Studying in Spain - Credit System

Credit to study in SpainThe Current Credit System organizes higher education degrees. Basically, one credit implies 10 hour of work, considering the actual classes, practical sessions, internships, research papers, and the student’s personal work.

Depending of the number of credits the degree has, there can distinguished the following:

  • First cycle degrees (Carreras de primer ciclo or Diplomaturas, Carreras Técnicas).
    These studies have no more than 200 credits and are taught in 3 years.
  • Second cycle degrees (Superior degrees, Licenciaturas, Ingenierías Superiores).
    These studies have at least 300 credits and they are between 3 and 5 years long.

  • Third cycle degrees include graduate studies (Master’s and PhD’s).
    In most cases, in order to have access to these studies, applicants should have achieved a second cycle degree.

In many occasions, once students have completed a first cycle degree, there is the chance to achieve a second cycle degree after taking some transition classes.


The basic configuration of the plans of study includes:

  • Major Classes (Asignaturas Troncales):
    Directly related to the basic contents of the degree. They must be common to all syllabi of any university.

  • Compulsory classes (Asignaturas obligatorias):
    Required classes that each university decides to include in its degree. They do not have to be taught in other universities. Students in that university must take that class in order to achieve the degree.

  • Elective classes (Asignaturas optativas):
    Classes that every university offers to the choice of students. Their purpose is to give a specialized knowledge on a specific field, and thus, differentiate their degrees from what other universities may offer.

  • Free configuration credits (Créditos de libre configuración):
    They are meant to complete the student’s curriculum with classes that are of their interest, even when they might not have anything to do with the degree. These credits can be obtained by taking classes from other degrees (even from other universities). Students can also get those extra credits by participating in academic activities (Seminars, congresses, field work, internships, etc). The total amount of these credits should conform the 10% of the total credits of the degree.

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