Universities in Spain: overview

Universities in Spain: overview

Do you want to study abroad?

Sing up for a free 15 minutes consultation

Leave a request

In many European countries, people highly value education and devote lots of time and resources to it. There are many funds and scholarship programs that aim at reducing education costs and maintaining the quality of education. As a result, more people have access to affordable and prestigious education and become valuable personnel in the labor market.

In this article, we will talk about education in Spain and the types of universities and scholarships there.

Spanish Education System

There are three types of universities in Spain: private, state, and spiritual. State universities are the most numerous and sponsored by the government, whereas private universities get support from commercial organizations. Spiritual universities are under the patronage of churches.

Each university in Spain is autonomous and has its own curriculum that must be approved by the Spanish commission of universities. Tuition fees differ depending on the university.

There are three levels of higher education in Spain.

  • First level – Grado – bachelor’s
  • Second level – Master – Master’s
  • Third level – Doctorado – Ph.D.

Bachelor’s programs usually last for 4 years, except for Medicine (6 years), Veterinary (5 years), and Architecture (5 years + project work). To obtain a bachelor’s degree, one must successfully complete internship credits, gain 240 ECTS credits, and defend a thesis.

The ECTS is a credit taken at higher education institutions in the countries, members of the Bologna Process. The ECTS allows credits taken at one university to be counted towards a qualification studied at another. This enables student mobility all around Europe. In Spain, 1 ECTS credit is equivalent to 25 working hours.

Master’s programs usually last for 1-2 years and are mandatory for building a career in Law, Education, Industrial, and Aeronautical Engineering. To be admitted to a master’s program, one must obtain a bachelor’s degree and pass entry exams. To get a master’s degree, one must gain 60 to 120 credits, complete all theoretical and practical courses, and complete internship credits.

The highest level of education is Ph.D. Ph.D. programs last for 3-6 years. Students who obtained a Ph.D. degree can engage in research and teaching activities.

State Universities

State universities in Spain are distinguished by their long history, traditions, and breathtaking architecture. What is more attractive for international students is tuition fees. State universities are subsidized by the government. Tuition fees at a bachelor’s level range from $1000-2,500/year, and at a master’s level – up to $3,000.

Almost every university offers scholarships that can cover 100% of tuition and even living expenses. State universities offer a wide range of courses – from Law Studies and Management to Psychology and Design.

To save time searching for information, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the specialization you want to focus on
  2. Search for universities that offer relevant courses
  3. Explore the official websites of universities
  4. Contact the Admissions Office to learn about scholarship opportunities

Private Universities

Each year, thousands of students from all over the world enter private universities in Spain. Private universities are distinguished by a low entry threshold as most of them do not have entry exams.

During the selection process, private universities equally value the academic performance and personal traits of applicants. Therefore, one of the requirements for applicants is to provide a motivation letter or pass an interview. They say that the selection process at private universities is similar to job hunting since the main goal of private universities is to train future employees. Private universities are usually sponsored by private companies that seek qualified and young specialists. Students can take internships at private companies, the latter also held various events, and some of their employees teach at universities.

Tuition fees at private universities are higher compared to state universities – from $10,000 to 15,000. Due to higher tuition fees, there are fewer students, and teachers allocate more time and attention to each student. Private universities offer courses on a limited number of disciplines that usually include Economics, Management, Social, and Law Studies. Let’s take a look at some private universities in Spain.


Global Business School

Global Business School is one of the top 250 education institutions in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings. The School is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

The language of instruction is English. Tuition fees start at $5,950/year. Bachelor’s programs last for 3 years, and master’s – for 9 months. GBSB provides lots of opportunities for internships at top companies all around the world and invites famous people to give lectures. The teaching techniques include business games and the application of innovative technologies.

Marbella International University Centre

Marbella International University Centre

MIUC is an international university in Spain located in the heart of the port city of Marbella. Each year, the university hosts students of around 90 nationalities.

The university pays special attention to the mental health of students. Besides classes and other educational events, students can get professional help from couches and discuss their concerns over academics, careers, and so on.

MIUC partners with the University of West London which is one of the best universities in the UK, according to the National Student Survey. Students can study for dual diplomas that are highly recognized all around the world.

The most popular programs among international students include International Relations, Marketing & Advertising, Psychology, and Sports Management. The language of instruction is English. There are also language courses available, students can learn French, Arabic, or Chinese for free.

To get admitted to MIUC, one must pass entry exams. Tuition fees start at $18,900/year.

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona is located 30 minutes away from Barcelona. The programs offered by the university include:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Biosciences
  • Sciences
  • Healthcare
  • Medicine
  • Veterinary
  • Engineering
  • Law and Political Sciences

Teachers are actively involved in research activities. Students have access to innovative technologies and learn how to conduct research from the 1st year of studies.

Some courses are taught in the Catalan language. Tuition fees range from $3,300 to 6,600 per year.

How to get into a university in Spain

There is a list of requirements at each university. Some universities require Spanish language skills, so applicants must provide DELE or SIELE certificates or take entry exams – Selectividad para extranjeros.

The entry exams are quite difficult. It is better to start preparations as early as possible. The exam consists of three parts:

  • Spanish
  • History/Philosophy of Spain
  • Foreign language (any from the Romance and Germanic languages)
  • It is also possible to take a test in any chosen discipline to get additional points.

There are two attempts to pass the entry exams – in June and September.

Some international students choose to enroll in preparatory language courses first, prepare for the entry exams, and then apply to universities.

Application supporting documents, as a rule, include the following.

For bachelor’s:

  • High school diploma notarized by the Consulate of Spain
  • Transcripts (2 last years)
  • Spanish language proficiency certificate (if applicable)
  • After submission of documents, one must take online entry exams and an interview.

For master’s:

  • Bachelor’s degree diploma
  • CV
  • Recommendation letters
  • Entry exams

Do you want to study abroad?

Sing up for a free 15 minutes consultation

Leave a request
banner form

Do you want to study abroad?

Sing up for a free 15 minutes consultation
Sign up
1 out of 5

Request a consultation

Hello! Please answer the following questions. It’ll help us give you the best recommendations on study-abroad strategy!

Are you a student or a parent?



Provide your email, and we will send you the guide


Search by query



Area of study


Level of study