• <div style="background-image:url(/live/image/gid/60/width/1600/height/300/crop/1/29998_8071086937_683d5a422f_o.rev.1450805230.jpg)"/>
  • <div style="background-image:url(/live/image/gid/60/width/1600/height/300/crop/1/29999_6856950268_ed6442d1ca_o.rev.1450805264.jpg)"/>
  • <div style="background-image:url(/live/image/gid/60/width/1600/height/300/crop/1/29122_10401981_1004028349629458_8008107117841765376_n.rev.1446045049.jpg)"/>
  • <div style="background-image:url(/live/image/gid/60/width/1600/height/300/crop/1/29997_13537953983_5cff365fc4_o.rev.1450805192.jpg)"/>

Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

ISEP at Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio

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 Alfonso X el Sabio was the first accredited private university in Spain. The University maintains close ties to the business world and offers internship opportunities to students as a key means for real world preparation. Located just 25 kilometers from Madrid, the university campus is modern, friendly and well connected by public transportation.

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 Alfonso X el Sabio here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type



Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain

Languages of Instruction

Spanish - minimum 5 semesters university-level Spanish or equivalent required

Program Dates

Fall 2018: September to mid-late January

Spring 2019: Late January to June

All dates are tentative and may change. ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


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 5 semesters of university-level Spanish or the equivalent must be completed prior to the program. During orientation, students take a Spanish language proficiency exam. Students whose score is not adequate are required to enroll in a Spanish language course.
  • Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in application, even if native speaker

Don’t meet the language requirement? Need to brush up on your language skills before enrolling in regular university courses in Spanish? Consider enrolling in the ISEP Direct Bridge Program before your ISEP Exchange (at an additional fee). Students may participate in this program and gain the necessary language skills before their ISEP Exchange programs. Click the link above for more info! 


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.


ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is generally Good.


The university is located in the university town of Villanueva de la Cañada, 25 km northwest of the city of Madrid. Villanueva de la Cañada is connected with Madrid by regular bus service.


Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio was the first accredited private university in Spain. The University maintains close ties to the business world and offers internship opportunities to students as a key means for real world preparation. Located just 25 kilometers from Madrid, the university campus is modern, friendly and well connected by public transportation.

The fields most appropriate for ISEP participants include Architecture, Business Administration, Civil Engineering, Languages, Mechanical Engineering, Physiotherapy, and Tourism. 

Students generally enroll in five to six courses per semester and spend 20 to 25 hours a week in class. Semesters are 15 weeks in length. Students must take 30 ECTS credits to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.



1. Click on Course Links. Note that you may find undergraduate courses under both Grado and Licenciaturas
2. Click on a degree you are interested in, and you will be brought to a page with more detail on that degree. Click on Plan de Estudios to view courses offered in that degree. 
3. To obtain course descriptions visit the Academics Page of the Office of International Relations. 

Due to the Bologna process, two different types of undergraduate degrees may be offered Grado or Licenciatura. As the Licenciatura degree is being phased out, pay close attention to which courses are still being offered. Courses that are not offered will generally say Solo Repetidores or Sin Docencia. Do not list these courses. 

As a general rule for the 2013-14 academic year courses in the 5th years of Licenciaturas will be offered and courses in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th years of the Grados will be offered. Each degree may differ slightly from this rule. Flexibility in course selection is recommended. 

Download Tips for Finding Courses in Spain.

Language Courses: Intensive Spanish language courses are offered in addition to regular classes each semester for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels. Contact hours per course per week: 3. Credit is awarded for this class and appears on the regular university transcript with other academic courses. 



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


Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.


Experiential Opportunities

Assistance in locating unpaid practical training and internship opportunities available to students with advanced language skills.

Student Life

Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio is a young, dynamic private university. The university gained its charter from Parliament with the goal of educating students for the future competitive world market. The university is designed to teach 10,000 students, with the possibility of having 1,000 students living on-campus.



At orientation students will meet with the (ORI) International Office staff, complete the Language Test, tour the university campus and meet with their Departmental Coordinator/Tutor. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a welcome event! 

The University will provide arrival directions with the acceptance packet.


Students can participate in sports and cultural activities that are regularly offered at UAX. A few excursions are planned each semester to some of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations. ISEP students may also participate in activities organized by the Erasmus Student’s Network-UAX.  Some may have an additional cost.

Housing and Meals

Students receive a combined housing and meal stipend. Students typically live in shared student apartments, but on occasion may live in residence halls (limited space). With their stipend, students can prepare their own 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 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 2018/Spring 2019 semester:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost



Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application



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

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Exchange students who apply by stated deadlines 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 Out-of-Pocket Expenses






Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

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, nor fees to enroll in courses at partner institutions, and will depend on your course registration choices.  

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

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

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