more affordable Universities and medical faculties of the public sector.

While Hollywood may portray Mexico at times as an unsophisticated and backward nation, the truth is that since 1551, the year of the foundation of the first university in North America, in Mexico (the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico), this country has made important contributions to the academic world as increasingly demonstrated by its capacity to attract students from all over the world. Mexico’s strengths in Architecture, Anthropology, Business, Cinema, Engineering, Marketing, Medicine, and Literature make it a place worth taking notice of. As the world’s largest Spanish-speaking country it is also an ideal place to study the world’s second most spoken language by several native speakers. Mexico offers history, culture, ethnic diversity, and business acumen well beyond what is ordinarily portrayed in stereotypes and cliches of mainstream culture. It is a country prepared to welcome and embrace international students, and yes there are tacos and beaches…and good weather.

Dr. Luis Murillo
Dr. Luis Murillo is a former medical researcher in neurobiology and an international college counselor, who has worked for many years with IB schools in Europe and Asia. He has experience as a guest lecturer at the Medical Faculty of Debrecen University and has sent some of his own students to pursue medical studies in Hungary.