University Exchange Programs in Spain

29 March 2021

Study Abroad, Learn Spanish and Spanish Exchange Programs

Information about applying for exchange programs in Spanish universities, how to transfer credits, taking the selectividad exams and the best places to do an exchange program in Spain.

If your university of choice in Spain does not have an existing relationship with your home university there are a couple of options available in order to still be able to attend that particular school.

If you’re looking to shake things up or for a change of scenery from university life, there’s no better place to go than Spain. University exchange programs in Spain are becoming increasingly popular with a wide variety of both Spanish and private international schools from which to choose. There’s no better way to learn about another country, its customs and way of life, than by experiencing it firsthand. Spain is the third most visited country in the world thus providing for one of the most exceptional places to study and, of course, learn a bit of Español. For first time exchange students it can be difficult to pick a region for your exchange program in Spain.

Some of the top exchange locations to consider in Spain include:

  • Madrid-the heart of Spain
  • San Sebastian-towards the east at the edge of the Pyrenees
  • Pamplona-towards the mountains
  • Costa Brava and Barcelona-the more touristy sectors
  • Valencia, Granada, Cordoba, Seville or Salamanca - the university town.

To be considered for application to a Spanish University, foreign students - like Spanish students - must take the ‘Selectividad’ exams. These exams are normally taken after high school by all Spanish students wanting to attend university. A good way to study for this test is to find a school that helps prepare international students. There are several universities, for example, Colegio Delibes in Salamanca, that offer specific courses for students to help them prep for the exams. Another good way to prepare is to contact the exchange university in Spain and ask them if they have any courses geared towards helping international students study for the exams. The Selectividad exams are held twice a year in June and in September.

Depending on the Spanish exchange program there are often mandatory core classes in Spanish universities that all students must take: Spanish Language, Spanish Literature, Foreign Language, Philosophy, and Physical Education. Additionally, students must choose one optional area from within four groups: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Natural and Health Sciences, or Technology. However which core classes and optional classes are taken ultimately depend on the program of choice and the degree of the exchange program.

Time To Apply!
Once it’s been decided to do an exchange program in Spain there are several things you can do to ensure a smooth and effective application process. There is often a lot of paper work associated with applying to an exchange program in Spain, so the sooner you get started the better.

Steps To Applying for an Exchange Program in Spain:

  1. Contact the school of choice in Spain and find out what is needed to apply to that particular school and to your specific program. Inquire about any required courses you might have to take beforehand and while you are there and make sure to take note of submission deadlines for particular documents as they vary depending on the university.
  2. The most important thing to ensure when doing an exchange program is that the credits you will be acquiring in Spain transfer over to your original school. Be sure to speak directly to the registrar at your home university and find out if they have any affiliations with particular Spanish universities. Many schools, especially the Spanish departments have existing relationships and exchange programs already set up with universities across Spain. This makes it incredibly easy for students’ credits to transfer from one university to the next, which is ultimately one of the most important things to consider. Some universities will transfer credits in the form of pass/fail and others take actual grade point averages into consideration. Find out how your credits will be transferred before embarking on the trip. (some students think they will be graded as a pass/fail when in fact actual marks are taken into account leaving many students who spend too much time tomando cervezas y tapas with a very low average when they get home).
  3. If your university of choice in Spain does not have an existing relationship with your home university there are a couple of options available in order to still be able to attend that particular school.
    • Find a university in your country of residence that does have a relationship with the university you want to attend in Spain.  Apply to that university and then apply through that school for the exchange. This is an incredible amount of work and most students don’t choose this option. This application method is only beneficial if students want to pay exchange fees as opposed to international fees. (Exchange fees are usually the same amount that would be paid to one’s own university. International fees are when a student doesn’t apply through their own school but applies independently).
    • The second option is to apply as an international student to the university in Spain. This option might cost a little more and it is imperative that students make sure that before applying they speak with both the registrar and teachers at their home university to ensure that the classes and courses taken at the Spanish university will be accepted and counted towards their final degree.
Before leaving the Spanish exchange program it’s a good idea to ask for a copy of your credits (transcript) for the semester or year spent in Spain. This saves time as opposed to having the Spanish university mail the transcript to your school.

The best Universities to Attend as an exchange student in Spain?

If you are open to doing an exchange in any part of the country and at any university in Spain, here are some great Spanish universities to consider with both international and local students:

  • University of Malaga, Spain This Spanish exchange program is open to students with third year Spanish language or equivalent. This program focuses primarily on Arts and Humanities and students in the European Studies Program. For more information check out:
  • University of La Rioja, Spain This Spanish exchange program has an emphasis in Political Science and is particularly suited to students in the European Studies Program. La Rioja is a great location as it’s based in a well-known wine-producing area and might also appeal to students interested in viviculture. For more information check out:
  • Colegio Delibes, Salamanca This Spanish exchange program is situated in a historical building, five minutes walk from the Plaza Mayor. It has been recently renovated with air conditioning, library and free internet access. It is in one of the best university towns in Spain, filled with young people and an incredible vibe. For More Information check out:

Credit Transfer Upon Returning from a Spanish Exchange Program: Before leaving the Spanish exchange program it’s a good idea to ask for a copy of your credits (transcript) for the semester or year spent in Spain. This saves time as opposed to having the Spanish university mail the transcript to your school. If it’s not ready however ask them to mail it as soon as they can. Once back in your home country, follow this brief checklist of things to do to ensure credits are transferred properly: (Note: It is very important to make sure that courses and credit equivalencies are checked with the appropriate professors and with the dean prior to the exchange program in Spain to ensure that courses taken during the exchange will be counted and accepted)

  1. Fill in the Transfer Credit Form Many universities have a form that must be filled in by both the dean of the home university and the teacher of the particular course that was taken during the exchange program in Spain. (check with home university before leaving on exchange to see if the teacher in Spain must sign anything)
  2. Visit Registrar Bring the transfer credit form, official transcript from the exchange university in Spain and official course descriptions of the courses to be transferred to the registrar.
  3. Speak with Respective Program Coordinators Once all program coordinators have signed off on the credits, return the transfer credit form to the Registrar's Office together with the official transcript and the course descriptions. The Registrar will forward all documentation to the respective Dean's Office for final approval. After final approval the transfer credits will be added to your academic results.

This process of course varies depending on the specific university, however it is a general idea of how to transfer credits toward one’s degree after completing an exchange program in Spain. For more information on exchange programs in Spain with Secondary Schools check out:

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