This section will assist you in finding universities where to study in Spain that match you interests. You should know that Spanish universities are under the jurisdiction of the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deportes (M.E.C.) and offer several degree programs: Diplomaturas (three years), Licenciaturas (four to five years, six in Medicine) and Doctoral programs (three years after the degree of Licenciado). Also, there are Masters, University Specialists, and University Experts programs.
If you wish to complete a degree program in a Spanish University--not just a semester or a Spanish Language program--you must begin by contacting the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your home country to validate or "convalidar" your current education. Once this is done, you will have to take the Spanish university entrance exam and secure a opening in the college where you wish to study.
In general, Spain is considered to have one of the best higher education systems in the world. Internationally, is ranked 5th–behind only the USA, Germany, the UK, and Canada. In addition to its quality, Spanish postsecondary education is set apart by its consistency, in that it lacks “star” institutions that outshine the rest. Nearly all of Spain 73 colleges and universities meet high standards of academic rigor and quality of instruction.
Funding for institutions of higher learning in Spain comes primarily from the government. The majority of Spanish colleges and universities are at least partially state-funded, although there are some private (mostly Catholic) schools as well. The private schools are generally to be about as good as public schools, although the curriculum varies somewhat at Catholic schools. Overall, though, there is no significant difference in quality between private and public education in Spain. Unlike many countries, where public colleges are wildly better or worse than the private alternatives, all colleges in Spain are fairly similar in quality.
Recent developments in Spanish higher education have been characterized by efforts to standardize curricular and evaluative systems. Along with many other European countries, Spain participates in the European Higher Education Area, also known as the EHEA or Bologna process. This process is designed to ensure that educational credentials throughout Europe are comparable–enabling employers and educational institutions from various European countries to coordinate their efforts more effectively. The increased fluidity of borders in Europe has created a need for education and training programs that can prepare students for a transnational job market, and this is the need that the Bologna process seeks to meet.
In addition to its participation in the EHEA, Spain has also seen increased standardization of admissions requirements. After completing their college preparatory training, prospective college students in Spain must achieve high scores on standardized college admissions tests, which greatly affect the student's chances of acceptance. As in all countries that rely heavily on standardized testing, Spanish educational authorities have had to confront the controversial problem of “teaching to the test.” Finding the right balance between test preparation and broader education will likely be a challenge for the Spanish education system in years to come.
Spain has a number of excellent and high-performing universities—both public and private schools spread out among the country’s many provinces and cities. Among these universities are a number of international institutions of higher education, as well as several satellite campuses for universities in other countries, including the United States. Below we will take a closer look at some of the public and private universities in Spain, with a special focus on international institutions, American universities with campuses in Spain, and some of the more popular degree programs in the country in which English is the primary language of instruction.
Public and Private Universities in Spain
Spain is a country that consistently ranks among the world leaders in terms of the quality of life for its citizens—a quality of life that is bolstered and, in large part, sustained by the country’s excellent system of higher education. During the 2012/2013 academic year, Spain had 18 universities appear in the "QS World University Rankings", 14 of which were ranked in the top 500. Spain’s higher education landscape includes both public and private universities, large and small. The largest universities are predictably located in some of Spain’s larger cities, particularly Barcelona and Madrid, the country’s capital. Private universities tend to be smaller, with the majority owned and operated by the Catholic Church, by far the largest religious affiliation in the country. Below is a brief sample of some of the public and private universities in Spain, along with the cities in which they are located.
Public Universities in Spain
- Universidad Complutense de Madrid—Madrid
- Universidad Politecnia de Madrid—Madrid
- Universidad de Granada—Granada
- Universidad de Barcelona—Barcelona
- Universidad de Seville—Seville
- Universidad de Valencia—Valencia
- Universidad del Pais Vasco—Bilbao
- Universidad Pompeu Fabra—Barcelona
- Universidad de Malaga—Malaga
Private Universities in Spain
- Catholic University of Avila—Avila
- Loyola University Andalusia—Seville
- University of Duesto—Bilbao
- Pontifical University of Salamanca—Salamanca
- Abat Oliba CEU University—Barcelona
- University of Vic—Vic
- Alfonso X University—Villanueva de la Canada
International Universities in Spain
Spain is home to several international universities—schools that promote international education, with a credit and degree structure that is generally accepted at most higher education institutions around the world. International universities boast a very diverse faculty and host students from every corner of the globe. These institutions are generally accredited by international bodies, and have a non-selective student enrollment. Instruction at Spain’s international universities is typically provided in English, or bilingually in both English and Spanish.
One of Spain’s largest and most respected international universities is European University Barcelona. EU Barcelona, as it is popularly known, is one of Europe’s leading international business schools, providing accredited undergraduate and graduate programs in business, management and finance. In each of these programs, the language of instruction is English.
EU Barcelona is located in the very attractive Bonanova neighborhood of Barcelona, and is part of the EU system of university campuses spread throughout Europe and Asia. With small, dynamic classes, EU Barcelona offers the best of European and American academic traditions in an international environment. The school offers undergraduate degrees in Business Administration and Finance, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and specializations in a broad range of management disciplines.
EU Barcelona is just one of the many institutions offering a broad range of international programs. Some of the other international universities in Spain include:
- Isabella I of Castile International University—Burgos
- International University of Catalonia—Barcelona
- International University of La Rioja—Longrono
- European University of Madrid—Madrid
- Valencian International University—Castellon de la Plana
- Marbella Design Academy—Monda (about 15 kilometers from Marbella on the Costa del Sol in the south of Spain)
American Universities with Campuses and Study Abroad Programs in Spain
Spain plays host to a handful of American-based universities. In addition, there are a countless number of Spanish universities that host study abroad programs in the country, where American students can come to Spain and study for a semester or full academic year.
One of the more popular American universities with a campus in Spain is Saint Louis University (SLU). SLU is a Jesuit institution, ranked among the top 100 research and teaching institutions in the United States. Its programs are distributed over two campuses: the St. Louis Campus in the U.S. state of Missouri, and the Madrid Campus, located in Spain’s diverse capital city. The University enrolls more than 11,000 students, 650 of which elect to pursue their studies in Madrid. While originally established in the 1960s as a study abroad program for U.S. students, the Madrid Campus is now a free-standing campus of Saint Louis University, where students from more than 65 countries study undergraduate and graduate courses to obtain either a 4-year undergraduate degree or a graduate degree in a variety of disciplines. All degrees earned at the Madrid campus of SLU are recognized by the United States. Students merely studying abroad for a semester or two can also gain credits towards their degrees on their home campuses.
There are many Spanish universities that sponsor study abroad programs for American students. One such institution is the University of Oviedo, which hosts a spring semester program for students who attend Temple University (TU), located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States. TU’s spring semester program in Spain was developed in 2008 in response to the huge success of its existing summer session in Oviedo. This relatively new program is designed for students who are committed to enriching their education and for those looking to gain valuable Spanish language skills and a deeper understanding of Spanish culture.
English Programs at Spanish Universities
To keep up with the rising demand for English-instruction in Spain, many of the country’s universities now offer a few degree tracks in which the language of instruction is entirely English. This, of course, does not include the international universities in Spain, or the U.S. study abroad programs, in which the language of instruction is always available in English.
While many of Spain’s traditional universities feature English-only degree programs, most of these programs are only available at the graduate level. According to a recent survey, the most popular area of study in which English is the language of instruction is Business and Economics, where English-taught Master’s Degree programs make up 28 percent of the total offerings in this field. Within that discipline, the most popular English degree tracks are International Business, International Relations, Business Administration (MBA) and Business Management. Other areas in which English-taught degrees are often available include the Social Sciences, Engineering and Technology, while the least represented fields tend to be the Humanities and Natural Sciences at the Universities in Spain.