Barcelona: Public Policy

Three students share a laugh while sitting outside on a bench decorated with mosaic tile.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Naira Ovsepyan

Application Deadlines:



The University of Chicago’s Spring quarter Barcelona Public Policy Program provides University of Chicago students with an opportunity to study comparative public policy in the exciting cultural and political capital of Catalonia in northeastern Spain.

    The program is designed to expose students to policymaking in a non-U.S. setting through a combination of courses and excursions that will allow students to learn how the political and policymaking system operates in other nations. Students will discover how Spain and the European Union as a whole have approached common policy challenges, specifically in the areas of inequality and child development. The three-course Public Policy sequence will meet the requirement for three courses in an area of specialization within the Public Policy major (though students need not be Public Policy majors to participate in the program). In addition to the Public Policy sequence, participants take a fourth course in Spanish language. Students with sufficient knowledge of Catalan may substitute a Catalan language course in place of the Spanish language course.

    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 public policy with the city’s many important policymaking institutions.

    The following courses will be taught in Spring 2024:

    • PBPL 25831. Comparative Politics and Policy (Alexander Fouirnaies)
    • PBPL 25835. The Political Economy of Cities (Chris Berry)
    • PBPL 25832. Early Human Capital Development (Ariel Kalil)

    All participants also take a Spanish or Catalan language course.

    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 Barcelona program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the Public Policy sequence and the Spanish or Catalan language course. The Public Policy sequence may be used to meet the requirement of three courses in an area of specialization within the Public Policy major. If a student has already met this requirement or is not a Public Policy major, they may use these courses as electives. 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 language course will normally count as an elective. Neither the Spanish nor the Catalan course in Barcelona is keyed to Chicago’s Spanish or Catalan language sequences or equivalent to any specific on-campus course. 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 Public Policy 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 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. 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 the Public Policy sequence is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take Spanish or Catalan on campus before the program begins.

    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 Public Policy program and the possibility of participating, please contact Naira Ovsepyan.