Study in Spain and Universities in Spain

Why study in Spain?

Study in Spain, as growing numbers of international students who are choosing to study at a Spanish university. They are attracted by the country’s excellent educational institutions, the Mediterranean climate and lifestyle and its historic and architectural riches- Spain is second only to Italy for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Madrid is currently the most popular destination for students wanting to take a degree at a Spanish university, closely followed by Barcelona, Seville and Granada.

If you study in Spain, you will find it  a colourful, sociable and  flamboyant country with a landscape to match, and its many traditions – including the famous siesta, which sees the country shutting down for a couple of hours so everyone can nap after a fabulous lunchtime meal – spill into everyday life. The fiestas  which pepper the annual calendar range from processions carrying statues of the Virgin Mary, to the Tomatina festival where thousands of people pelt each other with overripe fruit, to the drumming of La Tamborrada in San Sebastián, village carnivals and flamenco festivals. Everyone is invited and everyone comes, as the streets  fill with locals, tourists and, of course,  young people from all over the world who are studying in Spain.

Study in Spain – Culture

If you study in Spain you will find yourself amazed by the art surrounding you, for this is the home of Picasso, El Greco, Goya, Dali, Miro and Velazquez – to name but a few. Gaudi’s  vision has shaped Barcelona, and is not limited to his famous work Sagrada Familia, but springs to life in Casa Mila and Park Güell – a tribute to nature, with its fantastic mosaic lizards and gingerbread houses.

Coming to study in Spain, you will start to understand two other very important features of Spanish life: food and football. The food is fresh, locally-sourced and delicious, whether you are trying a number of small dishes in a tapas bar or indulging in a rich paella in a seaside restaurant. Why not have a glass of Pirorat or Rioja Spanish wine to wash down your seafood? 

Moreover, when it comes to sport, don’t mix up Atletico and Real Madrid, whatever you do, and try to catch a match at the Bernabéu if you opt to do your degree in the capital – or at Barcelona’s world-renowned Camp Nou. Spanish football fans take their sport very seriously, so go with the flow at the stadium, booing and applauding with those around you. What is more, if you are a bit of a novice – it is the experience rather than the finer points of throw-ins that matters, after all.

Studying in Spain – the universities in Spain

The first university to be established in Spain dates back to 1218, when the University of Salamanca opened its doors. Over the centuries, this number grew to the current 75 institutions, 25 of which are private universities, some of which are church-run.

Therefore, if you want to study in Spain, you can choose from the 1000+ courses taught in English , at bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels, a number which is growing with every passing year. It may interest you to take the opportunity to learn Spanish, since it is the world’s second most spoke language, while you are doing your degree, and there are many free or highly subsidised courses available. 

Among the most popular universities, which teach in English, are the following:

EU Business School: set up in 1973, with campuses in Switzerland and Germany, it offers courses in Leisure and Tourism; Business Finance; Business Administration; International Relations, Entrepreneurship and E-business…among others.

ESEI Business School :set up in 1989, offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Business.

EAE Business School: established in 1958, it has campuses in Mexico, Columbia and Peru.

ESADE Business School: triple-crown accredited, it attracts students who wish to gain an MBA, MSc, MIM, and Marketing Management and International Management qualifications.

La Salle University Barcelona: a campus of La Salle University , a private Catholic university in Philadelphia. Its business school is ranked in the global Top Ten.

C3S Business School: a top Spanish business school which offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Schiller International University: runs US-accredited programmes in International Relations and Diplomacy, MBA, Business Administration etc. Situated in Madrid, it has a year-round intake policy.

Saint Louis University, Madrid: a branch of Missouri’s Jesuit university, it offers a choice of 85 majors.

European University, Madrid: large choice of dual-degrees in collaboration with global universities, a private institution with 12,500 students.

Suffolk University, Madrid: a branch of the US university, it provides a liberal arts education and courses on Art History, Computers, Communication, Government and Sociology. The first two years of the course are spent in Spain, and then students transfer over to the US to finish their degrees. Private university.

Universities in Spain – national and global rankings

World University Rank 2022
Spain Rank 2022
Pompeu Fabra
Autonomous University of Barcelona
University of Barcelona
University of Navarra
Autonomous University of Madrid
University Ramon Lull
University of Valencia
University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia
CEU Universities
Barcelona, Madrid, Barcelona Valencia
Complutense University of Madrid

Which university in Spain should I choose?

Public and private universities in Spain – the difference

As is the case across the whole of Europe, EU students pay the same university tuition fees as home students in Spanish public universities. Private universities, however, tend to be significantly more expensive and can decide on what fees to charge, and in Spain these range from 5,500 to 28,000 euros a year. Also, it is significant to note that the top-ranked university in Spain is a public one – Pompeu Fabra. Spain is a signatory of the Bologna Process, and you can therefore transfer credits from one university to another.

Study in Spain: 20 popular public universities:

As you can see, you have a wide choice of locations in the Spanish university public sector. If you are not sure which university is best for your interests, career path and language requirements, call Elab and one of our experienced consultants will go through the options with you and help you compare universities, courses and cities. We are here to help.

Spanish universities with significant numbers of international students

Sprawling across seven campuses and situated in possible the most exciting city in Spain, the highly-ranked University of Barcelona is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in Spain and offers 1,000 study programmes divided into seven departments.

The Autonomous University of Barcelona teaches 45 Master’s and 80 Bachelor’s courses, including Political Science, Business Administration, Nano-Technology, Computer-Engineering, Pharmacology and its exceptional Sports Management programme.

Both the University of Marbella and the International University of Catalonia use English as the main teaching language  and have large international student bodies.

Pompeu Fabra, Spain’s top university, is best known for Medicine and Social Sciences, but is also ranked highly in Economics, Labour Relations, Finance and Accounting, Audiovisual Communication, Business Management and Business Administration. The second largest university in Spain, it attracts a large number of international students. It is affiliated with ELISAVA, the Barcelona School of Design and Engineering, which focusses on Photography, Design, Graphics, Architecture  and Digital technology. ELISAVA has won many prestigious global awards and is considered a leading and innovative hub for European design.

The Polytechnic University of Catalonia is one of Spain’s largest technical universities, with 42 departments, 25 schools and 20 research centres. It specialises in architecture, science and engineering.

Study in Spain – the application process

General information

Bachelor’s degrees run for four years, while Master’s courses take between 1 and 2 years to complete. The academic year is divided into two semesters. Applications at undergraduate level essentially pass through two stages.

Stage one –validating your academic qualifications.

Undergraduate Degrees

Applicants for a bachelor’s degree course have to apply to the Spanish National Distance Education University – UNED – which will check that your national qualifications are equivalent to those of Spanish students, and that you are a suitable candidate to study at a Spanish university. Once the process is completed, you will be issued with a Credencial de Accesso, which you need to send to the university/ies of your choice.

If you are applying for an undergraduate degree course, you will be asked to provide certified copies of your academic records from the last two years and a copy of your secondary school diploma. The validation office opens in April, and you download, fill in and post off the UNED Solicitud de Inscription – request to enroll  – to the address given on the form.

Postgraduate Degrees

If you want to study in Spain for a postgraduate degree, you apply directly to the university by July, and send in: a copy of your ID, photographs, a statement of purpose (Personal Statement), a copy of your bachelor’s degree, proof of English language proficiency (for example, IELTS passed at 7+) and transcripts of your academic record which have been officially translated into Spanish

Stage Two- applying to individual universities

While you are waiting for the above mentioned Credencial, you can go online and apply to the universities you have chosen. You will also be asked to provide some or all of the following documents:

UNED processes applications within three months,but you may well get a quick response, so do not waste time waiting for an answer (after all, you know your secondary school certificate is real and qualifies you to study at a Spanish university) but go online and fill in the university application forms.

If any of this process seems tricky, then call or email us, here at Elab, and one of our consultants will work with you and take you through the various stages, and make sure that you have submitted all the documents and transcripts .

NB: Please be aware that you could be asked to sit an entrance exam. This depends on the course and the university for which you are applying. Contact Elab if you want to check this once you have decided where you wish to study in Spain.

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Universities in Spain – Tuition fees and the cost of living

Tuition fees at Spanish public universities

The Spanish government sets registration and tuition fees for public universities. Unlike in many other countries, the fees are not calculated on an annual basis, but per credit.

Overall, the current costs of gaining a bachelor’s degree vary from 12-30 euros per credit, if this is the first time you have enrolled on a bachelor’s course (rising to 25-54 if it is the second time, and 52-100 euros per credit if it is your third enrollment).

It is important to remember that first cycle bachelor’s programmes require you to get from 180 to 240 credits in total. This breaks down to passing  60 ECTS per year. As you can see, your total tuition fees for one, and registration, will range from 680 euros to 1280 euros, depending on the cost of each credit you take.

Second-cycle studies, namely Master’s degrees, require 60-120 credits, and the fee for each credit is 16-45 euros, which means that studying in Spain for your Master’s will cost you from 1320-4320 euros in total, depending on the course and the units you take.

The cost of living when you study in Spain

Spain is estimated to be 20 per cent cheaper than other European student destinations and you will need around 900 euros a month, to cover accommodation, utilities, food,  your mobile phone contract, gym membership and leisure activities.

Accommodation varies, from expensive flats in the very heart of Madrid to halls of residence, shared flats  and apartments run by universities. If you study in a small town, your rent could be as low as 350 euros a month, whereas a studio flat in a fashionable part of Barcelona could cost 1,200 euros and more. The choice is yours and there are many Spanish agencies who will help you find precisely what you are looking for – do not delay finding accommodation in the larger cities, which also have many tourists and visitors, all year round.

Transport is cheap and efficient in Spain, and you should budget around 35 euros a month for getting around; cinema tickets cost from 6-13 euros. Restaurant menus vary greatly- from the local tapas bar, where you will pay 2 euros for a drink and a snack, to menus which cost hundreds of euros in  one of Spain’s many Michelin – starred restaurants. In the end, although the overall cost of living in Spain is cheap, what you spend depends entirely on your lifestyle choices!

I want to study in Spain -what is the next step?

Contact Elab and we will help you decide on the course and university of your dreams. We also run a Europa Programme which looks at European study destinations and compares courses, costs, scholarship possibilities and universities.

Drop us an email or call us to talk through your options and we will give you all the help and information you need to start on your journey to study in vibrant, unique Spain.

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