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Universities in Madrid, Spain

Photo of the city skyline of Madrid with sunrise in background
Madrid is home to many beautiful buildings and parks.

Madrid is the capital and largest city in Spain, with a population of over 6.5 million metropolitan residents. Madrid is Europe’s second largest city and has been a major global city for hundreds of years.

Today, Madrid is home to multiple world-leading industries including manufacturing, technology, financial services and media. Additionally, the city is also a leading centre of design, fine arts, fashion and European culture. Madrid offers world-class public facilities, urban infrastructure and public safety for its residents.

Nearly 15 percent of Madrid’s population is foreign-born, and the city has been a meeting point for people from all over the world for centuries. Moreover, English is widely spoken throughout the city, allowing international travellers to easily communicate and explore the area.

Top Universities in Madrid

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

The Universidad Autónoma de Madrid is ranked third worldwide by QS in its global rankings of universities which are fifty years old or less. The university is home to nearly 30,000 enrolled students, including about 4,500 international admits.

The university is primarily located in the Cantoblanco region on the outskirts of Madrid, and also operates a campus focused on medical and healthcare degree programs near Madrid’s La Paz hospital. The campus is well-connected to downtown Madrid, and there are plenty of sporting and recreational activities on campus itself for students to enjoy.

Alongside offering world-class academic courses in around 60 departments, the Universidad Autónoma is also well-known for its research & innovation, and operates eight research centres on campus. Additionally, the university offers excellent support to international students seeking post-graduation employment through its multiple partnerships with large-scale employers in the Madrid region.

Complutense University of Madrid

Originally established nearly seven hundred years ago, the Complutense University of Madrid was established in its current campus in the Ciudad Universitaria region of Madrid in 1927. The university is home to nearly 85,000 enrolled students studying over 400 degree programmes, and also operates satellite campuses in the neighbouring city of Pozuelo de Alarcón. 

Complutense University offers a rich heritage of award-winning teaching and research from nearly seven centuries, especially in specialised courses including law and medicine. Additionally, the university operates study abroad programmes with top-ranked universities in locations such as Paris, Slovakia, Czech Republic and the United States. 

The university’s main campus is also regularly used as a venue for Spanish movie premieres and screenings. Most importantly for international students, the university’s International Welcome Centre provides you with all the assistance and information you will require to settle into your new surroundings in Madrid as an international student. 

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Established in 1989, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid is home to nearly 18,000 students, including a sizable international community of about 3,600 students. The university focuses on creating an international and multicultural atmosphere on campus, and operates student exchange programmes through the Erasmus organisation with top-ranked universities all over the world. 

With a post-graduation employment rate of 93.4%, Universidad Carlos III provides excellent resources for international students to secure their dream jobs at world-leading companies. The university offers a large number of degree programmes taught in English at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Alongside its Madrid campus, the university operates three satellite campuses in Getafe, Leganes and Colmenarejo.

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Established in 1971 after a merger between multiple local universities, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid originally offered specialised degree programs in engineering & architecture but now provides degrees across 21 schools. The university operates on four campuses across Madrid and is home to just under 40,000 enrolled students.

The university operates more than 400 student exchange programmes every year, and even offers its engineering students the chance to complete a dual degree at a top-ranked foreign university. Alongside world-class academics, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid offers strong research & innovation programmes in fields such as automobile research and solar power.

European University of Madrid

Founded in 1995, the European University of Madrid operates on two campuses in Madrid – Villaviciosa and Alcobendas. The European University offers a wide range of degree programmes alongside vocational courses for its 10,500 enrolled students, which includes a sizable community of over 3,000 international students. 

The university encourages international students to become entrepreneurs and provides excellent career resources for you to secure ideal post-graduation employment opportunities. The university’s Villaviciosa campus focuses on vocational training whereas the Alcobendas campus provides world-class entrepreneurial centres and career resources.

Madrid Universities World Ranking 2024

Below are the top-ranked Madrid universities for international students, with their ranks in two of the world’s most well-respected international university rankings, the QS 2024 University World rankings and the Times Higher Education 2024 Rankings.

For more information about rankings systems and methodologies see our University rankings explained guide.

UniversityQS World Ranking 2024Times Higher Education Ranking 2024QS Rank in SpainTHE Rank in Spain
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid=199201-2504=2
Complutense University of Madrid=171501-6003=5
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid=319801-1,0007=7
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid=3498
European University of Madrid1,001-1,200=8

List of other top-ranked Colleges & Universities in Madrid

In addition to the five top-ranked Madrid universities for international students, Madrid has a large number of specialised institutes offering degree programmes and vocational training in a wide range of subjects. Additionally, the city is also home to multiple satellite campuses of top-ranked universities worldwide.

Below are a few of the top-ranked institutes in and around Madrid for international students:

Tuition and Living Costs in Madrid

Tuition fees at the best Spanish public universities for international students usually cost between 200-3,500 US Dollars per year for bachelor’s and master’s programmes. At private universities, the tuition charges may be higher at up to 20,000 US Dollars per annum, with specialised degree programmes, such as executive MBAs, costing up to 30,000 US Dollars per year for international students.

As for living costs, IE Business School estimates that international students in Madrid should budget between 900-1,100 US Dollars per month. This budget includes 450-600 US Dollars for shared accommodation, 250-350 US Dollars for food expenses, 50-60 US Dollars for public transport, 100-150 US Dollars for utilities and another 80-100 US Dollars for miscellaneous expenses.

Spain’s current student visa rules allow international students to work up to 20 hours per week alongside their academics & research, and there are plenty of online job search platforms where you can find ideal part-time employment and internships in and around Madrid. Many international students work alongside their degree programmes to offset tuition and living expenses.

Life in Madrid for International Students

The city of Madrid has become a perfect mix of new-age urban infrastructure and historical landmarks over the years. Madrid offers something for every type of international student in terms of recreation and entertainment, from world-class sporting venues to world-famous concert halls and art museums.

Situated in central Spain, Madrid is less than three hours away by road from popular Spanish beachside towns such as Barcelona and Valencia. Additionally, less than an hour north of Madrid lies the Guadarrama mountain range which is filled with plenty of outdoor activities, hiking trails and scenic spots for a weekend getaway.

International students can comfortably travel from their home countries straight to Madrid-Barajas Airport, which also offers regular flights to tourist-favourite European cities such as Amsterdam and Paris. Below are a few of Madrid’s most iconic heritage sites and landmarks which international students would love to visit:

  • Museo Nacional Del Prado
  • El Retiro Park
  • Royal Palace of Madrid
  • Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum
  • Market of San Miguel
  • Temple of Debod 
  • Calle Gran Vía
  • Real Jardín Botánico
  • Madrid Zoo Aquarium
  • Parque de Atracciones de Madrid
  • El Capricho
  • Sabatini Gardens
  • National Archaeological Museum
  • National Library of Spain
  • Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial
  • Santiago Bernabeu Football Stadium
  • Royal Basilica of Saint Francis the Great

Studying at a university in Madrid will provide you with the chance to explore one of Europe’s most iconic and celebrated cities while enjoying a modern, urban and multicultural environment alongside world-class academics and research. Although you can live comfortably as an English speaker in Madrid, learning Spanish will allow you to truly explore and access the Spanish culture and lifestyle around you.

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