How to Study in Spain for International Students (4 Steps)

Spain is a southwestern European country known for its historical spots and beautiful beaches. Apart from that, it has also been deemed a great destination for higher education. As home to 74 universities, Spain has become the third most popular spot for many international students. Not only does it boast affordable tuition fees, but the cost of living in Spain is also cheaper compared to neighboring countries.

Contrary to popular beliefs, applying to a Spanish university is not that laborious. All you just need to do is follow these tips on how to study in Spain as an international student.

Helpful Posts

Related Scholarships

Procedure for Studying in Spain for International Students

Here are some of the steps to follow to maximize your chances:

  • Prepare the finances for studying in Spain. You will need to be able to afford your studies, which you can do in several ways such as getting scholarships, working, and paying with your own money.
  • Meet the application requirements. There are requirements to study in Spain such as language requirements and required documents. Prepare to meet these
  • Once you do, you need to submit your application to universities following their application procedure
  • Then, you will need to file to get your student visa.

We will go over these steps in more detail.

1. Financing the Cost for Studying in Spain for International Students

Spanish public universities offer the cheapest tuition fees at $764 to $1,439 a year (EUR 680 to 1,280). Private universities, on the other hand, cost anywhere from $5,500 to $20,239 annually (EUR 5,500 to 18,000).

As mentioned, the cost of living in Spain is more affordable in comparison to other EU nations. A student would need about $1,011 (EUR 900) a month to live comfortably in the country.

2. Preparing the Application Requirements

To study in Spain as an international student, you need to meet the following requirements:

General Language Requirements (Undergraduate)

While Spanish proficiency is not always required, you need to confirm it with your university as it might have specific rulings per department.

Should it be required, your Spanish proficiency may be demonstrated through any of the following certifications:

  • Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE)
  • Spanish University Access Tests (Prueba de Acceso a Estudios Universitarios)
  • Bachelor’s degree in Spanish

Case in point: at the University of Granada, undergraduate applicants need to have a B1 level in Spanish. This can be tested through the DELE, the Business Language Testing Service (BULATS), or the European Language Certificates (TELC).

As for most universities, they usually require English proficiency testing. Students from non-English speaking countries need to get the following exams and the recommended scores below:

  • TOEFL iBT = 90 to 100
  • IELTS = band 6.5
  • CEFR = B2
  • CPE= A to C

Compared to other international universities, CEFR is the preferred English proficiency test in Spain and not IELTS or TOEFL. For example, at the University of Barcelona, a CEFR rating of B2 is required to apply for a bachelor’s degree in International Business.

General English Requirements (Graduate)

As mentioned, it is not necessary (though advisable) to take Spanish certification. After all, you will be working with local students. Furthermore, you may need to complete your research in areas where only Spanish or Catalan is spoken.

In anticipation of these language requirements, the University of Granada requires its post-graduate students to possess a B1 proficiency in Spanish.

Meanwhile, at the University of Barcelona, proficiency in Spanish is required to be admitted in certain post-graduate studies, such as Healthcare and Collaborative Practice, Financial and Actuarial Sciences, Specialized Communications, Urban Design, and Economics.

Expectedly, the above-mentioned English proficiency scores apply to graduate students as well. At the University of Barcelona, the acceptable CEFR rating is from B1 to B2.

In rare cases, proficiency in both languages may be required. Such is the case for applicants in the university’s Internationalization, Economic History, and Hotel & Restaurant Management programs.

Since language requirements vary greatly per university, it’s always best to check with your school’s admission webpage.

Application Requirements (Undergraduate)

Like other institutions, the primary requirement at Spanish universities is a certificate of secondary level studies. If you have a baccalaureate degree from another institution, you need to submit it as well.

At Catalan public universities like the University of Barcelona, your application should be done via the university admissions website. After registering, you can submit your documents to your university of choice.

You also need to take the Upper secondary level examination for university admission (EBAU) / university entrance exam (PAU) or the Upper secondary level examination for university admission (EBAU – UNED) in Spain or testing centers in other countries.

The same requirements (secondary school certificate and PAU) are listed by the University of Valencia as well.

While the application documents are fairly similar for every university, you still need to check your university portal for other possible requirements.

Application Requirements (Graduate)

To apply for a graduate degree in Spain, you need to submit a copy of your bachelor’s diploma and academic transcripts. They should be translated into Spanish.

Other requirements include a copy of your passport and an accomplished application form.

At the University of Valencia, applicants for certain programs (Law and Psychology) need to have their degrees recognized by the Ministry of Education.

Documents not stated above may be needed as well. At the Autonomous University of Madrid, you also need to submit a curriculum vitae and a specialty request form.

As the final requirements depend on the university – as well as the department that governs the program – you need to check your university website regarding other necessary documents.

3. Applying to Spanish Universities

Spanish university admissions are highly competitive. If you want to submit your application, then you need to meet (or beat) the deadlines stated below.

This is a very important step for international students wishing to study in Spain.


Universities have varying application deadlines, so you need to check with your prospective school for updates. Take the case of Catalan public universities, where the University of Barcelona is a member. The system has 4 enrollment periods: June to July, September, October, and February.

Meanwhile, at the Autonomous University of Madrid, an application period corresponds to each semester. To get into the first term (September to January), you need to complete your documents from May to June. As for the 2nd semester (January to June), the application period lasts from June to October.

Application fees cost anywhere from $33 to $112 (EUR 30 to 100).


At the University of Granada, there are three application periods for post-graduate students. The first is in February, with the next running from June to July and the last one from September to October.

At the University of Valencia, there are only 2 phases for application. The first period occurs in June, while the second one takes place in July.

Since universities set different deadlines, make sure to visit the school website regularly so you don’t miss it!

After completing your submission packet, don’t forget to pay your application fee, which will cost you anywhere from $30 to $174 (EUR 27 to 155).

4. Getting a Student Visa in Spain

After being admitted to your university of choice, you may start applying for a student visa. This is the easiest step in your journey to study in Spain as an international student because you already have most of the documents ready. You need to download the National Visa Application Form, which you should accomplish in duplicate, from the government website.

Here are the other things that you need to submit to the Spanish embassy near you:

  • Passport
  • 2 colored passport photos
  • Certificate of admission
  • Proof of financial capacity (minimum $600 a month)
  • Health insurance
  • Medical certificate
  • Certificate of criminal record date 3 months prior

Visa application costs $67 (EUR 60), though prices may be more expensive in other countries. For example, it would cost you $160 to apply via the Spanish consulate in Miami.

Pleasant weather, a low cost of living, and excellent education – these are just some of the things that await you in Spain. What are you waiting for? Get started on the application process today!

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