Spanish University System

After adapting to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the new structure of university studies in Spain consists of three cycles: Bachelor, Master and Doctorate.

The ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) is the standard adopted by all universities in the European Higher Education Area and guarantees the convergence of the different European systems of higher education.

ECTS credits are based on the student's personal work: class hours, study, development and practical work.

One ECTS credit corresponds to 25 hours of student work. One academic year equals 60 ECTS credits, provided the student is full-time.

The undergraduate degree replaces the old diploma and licentiate degree programs. Undergraduate degrees consist of 240 ECTS credits and are taught over four academic years (including the Final Year Project).

Undergraduate degrees are structured as follows:

  • Basic subjects (minimum of 60 ECTS credits).

  • Required subjects.

  • Elective subjects.

  • Internships (maximum of 60 ECTS credits).

  • Final Year Project (minimum of 6 and maximum of 30 ECTS credits).

  • Recognition for cultural activities (maximum of 6 ECTS credits). Students must register for a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 90 ECTS credits in each academic year.

Master's degrees comprise between 60 and 120 ECTS credits, spread over one or two academic years.

Official master's study programs aim to prepare students for academic, professional and research work, and lead to the award of a master's degree, which is valid in all countries that are members of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

Students will be admitted to master's programs in accordance with the specific assessment criteria that apply to their chosen master's degree.

Universities have a Commission for the Coordination of University Degrees that establishes the procedures and criteria for admission to master's programs at any time.

More information on the postgraduate study programs available at Spanish universities can be found on the Ministry of Education website:

The purpose of doctoral programs in Spain is to train students in advanced research techniques. These programs are divided into two cycles: the first part consists of 60 credits and can form part of the master's degree cycle; the second is the actual research, which concludes with the student's public defense of his or her original research project (doctoral dissertation). In terms of the duration of doctoral programs, the maximum period of study is three years on a full-time basis or five years part-time.

International doctoral degree
To obtain a European doctoral degree, the doctoral student must have spent at least three months outside Spain undertaking studies or conducting research; part of the dissertation must be written and presented in one of the languages of the European academic community, except any of Spain's official languages; the student must have been advised regarding the dissertation by at least two expert doctors from a non-Spanish European university or research institute; and at least one non-Spanish expert must have formed part of the dissertation-judging panel.

Doctoral Schools
Universities can establish Doctoral Schools in order to direct the doctoral-level educational activity carried out by each university in the most effective way, in addition to promoting mechanisms for collaboration with public and private bodies, research institutions, and national and international businesses. The schools, in turn, will organize doctoral programs around one or more branches of knowledge or across multiple disciplines, and build up a critical mass of researchers with diverse backgrounds in order to improve the skills and abilities of doctoral students.

International Relations Office

Universidad de Navarra
Campus Universitario
31009 Pamplona

+34 948 42 56 00 Ext. 80 2181
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