The two most respected annual publications of global university rankings are provided by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and Times Higher Education (THE). Both have been assessing universities all around the world according to their performance in teaching, research, employability, and internationalization since 2004.

Let’s have a look at the best globally ranked universities in Spain.

Best ranked universities in Spain in 2021

Following the guidance of QS and THE we can see that the best universities in Spain are:

  • Universitat de Barcelona

  • Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona)

  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

  • Complutense Universidad de Madrid

  • Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

There are 76 universities in Spain. Although the previously mentioned top 5 ranking universities in Spain take the top spots, there are many other high ranked Spanish universities.

These include the University of Navarra, IE University in Segovia, UPV in Valencia, University of Granada, University of Seville, University of Zaragoza, University of Valencia, University of Santiago de Compostela, University of the Basque Country, University of Salamanca, UCAM University of Murcia, University Carlos III of Madrid, and the ESIC Business and Marketing Schools of Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia.

Top of the list of best universities in Spain

The university that comes out top of the best ranked universities in Spain, according to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and Times Higher Education (THE) 2021 rankings, is the University of Barcelona.

Universitat de Barcelona

Universitat de Barcelona is one of the largest universities in Spain with around 44.000 undergraduate students and 19.000 master and postgraduate students. 122 different nationalities are represented at the university, making it one of the most diverse in Europe.

Universitat de Barcelona is a public university with many years of academic tradition. Established in 1450, it is the fifth oldest of all the Spanish universities. Only the universities of Salamanca, Valladolid, Lleida, and Girona are older.

Universitat de Barcelona is renowned internationally for its academic excellence and prestige. It offers a huge range of courses and ranks in the top 200 of global universities and the top 100 of European universities.

Best universities in Spain

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Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Another of the best universities in Spain according to QS and THE is Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF).

Universitat Pompeu Fabra is also located in Barcelona with three campuses in the heart of the city. Like Universitat de Barcelona, UPF also ranks in the top 200 of global universities and the top 100 of European universities.

UPF is a much younger university than Universitat de Barcelona, founded as recently as 1990. UPF is one of the very highest ranking universities in Spain on account of its academic and employer reputation, citations per faculty, and international faculty ratio.

Catalan is the official language at the university but most courses are also available in Spanish and English. UPF prides itself on being dynamic and flexible, offering customisable learning experiences.

Carlos III University of Madrid

Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M) is ranked in the top 400 universities of the world and the top 150 universities of Europe. One of the main reasons why Carlos III University ranks so highly is its internationalization and diversity.

A high percentage of the courses on offer are available in English and 20% of the students are international.

UC3M is a relatively new university, certainly by Spanish standards. It was founded in 1989 and in recent years has been ranked as the best young university in Spain by QS.

UC3M is one of the best universities in Spain due to its exemplary employability record thanks to its collaboration agreements with thousands of national and international businesses, internship programs, and employment fairs.

ESIC Business & Marketing School

ESlC Business & Marketing School has campuses in Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia offering an array of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the areas of business, advertising, marketing, technology, and finance. ESIC is consistently one of the high ranked universities in Spain.

Times Higher Education publishes a global universities ranking list called ‘Impact Rankings’ which focuses on schools and universities that are tackling vital socio-environmental issues such as climate change, gender inequality, and quality education for all.

The ESlC Business & Marketing School is one of the best ranked universities in Spain in the Impact Rankings at number 10. It also features in the top 100 Impact Rankings of the whole of Europe.

Best universities in Spain

Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia

Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia (UCAM) is another of the best ranked universities in Spain.

UCAM, like UC3M, is a young Spanish university, founded as recently as 1996. UCAM is one of the high-ranking universities in Spain for teaching quality and also ranks well in the THE Impact Rankings. Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees are available in the areas of Physical Activity & Sports Science, Health Science, Business & Legal Studies, Social Sciences & Communications, and Engineering & Architecture.

UCAM is a private Spanish university located in the southeast of Spain. Class sizes are small with a ratio of 6.7 students per member of staff and this is another factor that makes UCAM one of the best ranked universities in Spain. 10% of the students are international and the university has hundreds of strategic international partners and exchange programs.