Spain has topped the charts for the most popular study destination for Erasmus students for a long time – for reasons anybody who’s ever been to Spain will instantly understand. But this Mediterranean country is not just a great option for exchange students: With an increasingly wide offer of English-taught degree programmes and comparatively affordable tuition fees and cost of living, Spain is attracting every year more and more full-degree students.
Often as low as €800 per academic year, tuition fees in Spain are much more affordable than many other European countries:
Tuition fees will vary considerably according to the discipline – medicine or dentistry degrees tend to cost more – and the individual institution, with private universities usually charging higher fees.
Fees at public universities are determined by the regional government: each Autonomous Community (e.g. Catalonia, Andalusia, etc.) determines its university fees, which are set each year and are usually confirmed before the start of the new academic year. At most public universities these fees will be substantially higher for non-EU students than for EU students.
The table below will give you an idea of the tuition range at some Spanish universities:
|Tuition fees for Bachelors per year
|Tuition fees for Masters per year
|Complutense University of Madrid
Ca. €1,000 for EU students, ca. €7,000 for non-EU
Ca. €2,700 for EU students, ca. €5,100 for non-EU
|EU Business School
|€13,500 for EU and non-EU
|€15,600 for EU and non-EU
|Polytechnic University of Catalonia
|€1,100 for EU students, ca. €2,300 for non-EU
|From €1,100 to €1,600 for EU students, from €2,600 to €4,200 for non-EU
|Pompeu Fabra University
|From €1,300 for EU students, ranging from €6,800 to €8,500 for non-EU
|Ca. €1,800 for EU students, ca. €6,000 for non-EU
|Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
|Ca. €1,000 for EU students, ca. €7,000 for non-EU
|From €1,200 to €8,000 for EU students, from €7,200 to €11,700 for non-EU
|Universidad Católica de Murcia (UCAM)
|From €4,000 to €7,500 for EU and non-EU; €14,500 for Dentistry
|From €4,000 to €11,500 for EU and non-EU students
|University of Barcelona
|From €1,000 for EU and non-EU students
|From €1,100 to €1,600 for EU students, from €4,300 to €6,000 for non-EU
|University of Deusto
|From €5,500 to €15,000 for EU and non-EU students
|From €6,000 to €11,000 for EU and non-EU students
|University of Granada
|Ca. €1,000 for EU and non-EU students
|Ca. €1,000 for EU and non-EU students
|University of Valencia
|From €700 to €1,000 for EU and non-EU students
|From €700 to €3,000 for EU and non-EU students
Note: This overview shows the tuition fees that apply if you take a full courseload and pass every exam on the first try. Unfortunately, the calculation gets more complicated because the tuition fees are actually calculated per credit.
Public Spanish universities charge tuition fees per ECTS credit or point. At European universities, an academic year typically contains modules/lectures that add up to 60 ECTS credits; however students can choose how many courses they want to take every semester, so the total price can be different for each case.
You may find a university listing their fees as, for example, €20 per ECTS credit. This would mean that the annual fee is 60 times €20 = €1,200, but as mentioned, it can go lower or higher depending on:
It’s important to note that these per-credit fees go up for a given module if a student fails the exam and has to retake it the following year. In other words, failing a class and taking it again means next year you will have to pay double or triple the price. When universities publish tables or overviews with the per-credit fees, 1ª matrícula (or primera matrícula) is the one for the first try, 2ª matrícula (or segunda matrícula) for the second try, and so on.
Non-EU students generally have to pay the amounts listed under 3ª matrícula or 4ª matrícula.
Private universities might calculate fees differently, and most commonly not per credit but per semester, term, or year.
Calculating the fees in detail can get confusing, so we will look at an example:
If you fail exams, studying in Spain can get expensive quickly. Therefore it literally pays off to study hard and prepare well!
Generally, international students will need to pay their tuition fees once they have enrolled, around September/October.
Every university will have specific deadlines, so it’s a good idea to check with your institution and mark important dates in your calendar.
These institutions generally offer students the opportunity to pay in two or three instalments, so you can spread out the payment over the year.
Other options can also be available that allow students to spread out the payment over up to 10 months. This is an option available, for example, at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Pompeu Fabra University and the University of Barcelona through a funding agency within the Government of Catalonia (AGAUR) and at the University of Granada through agreements with external financing institutions.
Some universities will require an advance payment of part of the tuition fees upon pre-enrolment. This is usually non-refundable.
As a general rule, the deadline at most institutions will be in June for a September start. However, note that application deadlines at Spanish universities vary according to the individual institution.
For example, at the Complutense University of Madrid, the deadline is on May 31st for the first semester or the full academic year. At the EU Business School instead, programmes have a flexible start so students can enrol throughout the year.
It is wise to double-check application deadlines with your chosen university (or universities, if you are applying to more than one), as these may also vary from year to year.
Yes, application fees at Spanish universities are typically between €30 and €50 for public universities, and can rise up to €200 for private universities. Some universities also call them:
There is generally no option to study in Spain completely tuition-free, either in Spanish or in English. However, tuition fees are lower than in many other European countries.
A way to lower the price tag of your studies in Spain is to apply for a scholarship or a grant through the scholarship schemes available for international students.
Yes, there are some scholarship opportunities available to international students in Spain.
Here are some of the programmes:
A list with some scholarship opportunities in Spain can be found here.
Spain is generally a more affordable destination than other European countries. As an international student, you will find plenty of ways to keep your cost of living low – as long as you manage not to eat your body weight in tapas every night.
To give you an approximate idea, expect to spend between around €600 and €1,200 a month, depending on your lifestyle, including housing, food, transport and entertainment.
For groceries, you should spend between €100 to €200 per month, and the usual caveat applies – cook your food at home and you’ll save some money!
Generally, accommodation will cost around €300-€600 for dorms or a room in a shared apartment, but it can vary quite widely according to the location, and prices can rise considerably for apartments or rooms in private student accommodation.
In cities such as Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia accommodation is more expensive. However, as a comparison, it’s good to note that rents, according to Numbeo, are on average lower than in a number of other European destinations, such as Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Rome.
Read more: 7 Reasons to study in Spain
Yes, international students can work in Spain.
Non-EU students can work for up to 30 hours a week. After graduation, non-EU students can apply for a post-study work visa and stay in Spain for a year to find employment.
EU students don’t have any work or residency restrictions. However, if they stay for longer than three months, they’ll need to register for a NIE, the Foreign National Identity Number, which will be necessary to open a bank account or use the health service.
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