Madrid Universities

Posted on 10th May 2024

Our college counsellor Martine travelled to sunny Spain and visited two excellent universities in Madrid: SLU Madrid and ESCP’s Madrid campus. Both institutions give students an excellent experience, with the former focused on a US-style education abroad, and the latter on preparing students for the world of business. Also in Madrid, IE is a popular destination for our students, and provides them with an excellent, professionally-focused experience.

SLU Madrid

One of the main universities in Madrid is SLU Madrid , a campus of St Louis University (located in the US). All students at St Louis University are given the opportunity to study at the Madrid campus for a semester or summer term, for no extra cost. Alternatively, students can study their entire degree at SLU Madrid, or start their studies at SLU Madrid and finish at SLU in St. Louis. SLU Madrid students also have opportunities to study abroad at other locations including John Cabot, the American University in Rome, Rio, Korea, Brussels, Japan, and China! They can also study abroad at other US universities, if they make the arrangements on their own.

There are approximately 1000 students on campus, around half of whom are permanently based there, whilst the other half study abroad. Students at SLU have a sense of a strong, permanent community, but also lots of change with the incoming study abroad students. Complutense, a research university, is just around the corner as well.

SLU Madrid has a diverse student body, with 65 nationalities on campus. 50% of students are American; 15% Spanish, and 35% from other international locations. This gives the campus an American, bilingual feel.

SLU Madrid professors hail from all over, but most have PhDs from US universities. Classes are taught by professors, rather than teaching assistants. There are around 15 students per class, and there is a 35-student/class maximum. The university’s most popular major is International Business, and a mechanical engineering programme will be introduced in Autumn 2024. There is also a nursing programme, in which students have hospital experience at the university, and then go into Madrid hospitals. To take part in this programme, students must speak Spanish. Pure sciences are also offered, with a science lab, and fine and performing arts including dance, theatre, and music. Upon completion of their studies, students receive a diploma from Saint Louis University. The college offers a five-week summer session, including classes and Spanish lessons.

SLU Madrid offers a range of student services. Since it is a Jesuit university, there are facilities for students to practice their religion, including a faith building and retreats. The university feels a duty of care to all students, and offers a wellness centre as well as academic support services including career services, an academic advising team, internships, and CV and interview prep.

On campus, students will have three choices for housing. The first is the residence halls nearby, which are set up like US-style residence halls. This option includes all meals from September through May, and costs approximately €13,000 (£11,000). After a year or two, students will move off-campus.  Or, students can opt to live with a Spanish host family, which provides cultural immersion with or without a meal plan.

SLU Madrid is a great fit for students looking for an international, American education. Strong academics (eg AAA-BBB at A-Level, with a minimum of CCC, or a 32-34 on the IB) will set an applicant in good stead. Regarding testing, all ranges of scores are considered, but having a 1200+ on the SAT is advised.

Students can apply to SLU Madrid via the Common Application or directly through the university. There was a 22% increase in applications last year, so the institution is getting more and more competitive. There are scholarships available—some of which are quite generous—and a work study programme. There are both spring and autumn entry programmes, and the deadline for spring entry is 1 December (for students with EU passports) or 1 September (for students with other passports).

Staying in Spain after graduation can be tricky but not impossible, so students will need to plan ahead! It can be helpful to learn Spanish to help with this transition, and there are lots of opportunities to teach English in the country in order to gain time there.

There are various ways to assess yourself for college fit (explored in a blog post here ), and your counsellor can give you valuable feedback as well. They will have a sense of where students from your school have successfully applied, and of the profiles of these successful applicants. This context can be helpful to you when creating your college list.

ESCP Madrid

Another excellent institution in Madrid is ESCP’s Madrid campus . The school has three campuses in Madrid, and students have access to all three! The college offers Open Days across the campuses with representatives of each, so prospective students and their parents can learn about everything on offer. The university is a great fit for flexible, autonomous, business-minded students who love to travel. The university is looking for students open to different things who want to find out what they love doing!

ESCP Madrid is a small university, with around 350 undergraduate students. Classes are quite small and accommodate around thirty students, and more in large lecture halls. Assessment takes place via continuous evaluation, with lots of graded assignments throughout the academic year.

ESCP Madrid offers a mix of courses, with a focus on sciences and numerical subjects. In August, a maths course is offered to students who did not take maths at A-Level, to prepare them for this. There are over twenty post-graduate degrees across the campuses, including Real Estate, Hospitality, Management, and Finance; there is also the undergraduate Bachelor of Management. An intercultural awareness class, taught in Spanish, helps students acclimate.

ESCP Madrid applicants should have a minimum of ABC at A-Level, and 32+ on the IB (with a minimum 4 in HL maths, or 5 at SL). Admissions officers will assess applicants’ overall averages and student profiles, CV, and extracurriculars. For the SAT, they will be looking for scores of 1200+. There is no mandatory letter of recommendation, as with US applications, so students shouldn’t worry about submitting this. However, a letter of motivation is required; in this, students should express that they aren’t afraid to learn, that they know the school and how they would contribute to it, and signal their international outlook.

ESCP Madrid’s interview process is very important. In the interview, which takes place online, the content of the motivation letter is double-checked, and interviewers will assess students’ ambitions, how they would benefit and how they would like to develop. Students should make an effort to show the interviewers who they really are!

IE Madrid

IE Madrid focuses on professional subjects like business, design, maths, economics, science, architecture, and law. The university values technological immersion, entrepreneurial mindset, and diversity: the student body certainly reflects this last value, with 75% international students! IE has a second campus in Segovia, half an hour from Madrid. The historical Segovia campus previously served as a monastery, hospital, and orphanage at different points throughout the city’s history, and students have the opportunity to experience both campuses during their studies.

IE has its own admissions test, but also accepts SAT or ACT scores, so taking the latter can be a good way to satisfy IE’s requirements, as well as being useful for applications to other institutions (like US colleges, and Bocconi in Italy). IE applicants must also complete a virtual assessment and an interview.

Academic study at IE is very project-based and innovative. Programmes are divided into seven areas, called pathways. Students first narrow their interests into a general pathway, then into the specific programme that is the best fit. They also offer some dual-degree options, including business administration and fashion design, business administration and international relations, and economics and applied mathematics. IE Labs give students the opportunity to carry out hands-on work experience on campus, giving them experience on professional projects and close relationships with companies.

Students who are taking A-Levels will need to have at least three A-Levels in the range ABB to A*A*A* to be admitted to IE. The university recommends subjects relevant to the course a student wishes to study, and there may be additional academic requirements if a student does not have A-Levels in relevant subjects. Also required are at least 5 GSCEs with Cs or higher, but IE prefers As and Bs, particularly in relevant subjects.

For students taking the IB, IE’s range is 32-45 and the average score for admitted students is 36. Applicants will need the IB diploma rather than the certificate, and retakes are not considered. Particular subjects may be required for specific degrees, so applicants should be sure to check the requirements.

For students keen to study abroad, Madrid offers several excellent options. To talk through overseas university options, you can arrange a free call with a senior member of our counselling team here:

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