Studying in Spain
There are over 70 private and public universities throughout Spain that offer a range of courses. Universities have different faculties that specialise in certain subjects, so it's worth carrying out research to find out which institutions offer the types of courses most suitable to you.
The Spanish higher education system has been reformed to fit with the Bologna Process, standardising the qualifications it offers and making it part of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). This means qualifications from Spain are comparable to those in the rest of the European Union.
A list of universities is available from Universidad: Universities of Spain.
What courses can you study?
Within Spanish universities there are official and non-official degrees. Official degrees are adapted to the EHEA and are therefore valid in all countries that are within this area. They can also be recognised in other countries that aren't part of the EHEA.
Non-official degrees are more specific to Spain and aren't officially valid within the EHEA. They are valued by companies within the Spanish job market but you need to be careful if choosing one of these, as it may not be recognised back in your home country.
Official degrees are available at undergraduate, masters and doctorate level.
Masters: You need an approved first degree. The programme of study usually takes one to two years and may be research based or provide professional training.
Doctorate: You need an approved first degree or equivalent and a masters. A full-time doctorate takes a maximum of three years, while a part-time one lasts for five years. It includes a research period and thesis.
Masters are available in a range of areas including arts and humanities, science, health science, social and legal science, and engineering and architecture.
Courses are available in English and you can access a course search facility at Universidad: Courses.
How do you apply for postgraduate study?
Students from European Union educational systems applying for postgraduate studies in Spain will face entry requirements equivalent to those in their own educational system.
You should check with individual institutions about application deadlines. Courses usually start in September or October, but some begin in December. Applications are made directly to individual universities, either in person, by registered post, or sometimes online.
Application forms and procedures vary. For some postgraduate courses, you only need to provide your personal details, a CV and a certificate of your previous studies. If you are planning to study in Spanish and it isn't your first language, you may be required to take a language test. Many universities have language departments that can help with teaching Spanish before the start of your course. Check directly with the institutions you're interested in to find out specific application requirements.
Fees and scholarships
Fees vary depending on the course and whether it is a public or private university. According to Universidad.es, the cost for masters and doctoral degrees in public universities ranges between €17 and €65 per credit. A masters degree can have 60–120 credits, meaning the cost could vary quite significantly. Contact individual universities for details about the cost of specific courses.
It is possible for foreign students to get a scholarship through AECID (the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development). These are awarded annually and are aimed at postgraduate students. You will be expected to have a good knowledge of Spanish in order to qualify for a scholarship.
Details of other scholarships are available at Universidad: Scholarship Search.
Are there any exchange programmes?
UK students on both under and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in studying in Spain through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas, but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in what subject areas. You may be eligible for an Erasmus+ EU grant if you complete an Erasmus Mundus joint masters degree.
Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a postgraduate course from Spain is directly comparable to the UK equivalent. You will need to check however, that you do an official degree, as non-official degrees in Spain are not valid within the EHEA.
Do you need a visa to study in Spain?
If you are an EU national, you don't need a visa to study in Spain. If your course will last for longer than three months, you'll need to register at the local Foreign Nationals' Office or police station to get on the Central Register of Foreign Nationals. This will provide you with a registration certificate and a non-nationals identification number, known as an NIE. This will allow you to open a bank account, buy a discount transport card or use the health service.
If you are not a UK national, contact the Spanish embassy in the country where you are living to find out if you'll need a visa. If you are living in the UK, go to the Spanish Embassy.
AGCAS editors, October 2014