Last Updated: March 15, 2021

Studying in Spain

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. Students who plan to look towards Europe for their education have the option to study in one of the most popular student destinations in the continent, Spain. Spain has become one of the top countries for a college education for international students.

Why Study in Spain?

There are a plethora of reasons why an international student may consider pursuing their secondary education in Spain. Some of these are listed below:
  1. Spain has been listed as the third most popular country for international studies, with almost a third of those students originating from the United States. It maintains a very well-organized education system, from pre-primary levels to university and technical training.
  2. There are a total of 76 universities in Spain, most of which are located in the major cities of Madrid and Barcelona. Around two-thirds of the universities are state-run, while the remaining one-third are listed as private institutions. A select few of the privately run universities are under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church. Some of the most popular public institutions in the country are Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Complutense University of Madrid, and the University of Barcelona. The largest university in Spain is the National University of Distance Education (UNED) with the main campus located in Madrid.
  3. 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
    • license schools (licenciado), which provide for a license in certain fields requiring certifications
    • faculties (facultades), which offer longer courses in academic disciplines
    • higher technical schools of engineering and architecture (escuela superior de ingenieria y arquitectura), which provide training in long-term technical courses
  4. The cost of education, especially in publicly funded universities, is extremely affordable, especially when compared to other European and US-based educational institutions. This, combined with the extremely high quality of education, with 11 universities making it to the top 500 in the QS World Rankings for 2021, is a perfect deal for any student.

Qualifications for International Students

As an international student entering Spanish educational programs from various countries around the world, there are a few criteria that must be met in order to be accepted into a Spanish university. One of the primary and the most important criteria is the ability to speak basic Spanish (Castilian) language, 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. Each school sets individual deadlines and maintains different criteria to be met for acceptance. As most countries will fall 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 for 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, the fees for international students and local students may be the same, especially in public universities. In some cases, especially in private institutions, international students pay more, for the overall transfer of credits and solidification of courses in a degree.

Tuition Fees for University Education in Spain

Spain is one of the most affordable European countries to pursue an education in, especially for international students. If the student is to avoid the larger cities (although even cities like Barcelona and Madrid are cheaper to live in than most European cities), they will be able to work on a very minimal budget on accommodation and education. This is one of the many reasons why it is an attractive destination for international students.

The actual cost of an education in Spain depends on a variety of factors, which include the University the student is planning to attend, the course and its many details (like the type of course, its length, and the total number of credits required to complete it) and its geographical location. Students applying for secondary education in Spain must be informed about the following: Note:Students who wish to discontinue a course they are already enrolled in midway to seek admission in another Spanish university will be subject to an increased fee in most public universities. The fee of the course may be increased by around 2,000 to 2,500 EUR depending on the nature of the course. Private institutions may not charge this increased fee.

Things to do after getting accepted in a Spanish University

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 (which allows the student to stay for over 90 days) 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 Arts and Humanities. Some 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 on Spanish are extremely popular; where better to study the language than its home country!


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