Barcelona: Civilization in the Western Mediterranean

(Taught in Spanish)
Four students pose for a photo on a sunny day, with buildings, mountains, and clouds behind them.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Naira Ovsepyan

Application Deadline:


The University of Chicago’s Spring quarter Barcelona Program provides University of Chicago students with an opportunity to study the history and culture of Spain and the Mediterranean world in the exciting cultural and political capital of Catalonia in northeastern Spain.

    The centerpiece of the program is the three-course sequence “Civilization in the Western Mediterranean,” taught in compressed form during the quarter. This sequence, which focuses on Spanish history from antiquity to the 20th century, meets the College’s civilization requirement. The distinctive feature of this sequence, unique among most other civilization programs (with the exception of the European Civ in French) is that all coursework is conducted in Spanish. In addition to the civilization sequence, participants take a fourth course in Spanish and Catalan culture. This program thus weds elements from Chicago’s civilization-based and language immersion programs. For the student with sufficient Spanish language preparation (see “Eligibility and Application” below), it represents a valuable opportunity both to study Western Mediterranean history and culture intensively and to hone language skills. This civilization program is one of two such sequences in Barcelona. An English-language Western Mediterranean Civilization in Barcelona program is offered in the winter quarter.

    Classes for the Barcelona program are held at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, a modern university in central Barcelona. A series of excursions within and in the vicinity of Barcelona helps to connect the study of Spain’s rich history with its physical remnants.

    Participants in this program are housed in a student residence hall in central Barcelona within easy commuting distance of Pompeu Fabra. These accommodations feature double rooms with shared bathrooms, kitchens, and living spaces. A Chicago Graduate Assistant will reside nearby.

    It is important to recognize the cultural context of student housing in Spain and understand that the amenities of the dorms may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in Barcelona will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    Participants in the Civilization in the Western Mediterranean in Barcelona (in Spanish) program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the civilization sequence and a Spanish and Catalan culture course. The civilization sequence meets the College’s civilization requirement. Students who have already met this requirement may use these courses as electives. The civilization courses have also been pre-approved for use in the Spanish major or minor, assuming a student is not using them for the civilization requirement (a course cannot “double count” for both Civ and major/minor credit). Their use, partial or total, in any other program of study (major) must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the student’s respective major. The culture course will normally count as an elective but may be eligible for use in the Spanish major or minor. Course titles, units of credit, and grades are placed on the College transcript.

    Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Barcelona program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Spring tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Barcelona Civ in Spanish program fee: $5,960

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (including cell phone usage)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses 

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $250 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Barcelona is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    The Barcelona: Civilization in the Western Mediterranean (in Spanish) program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing who are beyond their first year in the College. Because all work—lectures, discussions, readings, and assignments—is conducted in Spanish, applicants are expected to have taken, with excellent grades, through Spanish 20300 as well as one additional course: either Spanish 20400, 20500, or a literature course (Spanish 21100, 21500, or above). Additional advanced language courses may be required based on a student’s background. Students with questions about their Spanish preparation should contact Janet Sedlar ( or Nene Lozada (

    This minimum prerequisite aside, applicants are strongly encouraged to take Spanish language courses beyond the second-year level; indeed most participants will have had one or more courses at the advanced level. In some cases, an offer of admission to this program is made contingent upon summer language work. While the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity.

    Because of the considerable demand for Chicago’s civilization programs abroad, no student may participate in more than one of these programs. Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Barcelona: Civilization in the Western Mediterranean (in Spanish) program and the possibility of participating, please contact Naira Ovsepyan.