Study in Spain – Why study in Spain?

Growing numbers of international students are choosing to study in Spain, attracted by its excellent universities, the Mediterranean lifestyle, and architectural riches. Students who study in Spain, can enjoy a colourful, sociable, and flamboyant life with a magnificent landscape to match. Spain’s many traditions, including its famous siesta, when the country shuts down after a fabulous lunch, spill into everyday life. Fiestas pepper the annual calendar, ranging from processions carrying statues of the Virgin Mary, to the Tomatina festival where thousands of people pelt each other with overripe fruit. Everyone is invited to village carnivals and flamenco festivals and streets fill with locals, tourists, and young students from all over the world who are studying in Spain. Many art and architecture students choose to study in Spain 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 you will gaze in awe at the Moorish architecture of Granada, Córdoba, and Seville.  Students who study in Spain start to understand two other very important passions of Spanish life: food and football. The food is fresh and locally sourced, and like Spanish football, a big part of daily life. In between your studies in Spain, try catch a match at the Bernabéu if you opt to do your degree in the capital – or at Barcelona’s world-renowned Camp Nou – followed by some traditional Spanish tapas. 

Study in Spain – choosing a university

Choosing the right university to study in Spain is a big step as you are in fact moving there for the next three to four years of your life. 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. 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. Some of the most popular Spanish universities, offering courses in English, include the following: EU Business School, ESEI Business School, EAE Business School, ESADE Business School, La Salle University Barcelona, C3S Business School, Schiller International University, Saint Louis University, Madrid European University, Madrid Suffolk University.

Study in Spain – popular university rankings

Spain Ranking 2024 QS Global Ranking 2024 University City
1 149 Autonomous University of Barcelona Barcelona
2 164 University of Barcelona Barcelona
3 171 Complutense University of Madrid Madrid
4 199 Autonomous University of Madrid Madrid
5 280 University of Navarra Pamplona
6 310 University Pompeu Fabra Barcelona
7 319 University Carlos III Madrid
8 349 Technical University of Madrid Madrid
9 354 Polytechnic University of Catalonia Barcelona
10 403 University of Granada Granada
11 428 IE University Segovia, Madrid
12 476 Polytechnic University of Valencia Valencia
13 485 University of Valencia Valencia

Public and private universities in Spain

EU students who choose to study in Spain in public universities pay the same university tuition fees (EUR 700 – EUR 1,200) as home students. Private universities, however, tend to be significantly more expensive with tuition fees ranging from 5,500 to 28,000 euros a year.  Spain is a signatory of the Bologna Process, and you can therefore transfer credits from one university to another.

20 popular public universities:

  • University of Barcelona
  • Polytechnic University of Catalonia
  • University Complutense -Madrid
  • University of Valencia
  • Polytechnic University of Madrid
  • University of Madrid
  • University of Alicante
  • Autonomous University of Barcelona
  • University of Granada
  • University of Seville
  • University of Salamanca
  • Autonomous University of Madrid
  • University Carlos III
  • University of Murcia
  • Polytechnic University of Valencia
  • University of Malaga
  • Pais Vasco University
  • University of Zaragoza
  • University of La Rioja

Given the wide choice of locations of public universities, call Elab if you are not sure which university in Spain is best for your interests and career path. One of our experienced consultants will go through the options with you and help you compare universities, courses, and cities. 

Study in Spain – choosing a course

Study in Spain with Elab - Application, Accommodation and Scolarships

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. Certain universities are well known for specific subjects or offer a wide range of options:

  • Sprawling across seven campuses and situated in possible the most exciting city to study in Spain, the highly-ranked University of Barcelona is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in Spain and offers around 290 study programmes taught in English divided  between 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. Approximately 300 courses are taught in English at bachelor’s level.
  • 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 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. 
  • ELISAVA, the Barcelona School of Design and Engineering, 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. Ten per cent of its courses are taught in English.

Elab runs a Europa program which looks at study destinations across Europe and compares courses, costs, scholarship possibilities and universities.

Study in Spain – the application process

General information Applications to study in Spain at undergraduate level essentially pass through two stages but are generally difficult and time-consuming.

Stage one – validating your academic qualifications Undergraduate Degrees Applicants wanting to study in Spain for a bachelor’s degree course have to apply to the Spanish National Distance Education University – UNED to obtain a Credencial de Acceso, which you need to send to the universities 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 enrol – 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: 

  • copy of your ID, photographs, 
  • statement of purpose (Personal Statement), 
  • copy of your bachelor’s degree, 
  • proof of English language proficiency at the required grade
  • transcripts of your academic record, 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 directly to the universities you have chosen. You will also be asked to provide a number of documents, including:

  • certified copy of your grade transcripts
  • 500-word Personal Statement
  • proof of English language proficiency

UNED processes applications within three months, but you may well get a quick response, so do not lose time waiting for an answer, just go online and fill in the university application forms. If you wish to study in Spain 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 required documents and transcripts. You could be asked to sit an entrance exam depending on the course and the university for which you are applying. 

Tuition fees to study in Spain

Fees to study at a public university in Spain are set by the Spanish government. 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 enrolment). 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. Therefore, your total tuition fees to study in Spain for one year, including 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

The cost of living while studying in Spain is estimated to be 20 per cent cheaper than other European student destinations. You will need around 1,000 euros a month, to cover accommodation, utilities, food, your mobile phone contract, gym membership or 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 Spain 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. 
  • Transport is cheap and efficient in Spain, and you should budget approximately 35 euros a month for getting around.

In the end, although the overall cost of living while studying in Spain is relatively cheap, what you spend depends entirely on your lifestyle choices.


Although many scholarships are only available at postgraduate level, there are a few grants available at undergraduate level. Contact Elab for further information.

Study in Spain – other useful information

  • While studying in Spain, you could take the opportunity to learn Spanish, since it is the world’s second most spoken language, and there are many free or highly subsidised courses available. 
  • Shops, business and administrative offices usually close for a mid-afternoon siesta between 2-5.
  • Do not be surprised if someone you have just been introduced to kisses you on both cheeks – it is a standard greeting.
  • Banks are usually only open until 2pm and shut at the weekend – try not get caught out.
  • Bicycling is becoming increasingly popular in Spain, for example, Seville has 180km of bike lanes.   
  • Introduction
  • Diagnostics
  • Personal Profile Map
  • Research
  • University Report
  • Final application choices
  • Application process plan
  • Mentor Program
  • Exam and Interview prep
  • Document completion
  • Application portal setup
  • Submission
  • Acceptance
  • Pre-departure procedures
  • Finances
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