Universidad Complutense de Madrid


Study abroad in Madrid at the Universidad Complutense! Life at Universidad Complutense is exciting, urban, and international. As the largest university in Spain, it holds influence throughout Europe that drives scientific research and entrepreneurship. This program offers you the opportunity to study Spanish culture and language (at all levels) at one of Spain’s oldest, largest, and most famous universities. 

Quick Facts

Partner Program Type – Academic Programs International (API)

This program is facilitated by UCSC in collaboration with API. Therefore, program information indicated on the API website may differ from the program details indicated here.

API is an organization that UCSC has partnered with to provide students with this opportunity. API stands for Academic Programs International which is an organization that was founded in 1997 to connect U.S. college students to the world. API has staff in the United States and abroad to support students through every step of their journey.

Minimum GPA – 2.85

Prerequisites – Previous Spanish language study is not required; each student’s Spanish level is determined by a placement exam administered upon arrival by Universidad Complutense.

Eligibility – Good academic and disciplinary standing, Min Age: 18, Open to All Majors, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior Standing by the time of departure

Term Options

Fall Quarter: early October – mid-December 

Winter Quarter: early January – late March 

Spring Quarter:  late March – mid-June  

Partner Program deadlines dates



City & University

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is the country’s center for industry, finance, and culture. It’s known for its elaborate parks, such as the enchanting Retiro Park, and incredible museums and monuments, including the Prado Museum, Royal Palace, and the Reina Sofía Museum. The city is widely viewed as Spain’s most progressive and social city. It is also a true “foodie paradise,” with endless opportunities for exceptional dining and access to cuisine from around the world.

Students in Madrid may choose from three different housing options: a host family, in a residencia, or in an apartment.

Host Families

Students who choose to live with families are typically placed in double rooms with a fellow API student and are provided with two meals per day and laundry service. Families provide an amazing opportunity to experience Spanish culture firsthand. Host families serve as a unique introduction to Spanish culture and may be made up of a married couple with children, a divorced or widowed woman with children still at home, or a family with some members living at home and others living outside the home. 


Residencias are smaller than American dorms and house between 15-90 students. The rooms are double occupancy, and there are common bathrooms with showers. Three meals per day, laundry service, and cleaning are provided.


Students may also choose to live in apartments located throughout Madrid. Students generally share their apartment complex with other Spanish families, as opposed to other students. Apartments may be co-ed, and the number of students sharing the apartment varies based on the apartment size. Students may have single or double rooms depending on the number of bedrooms. Meals are not included in this option.

NOTE: Single rooms are available in all three housing options for an additional fee.

Included Excursions 

Included excursions for this program are: 

  • Alcalá de Henares 
  • Granada 
  • León 
  • Valencia 
  • Salamanca 
  • Seville 
  • Toledo 

Note: excursions vary by term.

If you would like more detailed information about the excursions, please reach out to globallearning@ucsc.edu or studentoutreach@apiabroad.com

Student Support

API teams will support your study abroad journey from application through re-entry. API staff will help guide you through the final phases of the application process after you have been nominated by UCSC, then upon arrival in-country, you will meet the API onsite team who will provide assistance during your time in-country. API staff is readily available and able to assist you with any academic, social, cultural, health, and safety questions or issues that you may face during your time abroad.

Country Information Resources

Students with Disabilities

If you need support services abroad, notify your UCSC Disability Resource Center (DRC) Coordinator

Please contact API directly if you have any concerns about disability accommodations abroad at studentoutreach@apiabroad.com.

Identities Abroad and Away

UC Santa Cruz Global Learning is committed to inclusion and equity in our various program options as well as striving to make everyone’s experiences abroad enriching, positive, and safe.

Learn more on our Identities Abroad and Away webpage.


Host University Courses

As a Universidad Complutense de Madrid exchange student, enroll full-time in courses alongside other local and international students.

  • Language of Instruction: English and Spanish
  • Each student’s Spanish level is determined by a placement exam administered upon arrival by Universidad Complutense. Based on the placement exam, students will complete one of 3 tracks in this program (tracks are differentiated based on the student’s language level and academic goals):
    • Track one: Intensive Language (120 contact hours; 12 quarter credits) – This track is open to students at all levels who are interested in improving their Spanish language skills. Students will take 120 contact hours of Spanish language, and may add on additional hours (up to 180 contact hours total) for an additional fee.
  • Track two: Spanish Language and Culture (180 contact hours; 18 quarter credits) – This track is open to intermediate and advanced-level students (levels B1- B2) who are interested in improving their Spanish language skills while taking additional hours of culture and content courses. Students will take 140 hours of Spanish language, as well as an additional 40 hours of cultural electives (for 180 contact hours per term).
  • Track three: Hispanic Studies(180 contact hours; 18 quarter credits) – This track is open to advanced and superior-level students (level B2 and higher) who are interested in taking more in-depth Spanish cultural courses. Students will take 3 culture courses and two Spanish language courses (for a total of 180 contact hours per term).

Course Search

Satisfying Requirements
It may be possible to satisfy major, minor, GE, and/or electives on this program.

Learn more about:

Course Load Requirements

You are required to enroll in a full-time course load while abroad as defined by your host institution:

  • The equivalent of 12-18 quarter credits is a typical course load

As a UCSC student, you must also continue to meet UCSC Satisfactory Academic Progress, which requires students to enroll in a minimum of 12 UCSC quarter credits per quarter. At Madrid, you are required to ensure you meet this requirement by enrolling in the equivalent of at least 12 UCSC quarter credits in fall quarter, 12 UCSC quarter credits for winter quarter, and at least 12 UCSC quarter credits in spring quarter after conversion (see below).

If you are not enrolled in the minimum number of quarter credits required, then you will fall out of Satisfactory Academic Progress. This could lead to financial aid and academic repercussions

If you are unable to enroll in the minimum number of quarter credits through courses at your host university, you may be able to fill in the gap by enrolling in one remote course through UCSC or UC online.

Credit Conversion

Madrid uses ECTS credits. These will be converted to UCSC quarter credits when added to your UC transcript.

  • 40 Contact Hours = 5 ECTS credits = 4 quarter credits at UCSC
  • 10 ECTS credits = 8 quarter credits at UCSC
  • 15 ECTS credits = 12 quarter credits at UCSC
  • 20 ECTS credits = 15 quarter credits at UCSC

Academic Restrictions

Some courses abroad may have enrollment limitations and/or restrictions, such as prerequisites. Review course information provided by API, and work with assigned API program manager, to understand any course limitations and/or restrictions prior to official course enrollment abroad.If you are unsure about your eligibility to enroll, please contact UCSC Global Learning at globallearning@ucsc.edu before applying to this program.

Academic Differences

Please note that the academic system, such as assignments, exams, course structure, grading system, etc., at your host institution may be different from what you are used to at UCSC. We highly recommend researching the academic system at your host university in advance to best prepare for your experience abroad.

Academic Calendar

We recommend comparing the host university academic calendar to the UCSC academic calendar to see how the academic calendars, holidays, and breaks differ.

Last modified: Feb 27, 2024