Universities In Spain

01 March 2021

How Universities in Spain Work

Information about colleges in Spain and how the system works, what degrees to get, how long they take and a list of universities across the country for all courses and subject areas

There are over 51 public and 21 private universities spanning the entire country with higher concentrations of universities in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.

It’s time to hit the books and when it comes to post secondary education, the universities in Spain offer many options from which to choose. There are over 51 public and 21 private universities in Spain spanning the entire country with higher concentrations of universities in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Madrid has the highest number of private universities in Spain. Although the Spanish university system dates as far back as the Middle Ages, today it is based on a system inspired by the centralized French model. Since the Bologna Declaration in 1999, Spain, along with more than 30 European countries began transforming its higher educational system with the goal of creating a European Higher Education Space (EHES) which is supposed to culminate in 2010. The point of this is to harmonize and unite the credit system across Europe in order to increase student mobility and promote the integration of graduates into the European Labour Market.

Official graduate studies at universities in Spain are geared to provide students with multiple skills sets ranging from academic to professional to research. Graduate degrees in Spain are organized into 3 different cycles or stages as set out and in accordance with the EHES. The degrees obtained through these 3 stages have automatic recognition and mobility between the 30 European nations and they cover a wide variety of subjects that can be summed up in 5 areas.

  • Health Sciences
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences and Law
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Arts and Humanities

The length of study for the above subject areas differs depending on the program. The degrees usually fall into one of the three cycles within each university. These cycles include:

  1. Single-Cycle Programs in Universities in Spain (or short-cycle studies): Studies for single-cycle programs are usually 3 years long with students earning a Diplomatura (Bachelor’s Degree) at the end. These studies do not continue into the second cycle. Examples of some Single-Cycle Programs: Library Studies and Nursing
  2. Two-Cycle Studies with an intermediate diploma in Universities in Spain: Two Cycle programs give students the option of continuing to the second cycle after they’ve achieved either their Diplomatura (Bachelor’s Degree) or Arquitectura Técnica and Ingeniería Técnica degrees (Bachelor degree in Architecture or Engineering). Students who have completed these degrees have the option of continuing to the second cycle for the degree of Licenciatura (Masters degree), or Arquitecto and Ingeniero (Architect and Engineer). These programs are usually five or six-year programs. Examples of Some Two-Cycle Programs: Economics, Law, Architecture, Engineering
  3. Two-Cycle Studies without an intermediate diploma in universities in Spain (or long-cycle studies): These studies are divided into two cycles however the difference is that for these degrees it is necessary to complete both cycles in order to obtain the degree of Licenciatura (Masters Degree). These programs are usually four or five-years.

Examples of Two-Cycle studies without an intermediate diploma are: Veterinary Science, Medicine.

In addition to these three cycles there are other specific requirements when it comes to obtaining a Master’s Degree or Doctorate Degree in Spain.

Graduate degrees in Spain are organized into 3 different cycles or stages as set out and in accordance with the EHES.

How To Get A Masters Degree at Universities in Spain:

Masters Degrees in Spain are usually acquired during the second cycle of university study. Students must have a minimum of 60 credits and a maximum of 12 credits in order to qualify. Non Spanish Students: Students that have a foreign or non-Spanish undergraduate degree are allowed to enroll in a Masters program as long as there is:

  • Official recognition of their degree according to the current legislation
  • Authorization by the host university after checking that the courses and studies taken at the previous university are of equivalent academic level to the corresponding Spanish courses and that they allow the same access to graduate studies

How to Get a Doctorate Degree at Universities in Spain: A Doctorate or PH.D degree at a University in Spain is acquired during the third cycle of study. This degree usually incorporates advanced training and research techniques and can be done through organized courses, seminars and other activities. The PH.D also includes the doctoral thesis which is an original work of research that is later presented to a panel of professors. In order to enroll in a PH.D program a student must have a minimum of 60 credits in an undergraduate program, a Masters degree and a minimum of 300 credits in total from both their undergraduate and graduate studies. Unofficial Degrees In Universities in Spain: In conjunction with the official degrees, each university in Spain offers a wide range of unofficial degrees (Maestrias). Unofficial degrees are usually one or two year programs and in order to gain admissions it’s required to have either an undergraduate or graduate degree. These degrees are geared towards more practical and specialized jobs and are widely recognized for their labor market value. Universities’ in Spain- Academic Calendar: Spanish Universities throughout the country for the most part have the same academic calendar with classes beginning in October and ending in June. Exams are usually in February, the end of the first semester and at the end of the second semester in June. Teaching and Evaluation methods in Universities in Spain: Universities in Spain like many others around the world use a variety of teaching methods including, lectures, seminars and practical work under the supervision of a tutor. Lectures are between 50-60 minutes and although attendance is not mandatory it is strongly suggested. In terms of evaluation in the case of a one semester course students are assessed through final examinations in February, or in the case of courses that run throughout the academic year or that run from one semester into the next, in June. Students who do not pass the exams are able to re-sit in September. Some professors choose to evaluate students on a continuous basis throughout the term and this sometimes replaces the final examination. International Students Studying In Spain: Families living in Spain who want to send their children to school, have several options. For both young children in Spain, students living in Spain who want to further their education and for those coming from abroad intending on studying in Spain, there are many choices in schools ranging from elementary education to post graduate studies. International Schools In Spain; Elementary and High School Levels: For parents looking for schooling options for their children, Spain, along with the public schools boasts a wide range of private schools including parochial schools, international schools, bilingual schools, American and British schools. Most are co-educational and between them they educate just over one third of all children in Spain. Most of these private schools are Catholic day schools but some British and American schools take weekly or full term boarders. These schools are on the same timetable as public schools, conducting classes from Monday to Friday with no Saturday morning classes. Many expats believe that all private schools in Spain are owned and controlled by foreigners, however this is not the case. There are many Spanish private schools that teach Spanish and of these many are subsidized by the State. Some international schools are also subsidized and follow the Spanish state-school curriculum and there are many others that are also state-subsidized and follow a bilingual English/Spanish curriculum. The stipulation is that if a private school receives a state subsidy, at least 25 per cent of a school's total number of pupils must be Spanish and have at least 20 per cent in each class. When it comes to fees in Spain they vary greatly and are usually determined by factors such as: reputation, quality, location, examination results and probably the most relevant of all-what the market will stand. However in relation to the cost of private education in the UK and the States fees for private schools in Spain are relatively moderate with schools in the bigger cities (Madrid and Barcelona) being more expensive. Some advantages to British and American private schools are that they have smaller class sizes and a more relaxed regime and curriculum than Spanish state schools. Furthermore they often provide a much more varied approach to sport, culture and art and offer a wider choice of academic subjects. How to Gain Admission To University in Spain as an International Student: For International students to gain admission to an undergraduate program in a Spanish University, they are required to obtain official recognition from their previous school, as well they must pass the official Spanish university entrance exams (Selectividad) which are taken twice a year. These exams are offered in several countries of origin for many of the international students. Once students have passed the university entrance exams international students are eligible to study at any public or private Spanish university. Here is a brief list of some of the more popular universities in Spain that attract foreigners: 

  • Les Roches School of Hotel Management – Marbella Location: Ctra. de Istán, Km.1. Urb. Las Lomas del Río Verde E, Marbella, Málaga, 29600, Spain Tel.: +34 95 276 44 37 This university in Spain is located in the Costa del Sol on the coast of the Mediterranean. Les Roches Marbella offers a unique learning experience as it was founded as a sister school to the main Les Roches campus in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. This is a private university focusing on hospitality management, however it offers a range of other degree programs as well. For more information check out:www.lesroches.net
  • European University Center for Management Studies, Barcelona Tel.: + 34 93 201 81 71 European University (EU) is one of the world’s top business schools attracting students from around the world including countries such as Spain, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Kazakhstan and Singapore. This University in Spain offers both traditional programs of Bachelor and Master of Business Administration (BBA & MBA) as well as the possibility to specialize in 10 different fields of management education. For more information check out:www.euruni.edu Email:info.bcn@euruni.edu
  • Schiller International University, Madrid Location: San Bernardo, 97-99, Edificio Colomina, Madrid, 28015, Spain Tel.: +34 91 448 24 88 Schiller International University is an American university with its main campus in Florida and seven other campuses based throughout Europe. Schiller's Madrid Campus gives students the opportunity to complete an American MBA degree in International Business. For more information check out:www.schillermadrid.edu Email:admissions schillermadrid.edu
  • Valencia International Business School Location: Paseo San Gervasio 71, pral 1a (International Admissions Department), Barcelona, 08022, Spain Tel.: +34934186282 Valencia International Business School offers both business and management education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This university in Spain has specializations in: Business Administration, Business Communication, Public Relations and Sports Management. For More information check out: [url=http://www.valencia.uibs.org]http://www.valencia.uibs.org[/url] Email: info valencia.uibs.org
  • Universidad Pablo De Olavide - Centro de Estudios para Extranjeros Location: Carretera de Utrera, km. 1, Sevilla, 41013, Spain Tel.: +34 95 434 90 95 This university in Spain is an accredited public university located on a 345 acre campus, 5 miles from Seville's city center. It has a center for International Students that offers the semester/year long Hispanic Studies Program along with many other degree programs. For more information check out: [url=http://www.upo.es/intl]http://www.upo.es/intl[/url] Email: intl upo.es
  • Alicante University This university in Spain is a public university owned by the Spanish State. Alicante University has more than 33,000 students and is one of the fastest growing universities in Spain. It is located only 5min from the centre of Alicante. For More information check out: [url=http://www.ua.es/en/index.html]http://www.ua.es/en/index.html[/url]
  • Granada University This university in Spain caters specifically to foreigners and is located in the Realejo district (central Granada) in the historic palace of Santa Cruz from the 16th century. This is a public university and is owned by the Spanish State. There are more than 60,000 students and it’s known to be one of the most important universities in Spain. For more information check out: [url=http://www.ugr.es/university.htm]http://www.ugr.es/university.htm[/url]
  • Salamanca University This university in Spain is a public university owned by the Spanish State and is the third oldest university in Europe. Salamanca University is recognized as one of the best Spanish language schools in Spain and is also responsible for setting and correcting the two yearly DELE exams papers, the only officially recognized certificate by the Spanish government and Instituto Cervantes. This university in Spain is not only very well known but is situated in one of the liveliest cities in Spain with students coming to study from all over the world. For more information check out: [url=http://www.usal.es/webusal/Ingles/index.html]http://www.usal.es/webusal/Ingles/index.html[/url]

For more comprehensive lists of universities in Spain check out: Uni Spain Wikipedia's list of universities in Spain

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