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Considering a master’s degree in Spain? Here’s what you need to know.

Choosing where to obtain a master’s degree can be difficult, and often daunting, when faced with the decision of where to study outside of your home country. In this article, we will provide anyone considering studying in Spain with all the knowledge and tools necessary to begin formulating your decision and understand the process that you will be required to complete in order to study here.


  1. Should I do a master’s degree in Spain?
  2. How much does a master’s degree in Spain cost?
  3. How do master’s courses work in Spain?
  4. How to apply for a master’s in Spain?
  5. What visa do I need for a master’s?

Should I do a master’s degree in Spain?

Of course! There are a number of reasons why you should aim to do a master’s degree in Spain, from the lower cost of living for a high-quality lifestyle, to the plentiful supply of high-end educational institutions and expertly tailored courses on offer. Choosing where to complete your master’s can be a complicated and difficult decision to make, so we would suggest reading through the options detailed below and considering the outlined benefits and requirements for doing so.

Benefits of doing a master’s in Spain as an international student

  • Spain is a far more affordable option than many other European countries you may be considering, consistently remaining in the middle of the European Cost of Living Index.
  • In recent years, Spain has undergone significant development in its post-graduate education and Spanish higher-education institutions are held in high regard internationally.
  • The system caters for international students by providing courses in a variety of languages, so that it is not necessary to obtain Spanish language qualifications to study in Spain.
  • Many students come to Spain for the student lifestyle it offers. The culture, cuisine, and of course, nightlife are attractive prospects to anyone considering the move, particularly those considering larger cities.
  • Spanish language knowledge is hugely beneficial for many future careers. By being in Spain, you’ll naturally practice with native speakers, easily improving your ability. There are also plenty of language schools and courses for those looking to take learning it more seriously.

How much does a master’s degree in Spain cost?

The cost of master’s degrees may vary depending on numerous factors, from the type of institution you seek to join, the programme you intend to study, and your citizenship status. Furthermore, you must consider your separate living expenses which may vary significantly depending on your chosen location and lifestyle. That said, we can see below that despite the varied costs, we can expect an average tuition fee of 1620€ per annum.

Cost of university

Most study programmes in Spain cost less than 4,000€ per year, with an average cost of 1620€. However, students coming from non-EU/EEA countries don’t always enjoy the same low tuition as EU/EEA citizens and their tuition can range from 1,000 to 1,500€ higher per year.

The tuition fees are usually charged per credit, rather than per semester or academic year. Fees differ based on the type of university and level of prestige, hence some like IESE or ESADE having higher tuitions than smaller universities with worse reputations. In order to understand further regarding the cost per ECTS we recommend you visit the ministry of universities master degrees table.

Partial or fully funded master’s scholarships in Spain

To make studying for master’s degree in Spain more affordable, students can obtain scholarships that fund or co-fund their studies. Some of the available scholarships include:

  • Spanish government scholarship: Through the ministry of education Spain offers different scholarships to foreign and national students but the conditions to acquire it can differ from year to year. All International Students who are not a resident of Spain are eligible for the Spanish government Scholarships.
  • Spanish Studies abroad financial aid: It is awarded to one student each year who shares “a personal life story that demonstrates the dedication to learning Spanish and how they have gone above and beyond in the acquisition of the language”.
  • UIC (Universitat Internacional de Catalunya) Barcelona scholarships: The UIC offers talented international students the International Excellence Scholarship that covers 20% of the tuition fee and is offered for number of different programs. It is not limited to any nationalities but for obtaining it the students need to have excellent academic records.
  • MIT – Zaragoza Scholarship: They offer a scholarship up to 19,440 EUR for their Master of Engineering in logistics and supply chain management program to European nationals.  Applicant need to have an excellent academic background or professional experience.
  • University of Granada Scholarships – Woman and Gender Studies: The university of Granada offers scholarships in its master’s in women in gender studies that is 24 months long and covers the tuition besides the stipend of 1000 EUR per month.

Affordable universities in Spain for masters

For those of you who are unable to afford some of the more expensive options, there are plenty of cheaper options with excellent records. This list includes:

  • University of Granada – the average tuition is 821 EUR/year.
  • University of Valencia – the average tuition is 2,600 EUR/year.
  • University of Santiago de Compostela – the average tuition is 1,600 EUR/year.
  • Universitat Rovira i Virgili – the average tuition is 2,900 EUR/year.

Cost of living

Your cost of living can vary greatly across Spain. In larger metropolitan cities like Madrid and Barcelona the prices of accommodation and food are significantly higher in comparison to other cities, especially those in the south of Spain, where you can find the lowest costs of living.

Besides tuition, your biggest expense will be your accommodation. Prices for a room in student residence halls range from 360 to 650€ per month and rent for a room in a shared apartment is on average from 400 – 600€ per month, but it of course depends on location, and in Barcelona or Madrid the prices are much higher than in other cities, like Valencia or Seville.

Food prices vary depending on your individual tastes and habits, but monthly groceries typically cost between 200 to 400€. The price for a meal in an inexpensive restaurant is around 10€ and for a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant around 35€.

Regarding transport, a regular one-way trip by public transport usually costs between 1.5 – 2€, and a monthly transport pass is approximately 40 – 50€, again depending on the area.

Overall you can expect your costs of living in Spain to vary from 900 – 1,100€ per month in the most expensive areas, such as Madrid or Barcelona, and between 700 – 900€ per month in relatively cheaper cities like Valencia or Seville.

How do master’s courses work in Spain?

There are two types of master’s degrees in Spain, official master’s offered by public universities, and unofficial master’s created by universities themselves and thus not officially recognized. Neither is inherently better, and they cater to different learning styles and skills, but it is important to think about the type of degree you are going to obtain with your studies as some professions in Spain require the official master’s. Moreover, for some residence permits it is necessary to have an official master’s degree.

Official master’s degrees

Official master’s degrees are the traditional variation and are offered by public universities, generally at a lower cost than the unofficial degree’s at private universities. Anyone wishing to pursue certain careers and be lawyers, architects, etc. in Spain, is required to hold an official master’s degree from a Spanish university. It is also important for foreign students to have the type of their degree in mind, since some residence permits are only available to graduates of official masters.

Official master’s consist of 60-120 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits and are accredited by the EEES (European Higher Education Area), hence it is recognised by international universities. The price of a master’s course is dependent on the region within Spain, but typically ranges from 4000€ to 6500€ each year. In Cataluña, 60 credits can cost between 2500€ and 3000€ for European passport holders, and approximately 4900€ for students from outside the EU.

Unofficial master’s degrees

Non-official master’s are post-graduate diplomas, created by universities without government input or accreditation and are not recognized within the EHEA system, however they are only valid within their own institutions. That said, they are highly regarded by employers. These Master’s degrees mainly focus on academic research and do not require a dissertation, nor do they carry an ECTS credit value. Instead, private universities tailor the course to focus more intently on professional skills that will assist you beyond your studies. They also pay far more individual attention to students and often help them with finding employment once they have completed their course.

Whilst it is clear these courses are a great option; they are far more expensive than courses provided by public universities and can cost up to 20.000€. Therefore, it is worth doing some in depth research and ensuring you are choosing the best degree for you.

How long is a master’s degree in Spain?

The course length varies from 10 to 24 months and represents between 60 to 120 ECTS credits. The academic year typically lasts from September to June. The programmes usually include modules that can be core, compulsory or optional. At the end of the programme it is required to complete a Master’s dissertation.

Master’s degrees offered through the Erasmus programme always take two years and include periods of study abroad, placements or internships. The Erasmus mobility differs from the Inter-University Master that is offered collaboratively by groups of Spanish institutions.

Master’s taught in English in Spain

There are numerous master’s programmes that offer 100% of their credits in English, although many masters’ taught in English allow you to study at least part of the required classes taught in Spanish. For the detailed list of programmes and the details regarding the language requirements and ECTS in foreign language we recommend you visit the official government’s website.

How to apply for a master’s in Spain?

The application process differs between universities, so make sure you check the specifics on each university website for your chosen programme. You will be able to apply and pay the application fee online.

Some universities have minimum language requirements that you must demonstrate before enrolling. Most universities accept the following English language exams:

  • PTE Academic
  • C1 Advanced

The most common requirement for Spanish-taught degrees is the DELE Spanish test. Their website provides details regarding how to register, the dates to bear in mind, and where you are able to take the test.

Documents you will require to apply for a master’s

All documents you submit must be in Spanish. If they are not originally in Spanish, they must be translated by a certified translator. Whilst each programme may require different documents, the most common are:

  • Proof of attainment of bachelor’s degree.
  • Copy of passport.
  • CV and References.
  • Proof of English and/or Spanish language proficiency.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Social security.
  • Evidence of healthcare and insurance in Spain.
  • Information regarding banks and credit institutions in Spain.
  • Contacts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and your own country’s embassy.
  • Planned budget for your stay.

Dates to keep in mind when applying for a master’s

Master’s degrees in Spain don’t share a particular calendar, so it is important to research your program’s specific dates. That said, watch out for the following important dates:

  • July: deadline for the main courses
  • Middle of September or early October: first semester starts
  • December or early January: first semester finishes
  • January: final exam of the first semester takes place
  • End of January of the first of February: second semester starts
  • May: second semester ends
  • June: final exam of the second semester

What visa do I need for a master’s?

Most non-EU nationals require a student visa to be able to reside in Spain whilst they complete a master’s in Spain. Below you can find further details regarding who requires a visa, what type of visa you may require and how to obtain it.

Who requires a visa for a master’s?

Students coming from any countries in the EU, or from Iceland, Norway, or Switzerland; do not require a visa to study in Spain, as with any relatives of European Union nationality they bring with them after submitting a joint application. Anyone from outside of these countries will be able to study on a tourist visa for up to 90 days, however if their studies last longer than this period, they must obtain a student visa. Once you have completed your studies, you are then able to extend your stay for an additional year in order to either find a job in Spain, or start your own company.

There are two types of student visa’s that one can obtain:

  • Short-term student visa: For anyone studying in Spain for between 91 to 180 days.
  • Long-term student visa: For anyone studying for longer than six months in Spain. Will be able to book an appointment upon arrival and will be provided with a residence card. You may request the student visa for up to two years and after that you may renew the expired card, without applying for a new visa.

How to obtain the student visa

Student visa can be obtained in two different ways:

  • Through the Spanish Consulate in the country of origin. In this case you must go to the Consulate in person with the necessary documents and collect the passport with the visa when instructed to do so. In some cases, they will post this to you, but require that you provide postage equipment.
  • From within Spain. If a student is already in the country, the application can be submitted online directly to the Immigration Office. The application must be submitted at least one month (30 days) before the expiration date of the legal stay in Spain as a tourist (90 days).

When to apply for your student visa

The student visa application process usually takes around 12 weeks to complete. There are no emergency services for obtaining a visa quicker or to speed up the issuance, so the application process should start around three months before the anticipated arrival in Spain. Be aware of peak times and maybe think about starting your application earlier if it looks like they are experiencing severe delays (as may happen at the start of the academic year, when students seek to obtain their visa).

If there is anything that you are still unsure about, or you would like to find out more about the services we provide to make the process easier for you, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be pleased to help.

Can you work in Spain after your master’s?

Since the European Union allows free movement throughout its members’ borders, students from the European Union do not need any additional documents or visas to work in Spain.

On the other hand, non-EU residents must obtain a Work Visa to be able to live and work in Spain and without obtaining it, a company cannot legally employ them. In this case, students may make use of job searching visas as a solution, allowing non-EU citizens who have finished their studies in Spain a permit for an additional year of residence to find a job or start their own company. The procedure must be started between 60 days before and 90 days after a student finishes their studies in Spain.  Once students obtain employment in Spain, they must convert the permit to a regular work permit.

Many reasons to do a master’s in Spain, too few not to

So, as you can see, there are a variety of reasons to do a master’s in Spain, not only due to the excellent academic system, but also the experience of living in a country which provides you with such a good quality of life.

If you are interested in applying to a master’s in Spain but need assistance with the visa application process or understanding your eligibility, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Written in collaboration with James C.S. Barnes


Anna Klevtsova

Anna holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law, and is a Certified Lawyer with the Bar Association of Barcelona. With more than 20 years of legal practice in International Law, Anna specialises in business set-up, investment transactions, and immigration strategies.

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