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USAC San Sebastian Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Summer, Academic Year


San Sebastián, Spain




2.5 GPA; good academic and disciplinary standing

Application Due:

Fall & Academic Year: 2/24

Spring: 9/24

Summer: 3/4

Program Cost

Refer to Application tab for more details

Academic Program

One of northern Spain's most breathtaking cities

This program offers a high-quality educational experience in four diverse academic areas: Spanish language, Basque, psychology and European studies. These programs are not exclusive of one another; students may chose courses from any area. All students are expected to take Spanish language coursework, although no prior language study is required to participate. A 3 sh internship may also be available.

The program is administered by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), of which the University of Iowa is a member.

University of Iowa resident credit is granted for this program.

For updated course offerings and descriptions visit USAC's program webpage.

Excursions, Cultural Activities, and Field Studies

Excursions & Cultural Activities

Students visit nearby museums, theaters, and cultural sites throughout the semester. One-day excursions may offered to locations such as Bilbao, Burgos, French Basque Country, Province Bizkaia, Province of Guipuzcoa, France-Iparralde and Santillana del Mar. Additionally, a wide variety of activities are offered every week, including hiking, sports, cinema, bowling, cooking, dance clases, and guided tours. These excursions generally take place on Fridays. Dates and locations may change at the discretion of the Resident Director.

More information about activities can be found here.

Field Studies

USAC encourages students to enroll in an exciting four-day, 1-credit field study trip to explore Madrid; however, this segment of the program is optional for an additional fee. Participants will sign up for the tour or register for the field study on the Course and Tour Registration Form. Be sure to reserve a spot early as the tour fills quickly.

More information about Field Studies can be found here.

Professional Opportunities

San Sebastian town hall


USAC internships are rich resources for academic and professional development particularly in a study abroad setting. USAC internships are considered courses and count as part of your credit load. Students are placed in a Spanish-speaking environment, with high exposure to culture and language. The schedule and the number of work hours will be determined by the schedule of USAC courses.

Eligibility and Fees: enrollment in the Bilbao program, a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and junior standing at the time of the internship. A refundable fee of 100 EUR is charged and returned upon successful completion of the internship.

More information about internships can be found here.

Teaching Assistant in the Basque Country Program (TABC)

USAC offers tutoring opportunities for students to get full immersion into the local school environment, meet local people, and have firsthand exposure to the local community while earning some money. Teaching assignments will depend on availability and scheduling restraints and range from 3 to 10 hours a week.

The TABC program is offered during the semester programs only.

Program Dates

Due to ongoing concerns regarding COVID-19, UI students will not be able to participate in this program during Summer 2020.

Fall: Late August to late December

Spring: Mid-January to late May

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

For More Information

Emily Gruis, Study Abroad Advisor
The University of Iowa
Office for Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

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 and stunning beaches to vibrant cities. 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.

San Sebastián

Donostia in Basque) is nestled twelve miles from the French border at the foot of the deep green Pyrenees Mountains in the province of Gipuzkoa. It faces a gorgeous crescent-shaped bay bordered by beaches and a port. San Sebastián also enjoys a perfect location for traveling to other countries in Europe or for exploring Spain and the Basque Country. The city itself is easy to get around—many USAC students ride bikes or walk to classes—and has several beaches to enjoy.

An ancient city largely destroyed in the nineteenth century, most of San Sebastián is quite modern, while the narrow streets of the Old Quarter preserve the flavor of days gone by. San Sebastián’s spectacular natural setting and its culinary delights have made it a mecca for tourists looking for a beautiful vacation spot paired with wonderful food. You’ll find more Michelin-starred restaurants in San Sebastián than in any other city in Spain, but you don’t have to have a three-star meal in order to eat well. You can also enjoy the excellent and colorful pintxos (tapas) in many of the bars in the old quarter.


Castilian Spanish and Basque are both official languages in San Sebastián and the rest of the Basque Country. 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. 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 Basque to survive in San Sebastián, you will find that learning a few words can be an enjoyable experience and open doors to making friends.

Universidad del País Vasco

The USAC programs in Bilbao and San Sebastian are hosted by the University of the Basque Country, although the professors as well as the courses are directly affiliated with the program. Some University facilities are available to program participants. La Universidad del País Vasco (UPV) is a decentralized Spanish university with a student enrollment of approximately 40,000 students distributed over three campuses in Lejona, Vitoria-Gasteiz, and San Sebastián. Consortium offices for this program, classes and dining facilities are housed on the San Sebastián campuses. With support from the municipal government and the European Community, the USAC programs have been recognized as centers for the teaching of Spanish language to foreigners. Students from a number of European countries who are preparing to study in Spanish Universities also participate in the program.

US Department of State Country Information

The US 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

USAC students participating in this program have two housing options: a Spanish homestay or an off-campus apartment with other USAC, international, or local students. The city has an excellent system of public transportation and all housing is within commuting distance of classes. Inexpensive student dining halls on campus are available for lunch.


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. Participants do not need prior language experience in order to live in a Spanish homestay.

Shared Apartments

Students seeking an independent environment should consider living in an off-campus residence hall with Spanish and other international students. Students are responsible for their own meals. Apartments are fully equipped except for sheets and towels, which students should bring with them or purchase upon arrival.

Apartment facade in San Sebastián

Housing Fees

During the semester, students pay monthly rent and the housing fee is not included in the course fee. Students will need to have a plan and budget in place to withdraw the amount needed for rent monthly. For summer programs, apartment housing is included in the course fee- homestay has a surcharge.


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

  • Minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA: Students must have at minimum a 2.5 cumulative GPA to participate in this program.
  • 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.


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 (USAC 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.

Semester Cost Sheets

PDFCost Sheet for USAC San Sebastian, Spring 2020

Summer Cost Sheets

PDFCost Sheet for USAC San Sebastian, Summer 2020, Session I
PDFCost Sheet for USAC San Sebastian, Summer 2020, Session II

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.


Withdrawal Policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to University of Iowa Study Abroad. 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 to the University of Iowa.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
During Early Admissions Period Administrative fee: $0
Course Fee: As determined by the program contract with USAC
After acceptance of USAC Pre-Approval Offer Administrative fee: $400
Course fee: As determined by the program contract with USAC
30 days before program start date Administrative fee: 50% or $400, whichever is greater
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 Study Abroad Advisor Emily Gruis 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

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 USAC Online Application.

Post Acceptance

Acceptance into the applicant's chosen study abroad program is made by USAC directly via an email to the applicant. Additional documents will posted to a USAC Gateway account for the participant.

Confirmation of Participation - Fall 2020

If you received notification from both USAC and your UI Study Abroad advisor that you have been accepted to participate in the Fall 2020 program, you must complete and submit the Confirmation of Participation form (posted below) by April 9, 2020. The form should be submitted in person to the Study Abroad front desk (1111 University Capitol Centre). Before submitting the Confirmation of Participation form, carefully review the program costs and withdrawal policy found on the Application tab.

PDFUSAC San Sebastian Confirmation of Participation, Fall 2020

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.

Financial Aid

For more information about receiving financial aid while studying abroad, please review the following:

UI Financial Aid Information


US passport holders should follow the batch process instructions provided by USAC. Otherwise participants must apply for their student visa independently. 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.

Flight/Travel Arrangements

Students may either book the group flight through USAC or book a flight independently. Participants are responsible for being at the orientation site on time, as USAC may fine individuals who are late.


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. See below for more information.

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