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Education System In Spain: Categories, Programs, Ranking, Universities, and More

Yocket Editorial Team

For international students, Spain is an excellent country to obtain a higher education degree. It is, in fact, a fruitful choice for students who value a century of educational experience, a pleasant temperature, and magnificent beaches. The education system in Spain is quite student-friendly and reasonable. It is a UNESCO-protected country with many opportunities to learn, grow, and socialise. There are around 76 universities in the country's higher education system, 45 public and 31 private.

If you, too, are planning to pursue education in Spain, it is critical for you to understand the comprehensive and efficient education system of Spain.

Therefore, Let’s explore this article, depicting the various facets of education in Spain for international students.

Table of Content

Overview of Education System in Spain

Spain is rich in history and culture along with a complete package for visitors from other countries. While outstanding education is one of the critical reasons international students should study in Spain, many other things contribute to the overall experience. This is the reason why education in Spain for Indian students is common. Let’s check the other features of studying in Spain:

  • Some excellent reputed universities in Spain, like the University of Valencia, Pablo de Olavide University, University of Salamanca, etc, offer top-quality education with in-depth exposure to the world opportunities.
  • Spanish education system is accessible even if there are language barriers.
  • Anyone who has studied for 3-years in Spain is eligible to get a work permit while still being on a student visa.
  • Average annual salary in Spain is 23,000 EUR, and the minimum salary for international students working part-time is 450 EUR.
  • The standard of living in Spain is comparatively cheaper for international students compared to other European countries.

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With the perks of education in Spain for Indian students, let’s understand the…

Categories of Education System in Spain

Education system in Spain is divided into 4 categories, the first is optional i.e. preschool/upper secondary education along with the other compulsory two i.e. primary and secondary education. Let’s learn about them in detail:

  • Nursery and Preschool in Spain

Nursery and preschool education in the country Spain are completely optional in nature. Nursery schools are not funded by the state, which means the parents or guardians will be required to pay the fees to take their children to school.

Preschool is free of charge and takes children up to six years of age. Here, children develop their physical and mental skills and learn reading, writing, and the alphabet.

  • Primary Education

Primary education is mandatory in Spain, it starts at 6 years old and ends at 12 years old. It is made of three cycles, each of which lasts for 2 years. This stage of education is free; students usually learn general subjects like languages, mathematics, literature, natural and social sciences, and arts.

  • Secondary Education

Secondary education is the third and compulsory stage of the Spanish education system. Secondary education enrols students in the age range between 12 and 16 years old. The secondary education system in Spain covers state schools, private schools, or state-funded private institutions.

Unlike primary education, secondary education has two cycles, lasting 2-years each, specifically from 12-14 and 14-16 years of age. During secondary education, all the students get to learn the similar subjects as in primary education, but on a more difficult level.

  • Upper Secondary Education

Upper secondary education is complusory for students in Spain. After finishing the obligatory secondary education, students in Spain may either choose to undertake 2-year studies for the bachelors certificate, which makes them eligible for a university education or vocational training for the skilled-job market. The international students usually apply for a Spain university education or vocational training.

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Programs in Spain for Higher Education

Higher education in Spain is divided into different categories as given below.

Bachelor's (four years- 240 ECTS)

Bachelor's degrees in Spain last for four years, and you will be given the professional title of Grado after graduation. The initial step in your academic career is to earn your BA/bachelors degree, which will equip you to pursue a master's degree or seek work. Spain's ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) is the norm for all universities in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), which implies that if you pass a course, you will receive a set number of ECTS points in addition to your grade.

Master's (one to two years- 60-120 ECTS)

In Spain, master's programs last one to two years. The curriculum of a master's degree in Spain covers topics in theoretical knowledge and the application and development of skills. In Spain, master's degrees usually entail a lot of studies and individual labour. Therefore, what better place to hone your research and creative abilities than Spain?

Besides, after earning your Master's degree, you have the option to continue your education by enrolling in a doctorate program (third-cycle studies). However, you will need to present confirmation of both your first and second cycle studies to complete your doctoral studies.

PhD (three to five years- 60 ECTS)

Also known as doctoral-level programs or PhDs, students need to spend 3 to 5 years in this. To earn this degree, you must complete a doctoral dissertation and successfully defend it in front of a thesis committee and pass a doctoral examination. Only official courses in Spain provide entry to a PhD program. International students can take up this PhD course to gain majors in a specific subject that will help their professional careers.

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Universities and Education System in Spain

The education system in Spain is divided into different universities. Most of Spain's top universities are in big cities, such as Barcelona and Madrid. Even though university density is higher in larger Spanish cities, some of Spain's top and oldest universities are spread around the country. Let’s check the types of universities to enjoy the higher education system in Spain.

Spanish Universities and Polytechnic Universities

Bachelor's, master's, and doctorate programs are available in Spanish universities. Arts and humanities, health sciences, engineering in Spain, and architecture are linked to these study levels. Compared to polytechnic universities, focusing majorly on the practical aspect of teaching and learning and typically offer programs in engineering and architecture, universities in Spain are more conceptually oriented. Spain's university system also includes institutions that provide distance learning, online learning, and several postgraduate institutions.


In Spain, vocational training permits students to gain instruction in various practical skills for four years. Students can choose between two options: Grado Medio, which gives fundamental instruction and lasts two years, or Grado Superior, which lasts an additional two years. Students, upon reaching 18 years, can seek Grado Superior, meaning students who have completed bachillerato (bachelors in Spain) may be able to enroll in it if they wish to pursue vocational education.

Public and Private Universities in Spain

Higher education in Spain, especially in universities, is divided into public and private. Spain has 45 state universities and 31 private universities under the higher education system.

In Spain, the fundamental distinction between public and private institutions is tuition. The government of Spain regulates the cost of attending public colleges; however, private universities often establish their rates, which are higher than public universities due to the lack of government backing.

Furthermore, in Spain, public colleges tend to allow students more autonomy; yet, private universities have the advantage of more customised instruction due to fewer students. Another notable distinction is that public universities in Spain give a broader range of study subjects than private colleges, which mainly provide degree programs in the humanities, legal sciences, and economics.

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So you can choose from these higher education system in Spain to pursue your education and make a robust career. Further, let’s check the…

Spain Education System Ranking

Following are the parameters for Spain education system ranking:

  • In Spain, universities work under two grading scales, the most common of which is the 0 to 10 scale. The number ten represents the highest level of intellectual achievement.
  • A student's grade is transformed to a 0-4 scale in their transcript of records once they pass a specific topic on a 0-10 grading scale.

Having a clear understanding of the Spain education system ranking will really help students to seek admission and complete higher education in Spain.

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Now you know the various features of education in Spain for international students like the courses in Spain, universities, Spain education system ranking, and more. These facets will help you make an informed decision on whether or not to pursue your higher education in Spain.

However, if you still get confused at any step or need end-to-end expert guidance, subscribe to Yocket premium. Our counsellors will help you with the selection of country, university, course, the application process, visa formalities, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions on Education in Spain

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