Study PhD in Spain

Being a PhD student in Spain is a wonderful experience with countless opportunities to grow, learn, and advance professionally. There is a wide range of exceptional PhD programs in Spain in any area of research. Studying PhD in Spain will place you in a multicultural environment where the climate is warm, the academic quality is exceptional, and the opportunities to succeed in your professional life are endless.

Here’s everything you need to know about Doctoral/PhD degrees in Spain:

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PhD Programs in Spain

PhD programs in Spain are plentiful, comprehensive, and efficient when it comes to development and training. Since Spain is a popular destination to pursue studies, many international students choose Spain as their PhD destination. 

Spanish universities feature extensive PhD programs, and they are esteemed for their teaching, innovation, and research. Spanish universities’ doctoral colleges or research institutes offer PhD programs for interested PhD candidates. Whether you are interested in the sciences, arts and humanities, health sciences, social sciences and law, or technological sciences, you will find anything of your preference in Spain. 

Universities in Spain for PhD

Here are the top universities in Spain offering PhD programs include: 

  • Autonomous University of Barcelona (65 PhD degree programs)
  • Pompeu Fabra University (9 PhD degree programs)
  • University of Barcelona (50 PhD degree programs)
  • Complutense University of Madrid (55 PhD degree programs)
  • University of Navarra (23 PhD degree programs)
  • Autonomous University of Madrid (42 PhD degree programs)
  • University of Valencia (61 PhD degree programs)
  • University of Deusto (8 PhD degree programs)
  • University of Salamanca (40 PhD degree programs)
  • University Carlos III of Madrid (21 PhD degree programs)
  • University of Granada (28 PhD degree programs)
  • University of Zaragoza (47 PhD degree programs)

Can I Get an Online PhD Degree in Spain?

Although PhD candidates are usually more in favor of undertaking their doctoral studies on campus, some universities offer online PhD in Spain. Usually, online PhD degrees in Spain are offered by private or international higher education institutions. Public universities in Spain generally only offer in-person doctoral degrees. It will be easier for you to find an in-person accredited PhD program in Spain than an online PhD program. 

How Much Does a PhD Program Cost in Spain?

Tuition fees in Spain are set on a pay-per-credit basis, which means the number of ECTS credits a program has is multiplied by the cost of one credit. The cost per credit for PhD programs can go up to €55 (or lower). 

PhD programs in Spain are divided into two stages, and it is only during the first phase (first year) that students have to undertake credit courses (60 ECTS). The second phase (the subsequent years of the PhD program) focuses on research and writing the thesis. 

This means the cost of PhD in Spain, for the first year only, can go up to €3,300 (or lower). The other academic years students spend researching and writing their thesis are way cheaper because you only have to pay for supervision, continual assessment, and additional administrative costs. The Autonomous University of Barcelona, for example, only charges around €550 per year for supervision, assessment, administrative fees, and other specific services.

Generally, the cost of PhD in Spain depends on factors like university, research discipline, and the student’s country of residence. Usually, non-EU/EEA students pay higher fees compared to national or EU/EEA students. 

PhD Scholarships in Spain for International Students

It is possible to undertake a funded PhD in Spain. Many prospective PhD candidates apply for PhD scholarships in Spain, and there are even options for international students. PhD scholarships in Spain are offered by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Professional Training. Individual Spanish universities also offer grants and financial aid for doctoral programs. Universities usually list the funding options on their websites. 

Can I Get a PhD in Spain in English?

Obtaining an English PhD in Spain is possible but not as common as Spanish-taught PhD programs. Although there are universities that offer English-taught PhD programs in Spain, the majority of them are in Spanish, which means finding the perfect English PhD program in Spain will not be easy, but not impossible either. 

Some universities offer programs that are bilingual or even multilingual. For example, the PhD programs in Communication, Law, and History (to name a few) at Pompeu Fabra University use Catalan, Spanish, and English as the medium of instruction during training activities. On the other hand, the PhD program in Information and Communication Technologies at the same university is taught entirely in English. 

How Long is a PhD Program in Spain?

The duration of a PhD program in Spain is approximately three years of full-time study. Some may extend their PhD studies in Spain for two more years if initially approved by the Academic Commission of the university. Part-time PhD programs usually take around five years to complete. 

PhD Structure in Spain

A PhD program in Spain is divided into the first cycle, which comprises training courses, and the second cycle, which focuses on research and writing towards a dissertation. During a PhD program, candidates must attend training sessions, seminars, and a wide range of other academic activities. 


PhD candidates have two mentors that help them throughout the doctoral program: 

  • Mentor: A PhD holder responsible for monitoring the interaction between the candidate and the Academic Commission. 
  • Thesis Director: A PhD holder (may or may not be the same person as the mentor) who must have accredited research experience. The thesis director is responsible for planning training activities for the candidate and overseeing thesis matters.
  • Thesis Co-Director (When Applicable): When the thesis has a multidisciplinary nature. 

Admission Requirements

In order to gain admission in PhD programs in Spain, prospective students must have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree relevant to the PhD field of research (300 ECTS credits in total). Universities also accept students with equivalent degrees for as long as they correspond to a total of 300 ECTS credits. Individual universities have the right to add additional selection/admission criteria for specific doctoral programs in Spain. 

How to Apply 

The application for PhD in Spain should be made directly to the university, doctoral college, or university institute of your choice. Prospective PhD candidates in Spain must usually submit a research proposal, CV, reference, etc. As part of the admission process, students must also attend an interview.

You may have to submit the following documents. 

  • Certified copy of your valid passport. 
  • Passport-sized recent photographs.
  • Curriculum vitae (CV).
  • Attested photocopies of academic degree certificates.
  • Attested photocopies of academic records, such as subjects and qualifications.
  • Proof of language proficiency (depending on the medium of instruction).
  • Etc.

Since starting dates and application deadlines vary depending on the university, all information regarding application deadlines and university-specific application documents can be found on the respective university’s website.