Top Public Universities in Spain

Many of Spain’s universities, both in the public and private sector, are ranked among top worldwide universities. They are largely recognized for their academic study programmes in a wide range of study areas, at all levels. Universities in Spain showcase an astonishing commitment to the success of their students, offering instruction from outstanding professors, great studying and working facilities, and a comfortable, social, and diverse environment where students can thrive. In this article, we have compiled a list of some of the top public universities in Spain.

Spain is an excellent study abroad destination for ambitious students who love learning, exploring, and simply having fun. This country is known for its lovely culture and lifestyle, vibrant cities and nightlife, picturesque landscapes and its beautiful beaches and architecture. Above all, Spain excels in its academic sector as well, creating highly qualified individuals throughout the years. Its higher education system is simple, convenient, and efficient, which is also why international students in Spain believe it to be (and rightfully so) a wise choice to pursue higher education qualifications. 

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Here are the top public universities in Spain:

1. University of Barcelona

Located in Barcelona, Spain, founded in 1450. 

The University of Barcelona is one of the oldest universities in Spain, offering knowledge and creating successful individuals for centuries now. This public university is valued for its comprehensive study programmes, which have attracted students from all over the world and not simply Spain. It counts more than 40,000 students across its undergraduate degree programmes and almost 20,000 students in its master’s and doctoral studies. 

In 2018, The University of Barcelona counted over 5,500 scientific publications. It largely receives students from 122 nationalities, which make up around 15% of the whole university student population. Through its research impact, this university is ranked internationally as one of the most prestigious in the world, and one of the first scientific universities in Spain. 

2. Autonomous University of Barcelona

Located in Cerdanyola del Vallès, near Barcelona, founded in 1968.

With decades of experience in the academic field, this university is known to be one of the best universities in Spain offering a variety of study programmes at all degree levels. University figures show that around 25,924 students are enrolled its undergraduate studies, while over 8,000 study master’s, other diplomas, or postgraduate programmes. This number includes over 4,000 international students at all study levels. 

The Autonomous University of Barcelona offers almost 100 bachelor’s degree programmes, around 300 master’s degrees and diplomas, and approximately 70 PhD programmes. Students enjoy the academic and professional training which allows them to successfully enter the job market after graduation and create their dream careers with the help of the professional support they receive at university.  

3. Autonomous University of Madrid

Located in Madrid, Spain, founded in 1968.

An internationally recognized university with over 30,000 students across its degree programmes and around 3,000 in staff. Graduates of this university have a high employability rate, with around 90% of graduates finding employment a few months after graduation. This university has a great relationship with some of the best global universities, offering its students the opportunity to complete semesters abroad. 

Students, both national and international, get to enjoy the numerous cultural activities the university offers, such as summer courses and the likes. Its sports facilities, swimming pools, indoors and outdoors, all contribute to what makes this university so special to ambitious students. On top of all, academic excellence is what compliments the whole university journey. 

4. Complutense University of Madrid

Located in Madrid, Spain, founded in 1293. 

As one of the biggest (and oldest) universities in Spain, Complutense University of Madrid offers more than 90 degrees and over 300 master and postgraduate degree programmes. Although the majority of degree programmes are in Spanish, international students may also find courses taught in the English language. This university has a long and rich history and it is actually one of the oldest in the world.

The diverse student population, including international students from more than 80 nationalities, is what gives this university its extra edge. There are over 60,000 students in its degree programmes who get to enjoy the comfortable atmosphere and the academically-excellent environment that the university provides. The cultural events and numerous other extracurricular activities are also one of its distinguishing assets. 

5. Pompeu Fabra University

Located in Barcelona, Spain, founded in 1990.

This university was founded 3 decades ago and named after Pompeu Fabra, an expert linguist on the Catalan language. Although fairly young, this university has managed to rank among the top universities in Spain, offering just the right study conditions for its students. Currently, figures show that over 10,000 students are pursuing their undergraduate studies at this university, and more than 2,000 students in masters and doctoral degrees.

The university was created with the aim of contributing to the country’s development through the education of future generations. The university focuses fundamentally on research and training, aiming to promote innovation and social transformation. It continuously encourages students to become active members of society and contribute to its well-being.

6. University Carlos III of Madrid

Located in the Community of Madrid, Spain, founded in 1989.

University Carlos III of Madrid has almost 20,000 students across its wide range of degree programmes, 20% of which comprises of international students. This university is committed to the expansion of knowledge, offering the necessary skills and knowledge crucial to succeed. Students get to learn from well-known and highly regarded instructors and professionals, gaining both the practical and theoretical aspects of knowledge.

As one of the most accomplished public universities in Spain, University Carlos III of Madrid has gathered a lot of attention from students and academics worldwide. Its degree programmes are comprehensive, efficient, and well-organized, divided into sciences, social and legal sciences, humanities as well as engineering. 

7. Polytechnic University of Catalonia

Located in Barcelona, Spain, founded in 1971. 

This university is the largest engineering higher education institution in Catalonia. Apart from engineering, it also offers degree programmes in fields like mathematics and architecture. The Polytechnic University of Catalonia counts more than 60 bachelor’s degrees, over 70 master’s degrees, 30 of which are taught in the English language. This university also offers the possibility of getting a PhD, counting over 40 doctoral degrees. 

The Polytechnic University of Catalonia currently has around 22,682 undergraduate students, 5,269 master’s degree students, and 2,210 students in their doctoral studies. More than 3,000 individuals are part of the teaching and research staff, providing quality education to each student enrolled in one of the courses at this university. 

8. Polytechnic University of Valencia

Located in Valencia, Spain, founded in 1968.

The Polytechnic University of Valencia aims to help students enhance their skills, build their careers, and generate knowledge, in numerous fields of study like science, technology, art, and business. The goal is to encourage students to become the future of society, contributing to its development and betterment, both economically and culturally. The university pays a lot of attention to the values of quality, rigour, as well as ethics. 

This university has three campuses located in Vera, Gandia and Alcoy Vera, with the first campus being made of almost a hundred buildings dedicated to teaching and research. The Alcoy Vera campus has three buildings, two of which are historical buildings, while the third is a sports facility. The Gandia campus is where you find the lecture halls, library, labs and administration. 

9. University of Zaragoza

Located in Zaragoza, Spain, founded in 1542.

With more than 28,000 students pursuing their academic qualifications at this university, this higher education institution is where students find the academic growth necessary to succeed in the labour market. Known also as Saragossa University, this is also among the oldest universities in Spain, building academic expertise throughout the centuries. Its staff, facilities, rich history, and excellence make this university an interesting place to study a degree.

The University of Zaragoza counts more than 3,000 international students in its overall student population. These students come from all around the world to learn, study, build their careers, and simply enjoy the historical and cultural richness this university has to offer. Since it dates back to the Roman period, the University of Zaragoza is quite intriguing to students worldwide.

10. Polytechnic University of Madrid

Located in Madrid, Spain, founded in 1971.

The Polytechnic University of Madrid might be considered as a young university in comparison to some of the formerly mentioned universities. However, it provides its students with an unmatched study experience which enables them to easily launch into their careers. Despite its foundation year, most of its schools date back a hundred years ago, since they have existed alone before merging into the Polytechnic University of Madrid we know today.

This university has more than 30,000 students and approximately 2,500 in academic staff. Currently, the Polytechnic University of Madrid has 18 schools, 9 research centres and institutes and 205 departments. This university pays a lot of attention to international education, and its degree programmes cover all areas of architecture and engineering. Every year, almost 700 international students come to this university under the Erasmus+ exchange programme.