Spain uses the European Higher Education Space (EHES) and divides degrees into three stages:
- Grade degrees – undergraduate studies
- University Master degrees – graduate studies
- Doctoral degrees – postgraduate studies
Before applying for graduate studies, in addition to an undergraduate degree students are usually expected to have 2-3 years of experience working in their field.
International students who wish to study in Spain must pass the Selectividad, the Spanish university entrance exams. These exams are available twice each year in many countries. Once a prospective student has passed the exams, they may apply directly to any Spanish university.
Why Study in Spain?
Spanish institutes of higher education have grown rapidly in the past two decades. As a result, many schools have very modern facilities that incorporate advanced technologies into the learning environment. At the master’s level, MBA degrees and other business-related degrees are especially popular and are recognized world-wide for their high quality.
The Spanish international student body is multi-cultural, with 31 percent hailing from Latin America and another 5 percent from North America. Studies are conducted in Spanish, the native tongue for more than 400 million people. Students not already proficient in Spanish may want to consider attending a course of instruction in Spanish before beginning their master’s studies. Spanish institutions offer a wide variety of courses for learning Spanish, from one-month long immersion courses to full academic courses.
Spain has 81 universities; about 50 are public and the rest are private. Universities are located throughout the country and all welcome international students for both graduate and undergraduate studies. Students can obtain a master’s degree from all academic disciplines in Spain including arts and humanities; science; health sciences; social sciences; law; engineering and architecture.
Spanish universities are recognized for their quality, with five universities appearing in the top 400 schools ranked by the 2012-2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. These schools include the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the University of Barcelona, the University of Valencia, the Polytechnic University of Valencia, and the University of Vigo.
Tuition and Program Duration
Annual tuition fees at a private university are about €6,000. Masters programs require 60-120 credits, which normally takes 1-2 academic years. A thesis of 6-30 credits with a public defense is also required.
Most institutions begin the academic year in October and finish in June. Most schools have two semesters, with exams at the end of each semester.
Due to the current economic situation in Spain, post-graduate employment within Spain is less likely than before. However, employers throughout the world hold the master’s degree obtained from a Spanish university in high regard.
Graduates of master’s programs may also want to consider follow-on work in a doctoral program or applying for research positions at officially recognized research centers.
International students from EU member states, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland are not required to have visas. All other international students who will be staying for more than 90 days must apply for a long-term student visa. Prospective students must apply for a visa at the Spanish Consulate or Embassy in their home country.
To obtain a student visa, students must provide proof of their program of study along with a medical certificate, a certificate of solvency for the period of studies, and a criminal record certificate from their country of residence for the past five years.
International students under 28 years of age are eligible for a student health insurance plan. Students older than 28 may use the national health system, which guarantees services to all legal residents in Spain.
Spain uses the euro for currency and all major international credit cards are accepted at most shops.
Tipping is a common practice in bars, restaurants, hotels, and taxis. Tips are usually about 5-10 percent of the total price.
Students who want to drive a car in Spain must have an International Driver’s License unless they are from an EU member state, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.