Choosing where to study abroad is an exciting yet incredibly overwhelming adventure. If you choose Spain, congratulations , you’ve made a great choice.
This article gives details on the higher education system in Spain, tuition fees, living costs, admission requirements and the list of low tuition universities in Spain.
First, let go on a grief introduction about Spain
Spain has a coastline along the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the southeast.
The country borders Andorra (a micro state in the Pyrenees), France, the tiny British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar (UK), Portugal, and Morocco (at the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast). It shares maritime borders with Algeria and Italy.
Spain has a population of 47.1 million people; the capital and largest city is Madrid
The official and national language is Spanish; co-official languages are Catalan, Galician, Basque, and Occitan.
Higher Education System in Spain
The official degrees are aligned with the Bologna ECTS system, which means that they are recognized across the EU and follow the standard three-cycle format drawn out by the Bologna Process
- Bachelor’s degree: bachelor’s studies last four years. After graduation, you will be awarded the professional title of grado. Obtaining your BA degree is the first step in your academic career and it aims to prepare you to either pursue a master’s program or look for employment. The ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) Spain uses is the standard for all universities in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), which means after you pass a subject, in addition to the grade you get a certain amount of ECTS pointo
To get your BA degree in Spain, you must earn 240 ECTS credits during your studies
Master’s programs last 1 to 2 years in Spain. After graduation, you will gain the professional title of Master.
After getting your Master’s degree you are free to push forward and enter a doctoral program (third-cycle studies). To pursue your doctorate studies, you will often be required to provide proof of both your first and second cycle studies
- PhD: Otherwise known as doctoral-level programs or PhDs, this degree normally lasts 3 to 5 years and it is accessible after graduating from a Master’s degree program. To get this degree you must submit and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation before a thesis committee and pass a doctoral examination. In Spain, only official courses offer access to a PhD program. known as doctoral-level programs or PhDs, this degree normally lasts 3 to 5 years and it is accessible after graduating from a Master’s degree program. To get this degree you must submit and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation before a thesis committee and pass a doctoral examination. In Spain, only official courses offer access to a PhD programs
University admission requirements to study in Spain for international students depend on a few factors, such as nationality, level of study, and study program. The general requirements, which most universities ask students to fulfill, are listed in the following section, depending on the cycle of study (whether you are interested in bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral programs):
First cycle studies (bachelor’s):
The application process for an EU student is different for a non-EU international student.
University admission and application takes place through the Spanish National University for Distance Education (UNED). The application, the solicitud de inscripcion starts usually in April of every year. And once you’ve submitted all the necessary documents and the application successful, you’ll receive a Credencial de Accesso within three months. You, then, need to send this document to the university you wish to attend.
International students from non-EU countries, you need to have a recognition of your high school diploma. This ensures your diploma is valid according to the requirements in Spain. If that’s the case, the Spanish embassy of your country will deliver a Volante Acreditativo, which you will use to apply to the university you wish to attend.
Next, you will also have to pass an entrance exam called Selectividad or Pruebas de Acceso a la Universidad. This is an exam that takes place twice a year everywhere and determines your eligibility to apply in any public or private university in Spain.
Second cycle studies (master’s):
If you are applying for a master’s program at university in Spain, you are required to be in possession of a relevant Bachelor’s or equivalent degree diploma.
Third cycle studies(PhD):
For third-cycle studies at universities in Spain, international students must provide the relevant certificates, degrees, or diplomas earned during previous studies. This specifically includes a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Equivalent degrees that correspond to at least 300 ECTS credits might also be considered. Language requirements depend on the instruction language of the program.
How much tuition you’ll pay depends on the type of the university (private or public), your nationality, where it’s located, and which program you’re attending.
If you’re a non-EU citizen, depending on the reasons above you can be charged the same as EU citizens, approximately €1,000 – 1,500 higher than EU citizens, 2 or 3 times higher.
Generally speaking, expect to pay per year:
- €700 – €3,500 for Bachelor’s programs in public universities
- €1,000 – €3,500 for Master’s programs in public universities
- €960 – €1,800 for an MBA program in public universities
- €4,000 – €20,000 for bachelor’s and master’s programs in private universities
- €10,000 – €30,000 for an MBA degree in private universities
Student accommodation costs
The main housing options for students in Spain are:
- Student residence halls – prices range from 360 to 650 EUR/month.
- Rent an apartment – Many students prefer this option. Prices start at around 200 EUR and go over 1,000 EUR/month. You can find websites like Uniplaces or Resa, which help you compare different living places. One way to reduce your expenses is to share an apartment with other students.
- Living with a Spanish family – Prices can vary based on region, living conditions, and so on. You can find online services that help you get in touch with Spanish families.
If you plan to prepare your own meals (or, make your own sandwiches) the costs of buying foods at the supermarket is quite affordable as well. Spain is filled with many markets, and staying away from Hipercor will ensure that you get the best prices on all of your goods. Typical prices for some of the most commonly purchased food items can be found below.
- 1 Liter Milk -1 Euro
- Fresh Chicken – 4 Euros per kilogram
- 1 Kilo Potatoes -70c
- Frozen Pizza -3.50 Euros
- Cheddar Cheese -6 Euros for 250grams of cheese
The average individual will spend an average of 125 Euros per month on food while in Spain.
A regular trip by public transport usually costs 1.5 EUR, and a monthly transport pass is 42 EUR and a little over 54 EUR in large cities.
You can travel around Spain and see its lovely cities with AVE (speed train): the average price for a trip is 75 EUR. With the youth travel card, you can get major discounts.
If you prefer private transport over walking, you can also rent a car from local companies.
Low Tuition Universities in Spain
- University of Navarra
- University of Granada
- University of Valencia
- Pompeu Fabra University
- Universitat Internacional de Catalunya
- Complutense University of Madrid
- Alicante University
- Malaya University
- Salamanca University
- Autonomous University of Barcelona
- University of Alcala
- University of Jaén
- University of Zaragoza
- Polytechnic University of Valencia