Fall, Spring, Summer, Academic Year
2.5 GPA, good academic and disciplinary standing
Fall & Academic Year:
Spring: Sept. 1
Summer: Mar. 4
Refer to Application tab for more details
The USAC Bilbao program allows students with a wide range of Spanish language skills the opportunity to improve their Spanish and take elective courses related to international business and Spanish culture. All students enroll in at least one required Spanish language course. Additional elective courses are offered in both Spanish and English. An internship may also be available for students with advanced Spanish skills.
The program is administered by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), of which the University of Iowa is a member. University of Iowa students earn resident credit for this program.
Students enroll in 12-18 sh per semester:
All courses are designed and taught by USAC faculty. Classes are held on the Universidad del País Vasco (UPV) campus but are only open to US students participating in the program.
For updated course offerings and descriptions, visit USAC's program webpage.
USAC Bilbao offers two 4-week programs each summer: Summer Session I and Summer Session II. Students may participate in one or both sessions. During Summer Session I, students take 3-6 sh. During Summer Session II, students take 3-4 sh. One 3-credit course is required during either session. Summer course offerings include beginning to advanced Spanish language, as well as a few business courses taught in English. Students are not required to take a Spanish language course during the summer sessions.
Students visit nearby museums, theaters, and cultural sites throughout the program. One-day excursions may offered to locations such as St.-Jean-de-Luz, San Sebastián, Urdaibai, Oma, and Bordeaux. Additionally, a wide variety of activities are offered every week, including hiking, sports, and guided tours. Dates and exact destinations are at the discretion of the Resident Director and vary from semester to semester.
USAC offers an optional tour/field study in Madrid at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters. This segment of the program carries an additional fee. Students may elect to participate in the four-day tour for fun or in conjunction with a 1-credit field study course, which requires some reflective assignments.
Students participating in Summer Session I and/or II may join the optional Santiago tour/field study. During this unique experience, students will hike approximately 70 miles of historic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Students may elect to participate in the four-day tour for fun or in conjunction with a 1-credit field study course, which requires some reflective assignments. The tour/field study carries an additional fee.
Fall: Late August to mid-December
Spring: Early January to mid-May
Summer Session I: Late May to late June
Summer Session II: Early to late July
For exact program dates, visit USAC's program webpage.
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Iowa City, IA 52242
The USAC programs in Bilbao and San Sebastián are hosted by Universidad del País Vasco (UPV). UPV is a decentralized Spanish university with a student enrollment of approximately 40,000 students distributed over four campuses in Lejona, Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, and San Sebastián. Some university facilities are available to USAC program participants.
Located in the Basque region in the north of Spain near the French border, both Bilbao and Getxo (where most of the program's housing placements are located) are situated among beautiful green mountains that face the ocean. Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque region with a population of approximately 350,000, and the greater Bilbao region has just under one million inhabitants. It is a walkable city with a modern public transportation system and an international airport with direct flights to most large cities in Europe.
Getxo is a coastal town known for its beaches, lively nightlife, and abundant cultural activities. It is well connected to downtown Bilbao by subway (20-25 minutes away). With a relatively young population and few tourists, Gexto provides many opportunities for students to meet local peers.
Castilian Spanish and Basque are both official languages in Bilbao and the rest of the Basque region. Basque (or Euskara) is regularly used in all aspects of life, but is never imposed on non-Basque speakers. Taxi drivers, shopkeepers, service representatives, professors, and homestay families all speak clear Spanish whenever a Spanish speaker is present. While it is not necessary to speak Basque to survive in Bilbao, 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 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.
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.
USAC students participating in this program have two housing options: a Spanish homestay or an off-campus apartment with other USAC students. Most housing placements are located in the coastal town of Getxo within walking distance to the beach and each other. Commuting between Getxo and downtown Bilbao, where the USAC classes are held on the UPV Business School campus, is easy and efficient. The metro makes several stops in Getxo and takes 20 minutes to get to downtown Bilbao.
Students live in Spanish-speaking homes where three meals are provided daily. Homestays are the optimal housing arrangement because of their contribution to the program’s goals of language and cultural immersion.
Students seeking an independent environment may prefer to live in shared apartments with other USAC students. Students living in apartments are responsible for their own meals.
During the semester, students pay monthly rent to their host family or apartment landlord. Housing costs are not included in the program fee. Students need to budget and have a plan to withdraw the cash needed for rent each month. For summer programs, housing is included in the program fee, although students will need to pay for their groceries/meals (if living in an apartment) or a homestay surcharge that covers meals and laundry (if living in a homestay).
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.
Students who are not U.S. citizens should contact UI Study Abroad (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information on how to ensure that their passport is valid for the duration of their time abroad.
Students may either book the group flight itinerary through USAC or book flights independently. Participants are responsible for being at the orientation site on time.
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:
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.
USAC has several scholarships and grants as well. You can find these on USAC Scholarships & Discounts website.
Students will need to complete a University of Iowa Study Abroad application and a USAC online application. Information on these applications will come from the study abroad advisor. Final program admissions decision is made by USAC.
Applications for the Fall and Academic Year are due on February 24.
Applications for the Spring session are due on September 1.
Applications for the Summer session are due on March 4.
All students preparing to study abroad should review the following:
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 USAC. 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.
U.S. passport holders can remain in Spain for up to 90 days without a visa, so no visa is required to participate in one or both of the summer sessions.
Non-U.S. passport holders should consult with USAC 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.
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 email@example.com.
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.