Studying Abroad in Spain: A Complete Guide for 2024

Last updated on February 27th, 2024 at 06:30 pm

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Studying abroad in Spain

A land of rugged castles, vibrant cities, pristine beaches, and centuries-old universities, Spain is understandably popular with international students from all over the world. Of course, settling into a new country will require plenty of planning, and you’ll have to think about everything from your visa application to where you’d like to live in Spain.

While there’s a lot of information to process when relocating to Spain, a systematic approach can help make it less daunting. To help you get started, our team here at Remitly created this guide to the most important factors to consider when you’re preparing to live and study in Spain.

How to study abroad in Spain: basic steps

To get ready to study abroad in Spain, you’ll need to complete some basic steps:

  1. Research study programs and choose one
  2. Apply for the program
  3. Complete the visa application process
  4. Find a place to live
  5. Obtain a part-time job if you desire one
  6. Open a bank account

In this article, we’ll take a look at these steps for studying abroad in Spain one by one.

Choosing a study abroad program in Spain

Studying abroad in Spain gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a rich culture, sample authentic Spanish cuisine, and more. The first step toward having an amazing study abroad experience is choosing a program.

What types of study abroad programs are there?

There are three main types of programs to consider as a prospective Spain study-abroad student. Let’s take a look at each type.

Home university-sponsored study-abroad opportunities

International universities often partner with postsecondary education institutions in Spain to offer study-abroad opportunities for their students. Contact the study abroad office at your home school for more information.

Direct-enroll study-abroad opportunities

Another way to study abroad in Spain is to directly enroll at a Spanish post-secondary institution. Universities may admit international students for a short period or allow them to earn entire degrees at their institutions.

Third-party study abroad opportunities

Third-party study abroad providers organize programs for students. In some cases, students take courses at universities. Alternatively, the provider may have their own campus where classes are held.

How long are Spain study-abroad programs?

Spain study-abroad programs vary in length. Some are just for a week or two, while others last for one semester or a whole summer. You can also find programs that allow you to spend a full academic year or even longer abroad.

What Spanish cities are popular study-abroad destinations?

Studying abroad in Spain

As a study-abroad student, you’ll have a chance to truly explore Spain and see many parts of the country. However, you’ll typically spend most of your time in one city or town.

There are many cities in Spain where you can study abroad. Here are some of the most popular destinations:


The birthplace of flamenco music, Seville dates back to the Roman Empire and is home to one of the oldest civilizations in Europe. Seville is more affordable than many larger cities in Spain, making it great for those studying abroad on a tight budget.


The second largest city in Spain, Barcelona is a great place to learn about a new culture, as many cultural events and restaurants offer delicious tapas and other authentic Spanish cuisine. In addition, the city attracts students from around the world, allowing you to make new friends from a wide range of backgrounds.


Located along Spain’s Costa Blanca, the port city of Alicante boasts gorgeous beaches and an Old Town area filled with colorful homes. The city is highly walkable, making it an appealing place for college students to spend a semester or an entire year.


As Spain’s capital and largest city, Madrid provides many opportunities to experience Spanish culture. The city also has a robust public transportation system that makes navigating easy.

What subjects are popular for people studying abroad in Spain?

From liberal arts to STEM, you can study virtually anything in Spain, but some programs are particularly popular among study-abroad students. They include:

  • Spanish: There’s no better place to learn Spanish than Spain. Whether you’re just developing your Spanish skills or are fluent in the Spanish language, you can immerse yourself in the language while you study abroad.
  • Political science: With its autonomous regions and a constitutional monarchy, Spain has a unique form of government that students can learn about firsthand during a study abroad experience at schools like the University Carlos III of Madrid and the Universitat de Barcelona.
  • Business: Business schools in Spain are known for offering a wealth of specializations, making it a great place to dig into your interests. Many universities in Spain offer business programs, so you’ll have the flexibility to study nearly anywhere in the country.
  • STEM: Spain is home to many top-ranked schools for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including the Polytechnic University of Madrid, the Universitat de Barcelona, and the University of Seville.
  • Hospitality management: Spain is a major European tourist destination, and many top schools educate tomorrow’s tourism industry leaders, such as the European University of Madrid and the University College of Hotel Management and Culinary Arts in Barcelona.

Can you get financial aid for studying abroad in Spain?

Scholarships and other forms of financial aid may be available through your current school, universities in Spain, or third-party study abroad program providers. Learn more about scholarships for study abroad students by reading our article on the subject.

Applying for a student visa

You’ll need a student visa if you’re coming to study in Spain from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland. Once you’ve received your official acceptance at a course in Spain, you can approach your local Spanish consulate or embassy to begin the visa application. To obtain a visa, you’ll have to submit a number of official documents, typically including:

  • Your passport
  • Passport photos
  • A letter of acceptance from your Spanish university or educational institution
  • A bank statement, a letter from a financial guarantor, or other proof that you can cover at least 100% of the current IPREM, which is the Spanish index for determining minimum living costs
  • Proof that you have health insurance from an authorized company that will cover the whole period of your studies
  • A criminal record check
  • A medical certificate that shows you are free from diseases that may pose a risk to public health

The exact list of documents you’ll need to show varies from consulate to consulate, so check with the staff to see what’s required. You may also have to have certain documents translated into either English or Spanish by an accredited translator. Again, the consular staff will be able to point you in the right direction here.

If your course in Spain will last beyond 180 days, you’ll also have to apply for a Spanish residence card or TIE. You must book an in-person appointment at a local police station within 30 days of arriving in Spain. You’ll have to produce your passport and visa and documents proving you’re enrolled in a course. You can select the police station and make an appointment to get your TIE card through the official website.

Anyone moving to Spain should also consider the Spain Travel Health program.

Finding accommodations

You’ve picked the country you want to study in. Next is the important question of where exactly you want to live while you’re here. Here are the main types of dwellings to consider.

Student halls of residence

These are a top choice with many international students and with good reason. They provide complete convenience, with the bills and rent payments rolled into one, and you’ll be able to meet and make friends with other students easily. Halls also typically feature kitchens, dining areas, and laundry facilities. Your chosen university may run its own halls of residence, while you can also check out the offerings from private companies like Resa.

Private residences

The main alternative to halls is living in private apartments or houses. You’ll easily be able to browse the options offered by rental agencies online, filtering by price, location, and type of property. You can also look up online adverts by groups of students looking for new housemates to join them.


If you like the idea of home comforts during your time in Spain, you can opt to settle in with a Spanish host family. Some websites specialize in connecting international students with families, and depending on the arrangement, you may have dinner and laundry included with your homestay.

Finding a part-time job while studying in Spain

While your focus will be on your studies during your time in Spain, you may want to work part-time. It’s a good way to immerse yourself in Spanish culture, improve your language skills, make friends, and, of course, supplement your budget. Working while studying is perfectly fine, and you’ll be eligible for paid employment for up to 20 hours a week each semester.

As an international student from outside the EU, a work permit will be required from your nearest immigration office. The good news is this is pretty straightforward, and your prospective employer typically makes the application. A form will need to be submitted, along with the usual official documents proving your identity and status as a student.

It’s a good idea to update and polish your CV or résumé before you actually arrive in Spain. After all, settling into your new life will be an exciting and hectic time, and having your CV ready will be one thing less on your to-do list. Once in Spain, you can browse job listings online or approach staff in bars, restaurants, and shops to submit your application for work.

Setting up a Spanish bank account

While it may be tempting to use your existing bank account and bank cards in Spain, you may find it cheaper and easier to use a Spain-based account instead.

Opening a Spanish bank account is simple enough — you can often begin the process online and easily compare different banks’ services by checking their websites. Shopping around is a good idea, and you’ll want to consider whether:

  • There are fees attached to their services, and how these compare
  • There’s a good, user-friendly mobile app available
  • They have staff members who speak your first language
  • They offer a good spread of services, from insurance to savings accounts, to special perks for students

Sending money home

Budgeting is crucial for the majority of students the world over. Everything from how much you spend on your weekly groceries to what you allocate for socializing may have to be carefully considered. This same care should go into planning how best to send money to loved ones at home if you ever need to do that.

The fact is, not all money transfer services are the same. Transfer fees may be higher at some banks and remittance companies than at others. Exchange rates can also vary, impacting how much your friend or family member back home will receive.

This is why it’s a good idea to research online beforehand and see what different companies can offer. Companies based entirely online can provide the most competitive prices and exchange rates, as they don’t have to cover the expensive running costs of land-based outlets.

Tips for Spain study-abroad students

To get the most out of your experience, follow these study abroad in Spain tips.

Learn some basic Spanish language skills

Even if you’re not planning on studying Spanish abroad, learning some basic Spanish before you travel is a good idea. Knowing some phrases and vocabulary can help you better communicate while studying abroad.

Immerse yourself in the local community

During your experience abroad, you’ll have a chance to learn firsthand about the Spanish way of life, but you’ll need to get out among the Spanish people. Spend your free time exploring your new city on your own, with a friend or your host family, or with a large group of students. Read our guide on how to get the richest cultural experience during a study-abroad trip for more tips.

Prepare yourself for homesickness

Even if you’re enjoying your time abroad, you may still experience homesickness occasionally. Our guide on how to deal with homesickness provides tips and resources that can assist you when those feelings arise.

Allow yourself plenty of time when dining out

In many countries, it’s possible to grab a quick meal during a short rest period between classes, but don’t plan on being able to do this in Spain. Typically, dining out in Spain is a lengthy experience, so plan to visit restaurants only when you have more than an hour to spare.

Create a budget before you go

Managing your money while studying abroad will help ensure you have enough to cover expenses, visit attractions, and attend cultural events. Our budgeting tips for international college students will teach you how to create and stick to a budget.