The City

Barcelona has always been a vital hub for Europe and the Mediterranean. Dynamic and cosmopolitan, it is a modern city that also preserves its important cultural heritage. Visitors become first-hand observers of the architectural and cultural remains of the historic movements the city has experienced during its 2000 years of history. Much of Barcelona’s artistic marvel is centered on Catalan Modernism, pioneered by Antoni Gaudí, whose great works of architecture include La Pedrera, the Sagrada Família and the Park Güell. Other renowned artists with roots in Barcelona include Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, all of whose great works can be seen in Barcelona.

Barcelona’s mild Mediterranean climate makes it a great place to visit year-round. The city lies a short distance from the spectacular landscapes of the Pyrenees mountains and the world-renowned beaches along the Costa Brava and Costa Dorada. High-speed trains link Barcelona to most of the major European cities and the city’s airport offers many low cost airlines that can quickly transport travelers around the continent.

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Barcelona host schools

The Schools

SAI offers students two host school options for study in Barcelona: a design-focused curriculum at Elisava for upper-division undergraduate and masters-level students, or a liberal arts curriculum at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) for upper-division undergraduate students.

Elisava, Barcelona School of Design and Engineering

Founded in 1961, Elisava was the first school of design to open in Spain, thus becoming the first to offer a design–specific curriculum. As a pioneer, Elisava’s role has been instrumental in shaping the culture of design in Catalonia and Spain. Elisava is included in Domus magazine’s Top 100 design Schools in Europe.

Elisava’s programs offer cutting-edge design disciplines, strongly geared to the professional and promoting close collaboration with companies, institutions and universities around the world. Elisava offers undergraduate design programs geared toward English-speaking study abroad students, as well as various Master’s and Postgraduate degree programs taught entirely in English.

Elisava is affiliated with Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), which awards the school’s formal degrees. The school is located in the historical center of Barcelona, along the bustling La Rambla, and a short walk from the Mediterranean Sea. 

Courses Offered:

Master's Degree
Postgraduate Diploma

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)

UAB is a young, dynamic institution, with an excellent reputation in Spain and globally, both for the quality of its teaching staff and for its research. With its roots in the Catalan tradition, UAB also offers a unique opportunity for study abroad students to enroll in English-taught courses in the heart of Barcelona. The hub of the study abroad program is at the Sant Pau campus, a stunning display of Catalan Modernism situated on the grounds of the historical Sant Pau Hospital in downtown Barcelona.

The UAB study abroad program attracts some 600 students from around the world to learn together and from each other. With an excellent reputation for business and economics courses, the program also offers students the opportunity to delve into Spanish and Catalan history through art history, architecture, language, culture and literature courses, as well as international courses in politics, international relations and urban studies. Courses are rigorous and academic, while at the same time encouraging students to get out into the city to apply the skills that are taught. 

Courses Offered:



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ELISAVA Departments

  • Event Design
  • Furniture Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Interior Design
  • Photography
  • Retail Design

UAB Departments

  • Art, Art History and Architecture
  • Business
  • Economics
  • History
  • Language
  • Literature
  • Politics

Student Life

Students studying abroad in Barcelona immerse themselves in the unique blend of Mediterranean beach lifestyle and European urban culture that defines the city. Known for its flavorful Mediterranean cuisine, lively nightlife, distinctive architectural and artistic highlights and welcoming residents, Barcelona awakens the senses and leaves students nothing short of inspired. As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona also offers students a unique opportunity to experience both Spanish and Catalan language, and to understand the cultural dynamics of the two identities.

In the same day, students can explore the small winding streets of Barcelona’s Gothic quarter, attend an FC Barcelona soccer game to watch one of the world’s most beloved teams, and lounge on the sunny beaches. Barcelona’s manageable size allows students to explore it with ease and become comfortable getting around by walking or via the easy public transportation system. Students studying in Barcelona quickly adapt to delicious lunches, evening tapas, and late night meals. The heart of Barcelona is in the outdoor spaces, with residents pouring out onto outdoor patios, large plazas, and the renowned Las Ramblas—the long pedestrian walkway connecting central Barcelona with the Sea.