How to Study in Spain and Apply to Spanish Universities

How to Study in Spain

Spain has it all: beautiful places, nice weather, amazing food, top universities, and a growing international community. It’s no wonder it has become one of the most popular destinations for international students. In fact, over 200,000 international students are currently enrolled in higher education institutions across Spain; most of them come from countries such as Italy, Ecuador, France, Colombia, China, and others. When asked about their reasons to study in Spain, they mention the strong academic reputation of Spanish universities, affordable costs, a global student community, and the wonderful Spanish culture.

If you are interested in studying in Spain for a semester, a year, or an entire university degree, take a look at the information below to get started.

Apply to Study Abroad Programs in Spain

There are plenty of study abroad programs for high school, college, and adult students in Spain. Some programs offer intensive Spanish language courses, others offer academic credits, and others offer work-study and volunteer experiences. Take a look at these Top Study Abroad Programs to explore your options.

Study in Spain
Study Abroad in Spain

As a college student, you could also apply to study abroad in Spain through your home college or university. Many Spanish universities have agreements with international universities for visiting students who may enroll for a semester or a year as part of their degree program.

By going through your institution, these study abroad programs will usually align with credits and graduation requirements set forth by your school.

Additional to transferable courses and credits, applying through your school will make handling logistics like visas and housing easier. Your home university will likely have a process already in place to make the transition to studying abroad as smooth as possible. Certainly, many institutions with partner schools have a vast support system as well, so you won’t be going through this alone. Contact the study abroad office at your university for information.

Apply to American Universities in Spain

If you are interested in obtaining a U.S. bachelor’s or master’s degree while living and studying in Spain, you can do so through one of the American Universities in Europe. Spain is home to four American colleges and universities where you can study in English, obtain an American degree, and live the Spanish lifestyle. Since these universities are fully accredited and follow the U.S. higher education system, admissions requirements will usually include a high school diploma for bachelor’s degrees and a 4-year university degree for master’s programs. Contact the university of your choice for information.

Apply to Spanish Universities

Apply to Spanish Universities
Study in Spain

Spain has around 80 universities, 45 of which are public and funded by the state making their tuition costs affordable for domestic and international students. Take a look at the 10 Best Universities in Spain for International Students.

Popular fields of study include Engineering, Business/Management, Languages, Humanities, Law, and Health Sciences. Additionally, some of the top business schools in the world are located in Spain. While Bachelor’s degrees in Spain could take 3-4 years, Master’s degrees take 1-2 years, and Doctorate degrees may involve 3-4 years.

For European and non-European students, the application for bachelor’s programs will be a little different, as there are additional requirements for non-EU students. Let’s break it down:

Applicants from EU/EEA, Switzerland, China, and Countries with Educational Agreements

Step 1: Explore your options. Take a look at some of the top universities in Spain and select the university or universities where you want to apply. Additionally, you will need to decide on your academic program since admissions requirements depend on the program of your choice.

Step 2: Contact the university. Request information about admissions requirements, cut-off scores for any potential Selectividad PCE exams (entrance exams), deadlines, tuition costs, and whether UNEDassis accreditation will be considered. UNEDassis facilitates the pre-admissions process by accrediting your documents and offering PCE exam support.

Step 3: Obtain a certified copy of your diploma, the document that gives you access to university education in the educational system of origin. This may be a high school diploma, a secondary school diploma, European Baccalaureate or International Baccalaureate.

Step 4: Send all your certified transcripts and diploma to UNEDassis. Register with UNEDassis, and start your pre-application process. UNEDassis will evaluate whether you need to take any PCE exams to meet your selected university’s cut-off scores based on your transcripts. Also, you will need to provide proof of Spanish language proficiency through course transcripts and/or scores.

Note: During the year, there are two application periods for the PCE Exam: Exam Period 1 in either May or June and Exam Period 2 in September.

Step 5: Apply to the Spanish university you selected. Once you’ve completed the pre-application process with UNEDassis and received accreditation and scores, you can apply to the university you had selected. Applicants usually receive a letter of acceptance from their Spanish university in mid-July.

International Applicants from Other Countries

Step 1: Explore your options. Take a look at some of the top universities in Spain and select the university or universities where you want to apply. You will also need to decide on your academic program since admissions requirements depend on the program of your choice.

Step 2: Contact the university. Request information about admissions requirements, cut-off scores for any potential Selectividad PCE exams (entrance exams), deadlines, tuition costs, and whether UNEDassis accreditation will be considered. UNEDassis facilitates the pre-admissions process by accrediting your documents and offering PCE exams support.

Step 3: Obtain an apostille or legalization for your diploma, the document that gives you access to university education in the educational system of origin. An apostille is required for documents from Hague countries. If your country is not part of the Hague convention, you will need to have your documents legalized. If Spanish is not the official language in your country, you will need to have all your educational documents translated to Spanish (contact the Spanish consulate in your country for translation services).

Step 4: Send all your certified transcripts and diplomas to UNEDassis. Register with UNEDassis, and start your pre-application process. They will evaluate whether you need to take any PCE exams to meet your selected university’s cut-off scores based on your transcripts. As an international applicant, you might need to take 2 to 4 PCE Exams depending on your selected field of study. Also, you will need to provide proof of Spanish language proficiency through course transcripts and/or scores.

Note: During the year, there are two application periods for the PCE Exam: Exam Period 1 in either May or June and Exam Period 2 in September.

Step 5: Apply to the Spanish university you selected. Once you’ve completed the pre-application process with UNEDassis and received accreditation and test scores, you can apply to the university you had selected. As an international applicant, you may also need to submit proof of funds for visa purposes. Definitely, contact your university to learn about all their requirements. Applicants usually receive a letter of acceptance from their Spanish university in mid-July.

Graduate Programs

Master’s and doctorate programs follow different admissions requirements depending on the selected university and academic program. Generally, you will need a bachelor’s degree or a similar university degree to qualify for a master’s program, and a master’s degree to qualify for a doctorate or Ph.D.

Some graduate programs such as global MBAs may require GMAT admissions tests, but most programs will rely on your official transcripts, admissions essays, and letters of recommendation to evaluate your application. Contact the university and graduate program of your choice for specific requirements.

Spanish Visa Process

Madrid, Spain

EU students do not need a student visa to study in Spain. Non-EU applicants will need to apply for a student visa at the Spanish consulate located in their home country. Once you receive a letter of acceptance from your university in Spain, you will need to present the following documents at the consulate:

  • Apostilled or legalized birth certificate and official passport
  • Official letter of acceptance
  • Medical insurance
  • Proof of funds sufficient to cover your living expenses during your studies. The quantity required will depend on your country of origin. Each country’s consulate will require a different quantity*
  • Other documents as required by the Spanish consulate.

* In general, students need approximately €900-1,000 (~$1,100-1,200) per month to cover their living expenses. Tuition costs depend on the field of study, however, these are the average costs at public universities:

  • 150 – 3,500 EUR/year for Bachelor’s programmes
  • 300 – 3,500 EUR/year for Master’s programmes

Scholarships to Study in Spain

Spain is part of the Erasmus+ program, an EU initiative that provides financial help to students from the EU and other countries in the world to study in Europe. American students may be able to study in Spain on a grant through the Fulbright US Student program. Furthermore, some Study Abroad Programs also offer partial and full scholarships.

Additionally, you can find information on scholarships to study in Spain on the Spanish Ministry of Education website as well as by looking at the scholarships section on MacQuil.com.

Start Planning your Move

Study in Spain
Barcelona, Spain

Since the academic year usually starts in September, you have between July and September to get a visa, find housing, and plan your trip. Spanish universities usually provide resources to international students looking for housing or temporary accommodations, so start looking at all the resources and information provided by your university. In addition to your university’s resources, there are some online platforms you can use to find student housing or roommates, such as uniplaces, booking for students, resa, and others.

Spain is a great country with so much to offer, so start booking your flights, and start packing! Your future starts now.

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