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IES Barcelona

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Academic Year


Barcelona, Spain




2.75 GPA or higher, good academic and disciplinary standing. Sophomore standing or higher.

Application Due:

Fall/AY: 2/24, Spring 9/9

Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

Program Description

Gaudí architecture
Gaudí architecture

The IES Barcelona program give students the opportunity to take English-taught courses in a range of liberal arts and business disciplines while improving their Spanish language skills. Although no prior language study is required to participate in this program, all students are required to take one Spanish language course, which is typically four credits. An internship in Spanish or English is available for students who wish to gain international work experience.

IES Abroad administers four programs in Barcelona - Liberal Arts & Business, Arts & Culture, Journalism & Communications, and Political Science & International Relations - all of which are sponsored by the University of Iowa. UI students earn transfer credit for this program. As such, this program is not suitable for students attempting to fulfill Spanish minor requirements while abroad.

Academic Program

Students enroll in 15-19 sh per semester:

  • Required Spanish language course* at the IES Abroad Center (4-7 sh)
  • Electives in liberal arts and business at IES (in English, 3 sh each)
  • Optional courses in liberal arts or business at a host institution (in English or Spanish, 3 sh each)
  • Optional internship placement and accompanying academic seminar (in English or Spanish, 3 sh)

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. IES courses follow a more American teaching style, with attendance, regular assignments and exams, and participation all factored into grading.

*Students are assigned to their required Spanish language course based on the results of a placement test, which is taken online prior to departure for the program. Many students find the placement test quite challenging. UI considers SP 302 on the IES Barcelona program to be equivalent to Intermediate Spanish II at UI. Students who have completed Intermediate Spanish II at UI or another U.S. institution must place into SP 323 or higher on the IES Barcelona program to avoid having their Spanish course at IES flagged for duplication of credit upon return to UI. Contact a UI Study Abroad advisor for more information.

For updated course offerings, descriptions, and syllabi, visit IES program webpage.


Interning abroad as part of the study abroad experience will help distinguish a participant's application for graduate school or a job opportunity in today’s competitive market. IES works with students to find the ideal internship placement that fulfills their academic and career goals. If IES doesn’t currently work with a business or organization in the student's field of interest, they will search for a placement that’s right for the student. English placements are available. A basic knowledge of Spanish is required for some.

All internships are supervised and earn IES Abroad credit. Students participate in a seminar to complement the practical experience they gain during the internship.

Cultural Activities


At the beginning of the program, students are assigned to an orientation group based on their Spanish language course placement. By moving through orientation activities with other students in their Spanish language course, students meet a small group of program participants before beginning their elective courses. Orientation activities include health and safety information, walking tours of the city, and excursions to nearby points of interest.

Course Activities

IES Abroad provides many opportunities for students to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world experiences. The courses taught at the IES Abroad Center include guest speakers, company/NGO visits, and field trips throughout the semester.

Excursions & Workshops

IES arranges a number of non-academic trips and cultural workshops to help students explore Barcelona and the surrounding region. Examples include flamenco workshops, outings to soccer games, cooking classes, and guided tours.

Program Dates

Fall: Early September to mid-December

Spring: Early January to late April

For exact program dates, visit IES program webpage.

For More Information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Before initiating an application with IES, 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

IES Abroad Center in Barcelona

Located on bustling Plaza Catalunya in Barcelona, the IES Abroad Center is ideally situated within easy walking distance of restaurants, department stores, local shops, and points of historical and cultural significance. The Center itself houses more than 20 classrooms, IES Baracelona staff offices, lounge space, WiFi printing, and an outdoor terrace. The Center serves as the hub for classes and student life on the program.


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 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

Barcelona city view

IES students participating in this program have three housing options: a Spanish homestay, an off-campus residence hall with Spanish and/or other IES Abroad students, and shared apartments.


Students live in Spanish-speaking homes where two meals are provided daily. Each home accommodates two or three students. Homestays are the optimal housing arrangement because of their contribution to the program’s goals of language and cultural immersion.

Residence Halls

Students can live in a residence hall with Spanish and/or other IES Abroad students. Rooms in residence halls are double and triple occupancy. Meal plans vary among the different halls. Placements are limited, and an additional fee applies for this housing option.


Students seeking an independent environment should consider living in off-campus apartments with three or four other IES Abroad students in double rooms. A Barcelona Cultural Companion or tutor cultural may also live in the apartment to help with cultural integration. Apartments have fully-equipped kitchens, and meals are not provided. Placements are very limited, and an additional fee applies for this housing option.



If you do not have a passport, it is important that you apply for one as soon as possible to ensure you receive it before the program begins. US citizens can find more information about how to apply for a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Important notice for students without a valid passport or whose passport will expire within the next 12 months:

US citizens can find more information about how to renew a passport on the US 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. If your passport is not valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated date of return to the US, you must renew your passport before applying for the visa you will need to enter your host country.

Expedited processing service is available for US passports (although this still takes several weeks and is 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-US Citizens

Students who are not US citizens should contact their consulate for more information if they need to get a new passport or renew their passport.

Travel Arrangements

Students will work with their program provider to make travel arrangements to their program site. The cost of travel is not included in the course fee. UI Study Abroad will not arrange a group flight to your study abroad destination.

Do not purchase plane tickets until you have received instructions on how to do so from your program provider.


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

  • Minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA: Student must have at minimum a 2.75 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.
  • Sophomore standing or higher: Students must be at sophomore standing or higher by they arrive in Barcelona.


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 (IES 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 Sheet

PDFCost Sheet for IES Barcelona, Spring 2024

PDFCost Sheet for IES Barcelona, Fall 2024

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.

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, as well as a statement of purpose

• Please note that the non-refundable $50 application fee will be charged to your U-Bill as part of this online application.

• Complete the IES Online Application.

Post Acceptance

Acceptance into the applicant's chosen study abroad program is made by IES directly via an email to the applicant, which will refer the applicant to additional documents posted to the MyIESabroad account.

Application Deadline

Applications for the Fall semester and Academic Year are due on February 24.

Applications for the Spring session are due on September 9.

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.


US passport holders should follow the batch process instructions provided by IES. 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.


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