About Studying in Spain

Spain has a long history of higher education, with its oldest university, Universidad de Salamanca, dating back to 1218. Its higher education system was overhauled in 2007 to embrace the three-cycle system of the Bologna Process, ensuring compatibility with the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

Why study in Spain?

Choose to study in Spain, and one thing is for sure: your friends will be very jealous! Stretching to the Pyrenees in the east, the Mediterranean in the south, the Bay of Biscay in the north, and Portugal in the west, Spain is one of the biggest countries in Europe – and also one of the most-visited. It's also among the most popular destinations for international students, due to its winning combination of good universities, attractive lifestyle, and the fact that Spanish is one of the world's most spoken languages.

Unique country

This is a country of contrasts, where the affluence and cosmopolitan bustle of Western Europe is mixed with a distinctly southern European extravagance and charm; where an expressive and flamboyant culture segues into afternoon naps and languid evenings in bars and cafés; and where distinct regional identities often take precedence over a unified national one. Of course, lifestyle alone isn’t enough to draw in the punters – you need to have good universities too!

Education system

Spain has a great opportunity to learn no matter what your major might be and no matter which college you have selected for your studies. The educational system is well organized and properly executed, designed to provide students of all levels with the utmost of learning opportunities. Spain is the third most popular country for international studies with around 36% of those people from the USA. When you study in Spain you can be confident that you will be provided with the best possible education for your time.


There is a total of 78 universities (or universidades) in Spain, 51 of which are run and funded by the state, while 27 are private or run by the Catholic Church. 23 Spanish universities are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2018, of which 11 are within the global top 500. The largest concentrations of leading Spanish universities are found in the capital city Madrid and second city Barcelona.

University of Barcelona (Universitat de Barcelona)

The highest-ranked Spanish university, the University of Barcelona is 156th in the QS World University Rankings 2018. Established in 1450, it's among the oldest higher education institutions in the world, with rich traditions dating back to the Medieval Ages. Today, almost 63,000 students are enrolled in a wide array of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, across the university's 18 faculties and 100 departments. The University of Barcelona ranks within the world’s top 100 for many of the subject areas covered by the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Founded in 1968, the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (sometimes called UAM, or the Autonomous University of Madrid), is currently ranked at 187th in the world – as well as featuring in the QS Top 50 Under 50. UAM is home to more than 36,000 students across its eight faculties, and is especially noted for its Faculty of Law. It has three campuses, of which the main one, the Cantoblanco Campus, is located 15km (9 miles) north of Madrid. The Universidad Autónoma de Madrid prides itself in being the alma mater of His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain.

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona was also established in 1968, and ranks at joint 195th in the world, making it Spain’s third representative at international level. As one of the world’s leading universities under 50 years old, it features in the QS Top 50 Under 50. It teaches about 36,000 students and is famous for being one of the few universities in Spain to have a centralized campus, created in order to promote a strong university community, with all academic, research, cultural and social activities in the same place. This integrated campus is located about 20km (12 miles) from the center of Barcelona.

University Complutense Madrid

The oldest Spanish university, the University Complutense Madrid is in fact one of the oldest higher education institutions in the world. It dates back to 1293, when it was originally known as Estudio de Escuelas Generales de Alcalá, before receiving its current name in 1499. Today, the University Complutense Madrid ranks at 233rd place in the world and within the global top 50 in the subject area of dentistry. More than 86,000 students study in the university, which was one of the first in the world to give a doctoral degree to a female student, in 178.

University of Navarra

A private university, the University of Navarra was established in 1952 by Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. More than 12,700 students are enrolled in the university’s undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs, with many international master’s students. The university’s main campuses are in Pamplona and San Sebastián, while its prestigious IESE Business School also has offices in Barcelona, Madrid, New York, Munich and São Paulo. At the start of 2015, the university inaugurated a new museum of contemporary art, designed by well-known architect Rafael Moneo. In the QS World University Rankings 2018, the University of Navarra ranks joint 270th

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña. BarcelonaTech (UPC) is a university with a consolidated worldwide reputation and an international vision that generates technological innovation and attracts talent. The objectives of the UPC are based on internationalization, as it is Spain’s technical university with the highest number of international PhD students and Spain’s university with the highest number of international master’s degree students.

Top Ranked Universities on QS

According to QS World University Ranking

University of Barcelona (Universitat de Barcelona)#156
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid #187
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona#195
University Complutense Madrid #233

Tuition fees

Tuition fees at top-ranked universities in Finland

# Name Ranking Average tuition fees
1 University of Barcelona (Universitat de Barcelona) 156 8,000 - 10,000 USD/year
2 Universidad Autónoma de Madrid 187 8,000 - 10,000 USD/year
3 Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona 195 2,000 - 4,000 USD/year
4 University Complutense Madrid 233 4,000 - 6,000 USD/year

Living, acoomodation and tuition costs

Applicants coming from the EU pay the same tuition fees as local students. These are usually between US$800-1,500 per year at public universities in Spain, and between €5,500-18,000 (~US$6,000-19,670) per year if you study in Spain at a private-sector university. If you come from a non-EU country, your fees will be higher, but only marginally. For exact information on your tuition fees, contact your chosen university or visit its website.

Generally, Spain is an affordable country, where international students should not feel the financial pressure.

Madrid and Barcelona claim the titles of the most expensive Spanish cities, where you would need around 1,000 EUR/month for all your monthly expenses. But you can also manage with a tight budget of 800 EUR/month.

On the other hand, in cities like Valencia, Seville or Cadiz, you can enjoy cheaper living costs, 600 – 900 EUR/month on average.

The main housing options for students in Spain are:

Student residence – prices range from 360 to 650 EUR/month.

Rent an apartment – prices for rent are between 450 and 700 EUR/month. Renting an apartment in Madrid and Barcelona costs around 900 – 1,200 EUR/month.

Home stay – rates are around 700 – 800 EUR/month, with meals included.

Most students prefer to share a student dormitory or a flat and settle for lower prices and a high dose of socialisation.

Funding and student support programm

If you need support in order to build your future career through education, you have several options in Spain, including loans, scholarships (some offered by the Spanish government) and various grants.

Erasmus Mundus Scholarships for international students The EU provides funds to international students selected to attend Erasmus Mundus Joint programmes, either for Master’s or doctoral level studies. The fund is equally provided to students coming from both EU and non-EU countries.

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