Study System in Spain

For students who have already vacationed in Spain on several occasions, the country with its language and rich culture is sure to be something familiar. In any case, students from Germany are no stranger to the study system of the largest country on the Iberian Peninsula.

Since Spain and Germany are both members of the European Higher Education Area, the study systems of the two countries essentially no longer differ after the Bologna reform. Universities in Spain and Germany award the same degrees. This of course also facilitates the recognition of qualifications obtained in Spain or Germany, a country that is a member of European Union defined by extrareference.

The structure of the study system in Spain

The study system in Spain is divided into undergraduate and postgraduate areas. In the undergraduate area, students acquire a first academic degree. Those who have already successfully completed their studies can take up a postgraduate degree.

The study system has been subject to some changes in recent years due to the Bologna Process: The old Spanish degrees have been replaced by Bachelor and Master degrees. The doctorate was the highest academic degree in Spain even before the reform. The qualifications are classified in a so-called qualifications framework, the Marco Español de Cualificaciones para la Educacion Superior (MECES) and build on one another.

Outside of this structure, the Spanish study system does not recognize any other official academic degrees. Nevertheless, the universities are free to offer additional unofficial and university degrees. In this way, the universities can function as educational institutions for lifelong learning.

In order to successfully complete a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, students must acquire a set number of ECTS points. Students can obtain degrees in a wide variety of subjects in Spain. The universities not only offer Spanish, but also English-language courses.

The Spanish universities are autonomous in drawing up the curricula for their courses. However, the curriculum must be recognized by the Consejo de Universidades in accordance with the requirements of the Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación (ANECA).

The classic degrees

In the following we want to take a closer look at the typical degrees in the study system in Spain.


An undergraduate degree in Spain ends with a Bachelor, also known as a Grado. Such a bachelor’s degree usually lasts four years and comprises 240 ECTS.

The admission requirement for applicants from Germany is the Abitur. Bachelor graduates can enter professional life or begin further studies.


After completing their bachelor’s degree, students in Spain can pursue a master’s degree. Universities in Spain offer two types of Masters degrees.

The Máster Universitario was created through the Bologna reform. Such a master’s degree usually lasts one year, sometimes two years. The degree entitles you to do a doctorate afterwards.

There are also so-called job – related Masters, such as the MBA. A título propio, a university title, is awarded to graduates of these courses. Unlike the Máster Universitario, such a degree does not meet the admission requirements for a doctorate.

Even if the German bachelor’s degree lasts only three years instead of the four years typical for the study system in Spain, students meet the requirements for a master’s degree in Spain. A royal decree regulates the following: Students with a university degree that enables the start of a master’s degree in the European country in which it was obtained can also be admitted to the master’s degree in Spain.


A doctorate in Spain usually takes three years. Upon successful completion, the universities award the title Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

Doctoral students have to write an independent research paper. They develop their research-relevant skills during their studies in the context of courses and other academic activities.

Shorter study stays in Spain

Spain is not only suitable as a study country for a full degree. The universities also offer international students the opportunity to study in Spain for a shorter period of time. The options are as follows:

  • One or two semesters abroad, in which students can take both Spanish and English-language specialist courses.
  • Summer sessions, courses in summer, between semesters that only last a few weeks.
  • Language courses in which participants learn the Spanish language. There are courses for both beginners and advanced. The duration varies depending on the course.

The study system in Spain compared to Germany

Even if the degrees in the Spanish and German study systems are the same according to the Bologna reform, the study programs in Spain and Germany are of different lengths. The bachelor’s degree usually lasts four years in Spain and three years in Germany. In Spain you study for one to two years before you get your master’s degree, with one year being more common. In Germany, the master’s degree is usually designed for two years.

Study System in Spain