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CIEE Barcelona Business & Culture Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Academic Year


Barcelona, Spain




Minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA (track dependent); 3 semesters of micro- or macroeconomics, accounting, finance, management, or statistics; junior standing or above; good academic and disciplinary standing

Application Due:

Fall & Academic Year:
Mar. 1

Spring: Sept. 4

Program Cost

Refer to Application tab for more details

Program Description

Designed for students with varying levels of Spanish, this semester or academic-year Business and Culture program aims to help students with a strong background in business take related coursework while improving their Spanish language skills. In addition to a Spanish language course, students take English- or Spanish-taught business and humanities coursework at CIEE or one of two local universities (ESCI or UVic).

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. University of Iowa students earn resident credit for this program.

Academic Program

Students enroll in at least four to five courses (14-17 sh) per semester:

  • One required Spanish language course at CIEE (Heritage speakers or those with advanced proficiency may take a course taught in Spanish instead).
  • Two business courses at CIEE and/or at a host institution (in English or Spanish)
  • One or two electives chosen from business or humanities courses at CIEE or a host institution (in English or Spanish)
  • Note: Students with 4-5 semesters of college-level Spanish should take two courses in Spanish, while students with 6+ semesters should take all their courses in Spanish. Courses at CIEE and ESCI are offered in both Spanish and English. Courses at UVic are offered only in English.

Host institution classes provide less support than most U.S. college classes. The host institution course syllabi are less detailed and there are fewer assessments. CIEE courses follow a more American teaching style, with attendance, regular assignments and exams, and participation all factored into grading.

For updated course offerings, descriptions, and syllabi, visit CIEE's program webpage.

Cultural Activities


This program is supplemented with field trips and excursions. Participants enjoy field trips to museums, monuments, and landmarks, as well as guided tours of Barcelona. Other excursions may include the Dalí Museum in Figueres, the medieval town of Girona, and the Roman amphitheater in Tarragona.

Language Immersion

Students can focus on daily language acquisition by living with a host family. Other language immersion opportunities include conversation exchanges with local students, internships (if conducted in Spanish), and volunteering within the local community.

Program Dates

Fall: Early September to mid-December

Spring: Early January to mid-April

For exact program dates, visit CIEE's program webpage.

For More Information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Before initiating an application with USAC, students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa. 
  2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
  3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive  program application instructions.

Contact Information

Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353

Escola Superior de Comerc International

The Escola Superior de Comerc International (ESCI) was created in 1993 by the Catalan government and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Its 500 students focus on international business and its modern facilities—21st century architecture designed by Rafael Cáceres Zurita—provide a good learning environment for CIEE students. ESCI courses are taught by ESCI and UPF faculty and business practitioners.


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 Spain, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, have endowed the city with a unique vitality and rich cultural and artistic heritage.

Situated between the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona has a population of 1.6 million. Walking through the city, one can observe 2,000 years of architectural history including the Roman and medieval center’s impressive network of narrow streets, the 19th-century Eixample district with its original examples of Modernista architecture, and the ultra-modern buildings that continue to redesign the skyline.


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 are all able to speak clear Spanish with students. 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.


Situated on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, Spain is a strikingly beautiful and diverse country. The country has the third largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Spain’s distinct regions means there is has something for everyone, from lush forests to towering mountains and stunning beaches to vibrant cities, many of which are easily accessible through the country's extensive network of high-speed trains. Widely known for excellent food and art, friendly locals, relaxed lifestyle, Flamenco culture, 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.

U.S. Department of State Country Information

The U.S. Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

CIEE students participating in this program have three housing options: a Spanish homestay, apartments, or an off-campus residence hall. All housing options are located no more than 30 minutes via public transportation from CIEE Barcelona.


Students live in Spanish-speaking homes where two meals are provided daily and laundry service is provided weekly. Each home accommodates one or two students, and each student has their own room. Homestays are the optimal housing arrangement because of their contribution to the program’s goals of language and cultural immersion.


Apartments may have double or single rooms with shared kitchens and laundry facilities. Students live with other CIEE students. Meals are not included.

Residence Halls

Residence halls have single rooms with shared kitchens and common areas. Students live with other Spanish and international students. Meals are not included.


U.S. Citizens

U.S. citizens who do not have a passport should apply for one as soon as possible. More information about how to apply for a passport is available on the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. US citizens who need to renew their passport can find more information on the US Department of State’s website. The passport must be renewed before applying for the Spanish visa required for semester or academic year programs.

Expedited processing service is available at an additional cost. UI Study Abroad encourages students to ask the passport agency at the time of application whether expedited service is recommended.

Non-U.S. Citizens

Students who are not U.S. citizens should contact UI Study Abroad ( for information on how to ensure that their passport is valid for the duration of their time abroad.

Travel Arrangements

Students book flights independently. Participants are responsible for being at the orientation site on time.

Local Transportation

Within the host city and around Spain, students will utilize public transportation such as buses and trains. Spaniards are also very used to walking, so be sure to bring comfortable shoes!


This program is open to UI students who fulfill the following requirements:

  • Minimum 2.5-3.0 cumulative GPA: Students must have at minimum a 2.5 cumulative GPA to participate in the CIEE or UVic track of this program. Students must have at minimum a 3.0 cumulative GPA to participate in the ESCI track of this program.
  • Three semesters of college-level micro- or macroeconomics, accounting, finance, management, or statistics: Students must have completed 3 semesters of college-level micro- or macroeconomics, accounting, finance, management, or statistics.
  • Junior-level standing or above: Students must have junior-level standing or higher by the time of arrival in Barcelona.
  • Good academic and disciplinary standing: Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa. Academic and disciplinary history will also be considered when determining whether a student is prepared to represent the University of Iowa as part of this program. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad. In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance, will not be allowed to study abroad, and are wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.


Alicante beach

The most recent cost sheet for the program is included below. The cost sheet outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid and planning purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill (CIEE program fee, Study Abroad Administrative Fee, and mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance), 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. Please see the respective websites for further details. Contact your Study Abroad advisor with questions regarding the cost sheet.

Cost Sheets

PDFCost Sheet for CIEE Barcelona Business & Culture, Fall 2024

PDFCost Sheet for CIEE Barcelona Business & Culture, Spring 2024

Scholarships & Financial Aid

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.


How to Apply

Interested students should make an appointment with the designated UI Study Abroad advisor to discuss the program and the application process. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 319-335-0353. During the appointment, the advisor will provide full application instructions. Note: Application materials will not be reviewed unless a student has already met with the advisor to discuss the program.

The application process consists of the following steps:

• Complete the UI Online Application for Study Abroad. Applicants will be charged a $50 non-refundable application fee. As part of the UI 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.

• Complete the CIEE Online Application.

Important: Students applying to Spring 2024 programs in Spain may be required by CIEE to provide proof of a valid passport (i.e. a passport that does not expire for at least six months after the end of the program) in order to submit their application. If you will not have a valid passport at the time of application, you should work with your study abroad advisor to identify an alternative program.

Post Acceptance

Acceptance into the applicant's chosen study abroad program is made by CIEE directly via an email to the applicant. This acceptance notification will refer the applicant to additional documents posted to the myCIEE account.

Application Deadlines

Fall and Academic Year: Mar. 1

Spring: Sept. 4

Acceptance & Confirmation Materials

Acceptance and confirmation materials will be posted after the next application deadline.

Health & Safety Planning

All students preparing to study abroad should review the following:

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

Students are also encouraged to complete the Health Preparation Guide for International Travelform with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.


U.S. passport holders must obtain a student visa from Spain in order to participate in the semester or academic year program. U.S. passport holders should follow the batch processing visa application instructions provided by CIEE. If students do not participate in batch visa processing, they must apply for their student visa independently and present their application by appointment at the Spanish Consulate. The Consulate for all UI students is the Chicago Consulate; it is based the location of one's home university, not the state of origin. Students are ultimately responsible for obtaining the necessary visa to enter Spain.

Non-U.S. passport holders should consult with CIEE regarding their visa requirements.


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You 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. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.