What is CASB?

The Consortium for Advanced Studies in Barcelona [CASB], a collaborative initiative involving nine high caliber U.S. universities – BrownChicago, ColumbiaDukeNorthwesternStanfordCornellHarvard and Princeton – provides students with a unique opportunity to have direct access to four distinguished Spanish universities. The program capitalizes on the already strong academic linkages existing between the Hispanic Studies departments from each of the U.S. consortium members and their counterparts in Barcelona and fills an important education abroad niche in arguable Spain’s most dynamic and avant garde city.

Programs & Academic IssuesHousingHealth & Safety IssuesEmergency Contacts
Semester/Academic Year Program: 

The Semester/academic year program is designed for students who are looking for serious and rigorous academic study alongside local nationals. Its main objective is to achieve the highest degree of integration of its students into the academic, social and cultural life of the city. Student Handbook_Fall2015 contains all the necessary information about the structure and contents of the program.

Academic Overview: All students take the required Language and Culture Pro Seminar Course (6 ECTS) at the start of the semester, then one course offered through the Consortium Center (6 ECTS) and 3-4 courses at the Consortium’s partner universities (UAB, UB, UPC and UPF) during the semester. All four universities provide a wealth of courses taught in Castilian Spanish or Catalan.

Internships & Volunteering:

The CASB highly encourages its semester/academic year students to participate in an internship or volunteer program offered through its partner universities or collaboration agreements it has signed with local institutions, including the Consorci d’Educació de Barcelona (the institution that coordinates all public schools in the city) and Serveis Llingüístics of the Universitat de Barcelona (the department responsible for providing the UB community with multilingual language services). Details of the positions available can be found in the following document: Internships & Volunteering 

Summer Program:

Unlike the semester/academic year program, which is designed for students with advanced Spanish and/or Catalan skills, the CASB Summer Program accommodates students at all language levels, providing a perfect opportunity for everyone to enjoy a unique study abroad experience. Information on the CASB website regarding the Summer Program is also in English.

CASB Fellowship Program: 

The CASB Fellowship Program is aimed at research students who are recent doctorate degree holders from the Barcelona Group (BG) – UAB, UB, UPC and UPF – and who wish to carry out post doctoral research in the U.S. The following full-member CASB institutions receive the successful candidates: Brown University, The University of Chicago, Stanford University, Columbia University and Northwestern University. The CASB awards financial aid on a yearly basis to a candidate from each of the four BG member institutions to carry out individual research projects in the aforementioned U.S. universities for a period of between one and four months. + info (In Spanish/Catalan)

Studying at local universities

In Spanish university classes, the role of the instructor is not necessarily to introduce a given subject to a student, but rather to interpret and synthesize the topic at hand. The course topic is covered by the teacher’s explanations in class and reading lists, which, the latter students are expected to cover independently. The key to successfully completing your courses is to attend class regularly, take good notes, and keep up with the readings. In addition, CASB offers discipline-related tutorials to help you with the demands of studying in another country. With so much to see and do in and around Barcelona, it may be tempting to skip class, take long weekends, etc. Repeatedly failing to attend class, whether in the CASB Center or in regular university courses, may be grounds for dismissal from the program.
Learning at local universities

The 4 basic concepts for understanding courses at local univerisites are:
1) The learning effort is carried out by the student, not by the teacher;
2) Hard work during the courses does not necessarily implies an excellent final grade;
3) There is no grade inflation in the Spanish system;
4) Bear in mind each course’s peculiarities;

1. Learning effort

Teachers do not usaully provide feedback about a student’s performance. There are courses with practical sessions and seminars, but their weight in the final grade is small. Generallly, courses have a midterm exam, a semester paper, a presentation and a final exam. A course syllabi’s contains basic information about the topics covered and the important readings. The teacher provides the relevant information about the course expectations and outcomes in the first class session.
Course syllabi are a summary of the topics covered during the classes, but does not include information about the organization of every class session or the weekly readings. In certain cases the class programming is posted in the virtual campus of the course. The teachers do not use to check the students’ readings, they consider that the student is responsible of doing the readings.
Considering the lack of teacher’s feedback and follow up it is very important, from the very beginning of the course, to talk regularly with the professor and ask him/her for advice, his/her expectations and your academic performance. A regular communication with the teacher is the best way to succeed.

2. Workload

Courses usually have many different tests and assigments, particularly during practical sessions and seminars. In addition, students must submit papers and essays. However, the delivery of all this written work is taken for granted and does not increase the final grade, it is just required to have the right to be evaluated in a course. It is quality of work, not quantity, which determines the evaluation. Again, it is important to visit your teacher regularly to know what kind of work he/she expects.

3. Grades

Courses at Spanish universities do not suffer from grade inflation. Here is the stantard distribution of grades in Spanish university courses.

Grades distribution Grade Titles

10% –  9/10 – Sobresaliente
20% –  8/8.9 – Notable
20% –  7/7.0 – Notable
20% –  6/6.9 – Aprobado
15% –  5/5.9 – Aprobado
15%*- 0/4.9 – Suspenso

Usually, local teachers think that a 6.0 (Aprobado) is a good grade, considering the percentage of fails in every class, so they do not understand grade appeals for students having a 6.0 or 6.5. In addition, grade 10 (Matricula de honor) is very limited because students receiving this grade have free tution for one course, so every department has a specific amount of 10 grades per semester.
If a student wishes to have outstading grades, the best way is to talk to the teacher at the beginning of the course to know how to achieve this. Speaking to the teacher after the final exam is too late. For those students who fail a course there is the option of a re-evaluation exam and its date is established by the department A special request must be made by the student in order to take a re-evaluation exam in absentia in the States.

4. Courses Peculiarities

A significant number of courses are taught in Catalan but there are courses of all kind of disciplines taught in Spanish. Even in the courses delivered in Catalan, exams and papers can be written in Spanish and most of the bibliography is available in Spanish and English.
Teachers do not use to assign a reading for every class, the student has to regularly read the readings contained in the bibliography of the course. It is important to talk with the teacher in order to know which readings s/he recommends.

There are differences in the approach to some disciplines;

Literature courses: These courses are, in fact, History of Literature courses. The classes are not based on the reading of literary texts, but rather in the understanding of the works and the author as well as in the critics of the writings.
Economics courses: In general terms, Economics and Finance courses require a sound knowledge of Mathematics. It is not recommended to take this kind of course if the student has not previously taken advanced math courses.
Law courses: Generally speaking these courses are not recommended to foreign studentes as they are very specialized and require a high degree of previous knowledge in the subject.

Finally, despite CASB is placed in Barcelona, local universities do not offer regular courses focused in the city, its arts or artists. Only the Achicteture school deliver some classes related to local history of architecture.

Studying at local universities (.pdf version)

Course selection:

Students will provisionally choose the courses they will take at the Consortium’s partner universities prior to their participation on the program. It is important that students work closely with their study abroad and academic advisors during this pre-selection period. Information on courses offered at the four Barcelona partner universities can be found below:

PLEASE NOTE: Check carefully the semester each course is offered and the language of instruction.

UAB: Course schedules are available by clicking on ‘Timetables’ in the right-hand menu on each page. Syllabi are available by clicking on Study Plan in the same menu. Check information is for current academic year.
UB: Course information is only available in Catalan
UPF: Provides limited course descriptions only. Select course and click OK for schedule information.
UPC: Information regarding course offering by semester and language of instruction is not available at this time.

CASB’s partner universities have an immense course offering in a wide range of disciplines. Click on the link below and then on the ‘Oferta de cursos’ tab in order to access detailed information on their respective websites.

Studies by discipline/department:
Click first on the tab ‘Oferta de cursos’ and then on the links in the table.

Glossary for navigating our partner universities’ website:
Horari = schedule
Plan Docent = Syllabus
Curs = year; 1er/Primer curs = Freshman year
Q1/1 = Fall semester; Q2/2/3 = Spring semester;

Interdepartmental Studies: Courses relating to some areas of study are interdisciplinary:

Art History
Catalan Studies
International Relations
Media & Communication

Semester/Academic Year Housing

The CASB has worked closely with its Barcelona partner universities to secure housing in the Residencia Melon District-Marina, an ultra-modern, clean and secure student residence hall which is centrally located.

Melon District-Marina
C/ Sancho de Avila, 22
08018 Barcelona
Tel: 011 34 932 178 812

  • All semester-only students are required to live in the CASB assigned housing. CASB students have individual rooms with a private bathroom. The single rooms open up to a common living space and kitchens that CASB students share with 9 flat mates (fellow CASB students, Spanish or other international students), creating an apartment-like atmosphere.
  • Each student is required to sign a housing contract in order to secure his/her housing space for the duration of his/her period of study.
  • Students will be billed for their housing directly by their respective CASB institution.
  • Year-long students may remain at Melon District-Marina or, if they choose, make their own housing arrangements for the spring semester

Summer Program Housing

CASB students participating on the Summer Program will be housed in double occupancy rooms at melon6_lga clean, safe and centrally located student residence hall both in Barcelona and the city chosen as the second location of the program.





Prior to departure

Register with the U.S. Department of State: Before traveling to Barcelona, it is important to register online with the US. Department of State’s Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP):

Obtain a comprehensive health plan: All students are required to demonstrate to their home university that they have obtained a comprehensive health plan that will provide coverage for accidents and illnesses, including emergency evacuation and repatriation, for their entire period abroad.

Check the agreements included in your health plan: An existing agreement with a general practitioner, medical center or hospital in Barcelona may mean you will not need to pay for treatment and then request reimbursement. In some cases, the medical center will bill the insurance company directly.

U.S. Consulate in Barcelona

The U.S. Consulate in Barcelona’s web page provides a wealth of useful information and advice to U.S. nationals visiting Barcelona, from how to renew your passport in the event of it being lost or stolen to what to do in an emergency: Furthermore, the Consulate has prepared the following documents to help U.S. citizens during their stay in Barcelona. Please take time to read these documents before arriving for your period of study abroad:

Information for Americans in Barcelona  (.pdf 184 kb)
How the U.S. Consulate can help Americans abroad (.pdf 64 kb)  

Health Related Issues:  Prescription Medications:

If you require prescription medication, you should bring a supply with you to last the entire duration of your time abroad. Bring medications in your carry-on luggage, in their original prescription bottles, along with a letter from you doctor explaining the dosage, why the medication has been prescribed, and why you are traveling with a large quantity. N.B: It is illegal to ship medications to Spain. Spanish customs authorities are very strict regarding this matter and do not accept any shipments from the U.S. for personal use. Any medications found will be confiscated and a heavy fine may be assessed.

Immunizations: If you plan to travel outside Spain, particularly – given Spain’s proximity – to the continent of Africa, please make sure you have had the necessary immunizations. You can learn about associated health issues through the Center for Disease Control at

Visiting a medical professional:  If you become unwell during your stay in Barcelona, the CASB staff will be on hand to support you and have details of general practitioners, medical centers and hospitals with English-speaking staff. The U.S. Consulate has also complied a list of English speaking medical professionals (.pdf 230kb) within the Barcelona area.

Payment: In most cases, you will be required to pay the medical center for treatment received, and then request a reimbursement from your insurance company. It is a good idea to check before leaving the U.S. if your medical insurance company has existing agreements with medical centers in Barcelona. This may mean the medical center will bill your insurance company directly and you will not have to pay for treatment.

Safety While Abroad

Spain is generally as safe as the U.S., and in some cases safer. As is true of any large city, however, there are problems with petty thievery in Barcelona. You can avoid many problems by being cautious and remembering the important points about staying safe listed below. While crime, most certainly violent crime, is less prevalent in Spain than in similar-sized cities in the U.S., tourists are always a favorite target of criminals, so please be mindful of your surroundings and belongings at all times:

Do not leave you luggage/belongings unattended.
Do not take anything of real or sentimental value with you; it is not necessary to wear expensive jewelry or watches.
Do not carry your passport, plane tickets, credit cards or large sums of money with you unless these items are necessary for a specific purpose.
Keep a photocopy of your passport, including the validity page, with your picture and signature, in a safe place both in the U.S. and in Spain. You can carry another photocopy with you during your time in Spain for identification purposes.
If you go out at night, do not walk home alone. Men and women should observe this precaution. Stay with a friend and take a cab home, all the way to your door.
Do not take a purse with you to a club, unless it is one you can keep with you at all times.
Always carry the CASB emergency contact numbers with you at all times.
Do not give personal information to strangers, or someone you have just met.
If out at night, do not leave drinks unattended.

Emergency Contacts US & Barcelona

If an emergency situation related to your health or safety occurs during the program, it is important to contact the Resident Director and your family at home immediately. Soon after arrival in Barcelona, your program will provide you with instructions for how to contact program staff in case of emergency. As you will be on your own if you travel before and/or after the offical program dates, please make plans and discuss emergency procedures with your family for use at these times.

Telephone numbers:

 Barcelona USA
CASB Center (34) 93 542 1487 Brown University (401) 863 3555
CASB Director: office (34) 93 542 2489 Brown Emergency (401) 863 4111
CASB Director: cell (34) 608.251.893 University of Chicago (773) 702 9442
US Consulate in Barcelona (34) 93 280 2227 Chicago Emergency (773) 612 4680
General emergency 112* Northwestern University (847) 467 6400
Northwestern Emergency (847) 491 3254
* Equivalent of 911 and Cornell University (607) 255 6224
 valid throughout Europe Cornell Emergency (607) 255 1111
Harvard University (617) 496 2722
Harvard Emergency (617) 495 5560
Princeton University (609) 258 5524
Princeton Emergency (609) 258 3134
Stanford University (650) 725 0236
Stanford Emergency (650) 723 2300
Columbia University (212) 854 5061
Columbia Emergency (212) 854 2797
Duke University (919) 684 2174
Duke Emergency (919) 684 2444