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Study in Barcelona, Spain

Population: 1,621,000

City overview

Barcelona is one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, so any international student coming here to study can expect great food, culture and nightlife. This hub of Catalonia has it all – beaches, hills, food and fun – it’s the perfect place to be a student.

Barcelona has always been a city of contrasts. Madrid has old school tradition, Bilbao is tough and strong, Granada has its Moorish influences, but Barcelona is harder to place. It is both modern and traditional, worldly and inward looking. Whatever you come to study, you can expect Barcelona to treat you as one of its own.

Education profile

Barcelona is home to several well respected public universities and fewer private institutions where you can study a graduate program. Some of the institutions where you can study include:

Both research and taught Masters programs are offered at universities in Barcelona, with most courses taking between seven months to two years to complete, depending on the subject and mode of study.

You should not that many graduate programs in Barcelona will be taught in Catalan, so make sure your language skills are up to scratch before applying, or focus on finding programs offered in English.

Immigration and visas

EU students are able to come and study in Barcelona providing you are studying at an approved institution for more than three months and have sufficient income to support yourself. Non-EU students will need to apply for a visa dependent on their nationality. You will generally need to show the following, regardless of your nationality:

  • You have a confirmed place on a course at a recognised education institution
  • You are not already in the country on a tourist or business visa
  • You have paid all relevant visa fees
  • You have sufficient funds to support yourself
  • You have comprehensive health insurance cover

Life in Barcelona

Barcelona is a tourist city so you’ll have to get used to sharing your city with plenty of holidaymakers. However, this does mean that Barcelona is used to welcoming people from other countries, which should aid your settling in period.

Students tend to live in the cheaper neighbourhood of Gracia, travelling into the Ciutat Vella (Old Town) for drinks, partying and eating. Food plays a large part in Catalan culture, so expect meals to be long and to eat late. If you want to go dancing, most clubs won’t get going until midnight at the earliest.

Barcelona’s architecture is well-known, particularly the work of Gaudi. You can see his best known work at the (still unfinished) Sagrada Familia and the calming Parc Guell. Alternatively, head to the Camp Nou to see the Barcelona football team, who are one of the best in the world.

Working in Barcelona

Spain’s economy has been heavily affected by the Euro crisis and unemployment among young people in Spain is at 25% in some places, so finding a permanent job post-studies in Spain might be difficult.

Barcelona’s economy focuses around tourism, fashion and business exhibitions. This is a city that people want to visit, so expect the service and travel and tourism industries to be active employers.


Many international students coming to study a graduate program in Barcelona will opt to live in student halls of accommodation, guaranteeing them a place near their chosen university and making it easier to settle into student life.

However, as Barcelona is such a popular destination, some students will look for their own private rooms or flats. As mentioned above, Gracia is a popular student district, but if you want to be in the middle of the action you should consider living in the Ciutat Vella (Old Town). The districts of Raval and the Barri Gotic is where the action is at, providing you don’t mind late night noise and tourist hordes walking past your window.

Weather and climate

Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm dry summers. The average annual temperature is 20C, with summer running from July to September. Winter is at its coldest between December and February, but it is very rare for temperatures in Barcelona to reach freezing point.

What to do next

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