Overview | Academics | Cost | Location | Life Abroad | Student Voices
Offered through the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE), the program in Alcala is co-sponsored by UW-Madison. Students attend the Universidad de Alcala, which is located in Alcala de Henares, a city only twenty-five kilometers from Madrid (thirty-five minutes by rail), with a population of 160,000 including 16,000 university students. Alcala itself offers many cultural and artistic attractions and the expanded opportunities of Madrid are readily accessible. Alcala's historic center is a unique mix of harmonious streets, noble architecture dating back to the 16th century, convents, shops, restaurants, tapas bars, entertainment venues, and graceful storks which nest on the tops of buildings.
This program is a good fit for highly motivated students with a particular interest in cultural, economic, and social issues relevant to contemporary Spain and its capital, Madrid.
Not sure where Alcala is? See it on a map here.
The University is located in Alcala de Henares, a manageable city only 25 km from Madrid (40 minutes by rail). The University has six faculties with 16,500 students.
Getting to Your Program
Students make own travel arrangements but are given guidelines for arrival date and times.
SummerU.S. citizens studying in Spain for the summer session do not need a visa. U.S. citizens must have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the end of the program. If you are not a US citizen, contact your Study Abroad Advisor for guidance.
A student visa is required for U.S. citizens studying in Spain for the semester or academic year. CIEE will provide you with visa information. U.S. citizens must have a U.S. passport valid for at least six months beyond the end of the program. If you are not a U.S. citizen, contact your Study Abroad Advisor for guidance.You are advised NOT to leave the U.S. for any international travel up to three months before the program begins as your passport must be turned over to the consulate for visa processing. If you must be out of the country more than a couple of days prior to the program start date, there is no guarantee that the consulate will process the visa in time for your departure.
Student visas cannot be extended in Spain.
OrientationA mandatory two-day orientation session, conducted upon arrival, introduces students to the country, the culture, and the academic program, and provides practical information about living in Alcala. A language skills diagnostic examination is conducted to identify the linguistic level of all participants so that each student is placed in appropriate courses.
HousingDuring the semester or year program, students live in either Spanish homes or in University residences with Spanish and other international students. Students in Spanish homes take their meals at the place of residence. Students in the University residences receive a meal stipend and take their meals in University-run facilities or prepare their own. Summer participants live in home stays.
Excursions and Activities
The academic program is supplemented with field trips and excursions. They include visits to museums, theaters, and fairs in Alcala de Henares and Madrid, excursions to nearby sites of historical interest such as El Escorial, Toledo, Segovia, Avila, and Salamanca. Longer trips may include Andalusia, Extremadura, and Spain's northern coast. Other cultural activities designed to bring together American and Spanish university students are intercambios and student participation in clubs and activities sponsored by the Universidad de Alcala.
You will be enrolled in the UW System required health insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) and the cost of the insurance coverage is included in program fees.
You will also be enrolled in a health and accident insurance program through CIEE.
CIEE Resident Director and staff.
Returned Student Network
to see testimonials from students abroad or to contact a returned student.
Alcala is a great place to study because you have a small town, and you meet lots of people who are willing to help you speak Spanish, and you are also very close to Madrid, where there is tons of stuff to do.
Read about current & past students' adventures.
The Universidad de Alcala was founded in 1499 and quickly gained a reputation for academic excellence. In 1836, the University transferred to the nearby capital of Madrid, leaving its historic facilities in Alcala unused until 1977 when the University was re-established, first as an extension of the University of Madrid and later as an independent entity. The Instituto Universitario de Estudios Norteamericanos de la Universidad de Alcala de Henares (the Institute) coordinates all cooperative arrangements between the University and U.S. institutions. The Institute offers academic programs in North American Studies for Spanish students and in Hispanic Studies for U.S. students.
The academic offerings for the fall/spring/year programs consist of a combination of CIEE Study Center language courses and courses offered through the Institute. Class size varies between ten and twenty-three students from U.S. colleges and universities. Students with the necessary pre-requisites are encouraged to enroll in one or two courses at the Universidad de Alcala with Spanish students. CIEE students can take courses in the following three schools: Philosophy and Letters, Economics and Business, and Law. Students are required to enroll in one language course and three elective courses.
Students on the summer program will take courses at the Institute ranging in subjects such as literature, language, art history, and history. Students are required to take two courses per summer session.
Program Web Page(s)
Use the links below to see a list of courses that students have taken on this program before and the UW equivalents. Note: this list only includes pre-approved courses for your program and may not be an exhaustive list of courses or departments. You will get instructions on the course equivalent process after acceptance.
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