The best universities in Barcelona for international students


Updated on Nov 01 • 6 minute read

Barcelona is one of the top student destinations in Europe, as it's a home to some of Spain's top universities, an energetic students nightlife, affordable education, and the international community. It ranks as the 31st best student destination in QS Best Student Cities 2023 rankings out of 130 other cities, beating cities like Madrid, Milan, and Rome.

But finding out which university's the best fit for you is a very important decision. To make the process easy, we’ve created a list of the best universities in Barcelona for international students.

5 Reasons to study in Barcelona

Barcelona's a fun, magnificent, and never-sleeping city. After Madrid, Barcelona ranks as the 2nd most popular city in Spain among international students. Each year, approximately 20,000 students choose Barcelona to follow their Bachelor’s and Master’s studies or to do their exchange programs. But what makes Barcelona so appealing in the eyes of international students?

  1. Quality Education: Barcelona has 7 of the top universities in Spain. In fact, universities in Barcelona frequently rank as the top 10 universities in Spain and annually make it into the global top 200 QS World University Rankings.
  2. Endless career choices: Barcelona's the 2nd largest economy and 1st in high-tech infrastructure in Spain. It’s home to the headquarters of many local and international companies. These create numerous internship possibilities and job opportunities after graduation.
  3. Affordable student life: Barcelona has one of the most affordable living costs in Europe for students. From affordable student neighborhoods to cheap nightlife, students in Barcelona live comfortably on their limited student budget without compromising the fun and quality of life.
  4. Multicultural: Alongside its rich Catalan heritage, Barcelona brings together traditions and customs from different cultures, thanks to its diverse residents. It’s a multicultural city where expats form a large international network. This creates an opportunity for people to make lifelong friendships from all over the world.

Can I study in English in Barcelona?

Universities in Barcelona offer many fully English-taught programs. Recently, some universities are starting to offer combined programs in both Spanish and English, too. Keep in mind that it might be easier to find an English-taught Master's degree as the number of fully English-taught programs's higher at the graduate level.

What are the best universities in Barcelona for international students?

Universities in Barcelona differ in the number of international students, the number of English programs, and rankings. We've selected 4 of the most popular and top-ranking universities in Barcelona with an extensive catalog of English-taught courses:

UniversityWorld ranking
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona178
Universitat de Barcelona184
Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona)233
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)343

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona is one of the best higher education institutions in Spain with excellence in research and quality teaching. With more than 10,500 international students, they’re highly committed to the global outlook, promoting mobility collaboration with universities abroad and capturing talent. They have a very skilled International Support Service to help international students with their problems and the integration process.

Does the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona offer English courses?

If you don’t know Spanish or simply want to pursue your higher education in English, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona's one of the best universities in all of Spain.

At the undergraduate level, they offer 12 degree programs entirely in English ranging from Artificial Intelligence and Bioinformatics to Economics and Tourism. In addition, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona has more than 200 courses taught in English, like Advanced Psychiatry, Quantum Mechanics, International Economics, Marketing, Finance, Criminology and so on.

At a graduate level, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona offers more than 80 fully English-taught programs, such as Data Science, Advanced Genetics, International Relations, Business Management, Logistics, and Supply Chain Management.

Universitat de Barcelona


Universitat de Barcelona is one of the oldest universities in Spain, with its history going back to 1450. It has 73,926 students, of which about 11,231 are international. It has multiple campuses spread throughout Barcelona in neighborhoods like l’Eixample and Cerdanyola del Vallès in.

Does the Universitat de Barcelona offer English courses?

Universitat de Barcelona has 6 undergraduate programs entirely in English. These programs are:

  1. Bioinformatics
  2. Business Administration and Management
  3. English Studies
  4. International Business
  5. Physiotherapy
  6. Tourism

In addition to these programs, the university has about 737 undergraduate courses in English in Law, Biomedical, Medical Engineering, Finance, International Business, and Physics.

At a graduate level, 80% of classes are offered in English for degrees in Art and Humanities, Experimental Sciences and Engineering, Health Sciences, and Social Sciences. For entirely English graduate programs, check their Erasmus Mundus Programs in joint collaboration with other universities.

Universitat de Barcelona also has great exchange programs thanks to its agreements with 116 universities across the world, including in Paris and Milan. Those planning to attend an Erasmus exchange program and take English-taught classes don’t have to provide Spanish language certification. But those planning to attend 1) the Faculty of Medicine (B1 level ), 2) the Faculty of Law (B1 level), and 3) the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts (B2 level) must provide a Spanish language certificate regardless of the language of the course they’re enrolled in.

Universitat Pompeu Fabra(Barcelona)


Universitat Pompeu Fabra is a public university with 3 campuses located in the heart of Barcelona, specializing in the fields of Medicine, Humanities, Economics and Business, Social Sciences, Law, and ICT. 13% of the students are international.

Does the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) offer English courses?

In general, the language of undergraduate education's Spanish and Catalan. Nevertheless, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) has 7 programs entirely in English. These programs are:

  1. Audiovisual Systems Engineering
  2. Computer Engineering
  3. Telecommunications Network Engineering
  4. Global Studies
  5. Industrial Technology
  6. International Business (joint degree with Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)
  7. Law (joint degree with King’s College London)

A wide range of master’s programs can be fully or partially taken in English.

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)


Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya also known as BarcelonaTech, is one of the top technical universities in Europe. This school's a perfect fit for those who want to get an excellent education in technical fields. It offers prestigious programs in engineering, mathematics, and architecture disciplines. 11% of students come from abroad.

Does the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya offer English courses?

In general, the language of undergraduate education's Spanish and Catalan, with the possibility of taking some courses in English. Nevertheless, there’re 3 undergraduate degree programs taught entirely in English. These programs are:

  1. Industrial Technologies and Economic Analysis
  2. Video Game Design and Development
  3. Bioinformatics

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya has 37 graduate programs 100% in English, ranging from degrees in Automatic Control and Robotics to Data Science.

Erasmus in Barcelona

If you want to taste Barcelona life only for a semester or a year, you can also do an exchange program. Below are the best universities to apply for an Erasmus exchange program in Barcelona:

  1. University of Barcelona
  2. International University of Catalonia
  3. Polytechnic University of Catalonia
  4. Pompeu Fabra University
  5. Ramon Llull University

To attend an exchange program in Barcelona, you don’t have to know Spanish. But you must provide a B2 level English certificate. And if you want to learn Spanish, universities run Catalan and Spanish courses for foreign students in Barcelona. These courses are open to exchange students but with limited places.

Tuition fees at universities in Barcelona

The fees for public universities in Barcelona are set by the Autonomous Community of Catalonia each year. These fees vary depending on the nationality and the experimentally/the area of knowledge (whether it’s a level A or B) of the program.

The A-level programs are engineering and data science related and the B-level focus on topics such as business and economics, languages, media, social work, law, and social sciences. If you fail a class and have to retake it, you pay a surcharge. The cost-per-credit for programs is between €18 to €88 per credit.

To give you a reference:

  1. For EU students the approximate annual tuition fee for a Bachelor’s degree is around €1,248.52 and a 60-credit Master's degree is €2,300.

  2. For non-EU students the approximate annual tuition fee for a Bachelor’s degree is between €2,300 and €4,500. A 60-credit Master's degree is between €2,593 and €5,749.8.

Other costs

The tuition fees don’t cover other additional costs. These fees change depending on the institution but roughly equal to:

  • Registration fee - €30
  • Academic record opening - €69
  • Compulsory student insurance (for students under 28) - €2
  • Specific services and learning support services - €70

Scholarship programs in Barcelona

There’re many scholarship programs available for international students to help them during their studies in Madrid. Apart from these grants, EU students can apply for EQUITAT grants from the Catalonian government. It’s aimed at students who enrol in undergraduate or graduate degree studies at one of the universities mentioned above.

Now that you know which school to study at, it’s time for you to start preparing for life in Barcelona as a student. After all, you need to take many steps to relocate to Spain, from finding the perfect accommodation to opening a Spanish bank account.

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