Top 5 – Best Universities for Studying Spanish in Spain

best1If you’ve taken up Spanish language as part of your academic or professional career, a university language course will look good on your CV. But how good are Spain’s universities? And which ones will offer you real quality?

Below is a pick of Spain’s finest universities and language faculties. We have included a fair cross section, selected by location, academic standards, reputation and trusted international and Spanish university ranking tables like QS, Shanghai and IAIF. You’ll also find all the essential information about available facilities, location details and a look at course prices.


#5: University of Santiago de Compostelabest2
…. “A rainy, but reasonably priced pilgrimage to good quality education”

You can’t argue with half a millennium of academia. The University of Santiago de Compostela is as proud of its regional heritage as of its 500 years of history. Yet despite its age, the USC is very young and happening today: with approximately 39,000 students and 3,000 staff, the USC also takes an active part in the European student mobility scheme.

The USC began as a School of Grammar in the late 15th Century and the internationally recognised Spanish as a Second Language (SSL) scheme has been running for over 50 years. There are 15 people to each class, which is a big number compared to private language schools, but not bad for a university. The quality of the courses is high, although reportedly many students say the wide choice of course types and programme durations can be quite confusing.

There are indeed many varying SSL programmes here that run at different times of year and combine Spanish language and culture. There are also certain courses that offer additional literature and art history classes, as well as in-depth seminars on the Pilgrims’ Road to Santiago. The choice of study weeks is flexible. Prices start from 2 week intensive summer courses, including 20 Spanish lessons each week, at 328€ (£287or $436). A three-month course during term time costs 1,308€ (£1,143 or $1,737). There is also an additional 190€ (£165 or $251) registration fee charged by the university. (See all course and accommodation prices).

All in all, a great package in terms of quality teaching and things to do. The downside? In the winter, don’t forget to pack your brolly. It rains a lot in Santiago de Compostela. Having said that, the drizzle is easily forgotten in the old city centre, where the language faculty is located. It is busy with bars, cafés and plenty of events: concerts at Plaza del Obradoiro, dances at La Quintana, the Magosto in November, the festivales de cortometrajes in July and August… and a myriad of venues, sports facilities and discounted offers that all USC students get access to with their student cards, both on and off campus.


#4: Granada Universitybest3
…. “Close to the community, offering the highest academic achievement and service”

With a good 480 years under its belt, Granada University is extremely committed to serving its academic environment, community and people through excellence in research, service and tuition. Thanks to this, it has shot up in national and international league tables and now boasts a combined student, lecturer, administrative and research staff population of over 70,000.

There are many SSL courses to choose from – Intensive, Hispanic Studies and Language & Culture – but entry to these depends on the student’s level of Spanish. Only total beginners can enrol onto the intensive courses, between 4-10 weeks in length. If you have studied Spanish previously, then you will need to take a level examination. Once you have been assigned a level, you can then choose from Hispanic studies, culture lessons and various other subjects, on top of the Spanish language programme.

The teachers all have a degree in philology and many have further specialisations in culture, history, art history and so on. Perhaps the biggest drawback is the vast number of students in each lecture: with 30 students vying for the teacher’s attention, you’ll need to be confident in your ability to follow and benefit from the lessons in such a large crowd. Prices start at 397€ (£347 or $527) for a fortnight’s course where you can attend 20 Spanish lessons each week, ranging all the way up to 12-week courses for 1,879€ (£1,641 or $2,494). (All course and accommodation process here.)

The charming city of Granada offers something for everybody. The obvious, but must-see attraction, is of course the Alhambra castle. In its shadow lies Granada’s cosy historical centre; think cafés, Moroccan teterías, flamenco tablaos and salsa bars galore. And the best bit for student budgets? Free complimentary tapas can be had at almost every bar in town… simply by ordering a cool beer.


 best4#3: Complutense University of Madrid
…. “Big. Madrid. Looks very impressive on your CV.”

The Complutense University of Madrid comes with no less prestige or history than Santiago or Salamanca. First confirmed as a university in 1499, the Complutense is now the nation’s largest university and has an excellent name outside of Spain. With a staggering 100,000 students and almost 10,000 staff, the two university’s 145 square kilometre grounds sprawl over Madrid’s Moncloa and Somosaguas districts, including forested university gardens.

Because of its international reputation, and its location in one of the most gloriously vibrant capital cities in Europe, the University gets a huge number of foreign students seeking to study Spanish as a foreign language. SSL students get to share the Philology and Humanities faculty with Spanish university students, making language exchange a daily social reality. Although the Spanish language programme has been running for 15 years, the facilities are somewhat antiquated and the lessons can be poorly organised at times. The classes are fairly big at 20 students per room.

One of the big bonuses here is the enormous university library with over 2 million book titles, in addition to audio-visual and scientific resources. Students get a University Card, which not only grants access to the swimming pool and sports grounds, but also often entitles you to discounts at Madrid’s various attractions, sites and student oriented entertainment and dining venues. There are barely any organised social or cultural activities for students, even though students at very high levels may attend specialised lectures.

Complutense University offers intensive courses, VIP packages and summer programmes, but also longer courses lasting an entire term or a full year. The prices are very reasonable. A one-month summer intensive, including 20 weekly Spanish lessons and optional culture classes costs 924€ (£780 or $1199). You can book a full term courses starting at 1155€ (£1323 or $1717). (For the full selection of courses and prices, click here.)

How to describe Madrid? Madrid is the Prado Museum, tapas, shopping, cutting edge nigh clubs and grungy rock bars, Real Madrid Football Club, musicals, the Cibeles fountain, the Gran Vía, the Puerta del Sol. In short, Madrid is a way of life. Warning! You might not want to go home.


best5#2: Salamanca University
…. “The price is high, but it matches the reputation and the quality”

If you’re already studying Spanish, you’ll be well acquainted with Salamanca University. It is so famous it is frequently mentioned in most Spanish study materials. Modelled in the image of the likes of Oxford, and the University of Paris, it was founded in 1218. Today, the university is world famous, not least because of its emblematic façade of religious and mythical sandstone carvings, the famous Patio Las Escuelas, and the high quality of teaching, but also its mission: “The creation of knowledge for the service of humanity”.

With over 2,000 teachers and nearly 39,000 students, the University of Salamanca prides itself on specialist teachers, 15 people per SSL class and constant course quality assessments and improvements. And whether you want to study for two weeks or a whole academic year, you can do this via the university’s flexible Spanish language scheme, combining weeks and extra culture classes pretty much as you like.

Unusually for Spain, Salamanca University also has a dedicated member of staff who arranges cultural activities for foreign students. All those enrolled receive a student card entitling them to access to university facilities such as libraries, sports grounds and computers.

Everything good comes with a commensurate price tag: Salamanca University’s two-week courses (20 lessons per week) start at 485€ (£424 or $644). Mind you, if you’re in for the long haul, you could do a whole term for only 1,834€ (£1,602 or $2,435), and the quality is well worth the price. (See all course and accommodation prices here.)

Things to do? Salamanca is a beautiful, well-kept old city. Nightlife can be found every night of the week, although it is largely undergraduate driven and the city’s nightclubs are limited. You’ll find plenty to do on the cultural calendar though, and friendly locals and incredibly cheap prices for eating out will go a long way to making your stay enjoyable. Go to the cinema, have dinner with friends or get a proper caffeine fix or mug of foaming Spanish beer in the medieval district.


best6#1: The Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)
…. “Highly modern and efficient, quality tuition, excellent international ranking”

The UAB in Barcelona makes a huge change from the previous universities on the list, in that there is no 500-year history to be found here. The Autonomous University was established in 1968. The Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona is committed to the contribution of knowledge and innovation and it aims to prepare students to take a real and active role in their chosen field and society upon course completion.

Despite being the new kid on the block, the UAB has quickly gained ground and surpassed its competition. It is currently classed as Spain’s number 1 university in the QS World University Rankings. As a major advantage, and very unusually for Spain, its organisation and administration is run so smoothly, and paperwork dealt with so effectively, that students can simply concentrate on their studies without having to worry about clumsy bureaucracy.

The UAB Idiomes site is situated in a UNESCO World Heritage building, the Casa Convalescència, a short walk away from Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. The SSL program has been running for over 25 years and there are intensive courses on offer all year around with 15 people per class. Because foreign students share premises with Spanish students studying other modern languages like English, French, there is ample opportunity for cultural exchange and conversation practice.

A slight disadvantage is the small selection of activities. Aside some walking tours of the city and a few other culturally oriented activities, the university leaves the students to form their own social connections and find their own entertainment. The tuition is of an excellent quality and recognised as such by the European Union. The teachers all have a philology degree and many have an additional post-graduate title. A 12-week course, including 20 weekly lessons and culture classes costs 2177€ (£1854 or $2831), but you can start small with a two-week course for 391€ ($510 or £332). (More courses and prices here.)

Barcelona is a very, very cool city, with its various barrios with their individual personalities, cool boutiques, edgy fashion, and as an added bonus, affordable living and a warm, sunny Mediterranean climate. You can expect delicious food, beaches, the Gothic quarters, more bars, pubs and clubs of every variety than you can ever explore… and lots and lots of weird and wonderful Gaudi architecture and Spain’s most efficient public transportation system. n

  • Weekly Updates by Email