About Salamanca University
Founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX, Salamanca University is the oldest institution of higher learning in Spain. It became the first Spanish university to offer language courses to foreign students when it inaugurated its Spanish language program in 1929.
Spanish Programs at Salamanca University
What can I study at Salamanca University? Advice for foreign students
On this website we only offer Salamanca University’s Spanish courses; however, foreign students have the chance to study a wide range of subjects and programs. The University prides itself on being a multicultural hub of learning- foreign students make up around 25% of the total student body, coming from over 70 countries.
- Students per year: 32,000
- Foreign students: 9200
- Staff: 2612
- Degrees offered: 574
- Agreements with foreign universities: over 600
- Chemical sciences
- Agricultural and environmental sciences
- Social sciences
- Fine arts
- Economics and business
- Geography and history
- Translation and information science
Erasmus at Salamanca
Salamanca University takes part in the Erasmus program and has agreements with universities from many European countries. If you study at a European university that has an agreement with Salamanca, you could participate by directly applying to your home university. You could study for either one semester or a full academic year.
For a full list of the European countries and universities with which Salamanca has agreements, see:
Exchange at Salamanca
Salamanca also has agreements with a wide selection of international universities across a number of countries in Asia, the Americas and Oceania, again offering students the chance to study for either a semester or full year.
For the full list of international institutions with which the University collaborates, see:
Special Integration Programme
Foreign students with a Spanish level of B2 or above have the chance to participate in this program, which allows them to study alongside Spanish students. Choose between 2and 6 subjects per term, from a wide variety of courses.
For more information, see:
Foreign students that study business, economic or international relations in their home countries can spend a semester studying this special program, consisting of 3 subjects. All subjects (except one) are carried out in English.
For more information, see:
Salamanca University also offers foreign students the chance to learn English! Summer English camps are offered, allowing students to spend their holidays combining fun activities with English classes.
For more information, see:
The History of Salamanca University’s Spanish Language Program
The University of Salamanca added Spanish language and cultural courses to its curriculum in 1929. Today, the program is among the most successful of its kind, with a yearly enrolment of more than 4,000 foreign students and language teachers from across the world.
The university’s status as a pioneering force in the field of Spanish language instruction was affirmed by the Spanish government when the Instituto Cervantes (the official institution in charge of disseminating the Spanish language) assigned Salamanca University the task of elaborating and evaluating the yearly DELE exams used to officially accredit advanced Spanish language students worldwide.
The Spanish language program is housed in the Escuelas Menores building, a campus wing located in the heart of Salamanca’s historic district. A beautiful Renaissance court graced with magnificent arcades forms the center of the building. On its façade, which is decorated with numerous figures, the famous and difficult to spot ¨frog on a skull¨ can be found; a sight which according to local lore bestows academic success on its beholders. The building’s façade also features plateresque carvings of the Catholic Kings, Charles V's imperial coat of arms, and a depiction of the Pope with two Cardinals. The ancient walls are marked with the legacies of students who, upon graduation, have written their initials in ink composed of bull’s blood, olive oil, and herbs.
Surrounded by deep history as it is, the program’s installations nevertheless count with state-of-the-art educational technology and modern conveniences designed to provide students with a quality, comfortable learning experience.
The History of Salamanca University
Founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX, the University of Salamanca was Spain’s first institution of higher learning. By 1254 it had received acknowledgment from Pope Alexander IV as being one of the four great world universities, along with the universities of Oxford, Paris and Bologna. It has played host to numerous illustrious professorial careers throughout its long history, including those of Luis de León, Beatriz de Galindo, Melchor Cano, Francisco de Vitoria and Miguel de Unamuno. Such historical figures as Miguel de Cervantes, Hernán Cortés and Christopher Columbus have walked the university’s halls.
In 1254 King Alfonso X granted the university the privileges that constitute its Magna Carta; appointing curators; placing the institution under the authority of the bishop, the dean, and the chancellor; and assigning salaries to its professors. From that point on the university’s academic titles were presented in the name of the Pope and the King in Salamanca’s cathedral (a tradition that would continue until 1830).
During the medieval and modern periods, the university received its funding through royal and papal concessions, and the five colleges of Law, Canon Law, Theology, Medicine and Arts-Philosophy were formed. The university also offered complementary instruction in Humanities, Languages, Mathematics and Music. After the Law of Public Instruction was passed in 1857, the colleges were consolidated into Law, Philosophy and Arts, and Theology (which was subsequently closed in 1868).
Between 1869 and 1904, Salamanca’s local government and Town Council independently financed the schools of Medicine and Sciences, after which state financing was obtained under the rectorship of Miguel de Unamuno. When this source of funding was discontinued, the University turned to registration and academic fees as well as allocations from the state budget to meet its financial needs.
Today, Salamanca University consists of the colleges of Law, Liberal Arts, and Science and Medicine, as well as possessing numerous highly regarded academic units such as its Spanish language institute. The university enjoys an annual population of 30,000 students participating in upwards of 250 academic programs.
Facilities and Activities at Salamanca University
All students signing up for a course at Salamanca University will receive a student card which gives access to all university facilities; students can also participate in the special activities arranged outside class hours for foreign students.
Below you can find further information about the university facilities and activities arranged.
The Spanish courses for foreigners department is located in one of the historical university buildings situated in the Patio de Escuelas Menores which is in the centre of the old town. Although it is a historical building, the classrooms have been modernised, having access to the latest technology lsuch as TV, video and tape recorders to help students progress as swiftly as possible.
Although today some of the new faculties are located in the outskirts of Salamanca, many of them are still located in the historic centre. That and the many student cafeterias, libraries/bookshops, theatres and student activities that are arranged provide for a very youthful atmosphere.
With the student card that all students receive you will have access to all of the university's main facilities. For further information see below.
University Library – Salamanca University has one of the most important and beautiful university libraries in Spain. In the main library located in the historical centre more than 160.000 volumes can be found. There are also important manuscripts and incunables (the first type of book to be printed after the invention of the printing press and up until before 1501) from between the XIth and XIVth centuries and about 40.000 books edited between the XVIth and XVIIIth centuries. The library also has a famous ceiling painting known as ¨El Cielo de Salamanca¨.
University Sport Facilities – Salamanca University has two main sports complexes; the Polideportivo Universitario "Miguel de Unamuno" and the Complejo Deportivo Salas Bajas. Here you can practice almost all types of indoor and outdoor sports, including athletics, tennis, football, badminton, rugby, volleyball, etc. Both complexes are located within walking distance of the old centre and it is possible to participate in sport activities at competition level or just as a hobby.
Computer Centre – In the Spanish courses for foreigners building there is internet access and it is even possible for students to obtain a Salamanca University email address if requested.
Throughout the year Salamanca University arranges cultural, sports and academic activities for which any interested students can sign up. As a means for foreign students participating in any of the many Spanish programs to get to know the Spanish culture and way of life better while also having fun, a number of special activities are arranged.
The specially arranged activities for foreign students are divided into three different groups: one day or weekend excursions away from Salamanca, cultural activities in Salamanca, and social gatherings.
The excursions arranged have destinations such as Toledo, Segovia, Ávila, El Escorial, Madrid and Sevilla; with students being accompanied by experts who will explain all about the local history, culture and monuments.
The cultural activities within Salamanca include guided visits to the many monuments and museums of the city and also Spanish cinema events where students can see many of the popular Spanish movies.
The social activities include welcome parties, Christmas dinner, and other activities where the students can get to know each other and the professors better, in a different and more relaxed environment.
During the summer courses further special activity programs are arranged, and can include different Spanish dancing classes (Flamenco, Sevillanas, Vasco, etc), Spanish guitar classes, Spanish song lessons or Spanish cooking classes
Apart from the special activities arranged for foreign students the many different student organizations throughout the university welcome the participation of foreign students both as an active part of the organization or just participating in some of the events arranged.
Upon arrival in Salamanca it is possible to obtain full relevant information (including exact dates and prices) on the programmed activities for foreign students as well as for the other activities and events arranged within the university.
About Salamanca Town
Salamanca is located within the region of Castilla Leon in the central part of the Iberian Peninsula. The province of Salamanca shares its western border with Portugal, and the town of Salamanca is only about 2 hours drive from Madrid.
The city has approx. 170,000 inhabitants and although it is a small town, it has a good infrastructure and offers nearly all types of free time activities.
The weather in Salamanca is like the rest of central Spain; during the summer it is warm and dry and in the winter cold with some rain and occasional snow.
Salamanca is famous for its university, which is the third oldest university in Europe dating back to 1218; in fact the university has influenced Salamanca's history, daily life and atmosphere a great deal.
Before becoming a famous university town, Salamanca also enjoyed an interesting history. The first settlements in the area date back to about 2000 b.C with different tribes living in the area. Later on the town where inhabited by Greeks and Carthaginians and during the Romans Empires dominance in Spain Salamanca was an important agricultural area and also an obligatory stop on the silver route crossing Spain.
During the Moorish epoch the area of Salamanca was located in between the lines of the Moorish and Christian armies and therefore did not play an important role.
After the fall of the Moors Salamanca started to grew in size and after the declaration of the Spanish king to turn the city into a university town Salamanca became an important town. The golden period of Salamanca was in the 16th century where the gold coming in from South American helped finance many of the beautiful monuments and buildings (including parts of the university) which pride Salamanca today.
During the French invasion in 1808 led by Napoleon, many of the city's treasures were destroyed and the university was nearly closed down. Apart from the Civil War in the 1930's, Salamanca has experienced a stable period of continued growth.
Today apart from a famous university town Salamanca is also a modern town housing international conferences and with important cultural events. In 2002 the city was named European Cultural Capital and has in 2005 hosted the Iberian-South American conference with the participation of presidents from Spain, Portugal and South America.
For more information about Salamanca see this Salamanca Guide.
See also this useful guide about how to learn Spanish outside class in Salamanca
The weather in Salamanca is like the rest of central Spain; during the summer it is warm and dry and in the winter cold with some rain and occasional snow. See this articile for further information about the weather in Salamanca and what clothes to bring
Why Study Spanish in Salamanca at the University of Salamanca
The University of Salamanca has a fantastic academic reputation. It was founded in 1218, making it the oldest university in Spain, and the fourth-oldest in Europe. As a result of its prestige, it attracts many exchange and foreign students, lending it an international, multicultural atmosphere.
The University has been pioneering in many aspects: it debated for the rights of the indigenous populations during the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and was also the first university in the world to accept female students. Famous alumni include Miguel de Cervantes (one of Spain’s greatest writers and author of Don Quixote) and Hernán Cortés (the first conquistador that was responsible for the fall of the Aztec Empire). It takes in a total of 30,000 students per year and offers over 250 academic programs.
There is no doubt that the University of Salamanca is a leading authority regarding the teaching of the Spanish language. It is widely acclaimed for its Spanish teaching to foreigners and has been providing courses since 1929. Nowadays, it attracts over 4000 foreign students of Spanish per year. Additionally, the University itself sets and marks the yearly DELE exams (Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language Spanish- the official certification of Spanish language proficiency worldwide).
The University is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Spanish courses take place in the centre of Salamanca’s old town, in the Escuelas Menores building, which is equipped with modern technology. This includes audio-visual equipment to enhance students’ language learning experience.
Although the city of Salamanca is small, with only 170,000 inhabitants, the fact that it is a university town means that the student presence is high and there is a good infrastructure and plenty to do as a result. The majority of people are aged between 18 and 30, and the nightlife, restaurants, bars and shops cater towards the student lifestyle and of course student budgets. As such, Salamanca is a fairly inexpensive city: a coffee will cost €1.50 and an average meal approximately €7.
You can also easily find Spanish students interested in language exchange where you can switch between helping a Spanish student learn English and learn Spanish from a Spanish student.
Salamanca is home to charming historic attractions and stunning architecture; the old city was named as a UNESCO World Heritage sight in 1988. As the city is small, it is easy to reach everything by foot and lends itself to walking. The majority of its sights of interest are museums, palaces, religious buildings and squares. The fact that most are built out of sandstone has given Salamanca the nickname of ‘La Dorada’, or the ‘Golden city’ as a result of the golden glow the architecture bestows on the city.
Some of the top sights are:
Plaza Mayor: this is the main square, the bustling hub of the city. It is filled with cafés, restaurants and shops. One of the most well-known squares in the country, it is the ideal spot for people-watching, sipping on a coffee, buying souvenirs, or grabbing a bite to eat. At night, the plaza is lit up and looks magical.
The Cathedrals: unusually, Salamanca has two cathedrals: the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral. Both are located next to one another and are connected. The Old Cathedral is a Romanesque-style building, built in the 14th century. Construction of the New Cathedral started the following century due to the large numbers of students flooding into the city to study at the University. The New Cathedral was constructed in Gothic and Plateresque styles, and was finished in 1733.
Casa de las Conchas: The House of Shells is a Gothic-style building that was completed at the end of the 15th century. The outside of this building is beautifully decorated with over 300 shells.
The University buildings: the buildings themselves are main attractions. The University entrance is built in a Plateresque style and it is now tradition for people to try and spot the frog carved amongst the intricate designs- legend has it that it is said to bring luck to the students that spot it and ensure that they will pass their exams.
Patio de las Escuelas: here you can find a statue of Fray Luis de Leon (a writer, one of the university’s most famous alumni).
Casa Lis Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum: constructed in 1995, this museum comprises 2500 pieces and 19 collections, spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The museum is partially made of stained glass.
In Salamanca, the Castilian accent is spoken, which is widely regarded as the clearest Spanish accent and therefore the easiest to understand, because every single letter is pronounced (in comparison with some Spanish and Latin American dialects where consonants are dropped and words run together).
Other regions of Spain speak other regional languages, such as Galician, Catalan or Basque. As Salamanca does not have its own regional language, students will be fully immersed in Spanish only. Students studying in Salamanca will find it easy to understand the accent and as such will pick up a clear sounding Castilian accent.
Salamanca has a rich and vibrant history. Originally founded by Celts in 4th century BC, it was then conquered by the Romans, and then subsequently by the Moors in the 8th century. In the 13th century, followed the Reconquista, it was named Salamanca. The University was founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX.
After the University was established, Salamanca grew to be an important location within the country. During the so-called ‘golden period’ in the 16th century, the town’s infrastructure and architecture developed, funded by the wealth coming in from the Spanish conquest of the Americas.
During the Spanish Civil War, Franco’s headquarters were located in Salamanca. After democracy was restored, the city began to rebuild and flourished once more, becoming the city it is today. Recently, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the European Capital of Culture in 2002.