Finally made the decision to take the leap and study in the home of sunny skies, beaches, and great education? According to the Institute of Education’s Project Atlas, you’d be joining 94,000 international students who chose Spain as their dream host location. Before you book your ticket and submit your application though, there are a few things you need to consider. This guide will help you make sure you have everything covered.
Choosing a programme
Before you go off to study in Spain, it’s important to know what available degree courses there are to choose from. Spain has a wide range of academic and vocational courses and programmes taken by millions of students across the country.
Spanish university undergraduate degrees are typically four years long. Known as ‘grado’ in Spanish, they are provided by most Spanish universities. Undergraduate degree studies, which lead to the award of a bachelor’s degree, are organised in the following subject areas: Arts and Humanities, Sciences, Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Law, Engineering, and Architecture. Master’s degrees are typically two years long postgraduate programmes.
Generally, the Higher Education system in Spain includes lectures, supervised tutorials, and seminars across all subjects. Whilst not all classes are mandatory, it’s recommended to attend all the classes to ensure you get the opportunity to learn the content and to ask any questions you may have to your professor. Learning is assessed in a number of ways, ranging from written examinations, oral examinations, and take home examination papers. Check out the specific assessment styles of the universities in Spain you are interested in applying to for more information. You can use the Unifrog European universities search tool to get a head start.
As an international student, make sure you are an eligible candidate when applying for a programme in Spain. For entry onto a course in a Spanish university, you’ll be required to have A-Levels, IB Diploma certification, or an American High School Diploma which fulfills the minimum entry requirements for the specific course you are applying to.
As an international student, you will also be required to pass an entrance exam, called Selectividad or Pruebas de Acceso a la Universidad. You can take this exam twice a year in your native country. Once you have passed the exam, you’ll be able to study at both public and private universities in Spain.
The examination can be broken down into the following questions:
- Text Analysis in Spanish: You will be given a text in Spanish, and asked an analytical question based on your understanding of the text.
- History and Philosophy: You will be asked general questions about Spain’s history and philosophy.
- Foreign Language Exam: You can pick between French, English, German, Portuguese, or Italian in this segment
- Personal Choice: The final part of the exam is up to you, with a range of questions offered in subjects related to Art, Fine Arts, Dance and Music, Science and Technology.
Beyond the exam, you will also need to submit pre-registration paperwork to the university they are interested in applying to. It’s important to do this well in advance, to make sure that there isn’t any chance for delay.
Choosing a location
Spain is a diverse country with lots to offer international students. When thinking about studying in Spain, consider where exactly in the country you could see yourself for the next few years. Perhaps you want a hustling and bustling city at the heart of Spain, or a quieter coastal university in a more tucked away city. Wherever you go in Spain, you are bound to have a great experience and the opportunity to join in with Spanish culture and customs.
Madrid is one of the largest cities in Spain, and in Europe, known for being an international centre for business, finance, and cultural venues. Madrid is home to a number of the world’s leading universities, such as the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and Universidad Complutense de Madrid - amongst several others. Hundreds of thousands of international students are attracted to the fast-paced, busy lifestyle of Madrid every year.
Valencia is Spain’s third-largest city, known for being the home of the Les Falles festival and delicious paella! It has a number of beautiful beaches, museums, and historic buildings. Valencia is home to the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia and the Universitat de Valencia. Both universities boast a thriving international student population, and made the top 600 of the QS World University Rankings.
Seville is the capital of the Andalucia region, and is located in the southwest of Spain. Home to the University of Seville, the institution hosts a student body of over 50,000 and is one of the top-ranking universities in Spain. The university has 65 different undergraduate subjects on offer, and more widely, the city is famous for its culture, monuments and beautiful open spaces.
The most common language you will come across in Spain is Castilian Spanish. Most traditional universities in Spain will teach in Spanish, or in their local Catalonian language. At many Spanish universities, you will find some English coursework, although most teaching instructions will remain in Spanish. As part of the entry requirements in the Selectividad, you will be required to demonstrate that you have sufficient proficiency in Spanish.
At some public universities, the professor may choose the language they teach in, so research whether a class is taught in Castilian Spanish, Catalan Spanish, or English. Some Spanish universities and institutions give you the opportunity to enroll in language immersion courses. These are intensive courses that surround you with coursework, cultural trips, and Spanish speaking partners.
You can also focus on learning Spanish long before you go or decide to apply. You might want to explore if your school offers language classes, or check out adult education courses and tutoring to give yourself a head start. There are also a number of resources online to help you create a self-taught language programme.
Making an application
Once you’ve had an opportunity to figure out which programmes you’d like to apply for and where, you need to figure out when to submit your applications and begin preparing for your entrance exams. Application deadlines can vary depending on the institution. Generally, for studies beginning in October, you will need to apply in June through to September. For studies beginning in February, you will need to apply in December.
Students applying from within the EU are able to apply directly to their chosen university in Spain.
If you’re applying from outside the EU, you’ll need to contact your chosen university’s admissions office to check whether you’re eligible to apply. Once this is confirmed, the next step will involve working with the Spanish embassy for pre-registration.
You can find out more information on pre-registration, application materials, and visas in our guide ‘Study in Spain: making an application’.