Barcelona is a dynamic and modern city with an unrivalled cultural and leisure atmosphere. A cosmopolitan city that is committed to innovation and entrepreneurship. Studying and living in Barcelona is one of those experiences that you have to do at least once in your life.

In this article we present all the advantages offered by the city and various universities in Barcelona for foreigners where you can study mobility programmes for undergraduate, postgraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Ready? Let’s get started!

Reasons to study in Barcelona and its advantages

Barcelona, the city of rankings! In addition to ranking as the eighth best city in the world in which to live, work, research and visit, according to the report ‘The World’s Best Cities 2021’ and ‘ninth according to the ranking ‘Top 100 City Destinations Index 2022’, it is also in the top 10 of the best European cities for university students, as published by the world ranking ‘QS Best Student Cities 2022’.

Barcelona offers one of the most attractive environments in Europe for living and studying. Here are some of the advantages of studying in Barcelona as a foreigner:

  • Multiculturalism: any foreign student arriving in Barcelona will be able to integrate easily thanks to the great diversity of nationalities that coexist in the city.
  • University prestige: Barcelona is home to some of the most renowned universities and business schools in Spain and Europe.
  • Location: if you are looking for a sunny and pleasant climate, good Mediterranean cuisine and the chance to live in a city with a rich artistic and cultural heritage, you will love Barcelona!
  • Economy: while Barcelona is one of the most popular cities in Europe, the cost of living is still reasonably inexpensive compared to other major cities on the continent.
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Procedures and requirements for foreign students

The requirements to enter Catalonia will depend directly on the student’s nationality, the reasons for their trip and the length of their stay. Once you have gained admission to the university, we advise you to go to the Spanish Embassy in your country in order to get information and gather all the necessary documentation regarding legal matters.

If you are a national of a country of the European Union or the European Economic Area (EEA), the requirements and procedures are much simpler thanks to the mobility agreements; however, if you come from another continent, it will be essential to have a valid passport, a visa, documents that justify the reasons for the trip in question, a valid medical insurance and, in most cases, a reservation in some accommodation, such as the university residences in Barcelona. We recommend that you take a look at our university residence in Barcelona, in Ciutat Vella, where you will have the opportunity to meet and share experiences with students of different nationalities. If you are looking for an Erasmus residence in Barcelona to enjoy your international experience, Unihabit has a lot to offer you!

Foreign students who wish to study in Barcelona and who are not from member countries of the European Union or the European Economic Area (EEA) will require a student visa. Depending on the length of your stay in the country, the documents you will need to provide may vary:

  • Stay of less than three months: in this case you will need a visitor’s visa, health insurance and proof of sufficient funds to pay for your studies.
  • Stay of more than six months: you must apply for a foreigner’s identity card (TIE) within one month of entering the country.
  • Erasmus Programme: for stays longer than three months, students will have to register in the Central Register of Foreigners at the National Police Stations, which will allow them to prove their right of residence in the territory
Requisitos para estudiar en universidades en Barcelona

Access to Spanish universities for foreigners

Spanish universities are open to foreign students, without distinction and under equal conditions, whatever their nationality.

Although the access conditions of each university will always depend on the institution chosen by the student, there are a series of generic requirements that are imposed by the Spanish Government and the Government of the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Below you will find information on how to access universities in Catalonia if you have completed your studies in a foreign education system:

  • Studies carried out in a European Union (EU) country or in states with reciprocity agreements. This includes the International or European Baccalaureate.
  • Recognised studies in the Spanish baccalaureate from a foreign education system outside the EU.
  • Studies recognised in the Spanish baccalaureate from an EU education system, but which do not meet the requirements for access to universities in the country of origin.
  • A qualification equivalent to a higher technical degree.
  • Partial validation of university studies not completed.
  • Recognition of university studies already completed.
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If you are in one of these cases or if you want to know in detail each of the access options, we recommend that you consult this website of the Generalitat de Catalunya for foreign students, which explains all the options currently available.

And if you still have more doubts to resolve, we strongly recommend that you contact the universities in Barcelona for foreigners that you want to apply to and consult their conditions of access, and at the same time, talk to the Spanish embassy located in your country to move forward with the residency or visa procedures that you may need.

Universities in Barcelona for foreigners: what and where to study?

It is important to be very clear about what to study in order to select the option that best suits you among all the universities in Barcelona for foreigners. The first thing you should take into account when choosing your studies are your motivations, interests and skills, and also the job opportunities you will be able to access once you finish your studies. It is advisable to carry out a preliminary study of your aptitudes, taking into account your transversal skills or soft skills and your technical competences, which will help you to find out the possible obstacles and opportunities that best suit your profile.

University centres of reference in Barcelona

With regard to the campus where you can study in Barcelona as a foreigner, some of the leading universities are:

  • Universitat de Barcelona (UB): Founded in 1450, the UB is a public university of national and international reference. The various international rankings place it in first position in Spain and between the 50th and 200th position of the best universities in the world. The UB boasts a wide range of academic offerings and a large community: more than 76,000 students graduate each year. It also has representation from 130 different countries and has 3,500 agreements with institutions around the world and 77 Erasmus+ projects.
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB): Founded more than 50 years ago, the UAB is a public university located on the outskirts of the city. According to the main international rankings, the UAB holds a well-established position among the top 200 universities in the world. In terms of internationality, UAB participates in international mobility programmes, especially with Europe, Asia and Latin America, and 5.2% of its students are foreigners studying undergraduate degrees, 34.7% in university master’s degrees, 44.4% in master’s degrees and 38.4% doing doctorates.
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  • Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC): With more than 60 years behind it, the UPC is a public university specialising in research and higher education in engineering, architecture, science and technology with 7 campuses in different cities in Catalonia. Internationally, the UPC is one of the leading polytechnic universities in Europe and enjoys good international alliances with other universities, research institutions and companies.
  • Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF): Founded in 1990, international rankings place UPF among the best universities in Spain and Europe. In addition, UPF offers 390 international agreements and 27 degrees in English, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, a fact that promotes the fact that 44% of master’s and doctoral students are international.
  • Universitat Ramón Llull (URL): With more than 30 years of history, the URL is a private university made up of 8 prestigious higher education and research institutions, including IQS, Blanquerna, La Salle and Esade, and 1 affiliated centre (ESDi). With a university community of more than 21,000 students, 26.2% of whom are international students from 121 different nationalities, URL offers bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and degree programmes, as well as international mobility programmes.
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Escuelas de negocios de prestigio en Barcelona

There are also prestigious business schools for foreigners, for example:

  • EADA Business School: Founded more than 70 years ago, EADA is one of the most innovative and recognised business schools on the continent, accredited by various prestigious institutions such as the Financial Times. It has a virtual campus and 3 physical campuses, 2 of which are located in the city centre and the other 40km away.
  • EAE Business School: EAE is a leading business school that forms part of Grupo Planeta’s international higher education network and offers Master’s degrees, MBAs and Bachelor’s degrees. With 60% international students and more than 100 nationalities represented, it is one of the most multicultural options in the city.
  • ESADE: According to the Financial Times, ESADE is the 4th best business school in the world and the 3rd in Open Programs. ESADE is a prestigious private academic institution which, since 1995, has been part of the Universitat Ramon Llull, and offers undergraduate, master’s, MBA, research and summer school programmes.
  • IESE Business School: IESE is Spain’s most prestigious business school. The institution, which is part of the University of Navarra and has a campus in Barcelona city, offers MBA, Master’s and PhD programmes. According to the Financial Times, IESE is the 2nd best business school in the world and the 1st in Open Programs. IESE also has campuses in other cities around the world such as Madrid, New York, Munich and Sao Paulo.
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Do you have to know Catalan to study in Barcelona?

Most classes on postgraduate, Master’s and doctoral courses are taught in Spanish, but Catalan is usually the main language for most subjects on university degree courses. But don’t worry! In these cases, the universities offer courses to learn Catalan, and the teachers will be able to help you by providing exams and teaching materials in Spanish, and even private tutorials to clarify any doubts you may have.

As a result of the increase in international mobility in the city, the use of English is becoming more and more widespread on university campuses: on the one hand, you’ll find higher education courses taught entirely in English, especially Master’s and postgraduate courses, and on the other hand, both teachers and administrative staff regularly use English in their day-to-day work to communicate with foreign students.

Now you know the best universities in Barcelona for foreigners with international mobility programmes, what are you waiting for to come and live and study? Let yourself be seduced by Barcelona and create unforgettable memories during such an important stage of your life as a student. Consider all the pros and cons of studying in Barcelona as a foreigner, and get ready for the adventure!

Living in the Unihabit Barcelona halls of residence is the best option, as they are located right in the city centre, making it easy and quick to get to the university. In addition, in our Unihabit residences you have different rooms to choose from, whether single, double or triple, fully equipped kitchens and common areas such as study rooms, outdoor areas to enjoy the fresh air and areas for sports.