Written by Hannah Slack
Spain’s well-established historic universities and high-quality doctoral programmes provide excellent development opportunities for prospective PhD students. With government investment in all disciplines, students can expect to receive generous financial support while studying in the beautiful Mediterranean climate that makes Spain such an enjoyable place to live.
From government scholarships and university awards to industry support, Spain has lots to offer in the way of PhD funding to international students. For this page we have covered everything you need to know about financing a PhD in Spain as well as the main funding options for prospective students.
Spanish PhD funding – what you need to know first
Spain has long been a popular destination for international students. With a strong focus on doctoral training and development, their PhD courses offer plenty of opportunities to build strong relationships with both academic and non-academic partners.
Aside from how their PhD courses run, there are also lots of great things about the funding available for prospective students. Here are a few key things you need to know:
- A large part of tuition is charged per credit, not per semester or year. This means that tuition fees will differ, usually with the first year being the most expensive.
- The most common form of PhD funding in Spain comes from the government, who support over 800 students per year in any discipline.
- The cost of living in Spain is relatively low making it an affordable country for many international students.
- There are plenty of short-term grants and awards offered by industries to help support PhD students throughout their studies.
The cost of a PhD in Spain
Unlike most countries who set a fixed tuition fee for each year, Spanish PhD tuition fees are paid per credit taken. The price per credit will depend on the university, discipline and the student’s country of residence, with EU/EEA students usually paying less. Typically, for an EU/EEA student, a credit will cost around €55 or lower.
In Spain, PhD students only take credit courses during their first year of study. They are required to study 60 ECTS. This means that tuition for the first year will be the most expensive and can go up to €3,300 for EU/EEA students.
During the rest of the PhD course students only have to pay for supervision, continual assessment and administrative costs. On average this costs around €550 per year, but you should expect variation depending on the university and your country of residence.
Compared to the rest of Western Europe, living as an international student in Spain is quite affordable. Students should expect to spend around €900-1,000 per month. Depending on whereabouts in Spain you are located, accommodation can cost between €500-900, leaving the remaining budget for food and miscellaneous costs.
Spanish government PhD funding
The most common PhD scholarships in Spain are offered by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Professional Training. They have two main scholarship programmes: Grants for the Training of University Teachers (FPU) and Salvador de Madariaga, a predoctoral aid programme at the European University Institute (IUE).
Grants for the Training of University Teachers (FPU)
The FPU is a grant awarded to predoctoral students for the completion of a doctoral thesis in a Spanish university. The programme is designed to train students of any discipline in university teaching skills with the intent to facilitate their future incorporation into Spanish higher education.
Each year 885 grants are awarded. Students receive a monthly stipend of €1,188.49 for the first two years. This amount then increases to €1,273.38 in the third year and €1,591.73 in the fourth. Alongside the monthly payments, student will also receive two additional payments each year.
Salvador de Madariaga
The Salvador de Madariaga offers grants for predoctoral training at the Florence European University Institute (IUE). This programme facilitates the hiring of students and finances their salary while carrying out a doctoral thesis within four years.
Currently the IUE supports applications in the departments of History, Political and Social Sciences, Economics and Legal Sciences. More information about specific topics can be found on their website.
During the first two years of study recipients will receive a monthly provision of €1,300. In the final two years this increases to €1,600 and two additional payments will added. The scholarship also offers students aid with travel expenses, providing €700 at the start of the first and third year.
University scholarship programmes
Some universities offer grants and financial aid to international students for doctoral courses. These opportunities could be offered on a means-tested basis, by discipline or by academic award. Usually you’ll find these opportunities listed on the institution’s website.
Other funding opportunities
There are also many institutions, charities and trusts that offer support to international students, so make sure to do some research into potential opportunities. The following are some of the largest funding bodies currently active.
The Fundación Carolina promotes cultural relations and educational cooperation between Spain and the countries of Ibero-American Community of Nations. Their doctoral scholarships are intended to promote doctoral degrees among professors of Latin American universities.
The scholarship operates as a co-financing system, where 60% of the cost is covered by Fundación Carolina and the remainder is provided by the university in Latin America.
Students receive a living cost stipend of €1,200 per month alongside full tuition and administrative fee cover. Awardees are also granted three round-trip air ticks per academic year. Please note that the living cost stipend is only awarded during set months of on-site study. Students are only able to claim their scholarship for a duration of 21 months during the three years of the PhD. More information can be found on the Fundación Carolina website.
Some Spanish companies also offer scholarship opportunities for postgraduate students throughout the year. Santander has a lot of opportunities for short-term financial support to postgraduate students. These can be limited or one-off grants awarded for a variety of reasons. Some may be to fund the attendance of training opportunities while others are financial awards for academic prowess.
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Last Updated: 13 December 2022