Barcelona: Public Policy

Photo of Exursión El Coll-Vallcarca (2017)
Early App Deadline: 
Monday, April 22, 2019
Final App Deadline: 
Monday, November 4, 2019
Language Requirement: 
Dana Currier

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.


Christopher Berry – “Comparative Politics and Policy”
We will study the political economy of our host city and nation. The first module of the course introduces students to the political behavior and institutions of the location, set within the broader context of the European Union. Subsequent modules explore the politics of policymaking process in three specific areas: physical, social, and fiscal policy. The course complements PBPL 221, Politics and Policy, which is focused on the United States.

Ariel Kalil – “Early Human Capital Development: Comparative Social Policy Perspectives”
We will study the social and policy contexts aimed at promoting the development, health, and well-being of young children, with an emphasis on our host nation and the European Union. Topics to be covered include family policies such as fertility and related family planning policies; marriage and family formation; policies targeting working parents (i.e. parental leave); income support policies for lone or low-income parents; as well as child care and early education programs targeted directly to children.

Susan Mayer – “Comparative Social Policy Analysis: Poverty, Inequality, and Redistribution”
This course will teach students the tools for understanding inequality and redistribution in comparative perspective. The course does not require deep knowledge of econometrics. Topics to be covered include defining and measuring social welfare, tools of the social policy maker including redistribution, incentives, universal vs. targeted policies, conditionality in social policies and potentially important trade-offs (like economic growth and equality).


Participants in this program are housed in either a student residence hall or shared apartments 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 be housed in the residence hall or apartment building with the students.

Credits and Registration

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, he or she 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 non-refundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the non-refundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Barcelona program during the 2019-20 year are listed below:

Spring tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

Study abroad administrative fee: $675

Barcelona Public Policy program fee: $4,900

Program fee includes: Out-of-pocket expenses include:
accommodation round-trip airfare to and from the program site
instruction transportation on site
student support meals
program excursions course materials
emergency travel insurance (ISOS) 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. 

Eligibility and Application

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 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, personal statement and academic recommendation. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

Further Information

To discuss the Barcelona: Public Policy program and the possibility of participating in it, please contact Dana Currier.

What you’ll see: 

Photo of students at Park GuellPhoto of Exursión El Coll-Vallcarca (2017)