Europe has long been a destination for international graduate students seeking their Masters and PhD programs, but now another country is making it's mark.
One of the major pulls of studying in Spain is its reputation as one of the more sophisticated and cultured European countries, says Michael Aldous, Director of International Communication at IE Business School. Although there are an increasing number of Masters programs being delivered in English, one of the biggest draws of studying in Spain is the opportunity of learning the Spanish language and emersion in the culture. Spanish is reckoned to be the third most spoken language globally, Aldous says.
Traditionally, Spain has often been regarded as the gateway to Latin America, with many multinational corporations operating out of Madrid and Barcelona having substantial holdings in both continents. Widely spoken in Latin America, Spanish is also the second most prevalent language in the US. Aldous says this has contributed to it being the second lingua franca of business, and the two-year length of a Masters course in Spain offers students a great opportunity to gain a working knowledge of the language. This has opened up many opportunities for international graduates from Masters programs, he says.
Major Spanish companies such as Telefonica, Ferrovial and Santander have become global players, acquiring substantial positions outside their traditional markets in Spain and Latin America. In the case of companies like Inditex (owners of the Zara brand), innovation has been at the heart of their success. Indeed in growth industries such as renewable energies, Spanish companies such as Iberdrola are rapidly becoming market leaders. Spain offers an exciting and creative business environment.
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, a public university founded in 1989, is one university committed to developing close relationships with potential national and international employers of its graduates. The University's Service, Planning, Guidance and Training (SOPP) section supports its 20,000 students, 3,000 of whom are studying either a Masters or PhD program, throughout the process of securing employment, from offering guidance to appropriate career opportunities to providing training courses for the development of skills relevant to the workplace. The International Practice schemes also offer students the opportunity to gain work experience through internships as part of their programs.
Professor Alvaro Escribano, Vice Chancellor of International Relations believes this is one advantage international graduate students have when they come to study at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.
We have very good contacts with employers and businesses so that our students can access the right services to make their entry into employment easier. We have relationships throughout the world and students have opportunities in a range of companies, particularly in the areas of business, finance and economics. Large multinational companies are also interested in our students because they have studied in English but are used to an international environment from studying here in Spain.
Spain plays host to some of the oldest universities in the world
Spain plays host to some of the oldest universities in the world and the tradition of higher education provides an important factor in more international students considering Spain as a graduate study destination. Both private and state universities offer graduate programs across the full range of academic subjects. Many of these institutions have now adopted the European-wide Bologna reforms resulting in Masters degrees being between one and two years in length and PhD programs a minimum of three years.
The application process for many of Spain's taught Masters programs is similar to that operated in other European countries, with direct applications being accepted from students with an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. Depending on the content and subject of the graduate degree for which a student is applying, it is routinely expected that the first degree will be in a similar academic area. Deadlines vary by university and in some cases two application dates are offered for prospective international students. Some universities, such as Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, indicate very precisely the academic and other requirements needed by an international student to qualify for admission and also disclose the exact weight different elements of the application material will be given. In the case of the Pompeu Fabra's Masters in Bioinformatics, for example, the admissions decision is conducted by a panel of three academic members of staff: 50% of the decision is based on a candidates academic record, 10% on any additional academic or professional training relevant to the degree and 40% on a candidate's personal aptitudes.