The Kingdom of Spain is a country of rich and interesting cultures, picturesque landscapes, a variety of food, wine, and pastries, and a friendly community. International students prefer to study in Spain to experience this unique culture. They can also learn one of the most spoken languages around the globe. Most of all, they wish to receive education from time-honored institutions and top-ranking universities. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Spain for international students.

Top Universities in Spain for International Students

1. Pompeu Fabra University (UPF)

The Pompeu Fabra University is a young university in Barcelona known for its rapid progress and adaptability. Besides being the number one university in Spain, the institution ranked 10th in the young university rankings of the Times Higher Education. As a result, Pompeu Fabra University is the best university in Spain for international students. UPF is particularly high-ranking in the economics discipline, placing among the top 50 worldwide and the only Economics faculty in Spain to be awarded a Certificate of Quality in Internationalization. Its other strengths are in social sciences, life sciences, and communication.

UPF carries the name of the linguist Pompeu Fabra, who is credited for standardizing the Catalan language. International students interested in learning Catalan have all the opportunity to do so in UPF.

2. Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)

The Autonomous University of Barcelona is a public university pioneering quality research and teaching in the country. It offers top-level degree programs for undergraduate and graduate students in almost all subject areas. UAB manages several research centers, such as institutes for medieval studies, neuroscience, educational science, employment studies, and international affairs.

The global standpoint of this top university in Spain for international students can be seen from the high number of international students, especially in the masters and Ph.D. level comprising 35% and 33% respectively. Furthermore, UAB encourages a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among its academic community.

3. University of Barcelona (UB)

The University of Barcelona is one of the best universities in Spain for international students. It is also among the largest, with over 63,000 students and more than 5,000 full-time researchers. Coming from a longstanding academic tradition, UB respectfully moves forward with the most innovative research. Most of which are supported by the Catalonia Government and leading organizations abroad. UB also manages three large research foundations, including the Barcelona Science Park Foundation (PCB).

The University of Barcelona offers a comprehensive set of disciplines organized into 18 faculties. Almost all areas of knowledge are represented, and many programs are taught in English for international students. Besides academic programs, UB supports its students with academic and career counseling, a network of libraries, safe housing, and recreational facilities.

4. University of Navarra

The University of Navarra, one of the best universities in Spain for international students, was established in 1952 by Opus Dei founder St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. It is a not-for-profit university following the principles of Christianity in cultivating knowledge. Within six campuses, the institution leads 14 faculties, 17 institutes, two university schools, a graduate business school, a museum, and a teaching hospital.

The University of Navarra places first in Spain for employability, first in the research category in the CYD ranking, and 3rd in Teaching Quality by the Teaching Ranking of Times Higher Education.

A total of 11,180 students pursue various degree programs, including 1,758 international students. Also, the university maintains close partnerships with other tertiary institutions abroad, such as the University of Hong Kong, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Washington.

5. Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM/la Autónoma)

The Autonomous University of Madrid is a public university established in 1968 by the Spanish Council of Ministers during a major educational reform in the country. Spanning 650 acres, it is home to eight faculties and eight research institutes in a self-contained student city. UAM’s teaching expertise can be found in various disciplines, including science, business, medicine, psychology, law, engineering, and teacher training and education. They guide students pursuing associate and bachelor’s degrees, as well as second-level Licenciatura, which is a degree requiring a license to practice the profession.

UAM may be situated on a rural campus, but the university has an active student body. There are hundreds of student societies covering all ranges of interests, from theatre to debates to music. Furthermore, UAM is known to hold several festivals in spring wherein the profits go to charities and cultural events.

6. CEU Universities

CEU Universities is a large non-profit education group with three universities in Spain’s major cities. These are the CEU San Pablo in Madrid, CEU Cardenal Herrera in Valencia, and Abat Oliba CEU in Barcelona. While each campus operates independently, all share the same goals. CEU Universities emphasize educational innovation, transversal skills, and international perspective among its academic community. They focus on applied research for students to lead professional lives and share their knowledge with society.

Each CEU University campus builds solid international partnerships with tertiary institutions globally. The Valencia campus, especially, is among the top universities in Spain, seeing an influx of European students per year. Both the Barcelona and Madrid campus boast high employability rates among their graduates, while all three universities are leading research centers in the country.

7. University of Valencia (UV)

The University of Valencia was founded in 1499 with languages, mathematics, philosophy, physics, and law as its foundational courses. Today, the institution spans 18 faculties in almost all academic disciplines and offers undergraduate, master’s degree, and Ph.D. programs. While most courses are taught in Spanish, the university has pledged to increase its English-taught programs, especially with a growing number of international students. Nonetheless, UV is among the top ten European universities providing the most efficient student mobility in Erasmus programs.

This top Spanish university for international students has three campuses within the city where they lead 19 multidisciplinary research units. UV also manages a science park that houses some of the research institutes, an astronomical observatory, and over 80 start-up companies.

8. University of Salamanca

The University of Salamanca (USAL) is a public higher education institution and one of the best universities for international students in Spain. It is one of the oldest and the most prestigious universities in Spain and one of the top Spain universities for international students. Research shows that Arts and Humanities are the strongest programs of the university.

The University of Salamanca ranks 216 in the entire world. If you are worried about cost, then Salamanca is your best bet as it is cheaper than most Spanish cities and comprises a community of more than 30,000 students from more than 50 nationalities, making it ideal for international students.

9. University Of Granada

The University of Granada is one of the best destinations for international students. Situated in Granada, it offers at least 22 courses while admitting close to 50,000 students yearly. The University of Granada is among the leading 250 universities in the world and the 100 universities in Europe. Aside from that, it is among the universities in the country with a considerably higher number of foreigners. This is a dream come true for every potential international student.

10. Complutense University of Madrid

The Complutense University of Madrid began education activities as far back as 1499. The university admits 60,000 students yearly and is renowned for its education quality across the globe. In addition to its international students’ policy which ensures that foreigners hold a high percentage of the school’s population, it also accepts exchange students willing to continue their studies in the country. Thus, the university is among the best universities in Spain for international students.

11. Public University of Navarra (Upna)

Since its inception in the 1900s, the Public University of Navarra has ensured that it retains its seat among the best universities in the country. Although the university admits a very low percentage of students— 9,000—when compared to other universities in the country, it is renowned for its low tuition fee. Asides from the university’s international students’ policy, it also offers online programs to willing candidates across the globe.

12. University of Seville

The University of Seville was founded in 1505. It has the International College of Seville as its offshoot to cater to the promotion of international education and a center to offer U.S. college-level courses. It admits no less than 49,000 students, with at least 10% being from foreign countries. More so, its tuition fee is quite affordable for both international and domestic students. It is located in Sevilla and ranked among the best universities in the country.

13. University of the Basque Country

The University of the Basque Country is a community-funded citadel of learning located in Bilbao and admits approximately 44,000 students. It was initially known as the University of Bilbao until it was merged with three different institutions and changed to the University of the Basque Country.

The university prides itself as a university owned by all, open to all, with the acceptance and inclusion of all members beyond discrepancies of any kind. The university’s long history of providing education using the Basque language has also made it one of the top universities in Spain for international students.

14. University of Santiago of Compostela

The University of Santiago of Compostela, founded in 1495, is renowned for undergraduate degrees with a wide choice in the fields of Social Science, Law, Arts and Humanities, Science, Engineering, and Health Sciences. It takes in at least 27,000 students a year and makes sure that at least 5% of them are from other countries. Moreover, its tuition fees are relatively low for both undergraduate and postgraduate graduate students. For that reason, it is among the top universities for international students in Spain.

15. University of Zaragoza

The University of Zaragoza is one of the oldest universities originating from the Ecclesiastical Schools. It became a functional independent higher institution in 1542, with its roots dating back to the Roman period. The university is also known as Saragossa University, an educational institution situated in the three Arango provinces of Spain. The University of Zaragoza serves as the center of technological innovation in the Ebro Valley. Due to its various involvements in foreign exchange programs, the University of Zaragoza has strong international standing and is one of the top universities in Spain for international students.

16. University of Oviedo

The University of Oviedo is the only publicly-owned university in the autonomous community of Asturias. With over 400 years since its establishment, the university has accumulated academic standards that have passed the test of time, making it one of the best universities in Spain for international students.

Annually, the University of Oviedo admits an average of 1000 international students, over 16,000 undergraduates, almost 3,000 postgraduates, and more than 1000 doctoral students. The University of Oviedo teaches over fifty degrees adapted for European Higher Education Areas. It is one of the first schools of choice for international students due to its academic prestige and its privileged site of location.

17. Polytechnic University of Madrid

The Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) is a public-owned university founded in 1971, during the reign of Carlos the Third in the eighteenth century. UPM is located in Madrid, the capital city of Spain, otherwise known as “The Technical University of Madrid.” UPM is practically devoted to teaching Architecture and Engineering right from the onset. The Polytechnic University of Madrid is notable for Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Electric and Electronic Engineering. It maintains a lofty position in Computer Engineering as well.

In Spain, Madrid stands out as the most attractive city for local and foreign students. Also, the Spanish capital holds the eleventh position among the most affordable places to live and is one of the world-class citadels of learning. No doubt, the Polytechnic University of Madrid is among the top Spain universities for international students, with its culturally rich location with beautiful scenery.

FAQs about Studying in Spain

Is Spain good for international students to study in?

Universities in Spain provide comprehensive degree programs, no matter what subject area international students are interested in pursuing. The academic system in these prestigious institutions is well-organized and designed to prepare students for global careers.

Tuition fees depend on several factors, such as the degree type, the city or region of the university, and whether it is a public or private institution. Fees for non-EU/EEA nationals may be higher, but these are justified with sufficient support facilities for international students within the campus. Furthermore, there are several financial support options for international students in every university.

Spain is an affordable country to live in. International students can live comfortably for around 900-1100 EUR in major cities, like Barcelona or Madrid, and between 700-900 EUR in other cities.

Check Also: Programs in Europe for International Students

Can international students work in Spain while studying?

International students can work part-time during their studies with a few conditions depending on their nationality. EU/EEA and Swiss nationals do not need to complete any legal formalities to work. However, non-EU students must apply for a work permit, which is granted after receiving an offer of employment. The company or employer is usually the one to process this authorization.

Once granted the permit, you can work part-time as long as the hours are not in conflict with your academic schedule. You can only work full-time during the summer months. The permit is only valid until the end of your contract with a specific employer. Nonetheless, it is renewable, or you can apply to another employer.

Can international students stay in Spain after graduation?

After finishing your studies as an international student, you need to apply for a work permit to stay in the country. The Employment seeking residence permit or Job Seeking Visa allows you to access the Spanish job market. Besides finding a job suitable for your field, you can also create a start-up or business. To apply, you can request to change your student visa 60 days before and 90 days after its expiration date.

The maximum duration of the visa is twelve months and is not extendable. Once you find a job within this period, your employer or the company will process your Worker Visa.


We hope that this article on the best universities in Spain for international students was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Europe!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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