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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso


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!

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. 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 PUCV here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type

Exchange or Direct-Enroll


Valparaíso, Chile

Languages of Instruction

English/Spanish - Depending on which option you choose: a minimum of 0-5 semesters of university-level Spanish or equivalent required

Program Dates

Fall 2018: July to December

Spring 2019: March to July

All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


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 second-semester sophomore 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 for Set 1: 5 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed before the beginning of the program
  • Language Requirement for Set 4: Students usually have between 0-2 semesters of university level Spanish or the equivalent before the beginning of the program
  • Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in 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.

ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is generally limited. ISEP Direct chance of placement is excellent.


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. 

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. You can take one option exclusively or mix them according to your Spanish entry level which will be assessed during the Orientation Week.


Set 1Regular University Courses

Disciplines Taught at PUCV: 

-Agronomy and Food Engineering

- Architecture, Urbanism, Graphic and Industrial Design and Arts

- Economics and Management (accounting/ auditing, business administration, social work, journalism) 

- Law 

- Philosophy and Education (elementary education, early childhood education, special education, physical education, history, geography, English interpretation, English Translation, music, philosophy, psychology, Spanish)

- Engineering (biochemical, bioprocesses, chemical, computer sciences, construction, electrical, electronic, industrial, mechanical, extractive metallurgy, transportation)

- Natural Resources (fishing engineering, geography, oceanography) 

- Religious Sciences

Set 4Spanish Language and Culture

All ISEP students, whether advanced or beginners, can enroll in Spanish language courses as part of their ISEP experience at PUCV. Students may choose from the following courses:

- Spanish oral comprehension and oral production, beginner level

- Communicative Spanish and Chilean culture – Intermediate

- Communicative Spanish and Chilean culture – Advanced

- Spanish Reading comprehension and oral production, beginner level

- Written Intermediate Spanish 

- Written Advanced Spanish

- Creative Writing in Spanish

- Spanish Grammar and Vocabulary, beginner level

- Grammar for Foreigners 1

- Grammar for Foreigners 2

- Grammar for Foreigners 3

- Spanish language phonetics and phonology


Upon arrival, a preliminary Spanish proficiency test, consisting of two parts (written and oral), is given.

Pre-session: A 4-week pre-session, intensive Spanish language course is offered before both semesters for an additional fee for any student wanting to take it.

Access to Psychology courses is limited to students with appropriate background in the field.

Some classes from the following departments are offered on a full year basis only (March to December): Law, Philosophy, Music, and Special Education. International Students can take these courses only if they are attending PUCV for the full academic year (March to December), otherwise, no credit will be awarded.

Courses in the School of Architecture & Design are closed to ISEP students.



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 orbueno (from 4 to 6).

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, students must enroll in 180 hours of class or 4 Lake Forest credits.

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

Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Experiential 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.

Student Life

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. 



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.


Students arriving on the Official Arrival Date will be picked up at the Santiago Airport, Aeropuerto Arturo Merino Benítez.

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 Exchange to Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing, and the equivalent of 19/meals per week.  These meals include both those served by the host family as well as a stipend to purchase other food on your own.

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

Budget Item





Lake Forest College Tuition



Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost



College Deposit (credit)



Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College



ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application



College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)



ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance ($90/mo estimated) Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP



Additional Meals



Estimated Airfare



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



Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses








For students that participate in ISEP Direct to Valparaíso, the program fee will be $5,440. This fee includes insurance.  Many of the other estimated out-of-pocket costs will be similar.  

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.

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, nor fees to enroll in courses at partner institutions, and will depend on your course registration choices.  

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

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

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