Guide to Enter a University in Spain

If you are looking for a way to enter a public or private university in Spain, it is important that you know many aspects before taking that first step. There are different ways to continue your studies in Spain.

Official recognition of previous studies

The first step to be able to study in a Spanish university is to homologate your high school studies to the Spanish system. It is a relatively simple process that you will have to go through with the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. If you are a foreign student who already has a degree obtained in your home country, and you are looking to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in Spain, the process is even simpler.

In this case, a degree homologation is not required, you only have to process the “Verification of the equivalent level of education”, which is a procedure that accredits the possession of the degree before the respective university. This must be done directly at the university you wish to enter.

Once the studies have been homologated or the Verification of Equivalent Level of Education has been completed, you must apply for a place through the official pre-enrolment  systems. These deadlines are different depending on the university and the degree you are applying to.

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If you are a foreigner and you want to access a Bachelor at a public university in Spain, you should also know that you must take the PCEs (Pruebas de Competencia Específica), which are carried out by the UNED. On the other hand, you should know what and where you are going to study, as each university has a cut-off mark that you should be informed about. For these tests you will have to choose a maximum of six subjects, depending on what is required by the university you wish to enter and the grade you need to achieve.

What exactly is the PCE?

The Prueba de Competencia Específica (Test of Specific Competence) are examinations of different subjects that aim to assess the competencies of each applicant. This is a requirement in many Spanish universities. The student can choose the number of subjects he/she wishes to take, choosing a maximum of six of them.

The Specific Competency Tests are held twice a year, both in Spain and abroad. The first one is usually held at the end of May and the second one at the end of September (extraordinary call). It is important for students to consult the UNED Regulations for the accreditation of students from international education systems, where you can clear up any doubts you may have about how to calculate the admission qualification to a particular university.


Baccalaureate Evaluation for University Admission (EBAU)

The EBAU -also called PAU (Prueba de acceso a la Universidad)- is the selectivity test that is compulsory for all public universities in Spain. Passing it is a requirement if you are a Spanish student. Since 2014, foreign students seeking to study a degree course at a public university in Spain are exempt from taking the University Entrance Exam (PAU), which Spanish students must take. This is because the Spanish government seeks to facilitate the admission of international students to the country’s public universities.

On the other hand, private universities do have the right to administer and carry out their own admission tests, which are elaborated depending on the subject of their degree. In addition, they also take into account the grades that the student brings, and average them with the grade of the test.

After passing the exams you are ready to start your dreams of studying in Spain. Remember that tuition fees at public universities are cheaper and are determined by each of the Autonomous Communities. On the other hand, private universities will have their own prices that you should check on their websites.

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Application Guide and Examination Guide

Written by

Ryan Rosser

Master’s program, 2021

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