Skip to content
Programs and Deadlines
About Penn Abroad
Penn Semester in Barcelona: Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA) (BPB)
Barcelona, Spain (Exchange Program) (Fall Spring Academic Year Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Fall,
Homepage: Click to visit
Budget Sheets Fall,
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Prerequisite:
6 or more semesters of college level language
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0
Credit Available For:
College, Huntsman
Other Eligibility Requirements: Grades of B or better in Spanish
Type of Program:
Direct Enrollment
Application Deadline:
Fall/Year: February 15, Spring: October 1
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

(click on the links highlighted in blue below to learn more)
The Academic Program
  • CASA Barcelona program
  • Enrollment in Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Universitat de Barcelona (UB), and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
  • Fall Semester: late August – late December
  • Spring Semester: early January – late June
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • grades of B or better in all Spanish courses
  • Spanish 219 or 223 required
  • must be enrolled in a Spanish class the semester prior to departure
  • Hispanic Studies majors and minors must consult with the undergraduate chair of the department before applying to this program.
  • This program allows a maximum of 15 students per semester. 
  • residence hall
The City of Barcelona
  •  A city of 1.5 million people and Spain's second largest city
  •  Cataluña continually seeks to distinguish itself from Spain and assert its autonomy
  • The official languages of Cataluña are Catalán and Spanish
  The Application Process
Financial Matters
Penn Resources

This program requires an advising session with a Program Manager prior to opening an application. To view the schedule for upcoming group advising sessions, or to schedule an individual appointment, select the ‘Schedule an Advising Appointment’ button on the Penn Abroad homepage.  

The Academic Program

The Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA) is a collaborative initiative involving several U.S. universities: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, the University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt. 
CASA-Spain in Barcelona offers a full-immersion program in one of the leading cities of the world. This program is designed for students in all disciplines with advanced Spanish skills. Students are immersed in the local university environment and take most of their courses at one or more of CASA's partner universities: the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF). Comprehensive student services support the academic and social experience. 
Long considered Spain’s most progressive city, Barcelona is proud of its well-established reputation as a center of political, social and cultural activism. This activism is not only apparent in its approach to intellectual life, but also in the visual arts and architecture. Gaudí, Miró and Tàpies are among the many internationally renowned figures who have called this city home. As a crossroads of Roman, Visigoth and Islamic civilizations, Barcelona is justifiably proud of its past. At the same time, its progressive spirit has made it one of the most modern and cosmopolitan cities in the world. Students who wish to learn about the contemporary political, social, cultural, linguistic, and economic challenges facing Spain and Europe will find Barcelona to be an ideal venue for study. 

A mandatory credit-bearing Cultural ProSeminar is offered at the beginning of the semester. The Cultural ProSeminar introduces students to Catalan history and culture in the context of Spanish and European history. It focuses on the language needs of students in Spanish and Catalan to prepare them to meet the academic expectations they will face as students in Spanish university classrooms. CASA-Spain in Barcelona will also offer a small range of full-semester courses that will use the city and the region as classroom and text. All lectures are conducted in Spanish.

Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Established in 1990, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) is a public university funded by the Generalitat. The university boasts 11,000 undergraduate students and an expanding campus in the heart of Barcelona, stretching between the Rambla and the district of Poblenou. Despite its relatively small size and its foundation less than three decades ago, the institution is the third highest-ranked university in Spain. The university is ranked first nationally in the disciplines of Business, Political Science, Economics, and Law. Working on a trimester calendar, the university offers 19 undergraduate degrees in humanities, social sciences, life sciences, law, business, and engineering, and offers master's and doctoral degrees in many of the same areas. The library at the UPF is one of the best in the city, with over 400,000 volumes in open stacks. The library has wireless internet capability and includes computer labs for student use.
University website:

Universitat de Barcelona
Founded in 1450, the Universitat de Barcelona (UB) is the oldest and largest in Cataluña and until 1971 was the only university in the region. Comprised of four separate campuses spread out across the city, the university has 19 facultades and over 100 academic departments. UB has a total enrollment exceeding 90,000 students and uses a semester-based calendar. UB offers undergraduate degrees in humanities, social sciences, life sciences, law, business, medicine and engineering, with doctoral degrees in many of the same areas. The university has the second largest library collection in Spain, with more than two million books and about 36,000 journals available. It is the largest of the ten universities in Catalonia and the second largest in Spain.
University website:

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
The Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona was established in 1968 and has over 50,000 students. The state-of-the art Bellaterra campus, in Cerdanyola del Vallès, is home to most of its departments, institutes and services. 78 degree programs are available at the UAB, covering a wide range of fields, including the humanities and arts, social sciences, health sciences, experimental and technological sciences.
University website:

Academic Policies

All students will enroll in a four-week, credit bearing orientation course exploring the language, culture, and academic system of Cataluña. Students will learn about the practicalities of life in Barcelona, as well as the academic system into which they will be entering. The remainder of students' courses will be taken at the three host universities.

Catalán is one of the two official languages of Cataluña, and students will find many courses are taught in this language. The same course may have several sections, some of which are taught in Spanish, some of which are taught in Catalán. At registration, students must pay close attention to the language in which a course will be taught and choose accordingly. Students may not take any course taught in English or Catalán.

With the exception of the orientation course, visiting Penn students are expected to take a full load of the same courses as regularly enrolled Spanish students at the same level of background. To assist students in their studies, the CASA onsite coordinator can arrange for tutoring in a variety of subjects. This resource has been very helpful to students in gaining a better understanding of the material and the expectations of Spanish professors.

Course Load

The full course load for the Barcelona program is five classes, including the required Cultural ProSeminar course. Penn Abroad participants must maintain a full course load for their period of study abroad. Final university course selection takes place at the beginning of the term, as course availability and scheduling are not known fully in advance.

Penn students normally choose courses at the primer ciclo level or if the student has taken courses in the subject then also at the segundo ciclo level. Since Penn students, unlike regular students, are permitted to choose courses in different Facultades and at different levels simultaneously, advisors on site are able to determine the proper weighting of course work in different subjects.

*Note: Penn students may enroll in one CASA program course (in addition to the required Cultural Pro-seminar), if they would like.  Students must directly enroll in at least three out of their five courses.

On-Site Support
Consortium operations in Barcelona are managed by a resident director and two program coordinators, who coordinate orientation, advising, CASA classes, and housing. A visiting faculty member from the Consortium is in residence at least one semester every year and teaches a course at CASA.


Spanish university grades are awarded on a ten point scale (including decimal points, e.g. 7.5). Spanish students must receive five points to pass. The scale is not based on an equal distribution of points nor on a percentage. In the Spanish system, a perfect exam or paper may not always be awarded a grade of 10 depending on individual professors' practices. Students are frequently assessed solely on the results of a final and/or midterm exam. Grades are reported on the Spanish scale and are converted to Penn grades according to standard Spanish - U.S. grade equivalencies:

A = 10-9
A- = 8.99-8.0
B+ = 7.99-7.6
B = 7.59-7.0
B- = 6.99-6.6
C+ = 6.59-6.0
C = 5.99-5.6
C- = 5.59-5.00
D+ = 4.99-4.50
D = 4.49-4.0
F = 3.99 and below

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school.

back to top


Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA, grades of B or better in all Spanish courses, Spanish 219 or 223 required, and must be enrolled in a Spanish class the semester prior to departure. Program is limited to 15 students per semester.

back to top


Residencia Melon-District Marina has 427 individual rooms that cater to a mixed Spanish and international student population. CASA students have an individual room with a private bath. The single rooms open up to a common living room and kitchens that CASA students share with 8-9 flatmates (Spanish or other international students), creating an apartment like atmosphere. Amenities include internet access, television, closet space, shelf space, a desk, a double bed and bed linens. The facility also provides a swimming pool on the roof terrace and the option of a meal plan at the Melon Café. The residence is beside the "Marina" metro station and the tramway line, 10 minutes from UPF and the city downtown.

The City of Barcelona

Barcelona is the bustling capital of Cataluña, the northeastern province of Spain. Nestled between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, Cataluña continually seeks to distinguish itself from Spain and assert its autonomy, a fact that has contributed significantly to modern Barcelona's identity. A city of 1.5 million people and Spain's second largest city, Barcelona adds a unique flavor to Spain through its distinct history, language, and rich contributions in art and architecture. Historically underappreciated, Barcelona hosted the 1992 Olympic Games, and the event launched the city onto the global stage.

While also a center of commerce, industry and fashion, Barcelona is best known for its art and architecture. The impressive La Pedrera and magnificent La Sagrada Familia, both built by Antoni Gaudì, are innovative contributions to the Modernisme architectural movement. Barcelona invites students to discover galleries devoted to the work of prominent Surrealist painters Salvador Dalí and Joan Mirò, along with a museum housing an impressive collection of the founder of Cubism, Pablo Picasso. Barcelona is also renowned for its wide variety of musical events, which includes all the genres, and has three major venues: the Gran Teatre del Liceu, devoted to opera, the Palau de la Música, a modernista marvel, and L'Auditori, the concert hall designed by Rafael Moneo.

The official languages of Cataluña are Catalán and Spanish, and the majority of the city's residents are fluent in both. A semester or year in Barcelona will present students with the unforgettable opportunity to live and study in this distinctive bilingual and bicultural environment.

The Application Process 

Financial Matters

Students are charged Penn tuition and student fee (called study abroad fee the semester abroad) for all Penn programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, meals, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheet to determine other costs. 

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package.  

Penn Resources

Students who study abroad are encouraged to take advantage of Penn's many resources for students, even if you haven't used them before going abroad.  There is an extensive list of resources on the Penn Abroad website that can help you to explore issues that might pertain to you and to help you prepare for a term abroad. 

In addition to these resources, we encourage you to reach out to a past program participant or ambassador to learn more about the program from a student perspective.
facebook Twitter Wordpress logo Instagram Icon