Study Medicine in Spain: 7 Things You Should Know

If you are proficient in Spanish – or if you are willing to study the language – then you should consider taking up Medicine in Spain. As the home of world-class universities, distinguished professors, and modern hospitals, it can provide you with the medical education that you need. They’re also cheaper than other medical schools in the European Union.

If you’re thinking about studying medicine in Spain, then here are the 7 things you need to know before you apply:

1. What are the requirements to be enrolled in Spanish medical schools?

Applicants need to submit their high school diploma (for Bologna process countries) and transcript or equivalent to study medicine in Spain.

International students also need to take the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) for schools such as Universidad de Navara and CEU Cardenal Herrera. Administered by Cambridge Admissions Testing, this English-language exam assesses one’s knowledge in Science and Math. The BMAT is not limited to the 2 Spanish schools though, as this can also be used to enter medical schools in the UK, Asia, and most parts of Europe.

After presenting such requirements, an applicant needs to undergo preregistration. Here, the school takes all the applications from all over the country and evaluates the applicants’ grades. The general cut-off is 12.5, although the higher the marks are, the better.

While a good grade is important, you may enter through a special admission system if you meet any of the following:

  • In possession of university degree or equivalent (2% of slots)
  • Aged 25 years old and above but passed the university entrance exam (3%)
  • Aged 40-45 years (2%) and 45 years above (1%)
  • Degree of disability (5%)
  • High-performance athletes (3%)

Private schools usually have more requirements. At the CEU Universidad Cardenal Herrera, an interview (personal or through Skype) is needed. At the Universidad Europea, applicants need to take an admissions test that includes an interview. This helps determines the student’s general knowledge, language proficiency, skills, and abilities.

Since most medical schools teach in Spanish or Spanish and English, proficiency with these languages is required. Accepted Spanish certifications include Certificados Homologados (UNICERT/CLES), Escuela oficial de Idiomas, Business Language Training Service, Instituto de Cervantes – Diploma de Espanol, and the European Language Certificate.

As for English certifications, exams such as the TOEFL, Cambridge, and PTE are accepted.

2. In what language do you study medicine in Spain?

Most medical schools use Spanish as their primary teaching language. There are some schools, CEU Universidad Cardenal Herrera, who use a mix of English (48%) and Spanish (50%). The same applies to the University of Barcelona, where English is used to teach part of the academic hours.

3. Can you study medicine in Spain as an international student?

Yes. You need to submit the necessary documents and accomplish other requirements (entrance test, interview, etc.) to be able to study medicine in Spain.

4. What are the components of the medical curriculum in this country?

The Spanish medical curriculum, as with most EU countries, lasts for 6 years. It covers a total of 360 ECTS, wherein 1 ECTS is equal to 10 classroom hours and 15 student workload hours.

The first two years of studying medicine in Spain cover pre-clinical studies or basic training. At the CEU Universidad Cardenal Herrera, these two years include subjects in Anatomy, Biology, Biochemistry, Physiology, Bioethics, Biophysics, Histology, and Genetics.

The third to fifth years cover the compulsory clinical subjects. At the University of Barcelona, these include Histology, Immunology, Pharmacology, Genetics, Radiology, Surgery, Cardiology, and Otorhinolaryngology, to name a few.

Elective subjects are also taken from the third to fifth years.

The last year focuses on clinical rotations. These include exposures to hospitals, state clinics, and community centers.

A school project of 6 credits is also required before graduation.

5. How many medical schools are in Spain?

There are 42 medical schools in Spain. 31 of them are public (centers), while 11 are private. These are located through Madrid, Catalonia, Andalusia, Cantabria, and Extremadura, to name a few.

6. How difficult is it to study medicine in Spain?

Spanish medical schools may be hard to get in to because of numerus clausus or the limited number of admissions. This has increased throughout the years though, from 4,500 places in the year 2001 to 5,700 slots in the present.

Compared to other countries, Spanish medical schools do not offer academic support such as tutoring and personal counseling. The lack of this makes it harder to study medicine in Spain.

Students who may not be that proficient with Spanish may find studying in Spain quite a challenge as well. This is especially the case during clinical rotations, as patients and some hospital employees only converse in Spanish.

After graduating, medical students are met with another challenge: the lack of residency slots. While the numerus clausus for medical schools has risen steadily throughout the years, the residency slots haven’t. This may force Spanish medical school graduates, whether local or foreign, to pursue training outside of the country.

7. What do you need to become a doctor in this country?

After graduation, physicians must undergo post-graduate training or MIR (Medico Interno Residente). This allows the graduate to train in any of the 50 specialties available after studying medicine in Spain. The 225-item, 5-hour-long MIR exam costs 30 Euros and is held every February. Those who pass start their 3-to-5-year training in May – about a year after medical school graduation. About 6,800 MIR slots are available annually. However, this is not enough to cater to the new graduates, who are vying for slots alongside repeat-takers and foreign medical graduates. The latter, however, is only limited to a 4% quota.

Those who wish to practice as a doctor in Spain may register with the Order of Physicians at his/her location. This costs about 60 to 70 Euros.

Requirements for EU, EEA, and Swiss graduates include:

  • Medical diploma
  • Recognized title of Doctor from the Ministry of Health
  • Spanish proficiency – B2 level
  • Proof of residence
  • License from the home country, if applicable

Non-EU graduates need to submit additional documents, including an NIE number, work & residence permit, and equivalency certificate from the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports.


I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page.