Study Abroad

Top 10 Universities in Spain for International Students

Spain is home to many world-class universities, making it a great destination for international students. Read on to find out which one is best for your study abroad adventure!

9 Best Universities in Spain for International Students

To be able to say you’ve studied in one of the world’s most sophisticated countries is a feat not many can boast of. Studying abroad in Spain will not only grant you academic and professional development, but insight into a diverse nation with natural wonders, a complex history, irresistible cuisine, and one of the most popular languages in the world.

However, with so many renowned universities to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start in this remarkable country. Read on to learn about the top universities in Spain for international students!

Why study abroad in Spain?

Spain is an enthralling destination for international students who want to gain access to high level education or study in a country which allows them to embrace a lifestyle different to at home.

Here are some reasons to consider studying abroad in Spain:

  • Renowned universities: Spain is home to some of the best universities in Europe, with many ranked highly in the list of global universities and some dating as far back as the 13th century. Obtaining credits or a degree from a Spanish university will pay dividends to your academia.
  • Excellent student lifestyle: What do you get when you combine the warm Mediterranean climate, thriving cities, low costs of living, and a scrumptious selection of food? An unequaled student lifestyle!
  • Thriving international communities: It’s estimated at any time that there are over 200,000 international students in Spain. So, in addition to its relaxed lifestyle, students abroad in Spain can revel in its thriving international scene as well as its local community.
  • More affordable tuition: Compared to the US, you’ll find that studying in Spain is cheaper since the cost of living and tuition prices are lower.

How much does it cost to study in Spain?

Tuition fees at Spanish universities vary, but generally cost between $800-$9,000 USD per semester. However, you’ll need to account for other fees, such as airfare, accommodation, cost of living, and more.

If you’re going to study abroad using a third-party provider, you’ll spend more, but this comes with benefits such as application and visa assistance, in-country support, accommodation (or guidance), and more.

Read more: The Perks of Studying Abroad with a Third-Party Provider

1. University of Barcelona

Best for academic reputation

9 Best Universities in Spain for International Students: Barcelona

📍 Location: Barcelona
💸 Average tuition for a semester: $2,000-$3,000 USD
🌍 QS World Ranking: #164

Established in 1450, the University of Barcelona (UB) is one of the oldest and biggest universities in Spain with 76,000 students. The UB ranks first among the best universities in Spain and in the top 100 in the world, especially when it comes to academic reputation.

Some of the top majors at University of Barcelona include chemistry, economics, agricultural sciences, and veterinary science. Although most courses are taught in Spanish and Catalan, a handful of bachelor’s and master’s programs are either fully or partially-taught in English.

However, studying isn’t everything, as the university creates an optimal environment catering to all lifestyles through cultural exhibitions, unique student unions, quality sporting facilities, volunteering opportunities, and much more. Additionally, Barcelona is listed as one of the best student cities in the world according to the QS 2023 report.

Suggested study abroad programs in Barcelona

2. Autonomous University of Madrid

Best for student lifestyle variety

9 Best Universities in Spain for International Students: Madrid

📍 Location: Madrid
💸 Average tuition for a semester: $2,500-$3,000 USD
🌍 QS World Ranking: 199

Madrid is Spain’s most populous city and full of cultural wonders, keeping students busy with its 70+ museums, football history, bustling nightlife, and renowned gastronomy, making for an excellent lifestyle.

Madrid provides the level of competition to Barcelona in academia as it does on the soccer pitch. The Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) is known as one of the top Spanish universities and ranks among the global top 200 universities according to QS, offering a diverse range of programs, many of which are taught in English.

Consistently high ranking programs include law, physics and astronomy, and natural sciences. UAM also has an environmentally sustainable campus to share with over 30,000 students and around 3,000 international students. Its unique mentor program also helps ease its students into life in Madrid seamlessly, creating a welcoming social landscape.

Suggested study abroad programs in Madrid

3. Complutense University of Madrid

Best for employer reputation

Old style buildings in Madrid, Spain

📍 Location: Madrid
💸 Average tuition for a semester: $3,500 USD +
🌍 QS World Ranking: #171

The Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) is the largest public research university in Spain, and one of the biggest and best in Europe. It’s also rich in heritage, being one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in 1293.

Students can choose from almost 100 undergraduate programs and even more postgraduate programs, and it’s known for its reputation in biomedical sciences such as dentistry, veterinary studies, medicine, and more.

However, BA programs such as history, modern languages, literature, law, and more stand high in the global rankings, making it a highly diverse university. According to QS, it’s one of the best in Spain when it comes to employer reputation. Students can also choose from over 100 unions ranging from arts, music, theater, community involvement, sports clubs and competitions, and more.

4. University of Granada

Best for sports & fitness enthusiasts

9 Best Universities in Spain for International Students: Smaller Spanish Cities

📍 Location: Granada
💸 Average tuition for a semester: $865-$1,000 USD
🌍 QS World Ranking: #403

Granada is a university city which captures Spain’s best qualities through its medieval palaces, sprawling fortresses, snow-covered mountainous terrain, and its proximity to the Mediterranean sea. In fact, around 10% of its undergraduates and 23% of postgraduates are international students.

The University of Granada also ranks among the global top 100 for physical activity and sports science subjects, and was the first Spanish university to offer degrees in these fields, making it one of the most prestigious Spanish faculties in this discipline.

However, if your interest in sports and fitness lies outside of your studies, their sports center offers over 40 different courses for its students. Additionally, Granade’s geographical advantage makes it an ideal destination for those who enjoy mountain or aquatic related sports. Outside of sports, student societies are in abundance, encouraging students of all nationalities to participate and integrate with its members.


5. University of Navarra

Best for close community and travel

A festival in Pamplona, Spain

📍 Location: Pamplona, Navarra
💸 Average tuition for a semester: $3,500-$9,000 USD
🌍 QS World Ranking: 280

Among the best Spanish universities outside Barcelona and Madrid is the University of Navarra, located in the charming city of Pamplona. Pamplona’s population is largely made up of university students, making it a student-centric city. In fact, around 25% of these students come from abroad, creating a bustling international community.

Its substantial student population makes the city one where international students can thrive. Sharing close proximity to Bilbao, Zaragoza, and even France, Pamplona also offers globe trotting students an excellent location for traveling.

International students can specialize in global top 100 courses such as nursing, accounting and finance, philosophy, business, and more, and can also develop language skills with bilingual degrees. On-campus language clubs also cultivate intercultural understanding between students by hosting language-based activities for students and forming a welcoming environment for international students.

6. Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)

Best for learning Spanish and Catalan

Aerial view of Barcelona, Spain

📍 Location: Cerdanyola del valley (20 km from Barcelona)
💸 Average tuition for a semester: $2,000-$9,000 USD
🌍 QS World Ranking: #149

The Autonomous University of Barcelona(UAB) consistently ranks among the best universities for research excellence and teaching quality in Spain. It also caters for around 8,000 international students from 90 countries at any time, and welcomes over 2,000 erasmus students each year.

With classes being taught in Spanish, English, and Catalan, UAB is a great place for those who want to embrace culture through its language. Students can study for a semester, an academic year, or at UAB summer schools where they can earn credits towards their studies.

In addition to its language courses and mobility agreements with other countries and universities, its philosophy of intercultural co-existence along with its clubs, social gatherings, and green spaces, makes the campus atmosphere warm for international students.

7. University of Seville

Best for affordability

A student posing with a sign in Sevilla

📍 Location: Seville
💸 Average tuition for a semester: $900-$1,750 USD
🌍 QS World Ranking: #494

Despite its warm climate, immaculate beaches, and multicultural architecture, Seville (or Sevilla) offers a surprisingly low cost of living. Seville’s low rent prices and generally low cost of living will have you wondering why this is the case in such a warm and dynamic city.

The University of Seville has a rich and reputable history, dating back to 1551, and its tuition fees are generally lower than many other universities in Spain, making it one to consider if affordability is a priority. Placing a large emphasis on research and innovation, housing numerous research institutes, centers, and laboratories, there are a range of high quality programs - particularly in the science department - to choose from.

With around 60,000 university students, there’s always something to do. In addition to the city’s hospitality and frequent festivals, the university organizes plenty of social gatherings and student events, creating an immersive university experience.

8. Polytechnic University of Valencia

Best for coastal life

Coastline and landscape in Valencai, Spain

📍 Location: Valencia
💸 Average tuition for a semester: $1,500
🌍 QS World Ranking: #476

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, the home of paella, and a go-to location for gleaming Mediterranean beaches. The city’s fusion of modern and traditional architecture, allowing students to embrace its heritage and marvelous architecture when they’re not studying (or sunbathing on the beach).

In addition to its unrivaled coastal lifestyle, the city’s Polytechnic University of Valencia university has acquired a 5 star rating from the QS, taking into account teaching quality, employability, global engagement, and more.

The university also offers a wide range of programs taught in English and welcomes a significant number of international students each year. It also fosters an engaging campus life for students through a range of clubs, sporting facilities, and events in abundance.

9. Technical University of Catalonia

Best for applied & formal sciences

Beach and modern building in Barcelona, Spain

📍 Location: Catalonia
💸 Average tuition for a semester: $2,000-$5,000 USD
🌍 QS World Ranking: #354

The Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) - also known as Barcelona Tech - is one of the best universities in Spain when it comes to applied sciences and innovation. This includes engineering, agriculture, architecture, computer science, mathematics, and more.

The UPC also boasts of the highest number of international students undergoing doctorates and master’s programs. Its international mobility scheme makes UPC a fantastic option for international students hoping to refinance their knowledge in applied science.

Its “Hola!” program offers a comprehensive orientation week, cultural activities and excursions, as well as Spanish and Catalan language courses for international students.

10. University of Salamanca

Best for international community

A cathedral in Salamanca, Spain

📍 Location: Salamanca
💸 Average tuition for a semester: $1,000-$2,500 USD
🌍 QS World Ranking: #534

Rife with sandstone clad architecture and thriving market squares, Salamanca is a university town with a palpable international community. Established in 1218, the University of Salamanca is the oldest university in Spain, and older than the United States by 558 years!

It also has one of the highest numbers of Erasmus students in Europe, and around 1 in 5 people in the city are university students. This, in addition to the city’s compactness, makes students feel instantly connected with their environment and its inhabitants.

Having educated students for centuries, it has sustained a high reputation and has even been dubbed “the Oxford of Spain” due to its heritage and excellence. Outside of studying, students can maintain a blissful lifestyle by enjoying its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, frequent cultural events and international conferences, and a lively yet compact city.


Start your university experience in Spain!

Architecture in Valencia's old town

Rife with top ranking universities, beaches, UNESCO world heritage sites, and more, Spain has it all. Regardless of your program or destination, studying abroad in Spain will grant you greater employability and appreciation of an entirely new culture!

Start your study abroad experience today: