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SPAIN - ISEP Universidad de Malaga

While Spain may conjure romantic images of flamenco dancing, bullfights, and siestas; it also has much more to offer. From Moorish castles to cutting-edge architecture, and Roman ruins to cosmopolitan cities, Spain is a country that embraces its rich history while constantly striving for the modern, and a culture with an insurmountable passion for life. 

Universidad de Málaga (UMA) is a young and dynamic institution that offers 60 undergraduate degrees, 55 Masters degrees and 43 doctoral programs. UMA has grown quicker than any other young university in Spain and is ranked among the best educational institutions in the country. Located in Andalucia, Málaga boasts the sunshine, culture, and history making it a great location to study abroad.

Students going to Spain must be independent, self-reliant, and able to handle ambiguity, as acclimating to the Spanish university system is challenging. A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.

Learn more about Universidad de Málaga (UMA) here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  
  • Language Requirement: A minimum of 6 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to the program. Students must have an advanced level of Spanish. Native Portuguese speakers must have completed a minimum of 2 semesters of university-level Spanish prior to the start of the program. 
  • The student must submit ISEP language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker.

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).


Malaga, the capital city of the Costa del Sol and the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. Thanks to its exceptional climate, the province has become a popular tourist destination within Europe, and today boasts an outstanding range of cultural attractions, sports amenities, and services. All of this makes Málaga a wonderful place to live, as can be seen by a large number of residents from Germany, England, Denmark and Sweden who have chosen to live and retire there. 

With one of the mildest climates in Europe and a rich and diverse landscape made up of coastal areas, mountains and agricultural plains, Málaga is renowned for its outstanding natural beauty and stunning scenery.

To learn more about the visa process for this country, please visit the ISEP Country Handbook for Spain. 


Being of fairly recent creation (1973), the University of Malaga was born with a spirit of progress. In the last decade, the university has expanded more than any other young university in Spain, is presently ranked among the main higher education institutions in the country. 

The university’s facilities are located on two campuses: El Ejido Campus and Teatinos Campus. There is public transportation from both campuses to the city center. Most of the degree programs can be found on the Teatinos Campus, except for the Faculties of Architecture and Fine Arts, which are located on the El Ejido campus.

Liberal Arts courses are most appropriate for exchange students. The University of Malaga is strong in Spanish, Classical and English Philology, History, Education, Law, Economics, Translation and Interpretation, and Engineering. 

Students generally enroll in five to six courses and spend 20 to 25 hours a week in class. Semesters are 18 to 19 weeks in length. Students must take 30 ECTS credits to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.


1. Click on Course Information
2. Select the Bachelor’s Degree you are interested in 
3. Click on plan de estudios for a list of available courses. If you explore the website for the degree, you can find further information on course descriptions.

The academic offering for each year (beginning in September) will be published in July at this link. Once this information is available, students will need to enter the system to the “Pre-enrollment” section and fill out a ” Learning Agreement Document,” provisionally signed by the University of Malaga. This document will serve as pre-registration. The final version of the document will be reviewed and signed by the student’s Academic Coordinator upon arrival.

Language Courses: Intensive Spanish language courses are offered in addition to regular classes during the academic year for an additional fee for all levels. Contact hours per course: varies. 

Pre-Session: A month-long pre-session, intensive Spanish language course is offered in September and February for all levels. Tuition is included in ISEP benefits (students only have to pay a 50 euro enrollment fee). Room and board are not. Students will be responsible for securing their own room and board during this period (students may contact the residence hall and request an earlier move-in date). Contact hours per course: 70. 


As an ISEP participant, you will be able to take courses from different faculties and at different levels. However, to avoid scheduling issues, ISEP strongly recommends that you take courses in one carrera or degree if at all possible. Spanish students in the same year of the same degree will likely take the majority of their classes together, similar to a cohort, and their classes will normally be located close together. Typically, the layout of Spanish universities is decentralized and faculties can be located throughout the city. If you enroll in courses in different degrees or faculties, you may find that you have to cross town to go from one class to another.

For tips on finding courses in Spain see: Tips for Finding Courses in Spain

In most cases registration is done upon arrival in Spain. As an international student, you may be allowed to try out several courses from various faculties at the beginning of your exchange. Be sure to verify with your host coordinator the final deadline for registration. Follow registration instructions closely, to ensure that you complete all forms and meet all deadlines.

Course Load

As universities assign credits to classes differently, a full workload varies across institutions. Some Spanish universities use ECTS, whereas some have their own system. Normally, an explanation of the credit hours is provided on a transcript. To see a typical course load at a particular university, consult the institution’s IIS. An average of 15 to 25 hours per week is spent in class lectures. 

To Earn 4 Lake Forest credits, students must take 27 ECTS credits.

To Earn 3 Lake Forest credits, students must take 21 ECTS credits.

The number of credits listed here is estimated, and GEO will work with you, your advisor, and the registrar to ensure you are earning enough credits to keep you on track for graduation.

As a part of the new grado degrees, many courses have tutorials, lab sessions, or practicas as a part of the class. Class attendance is important, as materials covered in class make up a large portion of the exam. Attendance may be taken regularly, but if it is not, resist the urge to skip classes, exams will be difficult without regular class attendance.

Study Habits and Learning Styles
Your professors will expect you to take thorough notes on the lectures. In the Spanish university system, learning from lectures is emphasized over learning from a textbook. Note-taking and following lectures may be a big adjustment. You will find that after a few weeks it all becomes much easier. If necessary, you can ask to borrow notes from a classmate for some of the first lectures. Many Spanish students take great pride in their notes and often rewrite them to have them neatly organized.

Learning is done more independently than you might be accustomed. You are expected to do substantive reading and studying outside of class. Aside from the assigned reading and class work, the professor may also suggest a supplementary list of books pertaining to the course topic.

You should have access to computers at the university to complete your assignments. Commonly, each faculty or center has its own computer lab for student use. During busier times of the year, it is likely that you will need to reserve a computer ahead of time.

Interaction with Professors
Spanish professors often do not deal directly with students. If you have questions or problems, it is up to you to arrange a meeting with the professor either before or after class or by setting up an appointment. Office hours may also be available for consultation.

You may be assigned a professor or other staff member to serve as your Academic Tutor while in Spain. You should consult with this person with any questions regarding registration, courses etc. You may always contact your ISEP Coordinator if you are unsure who you should consult.

Exams and Grading System
Depending on the type of classes you take, you will generally have tests and papers with a final exam at the end of the course. Form and organization are important in presenting written work. Check with a Spanish student about correct form so that your assignments will be properly presented. Make sure that your grammar and sentence structure are correct; have a native speaker check it over if necessary.

Final exams are typically given at the end of the semester and will include materials covered in class throughout the semester. It is important to keep up with your coursework, as it’s difficult to “cram” a semester’s worth of studying into the period before the exam. The format for written and oral exams may vary from class to class.

It will be important for you to check with both your home and host ISEP coordinators to ensure that your grades will be recorded in Spain and the credit transferred to your home institution. Although your host coordinator in Spain will help you in this matter, it will be your responsibility to make sure your grades are recorded. Be forewarned that if you choose to depart the program early, it is your responsibility to make any special arrangements in writing with your professors.


Grades are given on a 10-point scale:
• 9 or 10 is considered excellent (sobresaliente) 
• 7 or 8 is good (notable) 
• 6 or 5 is average (aprobado), 
• below five is failing (suspenso). 

Matricula de Honor is the highest grade awarded in the Spanish system and is generally given to the student with the highest score in a class. Spanish professors are difficult graders, and rarely award grades of excellent; most students receive grades between six and eight.

Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette. 

Student Life


The International Relations Department will provide incoming students with a special orientation program. There are two orientation meetings, a plenary assembly with all international students at UMA (at the beginning of September and February); and a specific orientation with the ISEP Coordinator and the staff in charge of the orientation. Students will receive information about transportation, banks, health services, emergencies, and generation information about the University of Malaga (academic advising, housing, tourism, etc.). 

The University will provide arrival directions with the acceptance packet.


International students have many opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities.

We have an official profile on Facebook called “Relaciones Internacionales UMA” from which official communications are sent to students. In the “Events” section of the web page, students receive information about events organized by the International Office such as welcome parties, trips, university cultural events, etc. 

There are also student associations in all of the faculties that usually organize a number of activities. Thanks to the Culture Department and our Sports Service students will be able to participate in a number of activities during their stay. 

Upon request, our Volunteer Service will match each new international student with a local student, thanks to our Student Tutor Progam. By simply filling out a form, exchange students will be able to get in contact with local students in Málaga.

Spanish Student Tutors will help incoming students with any problems related to their stay at the university and can give useful information about visa issues, local lifestyle, etc. To apply for the program prior to arrival, email who will put you in touch with Spanish students who can help you before and during your exchange.

  Experiential Opportunities
There is a Volunteer Service at UMA, as well as student associations in all faculties. Students interested in taking part in these activities should contact the student organization of interest and/or the Volunteer Service.
Housing and Meals

Students live in residence halls and eat meals in the cafeteria of the residence hall. For additional information on the residence hall, please consult the Residencia Universitaria Teatinos (RUT) website. While students may enroll in courses at either the El Ejido campus, Teatinos campus or both, all students will visit live in the same hall, located a short distance from the Teatinos campus. Regular bus service connects the two campuses, and students may borrow bicycles from the RUT as well. Alternate housing and meal benefits cannot be offered. There is no married student housing available. 

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2019/Spring 2020 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost for Southern Hemisphere programs, as that starts a new academic year.


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Confirmation and Application Fees


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance (estimated, $90/mo)

Note: Some countries require national insurance, which may be instead of, or in addition to, ISEP insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of March 2019. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Deposits to other programs, if required, are paid by the student to the host program, and will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill from the College.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office