COVID-19 Updates and Resources. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority. Coronavirus Information

SPAIN - ISEP Universidad Publica de Navarra

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. 

Each day, almost 9,000 students attend the Universidad Publica de Navarra, students seeking an education which will equip them for the future. The University prides itself on its commitment to providing quality in higher education. Excellent resources complement classroom learning in this young and dynamic university.

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 the University of Publica de Navarra 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 4 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to program in order to take a mixture of courses in English and Spanish. Students who have completed 5 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent may take regular university courses in Spanish. 
  • The student must submit ISEP language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker.

A three-week intensive Spanish language program designed to help students with at least 3 semesters of college-level Spanish prepare for their exchange. Students will receive 90 instruction hours (on-site classes and students’ work by themselves at the Resources Center) which will count as 2 semesters toward the 5-6 semester language requirement to participate in an ISEP-Exchange in Spain. Students can participate in this program before exchanges at most sites in Spain, at an additional cost. This can also be a stand-alone summer or J-term program.

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).


Universidad Publica de Navarra is situated in a peaceful and sunny part of Pamplona, not far from the city center. Pamplona is a manageable size. You can reach most points of interest in Pamplona on foot. Internationally, Pamplona is best known for its festival of San Fermin and el Encierro (Running of the Bulls), which takes place in July of each year. 

Pamplona is the capital of Navarra, a region located in the north of Spain bordering on France. Pamplona is a one-hour bus ride to France, 2 hours by bus to Bilbao, 3 and a half hours by train to Madrid and 4 and a half hours by train to Barcelona.

In the Middle Ages, Navarra was important as a crossing point for highways and the pilgrimage routes of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James). In addition to its historical importance, Navarra is especially rich in natural attractions. Though only 10,400 square kilometers, Navarra is characterized by three distinct climatological zones, which leads to a variety of natural settings. An airport is located just an hour’s bus ride outside of Pamplona. The sea in San Sebastian and desert to the south are also located just an hour outside Pamplona.

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


Navarra is well known for its work in the fields of agriculture and engineering. These fields are highly recommended for ISEP participants and are open to participants interested in preparing a research thesis. Research projects can be supervised in English upon request. 

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.

Intensive Language (Bridge) Program in Spanish - Direct-Enroll only!

A 75-hour course aimed at students who wish to increase their knowledge of the Spanish language and to improve their linguistic skills in a first contact with the country. 

Program Website

Course Description

This is a 75-hour course aimed at students who wish to increase their knowledge of the Spanish language and to improve their linguistic skills in a first contact with the country.

The course offers a double dimension (linguistic and socio-cultural) in order to facilitate the immersion of foreign students in Spanish society. At the same time, they acquire a linguistic knowledge which ensures an acceptable level of communicative competence in the country.

This approach adheres to the standards set by the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages. It specifies that in order to become competent in a second language, the development of communication skills is not enough. The students must also understand the practice, the products and the perspective of the target-language and compare these components with the ones in their own language. Thus, the best way to acquire this grammatical, discursive, sociolinguistic and strategic competence is through a program which includes linguistic and socio-cultural contents.

Combining both types of content, the students get a first view of the Spanish language and culture, and achieve an intermediate level of communicative competence. They also obtain sufficient knowledge to decide whether to continue in the Spanish university.

The content of the course is focused on:

a. Grammatical matters: content presenting special difficulties for English speaking students (past times distribution, subjunctive mood, prepositions, verbs “ser” and “estar”).

b. Communicative activities: an approach to the topics of interest and social interest in Spain working the language simultaneously in different situations, dialogues, readings, understanding and exhibition activities, and debates.

c. Cultural aspects of the country: including general information about Spanish geography, main historical landmarks, the influence of the different people in the Spanish culture and the multilingual situation of the country.

Website for Course Availability


1. Click on Course Information. 
2. This will give you a list of majors. Click on a major and you will either go directly to the major’s website. 
3. From the major’s website, look for plan de estudios or lista de asignaturas to get to course listings. 
4. Under lista de asignaturas click on a course title to obtain a course description where available. 
5. Note the asignaturas específicas de libre eleccion within each faculty. These are elective courses which may be of interest to ISEP students. Choose them with your coordinator when you arrive at UPNA to make sure that they are offered. 

Download Tips for Finding Courses in Spain.



Official Languages of Navarra: At the university, all courses are offered in Spanish. For some subjects, additional course sections are taught in Basque language, depending on demand.  An increasing number of courses are taught in English. For more, the most current list consult this website.

Language Courses: One non-intensive Spanish language course is included in ISEP benefits in addition to regular classes during the Academic Year and Semester for Intermediate and Advanced levels. Students may enroll in additional language classes at their own expense. These benefits only apply to students enrolled in ISEP Exchange. These courses will be listed on the University transcript as pass or fail. The letter grade earned in the class will be noted on an official certificate, separate from the transcript. Students should verify with their home university if credits will be accepted for transfer. 

Pre-Session: A one-week language pre-session is included in ISEP Benefits.



Students should only select courses from the Arrosadia campus. The Tudela campus is 100km from Pamplona and is closed to ISEP students.



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 in 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
Most Spanish students take 30 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) per semester, which normally equates to five or six classes a semester. You will need to check with your home coordinator about the minimum number of credits you need to take while in Spain.

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


Orientation will take place once students arrive on campus and will include a coffee break, information session, and a tour of the campus. The following day students will go on a tour of Pamplona and enjoy a day trip to experience the remarkable landscape of Navarra. During orientation, students will have their computer accounts activated and will be given information regarding registration for courses. An academic coordinator will be assigned to help with the learning agreement and make any changes if necessary.


The University will provide arrival directions with the acceptance packet.


The UPNA offers a wide range of cultural activities that include, drawing and painting, courses to improve communication skills, cinema and photography, science and technology courses, and cooking. You can take part in the university chorus or join the theatre club, as well as enjoy many cultural excursions and trekking trips. The university offers easy access to a multimedia language center, library, and sports facilities which include an indoor pool and a climbing wall. The UPNA also has a free medical and psychological care service available to all students which you can use for basic health care or receive advice on health matters.

  Internship Opportunities
Internships are available on an individual basis in fields where internships are compulsory to obtain a degree (Nursing, Education, and Social Working). Other students wishing to do internships may bring their curriculum vitae to the Office of Employment and Internships at UPNA, which distributes positions as they become available. Each internship application is reviewed on an individual basis, and payment varies and is determined by the company. 

Students can enroll for volunteer positions at the Social Action Office. The Office also offers free courses or seminars about volunteering, health, and lifestyle issues.
Housing and Meals

ISEP Exchange: ISEP students are placed in shared student apartments, or may choose to live in a residence hall, and receive a stipend to cover rent and meals. 

ISEP Direct: ISEP students are placed in a residence hall and receive a stipend to cover meals.

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 to Universidad Publica de Navarra includes orientation, on-site director, university fees, housing, and the equivalent of 19/meals per week. The Direct fee includes all of the above, plus insurance.  

ISEP costs for Exchange are usually the most cost-effective, as it is intended to promote mobility of students around the world. Direct options are available for those students that prefer to attend a school with limited availability for Exchange, though costs may be different as they are set by the host school. However, the program fee may be different than that of Exchange, which tend to be less expensive to promote more exchange opportunities for all schools.

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