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CIEE Architecture and Design in Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain
Program Terms: Fall,
Homepage: Click to visit
Program Sponsor: CIEE 
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2018 02/25/2018 03/15/2018 TBA TBA
Fact Sheet:
Areas of Study: Art History, Spanish Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0
Academic Level: Sophomore Language of Instruction: English, Spanish
Housing Options: Dorms, Host Family
Program Description:


Come be inspired by Barcelona.

Drawing on the city’s history and wealth of visual resources, the Architecture and Design program offers you unique insight into the history and practice of architecture, design, and other visual disciplines, in contemporary Barcelona while gaining new cultural perspectives.

Through a combination of in-depth coursework, field trips and cultural site visits, internship opportunities and hands-on practice that brings you together with students from a variety of fields, you’ll enjoy a uniquely immersive and collaboration academic experience.

Study abroad in Barcelona and you’ll have access to:

  • Highly respected instructors of architecture and design
  • Some of Spain’s most spectacular and varied architecture
  • Prominent Spanish architectural and design firms
  • Excursions to explore the region of Catalonia and another major Spanish city (Madrid, Bilbao, Seville) and a 4-day trip to Berlin
The Value of CIEE


Choose from a two tracks of study – Architecture or Design – each with its own wide variety of courses taught in both English and Spanish. Explore the fundamentals of analysis, representation, and formal architectural principles; the works of Gaudí, his contemporaries and Art Nouveau. Or you could examine expressions of Interior Design and Furniture, Graphic Design, Technical Drawing, even Videographic experimentation. The choices are yours in Barcelona.  


What’s it like to work for a successful Spanish architectural firm? How do firms in Spain differ from those in the U.S.? Answer these questions and more by interning at a local company for academic credit. Building models, performing shadow studies, helping out on site visits—this practical application of your in-class studies will give you a leg up as you prepare to enter the professional world.


Contextualize your coursework and bring it to life with a series of excursions to historical Spanish landmarks, iconic buildings, and renowned architecture and design studios. Traverse the Roman ruins in the city of Tarragona. Climb Barcelona’s Torre Agbar, a 38-story skyscraper designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, and examine the inner workings of a successful Spanish design studio. You’ll also enjoy a four-day excursion to Germany, where you’ll interact with students from the CIEE Berlin Architecture program.


Recommended credit for the semester is 14–17 semester/21–25.5 quarter hours.

Contact hours for CIEE courses are 45 hours with recommended credit of 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours, unless otherwise indicated. ELISAVA courses are worth the equivalent of 2–4.5 semester/3–6.75 quarter hours; ESARQ courses are worth the equivalent of 2–4 semester/ 3–6 quarter hours. Contact hours vary.

Program Requirements

The study abroad program is divided into two tracks: Architecture and Design. All students in both tracks enroll in a semester-long Spanish language course at their level (4 credits) and a specially designed core course in English or in Spanish: The City in Visual Culture (3 credits). Students in the Architecture track also take a CIEE-arranged Architecture Studio at their level (6 credits) and choose an additional elective, in Spanish (at ESARQ or ELISAVA) or in English (at ESARQ or at CIEE). Students in the Design track also take several electives, in Spanish (at ELISAVA) and/or in English (at CIEE).

Students from either track with at least five prior semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent may choose the CIEE Internship (3 credits) as an elective. See the course description for additional prerequisites.

About Barcelona

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain with its own distinctive history, culture, and language. Set between mountains and the Mediterranean sea, the city's population is 1.6 million, with a total of 4.5 million in the greater metropolitan area. Walking though the city, one can observe 2,000 years of architectural history—Roman remains, the network of narrow streets in the Old Town, the 19th Century Eixample district with its original examples of Modernista architecture—contrasting with the ultramodern showpieces that continue to redesign its skyline.

Where You’ll Study

ELISAVA School of Design, an independently operated branch of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, is the leading Spanish design school. It was founded in 1961 by a group of architects, designers, and theoreticians with the goal of teaching design through a cross-disciplinary approach. ELISAVA offers undergraduate degrees in arquitectura técnica (a hybrid between construction management, building engineering, and architectural design), design (graphic, industrial, and interior), and technical engineering in industrial design. The school has more than 1,500 students and over 500 teachers and collaborators.

Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura is the School of Architecture of the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC). UIC is a private, non-profit institution founded in 1997 with the aim of providing individualized university training with an international approach and a focus on research. ESARQ provides instruction oriented towards innovative professional practice with the main priority of providing architects with international training while also giving them a good working knowledge of the most innovative technology. At present, ESARQ offers an undergraduate degree in architecture as well as several Master’s degrees in architecture.

The CIEE Study Center in Barcelona, Spain, is located in two adjoining historic buildings on Passatge Permanyer, near Passeig de Gràcia and Plaza Catalunya, Barcelona’s main square. This historic passatgeway provides a quiet haven in the city center and houses CIEE classrooms, a computer lab, and student lounges.

Housing & Meals

Study abroad students can choose to live in either Spanish homestays (there is also an option to live in a homestay along with another CIEE student) or in a student residencia (residence hall) with other Spanish and international students. These are located in urban settings throughout the city. Students living in a homestay will have breakfast and dinner provided at home, while lunch is at the students’ expense. Kitchen space is allotted the student should they wish to make picnic lunches to bring to campus, and many students choose to eat at the several university-run cafeterias. Students in homestays will have their laundry done for them once a week. Meals and laundry are not included in the student residencia option, but students share fully equipped kitchens where they can prepare their own meals and laundry facilities are available. All homestays and residencias are located within the city of Barcelona, and within 30 minutes by public transportation to the CIEE study center and host institutions.

As space in the residencias is limited, students who request to live there but cannot be assigned a place, are accommodated through a homestay placement. In the event that there are more requests to live in a residencia than the total available spaces, students with more advanced Spanish take priority over those with less Spanish (proficiency level is based on students´ CIEE Spanish course pre-registration and academic background in Spanish, as reflected on the transcript). Students who are not assigned the housing option of their choice are notified by the Resident Staff prior to arriving in Barcelona.

Academic Program

The Architecture and Design study abroad program started in 2007. The program has a thematic focus, and accommodates students at many language levels from beginner to advanced and heritage speakers, and with varying majors within the visual arts. The program is divided into two tracks: Architecture —with ESARQ as its host institution—and Design—with ELISAVA as its host institution. Classes are taught in Spanish (at ELISAVA, ESARQ and CIEE), or in English (at CIEE and ESARQ).

Academic Culture

The CIEE Study Center is located in a historic building located in Passatge Permanyer, a beautiful passageway near Plaza Catalunya, Barcelona’s main square. ELISAVA courses are held at ELISAVA School of Design on the Ramblas, and ESARQ courses are held at Universitat Internacional de Catalunya. Both campuses are well connected to the CIEE Study Center via public transportation.

While CIEE courses are designed to follow the American academic culture, courses at the host institutions are characteristic of the local university system. Syllabi are not as detailed as American syllabi and students are often expected to decide for themselves which readings from the syllabus they need to study to fill in gaps missed during the lectures. It is common to share notes with Spanish students and study together, which can benefit students in their language learning as well. Relatively less emphasis is placed on participation and much more on papers, projects, and exams.

Classes at ELISAVA and ESARQ have between 20 (studio classes) and 40 (regular classes) students. As a small, private school, ESARQ places special emphasis on providing students with highly individualized attention. It is the perfect match for CIEE students, who are able to attend architecture courses in Spanish with local students while also benefitting from private tutorials with ESARQ instructors. ELISAVA is a top design school in Barcelona and is associated with the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. The atmosphere is dynamic, creative, and multidisciplinary, also creating an ideal environment for CIEE students.