Universitat Pompeu Fabra


Located in the heart of the city, the Universidad Pompeu Fabra (UPF) sits next to the beautiful Ciutadella Park and is only blocks from the Barceloneta beach. The UPF offers a variety of courses including Cultural/Area Studies with international students in both English and Spanish, and Business courses during the Spring and Fall semesters. Most courses are held at UPF’s primary campus, but several of the business courses will be held at the ESCI business campus which is only a 10-minute walk away. 

This program is great for a wide variety of students. It offers 90 contact hour Spanish Language courses at all levels as well as Area/Culture Studies, International Relations, Business, and Economics courses offered in both English and Spanish. Some of the Business courses are available to be taken in English with local students. All other courses will be taken with international students.

Quick Facts

Partner Program Type – International Studies Abroad (ISA)

ISA by WorldStrides is an organization that UCSC has partnered with to provide students with this opportunity. ISA stands for International Studies Abroad which is an organization that was founded in 1987 to connect US college students to the world. ISA has staff in the United States and abroad in each location to support students with every step of their journey.

Minimum GPA – 3.0

Prerequisites – Students who wish to take courses in Spanish will take a language placement test at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra

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

Term Options

Fall Semester:  mid-September  – mid-December

Spring Semester:  early January – late March

  • students must miss both winter and spring quarters at UCSC to participate in this session

Academic Year:  mid-September  – late March

Partner Program deadlines



City & University

Barcelona is known for its eccentric creativity, cultural diversity, and endless amounts of energy. The architecture in Barcelona is stunning and unique, ranging from medieval castles to the modernist buildings of Antoni Gaudí. It is the heart and capital of the region of Catalonia and is, for all intents and purposes, now a bilingual city as many inhabitants of the region speak both Spanish and Catalán, the official language of Catalonia. The unique blend of history, art, culture, and language make Barcelona a fascinating place where you will never run out of things to see or do.

Students have three choices for housing. No matter which option you choose it will be coordinated by ISA. Regardless of your housing option, you will have a short commute to your university. Travel times to the various university buildings generally range between 15 and 35 minutes depending on housing and class locations.


Apartments are a great housing option if you are seeking complete independence during your time abroad. Apartments are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, and availability is limited. Rent and utilities are included in the program price, and each apartment is fully furnished. Apartments, spread throughout the city, typically house four-six ISA students, and are made up of single and double occupancy rooms. Meals and laundry service are not included. In this ISA housing option, you will pay a $500 security deposit. ISA may retain some, or all, of this deposit in the event of damage to property, or if utility usage exceeds the allotted monthly amount.


Host families are a great choice if you are seeking full linguistic and cultural immersion during your time abroad. Each host family has been carefully selected by ISA’s resident staff in order to best accommodate your needs and to ensure a comfortable living situation. Homestays will provide two meals a day and laundry service once a week. You will typically share a room with another ISA student of the same gender. Single rooms may be available for an additional fee.


The student residence is a great choice if you would like to be independent while living with other international and local students. With availability limited on a first-come, first-served basis, you will room with another ISA student of the same gender. Single rooms may also be available for an additional fee. Meals are not included and laundry can be done on-site with coin-operated machines. In this ISA housing option, you will pay a $500 security deposit. ISA may retain some, or all, of this deposit in the event of damage to property, or if utility usage exceeds the allotted monthly amount.


Included excursions for this program are: 

  • Seville
  • Valencia
  • Stiges

Cultural Activities in Barcelona are also included in your program.  They could include a city tour, a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter and/or a tour of la Sagrada Familia. 

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

Student Support

The ISA team works with you start to finish through the study abroad process. ISA staff will help guide you through the final phases of the application process after you have been nominated by UCSC, then upon arrival in Spain, you will meet the ISA team who will provide assistance during your time in-country. Throughout your semester you will meet with the Barcelona team for informal discussions and excursions. ISA staff is readily available and able to assist you with any academic, social, or cultural 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

Students can work with their ISA program manager or directly contact accessibilityteam@worldstrides.org once they have narrowed down where they’d like to go.

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 UPF exchange student, enroll full-time in courses alongside other local and international students.

  • Language of Instruction: English and Spanish
  • Students will enroll in four or five courses (if you take a Spanish course, you will only be allowed to enroll in 3 other elective courses) 
  • Only students who pass the Spanish placement test upon arrival in Barcelona will be able to take courses taught in Spanish.
  • There are three departments you can take courses from. It is recommended that you take most of your courses in 1 or 2 departments, but not all three to minimize scheduling conflicts.
    • BaPIS Barcelona Program for Interdisciplinary Studies: This program offers courses in the subject areas of STEM, humanities, social sciences, and Spanish language. This program encourages experiential learning through cultural activities, workshops, faculty-guided trips, etc.
    • IBP International Business Program: The IBP program is a business program that offers 6 ECTS-credit business courses to ISA and other visiting international students. You may take any number of IBP courses, however the UPF recommends that you only take either Economics or Finance, and not both, as the content is somewhat similar. In addition to this, you have the option of obtaining an International Business Certificate through the UPF International Business Program. Students wishing to obtain this certificate must enroll in the required core course, “International Management,” and at least one (1) other IBP course.
    • IBEI International Relations Program: The IBEI program offers subjects in the areas of International Relations, Political Science, Legal Studies, Humanities, Economics, and Journalism.

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:

  • Students will enroll in four or five courses (if you take a Spanish course, you will only be allowed to enroll in 3 other elective courses) and earn the equivalent of 18-24 quarter credits.

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 Fabra, you are required to ensure you meet this requirement by enrolling in the equivalent of at least 12 UCSC quarter credits in fall semester and at least 24 UCSC quarter credits in spring semester 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

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

  • 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

Note that some courses may require prerequisites. In rare cases, some courses abroad may have enrollment limitations and/or restrictions, and there may also be courses that are not available for study abroad students. Your ISA program advisor will be able to help you determine whether any such restrictions apply.

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