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Postgraduate Study in Spain

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Spain is in southwest Europe, and at over 500,000 km2 it is the fourth largest country in Europe. The capital of Spain is Madrid and the population of Spain is approximately 45 million people. Spain is a great choice when deciding where to study your postgraduate program.

The mainland of Spain is bordered by France, Portugal and Andorra, and has coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Spain also counts several islands among its territories – with the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean – and there are universities on both of these island groups.

There are over 500 million Spanish speakers, and in fact Spanish is the world’s second most spoken first language – this makes Spain a great country to come to and study a degree programme, as you will be able to fully immerse yourself in the Spanish culture and way of life and learn this popular and important language at the same time as gaining your qualification.

Spain is a member of the United Nations, European Union, NATO, OECD, and WTO. The currency used in Spain is the Euro.

Spain: Spanish universities and education

Spain has almost 60 universities – several of these are Catholic universities (around 90% of the population are Catholics) and private institutions of higher education. The Spanish university system dates back to the Middle Ages, and its oldest university is Salamanca University, which was founded in 1218! Today Salamanca University is one of the most prestigious universities in Spain teaching over 30,000 students per year, roughly 4,000 of these are foreign students.

Higher education in Spain is provided by both public and private institutions. Universities are divided into departamentos, facultades universitarias, escuelas tecnicas superiores, escuelas universitarias, institutos universitarios, and other centres.

Postgraduate programs

Spanish institutions offer official master programs and non official master programs. Official programs are recognised and accredited by the Spanish government and allow the student to go on to study a PhD afterwards, whereas the non official masters are not recognised by the Spanish government.

Spain’s Consejo de Universidades sets university guidelines and proposes measures for postgraduate studies. The Consejo de Universidades also defines what qualifications are officially recognised in Spain and keeps checks on the standards of the universities.

Spain: university tuition fees and funding Spainish Tuition Fees and Funding

Students at universities in Spain pay for their tuition on a “credit” basis. 

Costs for a masters program start at around €20 per credit and are 90-120 credits in total.

Costs for a PhD program can be up to €50 per credit!

Private universities

Private universities are more expensive than public universities, and an international student can expect to pay an average tuition fee of around €6,000 a year at a private university.

Postgraduate students living in Spain

The cost of living in Spain as a student is relatively low compared to living in many other European countries. Food is reasonably cheap, accommodation generally affordable, and the odd night out should fall within budget too!

Accommodation options for a student living in span include privately rented rooms and campus accommodation. Flat-sharing is probably your best option, as it is the cheapest (between €200 and €300 per month, €400 max with bills) and will give you the chance to meet other students. A privately rented one-room apartment to yourself will probably cost between €500 to €1,000 per month, depending on what city you are studying in, and campus accommodation rates range from around €350 to €850.

Spain could definitely be described as a hub for student exchanges and many Spanish universities have adapted to meet the needs of their multicultural students, delivering a truly international education. Spain’s key cities have all the facilities a student could need, and the Spanish approach to life is guaranteed to maximize every student´s social life.


You may want to find some part-time work during your stay in Spain to ern some extra money. Students from a country in the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are free to work in Spain. Students from anywhere else in the world need to get a work permit and possibly also a residence visa from the Spanish consulate in their country of residence. These can be quite tricky to sort out unless you have a job and a contract of employment lined up before starting your degree programme.

Other work options if you are fluent in Spanish are translating and interpreting. University students are also encouraged to apply for an internship with companies in Spain – The Association of International Students for Economics and Commerce has branches all over the world and helps students find internships in related fields.

Healthcare and insurance

Spain has a public (national) health system which provides free or low cost health care for those contributing to Spanish social security systems and their dependants. This healthcare system also caters for pensioners and includes those from other EU countries. Spain also has an excellent system of private healthcare which exists harmoniously alongside the State system.

For international students under the age of 28 a student health insurance plan, covering accidents on campus, family emergencies and illness, is available once you are enrolled in a Spanish university. Those who are over 28 years of age are protected by the national health system, which gives foreign nationals who are legally residents in Spain the right to benefit from social security services.

If you have healthcare insurance in your home country it could be a good idea to try and buy additional healthcare from your policy provider to cover you during your time in Spain as well.

If you have a Certificado de Empadronamiento (official certificate stating your registration into a Spanish town/area/community), you have the right to emergency care in any public hospital.

Spain: visas and immigration

EU nationals

Citizens from countries in the EU do not need a visa to study a degree programme in Spain, as long as you have a valid passport or Identification Card or passport, you can stay as long as you want.

Non-EU nationals

Spain: Visas and immigration

Citizens from any non-EU country require a visa stamped in their passport if they wish to remain in Spain longer than 90 days. However it’s important to note that you cannot get this visa in Spain – it needs to be obtained in your country of residence prior to your departure.

Your student visa will be valid for 90 days from the date of your entry day into Spain. Upon arriving in Spain you need to contact the local authorities from the area that you live to acquire a Spanish Student Residency Card. Your Spanish Student Residency Card is valid for as long as you are enrolled in the programme in Spain.

There is a large demand for student visas in Spain so make sure you allow enough time for the Consulate to process your visa. Personal appearance is required in order to submit the documentation.

To apply for a Spanish Student Residency Card you must present the following documentation

1. Passport valid for a minimum of 6 months.
2. Four recent passport-sized photographs
3. Letter addressed to this Consulate General verifying your enrolment as a full-time student in an official Spanish university.
4. A letter from your university verifying that you have paid your tuition fees.
5. Medical certificate verifying that you are in good health, free of contagious disease, drug addiction or mental illness.

You will also need to prove that you can cover your living expenses in Spain (minimum of €350 per month) in one of the following ways:

1. Letter from the study abroad program assuming full financial responsibility for tuition, room and board for you during your stay in Spain.
2. A Spanish bank account with a minimum balance of €350 per month of stay in Spain.
3. Proof of having received financial aid or scholarship covering expenses for tuition, room, board, and personal expenses during the stay in Spain (minimum of €350 per month).
4. Letter from your parents assuming full financial responsibility for at least €350 per month of stay in Spain.

PLEASE NOTE: As a result of Brexit, from Autumn 2021 postgraduate students from the European Union studying at a UK university will be charged the same tuition fees as international students. Meanwhile, UK students studying their postgraduate course at a European university are also likely to incur higher tuition fees than their EU counterparts. It is advisable to check with the individual universities in the UK and Europe for up-to-date information on tuition fees for all postgraduate programs.

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