Madrid - Language & Area Studies


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Earn U.S. Credits Virtually This Summer

Get ahead! Earn extra credit through a globally recognized U.S. education program this summer on our Virtual World DiscoverIES program.

Just picture it: one day you're exploring business ethics with a professor in London and the next it's Japanese pop culture from Tokyo, studying alongside classmates from the U.S.’s highest-ranked colleges and universities. This is what it's like to take a course or two (of your choosing!) from IES Abroad’s most popular centers around the world this summer.

Learn more about how you can discover the world through IES Abroad.


Why Madrid?

It won’t be hard to fall in love with Madrid. Located in the heart of Spain, this capital city is especially unique because it has an urban pace and is well-known for its rich artistic, political, and business culture.

Our program is designed for students who want to experience the vitality of Spain and the large urban university environment of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), one of the country’s most distinguished universities where our Center is located.

What You'll Study

This program strives to immerse you in the culture of the Madrileños through its academic options, extracurricular activities with university students, and housing choices. In addition to a required Spanish course, you have the option to take a wide variety of IES Abroad-taught courses, as well as local university courses.

You can also take a prep course for the Diploma de español como lengua extranjera (DELE), leading to a certificate. This award will be an asset to your résumé and can be earned at no extra cost. Several field trips take you beyond the city limits to sites of historic and contemporary interest. You can also add international work experience to your résumé while earning credit by participating in an internship placement and accompanying an academic seminar.

Daily Life

Madrid will also be your classroom. Whether visiting one of Madrid’s many art galleries or museums, learning about Spanish culture by taking in a film by one of Spain’s up-and-coming filmmakers, or simply strolling around the city and enjoying the warm climate in one of the city’s many parks, you will be captivated by Madrid’s vibrancy.

We want you to feel at home in Madrid, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into life in the city. From housing to cultural events, our job is to make sure you have the most authentic study abroad experience possible.


Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences. We offer unique courses that explore the Spanish Language, and Area Studies, through an in-depth and hands-on approach. Our world-class professors and course options at prestigious local universities enhance your academic experience and provide you with new perspectives each day in class.

While in Madrid, take 15–19 credits per semester and all courses are worth three credits unless otherwise specified. All courses are taught in Spanish.

Craft your own academic experience by selecting from the following required and optional components:

  • IES Abroad Spanish language course (required, 4 credits)
  • IES Abroad Spanish-taught area studies courses (3–15 credits)
  • Universidad Complutense de Madrid courses (3–15 credits)

Language Certificate Students

As an added benefit at no additional cost, IES Abroad Madrid also offers preparation courses for Spanish language students for the Diploma de español como lengua extranjera (DELE) examination that leads to a certificate. The DELE is the most prestigious award for Spanish language skills and will enhance your résumé. This certificate, covering general Spanish abilities, is offered by the Instituto Cervantes. The exam consists of oral expression, writing, reading comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary.


This is a list of planned course offerings. A final list of course offerings will be made available to you in your MyIESabroad account.

  • History of Spanish Architecture
  • El Greco, Velázquez and Goya in the Prado Museum
  • 20th Century Spanish Painters
  • Spanish Civil War in Literature and Performing Arts (since 1975)
  • Modern Spanish Economic Development
  • Spain and the European Union
  • Spain and the International Economic Organization
  • Contemporary Spanish Film
  • Almodóvar and His Contemporaries: The Image of Women in Spanish
  • Demographic Challenges in a Globalized World: Spain in the International Context
  • Contemporary Spanish History: Republic to Present
  • History of Madrid
  • Women in Spanish History
  • Internship Seminar
  • Spain and the International Economic Organization
  • International Security and Geopolitics: A Spanish & European Perspective
  • Spanish Civil War in Literature and Performing Arts (since 1975)
  • Contemporary Spanish Theater
  • Cultural Myths and Spanish Literature
  • García Lorca and His Time
  • Contemporary Spanish and Latin American Women Writers
  • Legal and Political Structure of Modern Spain
  • European Political Movements and Ideologies
  • International Security and Geopolitics: A Spanish & European Perspective
  • Demographic Challenges in a Globalized World: Spain in the International Context
  • Spanish Language in Context: Emerging Independent Abroad
  • Spanish Language in Context: Independent Abroad I
  • Advanced Language Usage for Business
  • Spanish Language in Context: Emerging Competent Abroad
  • Spanish Language in Context: Spanish for Heritage Speakers
  • Creative Writing Workshop
  • Spanish for Health Sciences
  • Theater and Performance Workshop
  • Almodóvar and His Contemporaries: The Image of Women in Spanish
  • Contemporary Spanish and Latin American Women Writers

Partner Institution(s)

Enrolling in courses at a local university is a great way to meet Spanish students and improve your language skills. You are strongly encouraged to enroll in at least one local course. Course offerings vary each semester. NOTE: Partner university courses are not guaranteed to be offered in the coming semesters as IES has no control over the courses offered by partner institutions.

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)

The Universidad Complutense de Madrid is the largest university in Spain and one of the best public universities in the country. Registering for courses at UCM enables you to enjoy full privileges of the school’s activities and facilities.


Courses are available at the following faculties:

  • Anthropology
  • Biological Sciences
  • Business
  • Chemistry
  • Communication
  • Computer Sciences
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Fine Arts
  • Geography
  • Geological Sciences
  • Health Sciences
  • History
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Modern Languages
  • Philosophy
  • Physical Sciences
  • Political Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

When planning, take into account that IES Abroad students are not permitted to take:

  • First-year courses
  • Medical courses
  • Dentistry courses

When choosing your courses, bear in mind that some classes offered by the local university are academic year courses, starting in October and ending in June. Semester students cannot take these academic year courses. You will receive 3 credits for each course taken at the Complutense. Academic year students who take annual classes will receive 6 credits.

Complutense Final Exams

In the fall, official UCM exams take place through the end of February; IES Abroad students must arrange to take exams early (mid-December) at the time of course registration and subject to professor approval.

Spring students enrolled in UCM courses may not arrange for early exams and will need to stay through early June to complete courses and final exams.


Interning abroad as part of your study abroad experience will help distinguish your application for graduate school or a job opportunity in today’s competitive market. It’s an exhilarating challenge, and we’re here to help guide you in securing your placement and succeeding in your internship.

Participating in an internship abroad helps you:

  • Add international experience to your résumé
  • Gain real work experience and skills
  • Build your confidence

All of our internships are supervised and earn IES Abroad credit. You participate in a seminar to complement the practical experience you gain during the internship.

Customize Your Internship

Once you indicate your interest in an internship, we work with you to determine your academic and career goals and try to match you with an appropriate internship placement. We place students with a wide variety of organizations and businesses; if we don’t currently work with a business or organization in your field of interest, we will search out a placement.

Placement Examples

Past students have interned in the following fields. Don’t see your field listed here? Just talk to your IES Abroad Advisor—new internships are always being added.

  • Arts
  • Business
  • Education
  • International Relations
  • Marketing
  • Museums
  • Political Science

Field Trips & Events

Even though your adventure starts in Madrid, our field trips take you beyond the city to discover the culture and traditions of your host country. Some of these one to three-day trips are subsidized by IES Abroad, while other trips are available and may be subsidized by IES Abroad. Here are a few possible destinations.

Alcalá De Henares

1 Day | Fall & Spring

Famous for being the birthplace of the illustrious Miguel de Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote,” and home to one of the most prestigious universities in Spain. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to its monuments, historic churches, convents, and university buildings.

El Escorial

1 Day | Fall & Spring

Visit this royal site that was once the residence of the King of Spain, as well as a monastery for the Roman Catholic Church. The palace is also the burial site for nearly every king and queen since the 16th century.

Extremadura: La Ruta de Carlos V

3 Days | Spring

Travel the last route of Emperor Charles V on his last journey to his retreat in Yuste Monastery, Extremadura. You will be amazed by the natural beauty of this region.

Bilbao y San Sebastián

3 Days | Fall

Two beautiful cities located in the Basque region.


1 Day | Fall & Spring

Segovia is known for its Romanesque and Gothic architecture, and for having one of the longest and best-preserved Roman aqueducts in all of Europe.


1 Day | Fall & Spring

Known as the “city of three cultures”— Christian, Muslim, and Jewish—Toledo preserves an artistic and cultural legacy that makes the city an open-air museum.

Note: IES Abroad field trip destinations, activities, and lengths of stay may vary according to term and availability.

Course-Related Trips

Course-related excursions are academic trips associated with courses and are organized to complement IES Abroad courses and contribute to a general knowledge of Spanish culture and society. Participation is based on course registration.

Past course-related excursions are listed below:

  • Local theater performances and concerts
  • Architectural walking tours
  • Visits to Madrid’s most famous museums—the Prado, Reina Sofía, Sorolla, Cerralbo, Museo de América, and Bornemisza
  • Visits to Spain's National Congress
  • Visits to local television stations

Daily Life

Part of making you feel at home in Madrid is doing our best to help you feel safe and cared for. Whether it is an orientation program that makes you feel prepared, housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the field trips that take you places off the beaten path—we’re all about our student services.


The program begins with an orientation that introduces you to the IES Abroad Madrid staff, your fellow students, and the city of Madrid.

Additionally, CORE™, IES Abroad’s Comprehensive orientation & re-entry experience, begins during orientation and continues throughout the semester with activities focusing on cultural adjustment, goal achievement, and preparing for the return home. IES Abroad also organizes guided visits around Madrid with Spanish university students and hosts a welcome lunch. There is also a range of cultural events, such as Intercambios, cooking classes, Flamenco workshops, and sports.

During orientation, IES Abroad organizes guided visits around Madrid with Spanish university students, as well as a welcome lunch for students. There is also a range of cultural events, such as intercambios, cooking classes, flamenco workshops, and sports available for you to participate in.


We want to make sure that your greatest challenge is deciding which landmarks to see first or discovering the best café—not finding a place to live where you feel comfortable. We do our best to locate housing that is reflective of how the local students are living. Our goal is that when you leave Madrid, it will feel like home.

Homestays – Live in Spanish homes with señoras or families and eat breakfast and one additional meal per day (either lunch or dinner) with your hosts when the program is in session. In many cases, more than one IES Abroad student is placed with a señora or family.

Homestays with Kitchen Privileges – If you are interested in a homestay but prefer to purchase your own food and prepare your own meals, you may wish to consider this option. With this option, you will receive a meal credit. A very limited number of these placements are available.

Apartments – Share apartments located in residential areas near the IES Abroad Madrid Center. Apartments are furnished, including a fully-equipped kitchen. Utilities, regular cleaning, and wireless Internet access are included. Space is limited, and meals are not included.

Colegios Mayores – Colegios Mayores are dorms located on the Complutense campus and throughout the city. This housing option includes up to 20 meals per week in student cafeterias. Colegios Mayores are ideal for outgoing students with a high level of the Spanish language who want to integrate into local, more traditional student culture, participate in Colegio activities, and are willing to abide by the rules of the Colegio. This housing option is limited and requires an additional fee.

Extracurricular Activities & Cultural Events

Redefine the way you live and learn in Madrid through our cultural activities, such as:

  • Volunteer opportunities and teaching assistant program
  • Lessons in Spanish cooking and dance
  • Sports activities such as soccer games
  • Tour of the Real Madrid Stadium- Estadio Santiago Bernabéu


Consider these prices as a starting point. We encourage you to contact your study abroad office to determine the actual cost to you when factoring in financial aid, scholarships, your home school policies, and other factors.

Spring 2020

Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
Spring 2020 $14,350 $3,880 $230 $18,460

Academic year

Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
Academic year $25,310 $7,640 $455 $33,405

Scholarships & Aid

Program-Specific Scholarships

Robert McNeill Need-Based International Business Scholarship

Up to $3,000; awarded to 2 students each year.

This scholarship is named in honor of Robert McNeill, a member of the IES Abroad Board of Directors for 25 years (6 years as Chairman). Open to students who have an interest in international business. Majors might include management, marketing, economics, finance, international relations, and social and behavioral sciences.

Dr. William Louis Gaines Need-Based History or International Relations Scholarship

Up to $1,875; awarded to 4-6 students each year.

This scholarship is named in honor of Dr. William Louis Gaines, President of IES Abroad from 1974-1992. Dr. Gaines was dedicated to strengthening IES Abroad's academic framework, broadening the scope of IES Abroad locations, and securing the financial foundation of the organization.

Open to students majoring in History or International Relations.

William E. & Mary M. Dwyer Need-Based Spanish Scholarship

Ranges up to $1,000; awarded to 4-6 students each year.

These scholarships are intended for students interested in studying in a Spanish-speaking country.

Kathleen Kervin Diamond Endowed Scholarship

Up to $2,000 each; awarded to 4-6 students each year.

Kathleen Diamond is a consultant, entrepreneur, and business leader in the language services industry. In 1979, she founded Language Learning Enterprises, Inc. (LLE®), a full-service language company based in Washington, D.C. She is recognized as an early pioneer in Telephone Interpreting, launching LLE-LINK in the early 1990s. Over the next 20 years, under her leadership, the company grew into a dynamic, multimillion-dollar corporation, serving a wide range of clients, in both the private and public sectors, across the United States, and worldwide. In 2009, Ms.

Our Center

The IES Abroad Madrid Center is located in the heart of the Universidad Complutense’s main campus, inside the Colegio Mayor Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. There are two museums — the Museo de América and the Museo del Traje - within walking distance of the Center. Features include:

  • High-speed wireless internet and printer access
  • A student lounge and garden
  • A small gym
  • A library, classrooms, and offices
Last updated May 2020

About the School

Everything we do is about the IES Abroad student. Our profoundly passionate team of study abroad professionals believes in creating once-in-a-lifetime educational adventures that transcend expectation ... Read More

Everything we do is about the IES Abroad student. Our profoundly passionate team of study abroad professionals believes in creating once-in-a-lifetime educational adventures that transcend expectations. Our goal is to rock the world of some 6,000 study abroad students every year. Read less
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