Spain Semester Abroad

Host Institution

Insitituto B. Franklin de Estudios Norteamerianos
(Franklin Institute; formerly IUIEN)
University of Alcalá
Calle Trinidad 1, 28801
Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), Spain

Overview of Program

This program distinguishes itself from other programs at St. Mary’s because of the following features:

  • It is an immersion-type program that offers homestay with Spanish families;
  • It is rich in language acquisition and powerful in terms of cultural experiences and intercultural understanding;
  • It offers St. Mary’s core curriculum courses and other courses offered by the Franklin Institute and taught by Spanish faculty.
  • It maintains St. Mary’s low Faculty-Student ratio while offering strong mentoring through the accompanying faculty and the Franklin Institute.

The program is conducted in a charming and historical site, Alcalá de Henares, located close to Madrid, one of Europe’s great cities and cultural centers.

The University, established in 1499, is the second oldest in Spain. The city is the birthplace of Don Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote. Madrid may be reached by frequent trains and buses which take approximately half hour.

Benefits of the Program

  • Affords students a normal 4-5 class load with long weekends available for travel and museum visits;
  • Provides a rare chance to build Spanish language proficiency and acquire cultural proficiency and understanding of Spain, a main US trading partner, 5th ranking European economy and an important member of the EU (Europe’s powerful 15-nation block);
  • Offers a powerful experience rebounding in personal growth and understanding, increased maturity, and greater personal responsibility; and,
  • Enhances markedly one’s marketability and professional advancement in a growingly interconnected world.

The program is designed to accommodate upwards of 25 students led by a field director and an associate field director chosen from full-time professors at St. Mary’s. The program is conducted in the Spring semester. Applications are taken in the Office of International Education Programs in the preceding Spring semester.

Admission to the Program

While the program was designed specifically for sophomores and first semester juniors, it can accommodate the needs of other students. A good academic record (preferably 3.0 or better) is required, along with 2 recommendations by past instructors, a strong statement of personal goals, and latest unofficial transcripts. Qualities such as personal initiative and adaptability are sought. Some proficiency in Spanish is necessary.

Program’s Calendar/Schedule

The program is held in the spring semester. Students are required to take a minimum of four (12 credits) classes to be eligible for financial assistance, but no more than 5 classes or 15 credit hours. Classes are held Monday through Thursday. Students have opportunities to travel in and out of Spain on the weekends and during Easter Week.

Cost of Program

The cost of the program is slightly higher than a regular semester at St. Mary’s but it may be covered with the use of Financial Aid. The program is designed to minimize the amount of funds a student would need abroad. For example, all meals are generally included. The Program cost is similar to other programs similar in length, that include 1 or 2 trips within Spain, and personal spending are not included. Costs covered by the program include:

  • St. Mary’s Tuition (12-15 hours);
  • Round-trip airfare from and to San Antonio;
  • Lodging and all meals with a Spanish family;
  • One or two structured side trips within Spain; and,
  • Allowance for public transportation within Alcalá and Madrid.

Informational Links

“Alcalá Universidad” and “Living and Learning in Spain”


Grace Keyes, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology