Studying in Spain: What to expect as international students


Updated on Dec 16 • 5 minute read

Studying in Spain will be a once in a lifetime experience. By following a full-time course or spending your semester abroad in one of Spain's universities you'll not only get world-class education but also gain valuable life experience. Yet, before enrolling to study in Spain, it's important to get an idea of what to expect.

Let us guide you through the process of studying in Spain!

The application process to study in Spain

If you're an EU student looking to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Spain, you'll need to apply for a 'Credencial de Acceso,' certificate. The Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain's official body (UNED), provides this certificate for you.

Non-EU students who don’t have an European Baccalaureate or an International Baccalaureate must register with UNED to take the university entrance exam ('Prueba de Acceso a la Universidad' or PAU). Students interested in pursuing a Postgraduate degree in Spain should apply directly to the university.

You usually submit your application electronically. All you need are the following items:

RequirementBachelor’s DegreeMaster’s Degree
A copy of your passport or IDYesYes
Passport-sized photographsYesYes
Statement of Purpose, articulating your motivation to pursue a degree at your university of interestYesYes
Proof of English proficiencyYesYes
Bachelor’s certificate and Bachelor’s TranscriptsYes

An important point's that there're several ways of proving your English skills, with IELTS being the most popular one.

However, it’s possible to provide proof without taking the IELTS examination. Instead, you can opt in to take the TOEFL or Cambridge University’s CAE and CPE formats.

Make sure to double-check the specific requirements of your desired university!

How much does it cost to study in Spain?

Before you can rent accommodation, book your flights, and pack your bags, try to grasp the financial implications of studying abroad in Spain.

Doing this allows you to budget and make your stay more comfortable.

Tuition fees

The tuition fees in Spain are set by the regional governments and calculated based on the cost-per-credit. Across Spain, the fees are rather moderate in comparison to those in other EU countries.

Expect to pay around €1,800 for a Bachelor’s and €2,700 for most Master’s programmes per year in public universities.

On the other hand, the annual tuition fees for Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD programmes in private universities usually don't exceed €20,000, with only a few going up to €30,000.

Living costs

As is the case with every other country, the cost of living's determined by your location in Spain as well. For instance, if you decide to study in Barcelona, you'll find accommodation in Barcelona for international students costs more than in Málaga. But you'll still easily find affordable student housing in Málaga and Barcelona.

Of course, the total cost of living in Spain is also determined by the accommodation you live in and the lifestyle you lead. Living in modest housing and sticking to a medium-sized budget would cost you approximately € 900 to € 1,200 each month.

Let’s break this estimation down so you can get a better idea of what your monthly expenses would be.


Expect rental rates to range from about €300 per month on the low end to over €1,000 per month. Depending on if you live in the heart of a big city or very close to the university.

Taking the example of a convenient location in a nice neighborhood in Barcelona, you should expect to pay:

  • €600 monthly rent for a private room
  • €1,580 monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment
  • €1,100 monthly rent for a studio

Keep in mind: Sharing your apartment with a few new friends can help you reduce your monthly expenses.
You'd not only share financial obligations with regard to the apartment but could also share responsibilities such as cleaning or cooking!

Sharing accommodation with other people also gives you the benefit of having an immediate friend or two upon arrival.


Unless you’re dining at a high-end restaurant on a special occasion, food in Spain's generally affordable. It’s common that restaurants in the areas around universities offer discounts only for students. Besides that, the cafeterias on campus typically serve balanced meals at a lower price.

Of course, the most budget-friendly way of nourishing your body with good food's to cook at home. If you live with roommates, taking turns cooking can be fun, or you can have a special Friday-night meal and invite your friends over.

Try to check the local markets and discounts in grocery stores like Aldi or Lidl if you are aiming to stretch your budget as much as possible.

Funding and student support to study in Spain

1. Funding

Make use of the several Spanish scholarship options for international students studying in Spain. Some can take you a step closer to studying in the country for free!

  • The Erasmus Mundus Scholarship's open to international students pursuing a Master's or Doctoral degree program.

  • African students are qualified to apply for the ALB Foundation MBA Scholarship. Its focus's on providing support with the payment for their MBA studies in Spain.

  • Exchange students from the European Union pursuing a Bachelor's degree or Master's program. You have to fulfill the general, academic, and financial criteria for an Erasmus grant.

  • The Ministry of Education of Spain's an option for receiving financial aid. A completed application form must be sent to the Ministry of Education, the Iberoamerican Cooperation Institute, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The application requires the provision of personal information, such as how much money you and your legal guardians make.

  • Universities in Spain provide foreign students with the ability to apply for different study grants. Application deadlines vary, so make sure to discuss the details with your university's admissions team as early as possible to avoid missing out on the opportunity to apply.

2. Student Support

Where else can you find support besides the formal help provided by universities?

Student associations offer a lot of support for newcomers in Spain.

They can turn a moment of uncertainty and overwhelming feelings into an opportunity to meet new people, learn more about your new home, and take part in university events.

Associations will plan a full calendar of activities, as well as a week of orientation. They’ll invite you to everything from weekend gatherings to course-related educational meetings.

A few of the most popular student associations in Spain include:

  • ISN- International Student Network
  • ESN- Erasmus Student Network
  • AEGEE- Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l'Europe

What’s it like to study in Spain?

Studying in Spain's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With such a steady influx of internationals throughout the year, Spain's culture is welcoming to internationals. Its friendly people, large student population, and fantastic expat network will make you feel home.

Lively Student Culture

The country’s lively and diverse student culture's going to make it easy for you to make a lot of friends.

Students in Spain work hard, but they still have a lot of fun night outs. If you're going out at night, make sure you get some rest in the afternoon; most clubs don't open until after midnight, and your peers will want to party until dawn!

Low Language Barrier in Spain

Additionally, not having to tackle a significant language barrier is a benefit. English is the second most spoken language in Spain, after Spanish. Yet, learning a little Spanish before moving's a good idea. Why don’t you try out a plethora of Spanish learning applications available for your smartphone?

So by now, you should know what to expect when you opt to study abroad in Spain for the full course of your education or simply your exchange semester or year. The Spanish education system will provide an excellent backdrop for your Erasmus, and you’ll find that the opportunities right at your fingertips will be limitless.

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