When looking at possible universities and institutions for undergraduate and postgraduate levels of education, many students consider the option of studying abroad. Though many choose to complete one semester in a different country, some prospective students consider studying abroad for the entirety of their education. Spain has become one of the top countries in consideration for a college education for foreign students.

Why Spain?

Spain has been listed as the third most popular countries for international studies, with almost a third of those students originating from the United States. Spain maintains a very well organized educational system, from pre-primary levels to university and technical training.

There are 76 total Spanish universities across the country, most of which are located in the main cities, Madrid and Barcelona. Two thirds of the universities are state-run, while the remaining one third is listed as private. A select few of the privately run universities are under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church. The largest university in Spain is the National University of Distance Education (UNED) with the main campus located in Madrid.

There are several different types of university establishments to attend for higher education programs: university schools (escuelas universitarias), which offer shorter courses like undergraduate programs; university colleges (colegios universitarios), which provide for the first three years of studying leading to a licenciado (which provides for a license in certain fields requiring certifications); faculties (facultades), which offers longer courses in academic disciplines; and higher technical schools of engineering and architecture (escuela superior de ingenieria y arquitectura), which provide training in long-term technical courses.

Qualifications for International Students

As a student entering into the programs from the United States, there are a few criteria that must be met in order to be accepted into a Spanish university. One of the largest and most important criteria is the ability to speak Spanish (Castilian), or at least maintain a strong knowledge in the language (diplomas in Spanish are recognized as qualifications to enter into the universities).

To apply to universities in Spain, prospective students must apply to each school individually; unlike the United States, there is no general application for each. Each school sets individual deadlines and maintains different criteria to be met for acceptance. As the United States falls outside of the jurisdiction of the EU/EEA, students looking to study in Spain must apply for either official accreditation or partial recognition of qualifications through the Ministry of Education. Prospective students must have authenticated and translated qualifications, course details and proof of identity to send to the Ministry of Education. A final step towards entry into Spanish universities is the Selectividad, or the major entrance exam to all students. Fees for courses and programs vary by university and can be found on each school's website or by contacting the admissions office. Typically international students pay more, for the overall transfer of credits and solidification of courses in a degree.


Once a student has been accepted into a program in a Spanish university, they must apply for a student visa. This can be done through the Spanish embassy or consulate within the United States; it requires proof of health insurance and proof of funds to pay for education and self-support. Once that has been granted, the student must get an Autorizacion de Estancia por Estudios within 30 days of arrival into the country to be classified as a temporary resident during studies.

Degrees and Courses

International students have the option to study a wide range of undergraduate degrees: Arts and Humanities, Sciences, Business Law, Engineering and Social Law. Some of the top career paths via undergraduate (and graduate) study are Law; more selective categories (courses or degrees) under the Law field are criminal law and the legal system of European countries. The major cities in Spain maintain a large focus on the arts, so it only makes sense that another popular choice of study is the Arts and Humanities; some focuses and courses include Spanish and Western American Literature, Philosophy, Graphic Design and Music. Above all else, for students either looking to pursue a career in language or remain in Spain, courses and degrees focused toward Spanish are extremely popular; where better to study the language than it's home country?

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