Study in Spain

You are here

Course fees in España are among the lowest in Europe, so if you'd like to study at a Spanish university what are you waiting for? Don't forget the suncream…

While studying in Spain you'll be able to brush up on the second most spoken language in the world as well as make lots of international connections as Spain is the third most popular country for international studies.

In a Mediterranean climate you'll be able to enjoy siestas, tapas and metropolitan cities such as Madrid and Barcelona not to mention beautiful coastal beaches. When you're not studying you'll be able to explore Spain's many museums, clubs, theatres, festivals and street fairs.

The Spanish education system

There are two types of higher education institutions in Spain:

  • Public - those universities created by a public entity such as government;
  • Private - institutions created by individuals or legal bodies.

The Spanish university system has adapted to meet the requirements of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) so university studies in Spain now follow 3 cycles:

  • Bachelors degrees - students must earn a total of 240 ECTS credits over four years of study. These degrees combine basic training, obligatory and optional subjects as well as external and cultural placements and activities and a final course dissertation;
  • Masters degrees - aim to prepare students for academic, research or professional work and are usually spread over one or two years;
  • Doctoral degrees - with a maximum of three years full time and five years part time PhD's train students in advanced research techniques.

The Spanish academic year is split into two semesters and although this may vary slightly from university to university, dates will be similar no matter where you study. Lectures usually start mid September or early October with exams in January. The second semester then starts early February and concludes with exams in June.

Entry requirements

Competition for places is high, as more students wish to study in Spain than there are places available. European Union (EU) nationals are entitled to compete for places at Spanish universities on equal terms with their Spanish counterparts.

Students wanting to study for a postgraduate degree in Spain should apply directly to the institution they wish to attend. When applying for postgraduate study, you must be in possession of a Bachelors degree obtained in either Spain or a country in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). You can also hold a degree attained elsewhere but the university must be satisfied with the qualification before accepting an application.

Foreign qualifications (outside of the EU or China) must be approved by the Spanish Department of Education and Culture, in a process known as homologation, however this process is only necessary in the following circumstances:

  • if you have completed your secondary studies in a country outside the EU and you wish to pursue a bachelors degree;
  • if you wish to pursue a professional career in Spain and you carried out your university studies outside the EU.

While there are a few postgraduate courses taught in English it's useful to have some knowledge of the local language. Universities provide summer language courses, so to find out more about learning the lingo on arrival in Spain head to Studying in Spain - Studying in Spanish or English.

Course fees

EU citizens are entitled to attend university in Spain or any EU country (this means the 27 member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The same conditions apply to all EU citizens whether a national of the country or not. This means that you are not required to pay higher course fees than Spanish students and that you are entitled to apply for any grants available to help with tuition fees.

Spanish course fees are among the lowest in Europe for residents and EU nationals. At public universities enrolment fees for a bachelor's course are set by the government and can vary between 680 and 1,400 Euros per academic year. Similarly fees for postgraduate courses at both public and private universities are regulated by the government.

Tuition fees are calculated on a pay-per-credit format, with the amount of credits based on what course you study and which university you attend. For example, a Masters course will be worth 60 -120 credits per year, with each credit costing between 22 and 34 Euros each.

Students should expect to pay between 900 and 1,100 Euros a month for living expenses, depending on where you are based and the cost of accommodation. Madrid and Barcelona are the most expensive places to live.

Funding to study in Spain

Grants and scholarships are available to Spanish and EU students, however they are not as numerous as in other European countries.

For a helpful list of funding websites and scholarships, visit Universidad - Scholarships.

Spanish exchanges and placements

Students attending UK universities can take part in the EU's education, training and youth support programme Erasmus+. The scheme replaces its predecessor 'Erasmus' and offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements to millions of young people, students and adults. Opportunities last from three months to one academic year.

Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative to any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation actively involved in education and training.

Your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in another EU country. Check that your university is involved in the programme and offers the Erasmus+ scheme in your subject.

It isn't always necessary to speak the language of your host country, although you can arrange intensive language courses before you go. Speak to the Erasmus+ coordinator at your university about available opportunities.

Student visas

Students from the EU do not require a visa to study in Spain. However you should apply for an NIE (Foreign National Identity) number on arrival in the country. This document will come in extremely useful when opening a bank account, purchasing discount travel cards and accessing Spanish healthcare.

As an EU citizen, you are permitted to live in any EU country while studying as long as you:

  • are studying for more than three months;
  • are enrolled at an approved university;
  • have sufficient income (from any source) to live without needing income support;
  • have comprehensive health insurance cover. Spanish and EU students under 28, registered at a higher education institute are covered by a students' insurance fund.

Those students coming to study in Spain from outside the EU must obtain a visa if they wish to stay longer than three months. Non EU students can apply for a visa at the Spanish Consulate in their country of origin.