Reasons to Complete an Undergraduate Degree in Spain

I’ve previously posted about some undergraduate degrees that are offered in Spain in English. If you are interested in reading those posts, they are located here and here.

Studying in Spain is a good option for many individuals. If you are considering going abroad to complete a degree, then let me tell you a few reasons why studying in Spain could be right for you.

1. Affordability

We have all probably heard about how affordable college is many European countries.  Although studying in Spain is not free, the cost to attend university is no more than 2,000 euros a year, if you are attending a public institution. For private universities, the costs can vary, but even then, they can still be affordable options.

You do have to worry about the costs of other items while studying abroad, such as the overall cost of living, but it is still very affordable! Excluding the larger cities in Spain (like Barcelona and Madrid), rent would most likely be a lot cheaper than you are used to. It can also be very cost-effective to buy groceries in Spain, especially if you are buying more organic foods than pre-packaged foods.

Often times, it is more affordable to study and live in Spain, then simply paying your tuition at an American university.

Also, for Americans, while holding a student visa, you are able to work up to 20 hours a week while living in Spain. Getting a job could help cover any costs that may arise.

2. Options to Study in English

If you do not speak Spanish, you are not out of luck for being able to complete a degree in Spain. Even if you do speak Spanish, and want to complete the majority of your course in English, that is an option too.

There are some undergraduate offerings available to complete a degree in only English, or at least, primarily in English.

3. Learning Spanish

But remember, if you are not completing a degree that is taught in English, you will have the opportunity to learn Spanish (or even, the chance to learn Galician, Catalan, or Basque languages!)

By living in an environment where you are constantly exposed to another language, you will learn it rather quickly. This will allow you to become fluent, or very close to fluent, in another language by the time you complete your undergraduate degree.

4. Unique Experience

Studying in Spain would be an unique experience. You could not compare it to what you would receive from an American degree.

You will have the chance to make friends and networking connections from all over the world. You make a home away from home in a new country. You have a cool tidbit to add to your resume. How awesome would it be to explain to a potential employer that you completed your degree in Spain?

Plus, the experience causes you to be much more independent. You will have the opportunity to be living alone for the first time, but in a whole new country. This really forces you to be much more independent, because your family cannot quickly come over to help everything that goes wrong. It helps you learn to solve problems independently, which is a great trait to have!

5. Permanent Residency

After living in Spain on a student visa for 3 years (and doing the same course of study), you will have the opportunity to extend your student visa to being able to reside and work full-time in Spain.

If you see a future in Spain, then you should totally jump on the opportunity to complete an undergraduate degree in the county.

Hopefully, you are a bit more convinced to complete your degree in Spain. Can you think of any more reasons to obtain your undergraduate degree in Spain? I would love to hear some of your reasons in the comments section below.

Finding the Perfect Study Abroad Program

Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most, so finding the perfect type of program is essential. There are a variety of exchange types, and I hope this guide will help you discover which one would be perfect for you.

Direct Exchange

If you are looking to do a direct exchange programs, ISEP offers the most options for undergraduate students, whether in Spain or across the world. A direct exchange program allows you to study directly in a university abroad. Often, they require you to already have studied the official language of the country for at least 5 semesters at university-level. It is recommended that you have at least with a B1 (intermediate) level of Spanish if you are wanting to do an exchange in Spain.

Direct exchange in Spain is especially great for students who are majoring or minoring in Spanish Language and Literature, and they are looking to put a capstone on their studies. It is a great way to become more comfortable speaking the language. This can be quite an intensive type of study abroad program, and it requires a lot of focus and studying. If you are looking for the challenge though, there are more than enough benefits doing direct exchange.

This option is also great for those who have their degree offered in English in a Spanish university. I have seen universities with degrees such as engineering or business administration instructed in English. This can be a great way to study abroad in Spain, even if you are not studying Spanish in university.

By doing direct study, you will have to become accustomed to the Spanish university system.

 

Learning Center Programs

You can find “learning center” programs are offered by ISA and CIEE. I would say that these programs are great for everyone. They have learning center program options for those at all Spanish language levels, as well as those who are not studying Spanish at all.

Learning center programs are not directly study in a Spanish university, even though the center may be supported by a Spanish university. They are specifically catered to international students.

Courses in Spanish

In learning center programs, courses are offered in either Spanish or English. If you are a Spanish major or minor, learning center programs are wonderful, as they provide intensive language and culture courses in Spanish. This is great for students who are looking to take Spanish courses for major or minor credits, but are not quite ready to leap in direct university studies.

The level of Spanish needed for courses can vary. Students will typically take a Spanish level test to determine which courses they would be most successful in prior to arrival.

Learning center programs, in general, are great because the courses are structured like American university courses, where you have several assignments throughout the course and two or more exams that make up the final grade.

Courses in English

There are also learning center programs where all the courses are offered in English. If you are looking to study abroad in Spain, but are not studying Spanish, then these courses can be the most beneficial. This could be a great way to complete outstanding general education requirements, but being able to complete these courses outside of your home university.

If you have a major or minor in addition to Spanish, such as history, art history, political science, economics, then courses in English at a learning center can be beneficial. It allows you to combine both of your areas of study together, by being able to take a class regarding the history of Spanish or Spanish business.

 

If you are interested in studying abroad, which type of program would you most like to go abroad on and why? For students who have been abroad before, what kind of program did you do your studies with, and what did you like or dislike about it? I would love to hear your responses in the comments section below.

Differences Between American and Spanish Universities

Today, I am going to discuss the common distinctions between the American and Spanish university systems, so you can feel better prepared for your first day of classes in Spain.

Grading scale

The grading scale is very different. In Spain, your grades can range on a scale from 1-10. “1” being the worst grade, and “10” being the best. Anything beyond a “5” is passing.

Before starting classes, the study abroad coordinator  told us that Spanish professors tend to give harsher grades than we would expect. It is true, even though I passed all my classes, a lot of my final grades seemed low.

When we see a “6” or “7” as our final grade as Americans, we automatically view them as low grades. I know that when I saw these grades, I looked at them as the equivalent of Cs or Ds. They are more so Bs.

To receive a “10” or even a “9” in Spain is quite hard, and they are rarely given out to students. In one of my classes, no one received these grades. To receive such grades, that would mean you have had to retain 90%-100% of the material lectured. It is possible, but not all that common.

Examinations

Which brings me to my next point, examinations. In American universities, classes typically do not weigh the whole course grade on a single exam. The grade is typically split up among 2-3 exams, essays, work outside of class, presentations, and attendance. A lot goes into making the grade in an American university, which is why the grading scale is so different, as well.

In Spain, attendance was not a requirement for most of my classes. Also, a lot of the grade is centered on one exam, which is taken at the end of the course. One of my exams was worth 100% of the final grade, and the least an exam was weighted when I studied in Spain was 60% (but that was because the other 40% was a final essay).

Course structure

You will also see a difference in how the course is structured. A lot of the courses are lecture-based, and attendance is not mandatory. If you look at your course documents, there is typically a bibliography for non-attendees, so they can study the material taught in class.

While lectures are not uncommon in lower level classes in American universities, attendance is still considered mandatory. Also, lecture-based courses are commonplace at any grade level.

Also, this is not to say you will not have discussion in your classes. I know for my literature classes, on Fridays, half of the class was lecture but the rest of the time was tiny group discussion on interpreting and analyzing poems.

Huelgas

Your classes will probably be cancelled at least once because of a huelga (strike). I know, we have strikes at American universities too. But one major difference: I have never had a class completely cancelled as a result of them. They are also way less common in the United States, or maybe that is just my small-town college, haha.

I remember walking into class on the day of a strike, and nobody was there besides other international students. Basically, everyone who had no idea what was happening. The professor walked in and told us to go home, since nobody else would come to class.

 

For those who have been to a Spanish university, what do you think is the biggest difference between American and Spanish universities? And for those interested in attending a college in Spain, what distinction are you most nervous for?

3 Undergraduate Degrees in Spain Offered in English

After studying in Murcia for a semester, I was already half-way through my undergraduate degree in the U.S., and this is when I  realized that studying in a European university was affordable.

Back in high school, I asked the college prep advisers for advice on attending a university abroad. They responded  that it was “near impossible” to do and also warned me that it would be too expensive. There was not much encouragement or discourse on studying abroad in another country from my high school, and I think a lot of U.S. students around my age experienced a similar lack of encouragement.

Little did I know, studying in another country would have been much less expensive than studying in the U.S. and it definitely was possible to do.

For those that are interested in completing their undergraduate degree abroad, you should take the leap! Thankfully, more and more U.S. students are deciding to do undergrad in Europe, due to more affordable education choices. (And I hope that means college prep advisers are now encouraging this route)

Also: They are also not only degrees in English literature! There are many subjects you can choose to study; anything from humanities to social sciences to sciences/technology.

If you are interested in studying in Spain, in this post I will be writing about a few universities that offer some of their degrees in English.

Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Degree in Business Administration and Economics

At UCM, they offer an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Economics with a group in English.
In Spain, they divide the students studying the same subject into grupos (groups), so courses will not be overpopulated and in certain degrees, to differentiate the course based on what language it is taught in. Degrees that offer a group in English are called grados bilingües (bilingual degrees). One of the groups for Business Administration and English at UCM imparts 100% in English.
UCM is one of the oldest universities in the world, and consistently ranks as one of the top universities in Spain. The university enrolls over 86,000 students, and also has agreements with over 900 universities abroad, which boasts a large international student community.
For more information on this degree, or the other bilingual degrees offered at UCM, refer to this website.

Universidad de Murcia, Degree in Primary (Elementary) Education

One group for the degree in primary education at Universidad de Murcia offers more than 60% of the required courses in English. This would be great option for you if you are looking for the comfort of taking the majority of your classes in English, but also being open to the option to improve your Spanish. This degree also provides you with student teaching opportunities.
UM is the main public university in the city of Murcia, where 38,000 students are enrolled in courses. This makes it the most populated university in the region of Murcia, as well. Each semester, the university welcomes an average of 500 international students. Universidad de Murcia is the third oldest university in Spain, and if you are a lover for history, this is the place to be.
The university also offers another bilingual degree in Business Administration and Economics. For more information on these degrees, look at their degrees in English webpage.

Universidad de Navarra, Degree in Journalism

Groups for the journalism degree at Universidad de Navarra offer at least 50% of the required courses in English, as well as an option to study abroad for a semester or a full year in an English-speaking university to gain more practical journalism experience in the English language. A Spanish private university, the costs of attending the Universidad de Navarra will be higher than you see at the public universities; yet, you have the option to use U.S. federal aid to fund your degree.
Universidad de Navarra is located in southeastern Pamplona. It is ranked as the best private university in Spain. There are more than 11,000 students attending at all degree levels, and about 10% of them are fellow international students.
There are plenty of bilingual degree opportunities at Universidad de Navarra, at bachelors and masters levels. Most of the degrees with English options come from the departments of Communications and Business.

There are a couple of the universities in Spain which offer undergraduate degrees fully or partially in English. Did you know that there were so many options to choose from, most importantly from a variety of disciplines?

If you are currently enrolled in a bilingual degree in Spain, I would love to hear more about your program in the comments section below. If you would like to complete your degree in Spain, do share the programs that have interested you.

If you like this post, and want to hear about more degree options fully or partially in English that are available in Spain, let me know in the comments below! I would love to continue making posts informing students of the number degree options available.