Academic Year Abroad Madrid at the Universidad Carlos III, the Universidad Complutense, & the Universidad Autónoma

Academic Options

Academic Year Abroad offers several options for study in Madrid:

  • The Curso de Estudios Hispánicos (CEH) at the Universidad Carlos III, with the option of complementary courses in Humanidades (the Carlos III equivalent of general education courses) and even a limited number of asignaturas ordinarias (regular courses).
  • Asignaturas ordinarias (degree courses taken by Spanish students) at the Universidad Complutense.

Below are brief descriptions of each program, as well as links to available course listings.

Study at Carlos III for Intermediate Speakers
2+ years of college-level language preparation

The AYA Madrid group, Spring 2009
From left to right: Bethany Sherry, Katie Schuh, Hannah Westlake, Jeanette Smith, Ryan Multer, Katie Sheffield, Kara Fenn, Jillian Olson, Jeannette Rowland, Sara Heim, Kevin McConnell, Kassondra Meyer, and Christine Looker.

Curso de Estudios Hispánicos (CEH)
The Curso de Estudios Hispánicos at the Universidad Carlos III is recommended for students with strong preparation in Spanish who wish to study various facets of Spanish culture in an integrated program: literature, history, theatre, art, cinema, journalism, law, and intellectual history. The Curso includes Spanish language classes at four levels, from intermediate to highly advanced. AYA students admitted to the Curso de Estudios Hispánicos will have access to courses such as the ones included here (note that language and conversation courses are on various levels):

Through AYA you may register for 4-5 courses from the list of CEH courses. You will be in the same building with Spanish students, and your professors will be members of the Carlos III faculty, but CEH courses are reserved for foreign students.

Through AYA you may register for 4-5 courses from the list of CEH courses. You will be in the same building with Spanish students, and your professors will be members of the Carlos III faculty, but CEH courses are reserved for foreign students.

All CEH courses are 3 hours/week (3 credits in the conventional American system). If possible, talk to your adviser and try to determine in advance which courses would best satisfy your university requirements. Try to reserve your final decisions until you know what your language level is and which professors you find interesting. You will be allowed to attend any classes for two weeks before making a decision on the courses you will take. The grade you receive on your final transcript is the one the Spanish professor gives you.

If your Spanish is good, and you can stay for Carlos III exams (end of January until the middle of February), we encourage you to register for at least one of the regular courses (asignaturas ordinarias), especially those offered under the rubric Humanidades. (Indeed, even if you must leave Madrid early, it may still be possible to take Humanidades courses, provided that arrangements can be made for early exam sessions. See below for the Cursos de Humanidades and asignaturias ordinarias options.)

Study at Carlos III for Advanced Speakers
3+ years of college-level language preparation or native speaker

Cursos de Humanidades
This is the liberal arts curriculum that is a general degree requirement for Carlos III students. Its one- and two-credit courses are topics-oriented (monographic) and range from the arts, literature, history, geography, philosophy, and political science to cultural topics. These courses may extend from semester to semester or be offered at various times during the semester (for example, during the first half, second half, or during fewer weeks with more contact hours). While the Curso de Estudios Hispánicos and Regular Curriculum for major fields (see course samples) repeat predictably and are posted weeks in advance, the Cursos de Humanidades monographic courses are scheduled and announced only near the beginning of each semester. The following is a list of course titles in the Licenciatura en Humanidades, 1-2 credit liberal arts courses meant to round out the educations of Carlos III students, whatever their majors. Antonio Rodríguez de la Heras defines the principal objective of the Cursos de Humanidades as follows: “Conseguir que el alumnado de esta Universidad salga de sus aulas con una inquietud por estar abierto y receptivo a un mundo de cultura mucho más amplio que el proporcionado por la especialidad que haya cursado.

The most recent Humanidades courses can be accessed through the links at Select ficha and cronograma after each course title to access course descriptions and syllabi.

Asignaturas Ordinarias (Regular Curriculum)
These are courses from the curricula in major fields at Carlos III. AYA students will be asked to consider their background in a specific field before enrolling in an advanced course of this sort. Class sizes vary in these curricula, as do teaching methods, although a combination of lecture format and written exams is likely to predominate. Credit will be based on the number of hours of instruction per week, generally 3-4.

Links to the current Grado (undergraduate) department pages are listed here:

Bilingual Program in Engineering at Carlos III (Leganés Campus)
Classes offered in Spanish and English

Engineering at Carlos III
Electrical • Industrial • Computer • Mechanical • Audio-Visual Systems • Communications Systems • Telematics

Students who wish to study Engineering in Madrid may enroll as alumnos visitantes at the bilingual program in Engineering (Ingeniería) at Carlos III (Leganés Campus). AYA students can take introductory and advanced courses in a variety of Engineering fields, as well as fundamental courses in Math, Physics, and Statistics. Through this bilingual program, students may choose to take courses either in Spanish or in English, though certain courses are conducted in Spanish only. Students who wish to take electives in the Humanities and Social Sciences in addition to courses in Engineering can arrange to take CEH courses on the Getafe Campus of Carlos III (see above for CEH program details).

For more information about Engineering at Carlos III and for complete lists of courses in each Engineering field, please visit the Carlos III website at

Study at the Complutense for Advanced Speakers
3+ years of college-level language preparation or native speaker

The fields in advanced studies accessible to AYA students as alumnos visitantes at the Universidad Complutense are so numerous that only a very small fraction of the departments can be mentioned here. Students competent to take advanced courses at the Complutense may choose from the offerings of the following departments:

Arabic Studies | Anthropology | Archaeology | Architecture | Art History | Biology | Chemistry | Ecology | Economics | Education | Engineering | Fine Arts | Geography | Geology | History | Journalism | Law | Library Science | Linguistics | Mathematics | Music | Paleontology | Philology | Philosophy | Physics | Political Science | Psychology | Sociology

Often the actual departments at the Complutense are more specific than the above, representing specializations within those fields, viz, Genetics, Mathematical Analysis, Romance Philology. See the Universidad Complutense website at

Studying at the Complutense as an alumno/a visitante is demanding in several ways: it requires fluency in Spanish, excellent preparation in the major subject, and extension of the term or academic year by approximately a month in order to take final examinations.

The AYA Director in Madrid will advise students concerning the levels of the courses elected. The levels of the Complutense Licenciatura are normally designated PRIMER CICLO (courses from the first three years of study), and SEGUNDO CICLO (courses from the fourth and fifth years of the major). Any student intending to study as an alumno visitante at the Complutense for only one semester will not be permitted to take annual courses, that is, courses that extend through two semesters. The minimum number of credits is 18: three six-credit courses. It is not unusual to take more credits than the 18-credit minimum. A student accepted for this program may reach the AYA Director in Madrid in advance, usually by e-mail ([email protected]), for information and details concerning specific courses and course levels to be discussed with an adviser at his/her home university.

The Complutense option is clearly one of the most valid forms of university study in Spain available to advanced students.