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CIEE Barcelona Liberal Arts Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Academic Year


Barcelona, Spain




3.0 GPA, junior standing, 4 semesters college level Spanish (or equivalent), junior standing or above.

Application Due:

3/1 for Fall and Academic Year
9/24 for Spring

Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

Designed for students with 4-5 semesters of college level Spanish (or the equivalent), the Liberal Arts program at Universitat Pompeu Fabra aims to help students develop skills and competency in the Spanish language while studying Spanish history, politics, and culture. Excursions and homestays or a student residence option in the vibrant city of Barcelona contribute to students' cultural immersion and development of language skills. This program is administered by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), on behalf of an academic consortium of which the University of Iowa is a member. UI participants on the program join a group of students from other U.S. colleges and universities.

The list of current courses can be found here: CIEE Barcelona Liberal Arts Course Offerings

University of Iowa resident credit is granted for this program.

Academic Program

Students complete an intensive Spanish language course that meets for the first few weeks of the semester and then choose among advanced language electives for the remainder of the semester. In addition, students choose courses from a range of courses for foreigners from the local University, regular courses with Spanish students, and an internship. All courses are taught in Spanish. Students are expected to take at least one course direct enrollment at UPF.

In addition to Spanish language classes, all students take a CIEE culture course and, depending on language level, choose courses in English or Spanish from UPF’s Hispanic and European Studies Program (HESP) and/or from UPF’s regular University course offerings in history, humanities, international relations, law, and political science. Students with are expected to take all classes in Spanish from among the offerings of CIEE, HESP, and UPF. Liberal Arts students also have the possibility of securing an internship while in Barcelona.

UI students earn resident credit which may be applied toward the following General Education Areas: Foreign Language, Historical Perspectives, International & Global Issues, Literary, Visual & Performing Arts and/or Values, Society & Diversity. Credit earned on this program may satisfy requirements for the International Business Certificate; some courses may satisfy requirements for the Spanish major or minor.

Sessions run approximately

Fall: Early September to mid-December

Spring: Mid-January to mid-May

Exact program dates can be found here: CIEE Barcelona Liberal Arts Program Dates

Cultural Activities and Excursions


Get out and explore. Day trips may include the Dalí Museum in Figueres, the Jewish quarter in Girona, the Roman amphitheater in Tarragona, or the mountains of Montserrat. Participants will also go on an overnight trip to another location in Spain, such as Seville, Córdoba, Granada, or Madrid, where they will explore differences in culture, gastronomy, and tradition.

Cultural Activities:

The academic program is supplemented with required field trips and excursions, which include visits in Barcelona (art and history museums, cathedral, city hall, port, walking tours of the historic district, and more) and day excursions to locations such as the La Garrotxa National Park, Dalí museum in Figueres, Greek and Roman ruins in Empúries, Salvador Dalí’s home in Cadaqués, historic Jewish quarter in Girona, Roman amphitheater in Tarragona, and Penedés wine region. Longer trips may include visits to Madrid, Andalucía, the Pyrenees, Valencia, and Spain’s northern coast. Field trips and excursions supplement class work and introduce students to the rich diversity of the geographic, linguistic, and cultural areas of Spain.

Other cultural activities include those designed to bring American and Spanish students together, such as conversation exchanges with UB Spanish students. CIEE also organizes non-credit Spanish cooking classes in which students be invited to participate. Volunteer opportunities can be arranged by CIEE staff through Universitat de Barcelona’s volunteer program, Solidaritat UB.

Guardian Angels

Guardian Angels are local university students who help study abroad students to settle into their life in Spain through small group activities including flamenco night, cooking class and tours of the city, and participate in field trips and other events. Guardian Angels are there to help you make friends at the University of Barcelona, introduce students to the city’s culture, and generally help students adapt to life in Barcelona. The Guardian Angels program is a unique feature of the CIEE Study Center in Barcelona.

Language Activities

A program of language activities has been developed to enhance your language learning and cultural immersion. These activities may include language exchange events, where students will meet Spanish students to speak both English and Spanish, and exchange contact information to continue meeting during the semester; lectures; films; discussion groups; and neighborhood tours. Students participate actively, speaking Spanish at all times. Past activities have included a lecture on art of the Spanish Civil War, a tour of Barcelona’s Jewish neighborhood, and a Spanish movie viewing, followed by a student-led debate.


An internship allows study abroad students to have a practical experience in an organization within a variety of industry sectors. Placements are carefully selected and Liberal Arts students develop projects in NGOs, schools, magazines and publishing companies, marketing and business companies, among others. In addition to the on-site work experience, students have a weekly classroom component that provides academic support to their practical experience.

For More Information

Aubree Compton, Senior Advisor
The University of Iowa
Office for Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242-1802

Phone: 319-335-0353


Situated on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, Spain is a strikingly beautiful and diverse country. The country has the second largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the largest number of World Heritage cities. Spain’s distinct regions means there is has something for everyone, from lush forests to towering mountains, stunning beaches to vibrant cities, Mediterranean islands and African enclaves. Widely known for excellent food and art, friendly locals, relaxed lifestyle, Flamenco culture, bullfights, fantastic beaches, and lots of sunshine, Spain has been one of the cultural centers of Europe for thousands of years and remains one of the most popular destinations in the world for study and travel.


Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain with its own distinctive history, culture, and language. The Catalonian traditions of initiative, hard work, and creativity, combined with the continuous influx of different cultures from other parts of Europe, Spain, and more recently Africa, Asia, and Latin America, have endowed the city with a unique vitality and rich cultural and artistic heritage.

The metropolitan area of Barcelona has a population of 2.8 million and is set between the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, close to the Pyrenees and Spain’s border with France. Walking through the city, one can observe 2,000 years of architectural history, ranging from the Roman and medieval center’s impressive network of narrow streets and 19th century Eixample district with its original examples of Modernista architecture, to the ultra-modern showpieces that continue to redesign the skyline of the city.


Castilian Spanish and Catalan are both official languages in Barcelona and the rest of the region of Catalonia. Catalan is regularly used in all aspects of life, but not imposed on non-Catalan speakers. Taxi drivers, shopkeepers, service representatives, professors, and homestay families all speak clear Spanish whenever a Spanish speaker is present. Spanish is widely used at the university, and you are advised on which classes are taught in Spanish. While it is not necessary to speak Catalan to survive in Barcelona, you will find that learning a few words can be an enjoyable experience and open doors to making friends.

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

The Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) is publicly funded and was created by decree of the Catalonian Parliament in 1990. It offers degrees in law, economics, business, social sciences, communications, humanities, biology, and technology, as well as other academic disciplines. Some of the unique features of the university are its trimester-based course and degree structure, highly dedicated teaching staff, small class size and personalized attention to students, focus on technology and quality information services, and an international outlook. Courses are taught in Spanish, Catalan, and English. UPF is located in beautifully renovated historic buildings throughout Barcelona, close to the Ciutadella Park, the Ramblas, the Olympic village, and the port. While most buildings are within walking distance, the rest are all easily accessible via the city’s public transportation system.

Living Accommodations and Meals

Study abroad students can choose to live in either Spanish homestays (there is an option to live in a homestay along with another CIEE student in individual rooms), in a student residencia (residence hall) with other Spanish and international students in individual rooms sharing kitchen, or in a shared apartment typically in double or single rooms.

Students living in a homestay will have breakfast and dinner provided at home, while lunch is at the students’ expense. Kitchen space is allowed to students should they wish to make lunch to bring to campus. Students in homestays will have their laundry done for them once a week. Meals and laundry are not included in the student residencia or shared apartment option, but students share fully equipped kitchens where they can prepare their own meals, and laundry facilities are available. All homestays, residencias and shared apartments are located in the city of Barcelona and within 30 minutes, by public transportation, of the CIEE Study Center.

As slots in residencies and shared apartments may be limited, students who are not assigned the housing option of their choice are notified by the resident staff prior to arriving in Barcelona.


This program is open to all UI students who are in both good academic and also disciplinary standing. Applicants must also meet the minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. and have completed 4 semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent (4 years of high school Spanish), and junior standing or above. Participants must remain in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university until departure. If the applicant is not in good standing at the end of the semester, student acceptance will be revoked and the student will be responsible for the associated withdrawal fees.

Program Cost Sheet

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No cost sheets are currently available for this program. Please check with Aubree Compton for more information.

This document outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill, as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact Aubree Compton with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Upfront, out of pocket expenses

Some costs are incurred prior to departure and will be due before financial aid/scholarships disperse. Here are the expected upfront costs for CIEE:

  • Iowa Application Fee $50 (CIEE application fee is waived for UI students)
  • Spanish Visa approximately $160
  • Airline Ticket $1,000-$1,400

Financial Aid and Scholarships


Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.


Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities, and Non-UI External Awards.


Federal Pell Grant recipients are eligible to apply for the Gilman Scholarship

Withdrawal Policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to the student's CIEE Program Advisor and Aubree Compton at the University of Iowa. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which student withdrawal costs will be calculated. If for any reason the participant withdraws after the early admission period, after confirming, or before or during the course of the program, the amount/percentage shown in the following chart represents what the student will be required to pay.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
After Application Administrative fee: $0
Course Fee: $300
After Cancellation Deposit Deadline (varies by program) Administrative fee: $400
Course fee: As determined by the program contract with CIEE
After Program Start Date Administrative fee: 100%
Course fee: As determined by the program contract with CIEE

Consult with Study Abroad Advisor Aubree Compton for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when withdrawing from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. . Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with the airline for further details.

How to Apply

Steps to Completing Student Application for Study Abroad Participation

• Before filling out any applications, please schedule an appointment to meet with Aubree Compton, Study Abroad Advisor for Barcelona, Spain by calling 319-335-0353. The student's application WILL NOT be approved until this step has been completed.

• Fill out the CIEE Online Application for Barcelona Liberal Arts program.

• Instead of submitting an official UI transcript, UI students may upload a copy of their grade report to their CIEE application.

• Fill out the Iowa Online Application for Study Abroad, applicants will be charged a $50 non-refundable application fee.

• As part of the Iowa Online Application for Study Abroad applicants will need to upload a copy of their passport picture page and a list of courses to take while abroad, as well as a one page statement of purpose.

Post Acceptance

Acceptance into the applicant's chosen study abroad program is made by CIEE directly via an email to the applicant, which will refer to additional documents posted to a CIEE Portal account that will be created for the participant.


US passport holders should follow the batch process instructions provided by CIEE, otherwise participants must apply for their student visa independently. The consulate for all UI students is the Chicago consulate (it's based the location of one's home university, not state of origin). Students applying for their visa independently should utilize this visa guide: Student Visa Instructions for Spain

Flight to Spain

Students may either book the group flight through CIEE (see Portal for more details) or can book a flight independently. Participants are responsible for being at the orientation site on time, as CIEE may fine individuals who are late.


In order to prepare for study abroad, all participants are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to required orientations provided by CIEE prior to departure and on-site. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

All study abroad participants are required to complete the International Programs online “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” course distributed through ICON prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals and much more. All participants will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to the student once enrolled. Any question regarding this component can be directed to:

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by Aubree Compton and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Aubree will provide the date and time for this mandatory in-person session during the application process.

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