PhD Handbook

PhD in Spain: A Guide on PhD in Spain for International Students

Yocket Editorial Team

Spain is perhaps the most interesting country in the world to get a PhD. It's also a great place to become a researcher, with world-class universities offering a wide variety of PhD programs in almost every field. If you, too, are planning to study PhD in Spain, there are many perks to expect in near future.

The first on the list is the quality of the education, some of the best universities in Europe, beautiful historic buildings, job opportunities, etc. In this article, we'll talk about some of the reasons why looking for PhD programs in Spain can be a career-shifting decision.

Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

Why Study Phd in Spain?

Three of Spain’s cities have made it to the QS Best Student City Ranking 2023. This clearly, signifies the enthusiasm of international students to pursue their education in Spain. However, enthusiasm alone is not sufficient to choose this country, let’s explore the other features of this country.

  1. For centuries, Spain has been a country synonymous with sunshine, sangria, and siestas. But today, Spain is also known for being one of the best countries in the world to study in. It is a cheap place to relocate/learn and has world-class universities offering a wide variety of programs. It is very feasible and affordable for Indian students who want to study in Spain. The approximate cost of living for international students in Spain is 900-1,100 EUR.
  2. Getting a Spanish PhD, especially in the fields of arts, is a very prestigious achievement. Besides, Spain has had a substantial historical impact on this field. The country offers more than 76 courses in Spain. Some popular PhD courses are literature, philosophy, cultural studies, geography, history, and linguistics.
  3. The research environment in Spain is unique for pursuing PhD in Spain for international students. It provides you with access to the top universities and the most prestigious research centres and institutes in the world. The country offers more than 76 universities. They provide you with a unique chance to work with some of the world's leading experts and scholars.
  4. The country offers a range of benefits, from access to the best universities to access to the best teaching to a cheap cost of living. Additionally, you can enjoy a unique cultural experience while you study PhD in Spain.

Best Courses in Spain for International Students

With this information, next, let’s check out the top PhD programs in Spain.

The Spanish education system is one of the best in the world and is certainly one of the most affordable. The country offers a great variety of PhD programs in a wide range of academic fields. Whether you want to study at a university, a private college, or even a language school, you'll be able to find a PhD program that suits your needs at a price you can afford.

A full-time PhD program in Spain lasts for a maximum of three years, while you can do a part-time program for a maximum of five years. The academic commission of a university organises the PhD programs.

To study PhD in Spain program, a student will follow these two cycles/stages:

  • The First Stage - It is for 60 credits and is concentrated on training the student.
  • The Second Stage - It concentrates on the student writing and researching for the thesis.

Besides, the students can register for PhD programs in Spain in two ways:

  • University Student - A standard university student like any other.
  • University Student and research trainee - This category of student has additional rights.

Further, let’s check the PhD in Spain for international students specialisation options.

Specialisations for PhD in Spain for international students

With over 76 PhD specialisations, Spain is home to some of the world's best PhD programs. PhD in Spain for international students is also renowned for its quality, with many Spanish PhD graduates securing prestigious academic positions around the world. Here is a list of some of the top PhD specialisations in Spain, which are sure to get your curiosity piqued.

  • History
  • Literature
  • Economics and Business
  • Philosophy
  • Art History
  • Environments Science and Technology
  • Health Sciences
  • Linguistics
  • Cultural Studies

Top Universities in Spain for Masters

Next, let’s explore the universities in Spain for PhD.

Top 5 Universities for PhD in Spain

Some of the most prestigious universities if you want to get a PhD in Spain for international students:

  1. Pompeu Fabra University
  2. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  3. Autonomous University of Barcelona
  4. University of Navarra
  5. University of Barcelona

1.  Pompeu Fabra University

Spain is a country that has a lot to offer to the students, not only in terms of culture but also in terms of education. One of the best universities in Spain for PhD is Pompeu Fabra University, which is located in Barcelona.

This university offers an expansive variety of interesting programs in a number of fields, ranging from philosophy to political science and from mathematics to linguistics. The university has a long history, having been originally founded in Barcelona in 1857.

QS World ranking 2023


Average Tuition fees per year

401,12 EUR

Programs Offered

PhD in Biomedicine

PhD in History

PhD in Humanities

PhD in Law

PhD in Communication

PhD in Economics, Finance and Management

PhD in Political and Social Sciences

PhD in Information and Communication Technologies

PhD in Translation and Language Sciences

2.  Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

The main advantage of studying at the Autonomous University of Madrid is that you'll be living in of the most exciting cities in Europe. Madrid is a sprawling metropolis with great food, culture, and nightlife. Some of the very best universities in Spain for PhD can be seen, which means you'll have access to the brightest and sharpest minds in the world. It's a great place to get your education and make lifelong friends.

QS World ranking 2023


Average Tuition fees per year

234 - 390 EUR

Programs Offered

PhD in Arts and Humanities

PhD in Engineering

PhD in Health Sciences

PhD in Social and Legal Sciences

PhD in Sciences

3.  Autonomous University of Barcelona

The Autonomous University of Barcelona, better known as UAB, is a public university located in the Spanish city of Barcelona. One of the largest universities in Spain, UAB offers over 350 undergraduate and graduate programs and serves over 45,000 students. UAB is also one of the most academically diverse universities in the world, with students and faculty representing over 130 countries. UAB was founded in 1450, making it one of the oldest universities globally.

QS World ranking 2022


Average Tuition fees per year

401 EUR

Programs Offered

PhD in Arts and Humanities

PhD in Health Sciences

PhD in Sciences

PhD in Social Sciences and Law

PhD in Technological Sciences

4.  University of Navarra         

The University of Navarra is one of Spain's most prestigious and historic universities, and it was founded in 1254 and has been a central part of the academic landscape ever since.

The university's location in Pamplona, Spain's ancient capital city, means that it is ideally situated to study the country's history, culture, and language. It also offers a wealth of student life opportunities, including a student association, sports teams, and a language centre.

QS World ranking 2022


Average Tuition fees per year

800-1000 EUR

Programs Offered

PhD in Engineering

PhD in Marketing

PhD in Psychology

PhD in Medicine

PhD in Education

5.  University of Barcelona      

The University of Barcelona is among the most prestigious institutions in Spain and the best place to pursue a PhD in the country. With a world-class faculty and state-of-the-art facilities, the university offers a first-class education in a beautiful, Mediterranean setting.

The city of Barcelona is one of the most vibrant and lively cities in Europe, and the University of Barcelona is located right in the centre of the city and close to beaches, world-class museums, and exciting nightlife. The university also has campuses in Madrid, Valencia, and Zaragoza, so you can choose the location that is best for you.

QS World ranking 2023


Average Tuition fees per year

380 EUR

Programs Offered

PhD in Biotechnology

PhD in Physics

PhD in Genetics

PhD Medieval Cultures

PhD in Citizenship and Human Rights

Top 5 Cheap Universities in Spain

Application Process for PhD in Spain for International Students

To study PhD in Spain the application process can seem daunting and complicated at first, but there really is nothing to worry about. The process is quite simple and straightforward. All you need to do is get your CV and other relevant documents together, and then you’re ready to start the application process. The first thing you’ll need to do is to find a PhD program that matches your requirements and preferences. Then curate the following documents:

  • Academic documents, such as certificates (for which you have your due credits), transcripts, and a CV/resume.
  • Academic references like letters of recommendation are encouraged from one or two academics or relevant persons who have worked with you.
  • A study visa is one of the most important documents without which you will not be granted admission.
  • Every student that wants to study in Spain must have residence registration and be registered under Registro Central de Extranjeros within three months of their stay.
  • Research proposal may be needed when applying to your college.
  • Language certificate showcase the knowledge of the Spanish language as a 'professional skill.'

Cost of Studying in Spain

Now you know the document requirements to study PhD in Spain for international students. Next, let’s check the eligibility.

Eligibility to Study PhD in Spain

Following is the eligibility criteria to study PhD in Spain.

  • You must hold a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree
  • Your degree must be equivalent to 300 ECTS
  • All registered qualifications must be recognized by the National Recognition Information Centre (NRIC) or the Spanish Embassy
  • You must fulfil the basic Spanish Language requirements

Next, let’s check the duration of PhD programs in Spain.

Duration of PhD Programs in Spain

When studying for a PhD in Spain, each year is divided into two cycles: the first is a training phase, and the second is a research phase. Applications begin as early as January and can go on to July. Full-time courses go on for about three years, while part-time courses may go up to five years.

Structure of PhD in Spain

Doctoral programs can vary between universities and courses. Usually, pursuing a doctorate in Spain consists mainly of original research work, with some courses taught during the first year. You may also be expected or even invited to tutoring and teaching sessions during your PhD, which are limited to 40 hours per week. At the end of the course, you should have written a doctoral thesis that matches the requirements of the faculty.

Cost to Study PhD in Spain

Here is the cost of PhD in Spain. Let’s go through it and plan a budget accordingly:


Cost in EUR

Equivalent Costs in INR

Average tuition fees

200-300/Academic year

25096/Academic year




Food cost



Transportation cost



Basic Utility cost



What is the Cost of Living in Spain?

Next, let’s explore the scholarships to reduce the financial burden while pursuing PhD in Spain.

Scholarships for Phd in Spain for International Students

Spain is a country with an extensive history and culture. It is also a country with a lot of opportunities for education. You can get a PhD in Spain with scholarship options. Through scholarships in Spain, students can obtain an education at a reduced cost. This allows students to afford an education in a foreign country while still maintaining the budget.



Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation

Offers assistance and grants for those pursuing a PhD in the fields of Arts, Education, Culture and Development Cooperation

Fundación Carolina

Here, grants are offered to those studying in Latin American or Spanish Universities.

Ministry of Education and Professional Training

The Spanish Ministry offers grants and scholarships to deserving students


A grant offered by Santandar bank for those studying in Spanish-speaking universities

Top Public Universities in Spain

Career Scope after PhD in Spain

If you want to find a career in Spain, a PhD could help you do just that. Studying for a PhD can help you learn a lot and open up a range of new career opportunities. You could become a teacher-researcher or chase your own research interests. Or you could use your PhD to help others, perhaps through a job in the education sector or as a career adviser.



College professor


PhD Chemistry


Scientific Researcher



Minimum of 18000

Part-time Jobs in Spain for International Students

All this information can be intimidating for a student who is planning to study abroad for the first time. Therefore, if you need end-to-end guidance from our expert counsellors, choose Yocket Premium. This step will surely make your study abroad dream a success!


Frequently Asked Questions on PhD Programs In Spain

Are PhD students paid in Spain?

Is a PhD in Spain free?

Can PhD students work in Spain?

How should I prepare a cover letter after PhD in Spain?

What are the options to finance my education in Spain?

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