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USAC Madrid Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Summer, Academic Year


Madrid, Spain




2.5 GPA and in good academic standing

Application Due:

9/24 for Spring, 2/28 for Fall/Academic Year, 3/4 for Summer

Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

This summer, semester or academic year program offers intensive language study - up to two years of university language requirements may be met in one semester. Additional courses are taught in English or Spanish. The programs are administered by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), of which the University of Iowa is a member, and enroll approximately 100 students from many U.S. colleges and universities. UI students earn resident credit for this program.

Academic Program

The USAC programs offer courses at every level of Spanish language study. Intensive Spanish language programs for students at the beginning or intermediate level are designed for rapid improvement in Spanish language skills. Students at the advanced level select from a variety of language and literature courses. All courses are taught exclusively for program participants in Spanish by Spanish faculty, with the exception of one or two courses offered each semester (usually in English), by a visiting U.S. faculty member from one of the USAC consortium institutions.

In the summer, this program offers intensive 3, 5 or 8-week sessions which offer Spanish language and conversation courses. Language classes are available to students of all levels of Spanish fluency. As the classes are intensive, one semester of coursework is completed in one month of classes. Students earn UI resident credit for this program. Some courses satisfy requirements for the Spanish major and minor, while others can be used to fulfill General Education Requirements. Students take between 3 and 6 semester hours in session I and between 3 and 5 semester hours in session II.

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 or Business majors/minors; several courses may satisfy requirements for the Spanish major or minor. To see an updated list of course offerings for this program, go here.

Program Dates

Spring 2015 session: 1/11-5/15

Summer 2015 session(s): Session I: 5/24-6-29, Session II:7/1-7/30

Fall 2015 session: 9/1-12/17

For More Information

More information about this program is available on the USAC Madrid webpage. Program catalogs are also available at the Study Abroad office on campus. If you are interested in learning more about how this program fits in your academic plan, please make an appointment with Study Abroad Advisor Aubree Compton.


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.


Madrid is a city of great cultural and political importance. It is one of the liveliest capital cities in Europe and boasts some of the finest art museums in the world. Its location in central Spain makes it a good starting point for any trip to other Spanish cities such as Cordova, Seville, Barcelona, or Valencia or to neighboring countries like France or Portugal. There are many buses and trains that connect Madrid with these destinations and beyond. Morocco is also within easy reach, located just across the Strait of Gibraltar. The capital is a melting pot for all regions of Spain, and, more recently, for other cultures, yet it has maintained its own well-defined character. The city offers a wide variety of entertainment for people of all ages and cultural interests, as well as a wide variety of sports. Madrid has a modern infrastructure, but has successfully preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets. The result is in a cohesive blend of old and new: cobblestone streets and monumental architecture, parks, and plazas, alongside modern architecture and public art. Hence, the city is home to both ancient buildings and modern skyscrapers designed by world-renowned architects. In the same fashion, you may eat in a new gourmet restaurant or a century-old café. The local public transportation system, mainly composed of buses and a subway, makes any part of the large city easily accessible. You are encouraged to embrace and become a part of Madrid’s culture and meet local people. Without a doubt, spending the summer, semester, or year in Madrid will be the experience of a lifetime.

Universidad Rey Juan Carlos

The Rey Juan Carlos University is a young, public university with about 30,000 students distributed among four campuses. USAC classes are held at the campus located in the Vicálvaro neighborhood and are easily accessible via the subway. The campus combines old and modern buildings and has a new, modern library, along with a gym, computer lab, and two student cafeterias. Green areas and an active student body make it an ideal place for the USAC student to find the interaction necessary for successful learning of the Spanish language and culture.

Living Logistics

Participants have two housing options: a Spanish homestay or shared apartments with other USAC students and/or international students. Both options are within commuting distance of classes and Madrid has excellent public transportation.


Homestays are a great opportunity for students to immerse themselves into the daily life of a Spanish family and are highly recommended. Homestays include either two or three meals per day (depending on the meal plan chosen) and provide an unmatched opportunity to speak Spanish and learn Spanish customs. .


Students also have the option to live in shared apartments with other USAC or international students and also with Spaniards. This option is advisable if participants have an independent lifestyle or if they prefer to cook their own meals. Rental apartments generally provide everything (a pillow and one blanket; sheets and towels are generally also provided, but not guaranteed).


USAC students with a high level of Spanish are eligible to be placed in a non-paid internship in Madrid. Students are placed in a Spanish-speaking environment with high exposure to culture and language. Previous placements have included: an art gallery, a primary school, a business incubator, a local high school, non-profit organizations, and extracurricular activities/tutoring for disadvantaged youth. Please note that placement is not guaranteed by USAC, rather it will be determined by the student's application, supporting materials and an interview with the internship sponsor on site.

Internship eligibility requirements: advanced Spanish level, 3.0 GPA and junior standing at time of internship. Applicants must submit their resume in English and Spanish and the application forms at least eight weeks in advanced, and include a short essay in Spanish describing what they hope to achieve as an intern. A refundable fee of 100 EUR is charged and returned upon successful completion of the internship.

Field Trips

Students are encouraged to participate in the included program field trips. Dates and exact locations are at the discretion of the Resident Director and vary from session to session and semester to semester. Common destinations include:


Known for its impeccably preserved Roman aqueduct, old city quarter and fairytale Alcazar, Segovia is one of the most visited cities in Spain. Become acquainted with its architecture and cuisine through a guided tour of this fascinating city.

El Escorial and Manzanares Castle

Visit the monolithic monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. Once a royal palace constructed under the supervision of King Phillip II, it is emblematic of the temporal power of the Spanish monarchy and the predominance of Roman Catholicism in sixteenth-century Spain. After touring El Escorial, we will visit the Castle of Manzanares el Real, also known as the Castle of los Mendoza, a palace-fortress erected in the fifteenth century in the town of Manzanares El Real; today it is one of the best preserved castles of Madrid.


Famous for its beautiful university and splendid architecture, Salamanca is a must-see for any student. Tour the city and learn about its fascinating history, and explore its winding streets, the cathedral and other important monuments.

La Mancha

Spend the day in this region made famous in Cervantes’ unforgettable novel, Don Quijote. Sample the regional cuisine, visit the imposing windmills and explore a nearby castle. A guide will provide you with historical facts and anecdotes about the region and Spain’s most famous novel.


Discover an incredible medieval city that sits atop a hill overlooking the Tagus River. It has an impressive cultural heritage and beautiful architecture, replete with a magnificent cathedral, and centuries-old synagogues and mosques. Toledo was also the adopted home of El Greco, the famous sixteenth-century painter.




Minimum eligibility requirements include good academic standing and a 2.5 grade point average (4.0 scale).

Next Steps and Application

Steps to Completing Your Application

• Before you fill out any applications, please schedule an appointment to meet with Spain Study Abroad Advisor Aubree Compton by calling 319-335-0353. Your application WILL NOT be approved until you've completed this step.

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

• Fill out the USAC Online Application for Bilbao. Be sure to submit a personal statement as part of your application or email it to

**** Reminder: Do not submit the $300 application fee or transcripts to USAC!

• Return your completed UI USAC study abroad cover sheet with your preferred courses and a copy of your passport to the front desk in Study Abroad as soon as possible.

NOTICE: For the Summer Term, this program has Summer I, Summer II, and Summer I & II options. In the UI online application under “Offering” you will be asked to choose between “Codes” A, B, or AB.

Code A=Summer I

Code B=Summer II

Code AB=Summer I & II

Please be careful to choose the correct session that corresponds to the dates you wish to be abroad. If you need help with this, please consult your study abroad advisor.

Application Deadline

The application deadline set for University of Iowa students is February 24 for fall and academic year programs, September 24 for the spring semester program and March 4 for summer sessions.


To see the estimated total cost sheet for Spring 2015, Click herePDF

For the summer 2015 cost sheet (session A) click herePDF

For the summer 2015 cost sheet (session B) click herePDF

Application Deadline

The application deadline for fall and academic year programs is February 24th. For summer March 4th.

Withdrawal Policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to your USAC Program Advisor and the University of Iowa Study Abroad Advisor. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which your costs will be calculated. If for any reason you withdraw after the confirmation deadline and before or during the course of the program, the amount/percentage shown in the following chart represents what you 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 USAC
After Program Start Date Administrative fee: 100%
Course fee: As determined by the program contract with USAC

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. The USAC policy regarding withdrawals and refunds can be found here: USAC Money Matters. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Once Accepted into the USAC Madrid program:

Students will receive an acceptance email directly from USAC confirming their admission into the study abroad program. This email contains information about logging on to each student's individual USAC Gateway account. Please be sure to check this account regularly, as important documents about pre-departure, visa assistance, housing and much more are posted for participants on a weekly basis.

Pre-Departure Orientations in Iowa

University of Iowa students participating in USAC study abroad programs will have two separate pre-departure orientations on campus:

The first orientation is for University of Iowa students attending this and other USAC Spain programs. During this orientation, students receive information on registering for their program on ISIS, payment and billing, course approvals and other practical matters. Students also have the opportunity to ask questions about academics, Spanish culture and other general topics from someone who has lived, studied and worked in Spain.

The second required orientation is the general study abroad orientation for all University of Iowa students going abroad (called 'TIPS'). This orientation covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as Health and Safety, Communication, Money, Goals and much more. This event is usually held on a Saturday afternoon in late autumn/spring.

On-Site Orientation in Spain

Upon arrival in Madrid, students will attend a mandatory orientation provided by USAC. During this session, participants will be introduced to the country, culture and academic program, and are provided with practical information about living in Madrid. This orientation serves to inform students of issues relevant to their experience and help them make a gradual transition to Spanish life. The orientation includes both structured cultural activities and independent sightseeing. Ongoing support is provided on an individual and group basis throughout the duration of the program.