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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at Universidad Catolica del Norte - Coquimbo


The city of Coquimbo is located 290 miles (465 km) north of Santiago and houses the Guayacan Campus. This port city is known for its nearby beautiful beach resorts, and the main industries are agriculture, fishing, and mining. Placed on the northern coast of the bay known as La Herradura, the Guayacán Campus has a privileged position for the study of Marine Science.

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.  

Learn more about Universidad Catolica del Norte - Coquimbo here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type



Coquimbo, Chile

Languages of Instruction

Spanish - A minimum of 4 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent

Program Dates

Academic year: September to May

Semester 2 (Fall 2018): Early September to Late December

Semester 1 (Spring 2019): Early January to Early May

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).


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 4 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to the program.
  • Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in application, even if native speaker

ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is generally Very Good.


The city of Coquimbo is located 290 miles (465 km) north of Santiago and houses the Guayacan Campus. This port city is known for its nearby beautiful beach resorts, and the main industries are agriculture, fishing, and mining. Placed on the northern coast of the bay known as La Herradura, the Guayacán Campus has a privileged position for the study of Marine Science. This region is also internationally recognized for its astronomical activity and has many observatories, thanks to skies that are clear most of the year and very low light contamination. The 4th Region of Coquimbo, Chile, Capital La Serena, is also the region of the mystic Elqui Valley, and the small villages of Pisco Elqui and Montegrande, the origin of the famous Chilean Poetess Gabriela Mistral and the famous liquor “pisco”. 

The city of La Serena, a well-known tourist center, is very close to Coquimbo. It offers visitors a long and attractive seafront of fine sandy beaches, bays and temperate, unpolluted waters.


Chile boasts one of the strongest higher education systems in South America. Universities provide the highest degree of learning in Chile, combining teaching, research, and outreach activities to their diversified programs. 


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 suficiente 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 (3 Lake Forest credits), students must enroll in 180 hours of class.

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



1. Go to the Carreras page to find a list of the programs offered at UCN-Coquimbo.
2. Click on the carreras (majors) to see its general description, syllabus, professors, courses, among other useful information.
3. On the next page, look for a link titled “Malla curricular” to see courses offered.
4. IMPORTANT: When listing courses on the Course Request List, you must include the semester in which it is being offered, the title of the course, and the name of the Carrera from which the course is being offered. EXAMPLE: Semestre 5: Oceanografía I (Biología Marina).
5. If you are studying March-July, only the classes listed in the ODD-NUMBERED semesters will be available to you. If you are studying August-December, only the classes listed in the EVEN-NUMBERED semesters will be available to you. The annual courses are year-long courses instructed during the Southern Hemisphere academic full year (March – December)

Note: The courses may not be available each semester. Some courses are full-year only (March – December) and these are known as annual. Upon receipt of your application, the ISEP Coordinator at UCN 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 Intermediate and Advanced levels.


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

The Pastoral Department and the Student Health Center provide many opportunities for volunteering in the community through campus organizations. Contact your ISEP Coordinator upon arrival for more information.

Student Life

Orientation lasts 2-3 days and during these days students are welcomed and advised about their courses and student visa status. They also will be introduced to Chilean culture and family, Coquimbo and LaSerena city, local transportation, university facilities, academic calendar, etc.

International students have many opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities as part of the benefits such as theatre, choir, jazz dance, folk dances, guitar, percussion, yoga, capoeira, salsa, piano, photography, volleyball, basketball, football (men and women), kayaking, aerobics, running and others.

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 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 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

($100 is non-refundable; $295 is refundable ONLY if ISEP is not able to place you in any program)


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




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 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.

Experiences of Former Students

Got questions? Contact an ISEP Student Ambassador who studied in this region.