Panama is home to almost 90 higher education institutions. It has a strong network of 5 major public institutions while the rest of the universities are privately owned. Universities in Panama offer opportunities in traditional academic subjects along with disciplines in which the nation has noteworthy competitive advantages such as water sciences, merchant marine fleet management, environment and research in tropical diseases. Public universities are free for national and international students and account for almost two-thirds of the enrolled students. However, in recent years, there has been a significant rise in the number of students opting for private education.
The country follows the usual structure of an undergraduate Bachelors (licenciatura) and graduate Masters (maestria) education. The usual length of undergraduate studies is 4 years. However, the duration of programs in sciences and engineering is 5 years while those in health and medicine last 6 years. The language of instruction for most programs is Spanish but some universities do offer programs in English. For Bachelors degrees, along with a student’s high school diploma and marks, many universities, especially public ones, require admission tests. These include what is known as an Academic Aptitude Test, and English test and a Psychological test. Like most countries, doing a masters degree in Panama requires students to hold a Bachelors degree.
Public universities are free for everyone, but some programs offered there do cost between $400 to $600 per annum. Private universities are more expensive with per semester fees ranging from $4000 to $8500. The average cost of living per month ranges from $600 to $1000 inclusive of the average rent per month which about $500.
Information for International Students
Universities in Panama are very open to international students with the public universities being free to foreign students as well. The admission procedure for international applicants is the same as the national ones.