Information about housing, travel arrangements, fees, schedules, and program policies is provided at a pre-departure orientation meeting in April (for fall participants) and November (for spring participants), held on campus at both Vassar and Wesleyan. In Spain, the program begins each semester with a 10-day intensive language and civilization program in Santiago de Compostela (August) for the fall and in Granada (January) for the spring term. A week-long orientation to Madrid and life at the Universidad Carlos III is organized by the Curso de Estudios Hispánicos at the beginning of both semesters. Students register for courses during this week.

The Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

The Universidad Carlos III is located in the suburb of Getafe, 15 minutes by train or bus from downtown Madrid. Founded in 1989, the Carlos III is, by European standards, a relatively small (ca. 14,000 students) public university with many of the amenities and advantages associated with private liberal arts colleges. Its excellent faculty/student ratio favors relatively small classes and greater attention to the students’ needs. It offers a wide range of courses in all fields, especially in the humanities and social sciences, and its faculty is one of the most distinguished in Europe. Because of its academic reputation, the Carlos III attracts students from countries around the world and therefore has a cosmopolitan air. Its campus is modern and exquisitely designed, with state-of-the-art libraries, computer labs, and sports facilities. The dynamic and well-organized network of student organizations on the campus of the Carlos III contributes greatly to the social integration of the Program in Madrid participant.

For these and many other reasons, the Vassar-Wesleyan Program in Madrid at the Universidad Carlos III offers an ideal opportunity for students who wish to perfect their Spanish and increase their cross-cultural awareness through a total immersion experience in an urban, cosmopolitan environment, while making normal progress toward the completion of their undergraduate education.

¡Aquí se habla español!

Linguistic fluency, sensitivity to Spanish customs, and a fuller understanding of Spanish culture and history are the primary objectives of the Vassar-Wesleyan Program in Madrid. The program helps students achieve these goals by housing students in private homes, through its varied curriculum, through the intensive language and civilization sessions in Santiago de Compostela (fall) and Granada (spring), by locating the program in the culturally dynamic capital, Madrid, and by means of a rich program of cultural events and field trips aimed at introducing students to Spanish culture in all its complexity. Understanding that students themselves have an obligation in this regard, the program asks students to sign a pledge before leaving the United States guaranteeing the following:

1.         The exclusive use of Spanish while participating in the program.
2.         Active participation in all program-sponsored academic and cultural activities, 
                    which may include field trips, lectures, concerts, and plays.
3.         Daily attendance in class and full compliance with all academic requirements and regulations.


Students enrolled in the Vassar-Wesleyan Program are eligible to take courses in any of the following three areas:

Curso de Estudios Hispánicos (CEH)

Courses offered by the Curso de Estudios Hispánicos cover a range of topics in the humanities and social sciences and are tailored to the specific needs of foreign students from around the world, including exchange students from other European countries who come through the Erasmus program.

In the first week of each term, the CEH staff organizes a week-long orientation designed to introduce students to Madrid and the campus, and to help them select their courses. The student handbook distributed at that point contains the syllabi for courses offered through the CEH. The course selection normally includes:

Modern Spanish Literature
Modern Latin American Literature
The Spanish Short Story
Spanish Theater: From the Text to the Stage
The History of Spain
Spanish Cinema
The History of Spanish Painting
Spanish Law in the European Context
Contemporary History/Spain Today
Spanish and European Political Institutions
Spanish and European Economics
The Geography of Spain: Space and Society

Students in their first semester in Madrid will be expected to take one language course. The CEH faculty administers a placement exam during orientation week to determine the appropriate level for each student. Spanish language is offered at four levels, from intermediate to superior (level four is for native speakers and other students who can be classified as “bilingual”); a course offered in composition focuses on the writing process and the construction of different kinds of text for different purposes. Students with native or near-native Spanish may be permitted instead to enroll in Spanish linguistics through the regular offerings at the Carlos III.

Further information concerning the Curso de Estudios Hispánicos can be found here.

Cursos de Humanidades (CH)

VWM participants may choose to enroll in many of the Cursos de Humanidades. These are a series of intensive, partial credit, mono-thematic seminars offered for Spanish students at different times through the fall and spring semesters. They are limited-enrollment seminars with an interdisciplinary focus. The intimate setting and progressive format should be attractive to students seeking an educational experience similar to the one commonly offered in advanced courses on their home campuses.

A definitive list of seminars available in any given semester will be distributed during orientation week in Madrid. For an idea of the topics generally covered in the CH, consult the current roster of seminars.

Asignaturas de licenciatura (AL)

Program students also have access to the wide range of humanities and social and natural science courses available to Spanish students in the various degree-granting facultades (colleges) at the Universidad Carlos III. Individual courses and syllabi appear within the plan de estudios for each facultad on the Carlos III Web site. A student interested in courses on either the History of Cinema or Contemporary International Relations, for instance, would find them listed as asignaturas del tercer curso (“third-year courses”) in the plan de estudios of the Facultad de Humanidades, Comunicación. Courses (asignaturas) on the Spanish Political System or European Economics appear in the primer and segundo curso of the plan de estudios of the Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y de la Administración.

Prospective students should familiarize themselves with the academic structure (facultades, departamentos, titulaciones) at the Carlos III here.

The Carlos III Academic Calendar

During the fall term, the Curso de Estudios Hispánicos and many Cursos de Humanidades conclude the third week of December. Fall-term only students will therefore be able to complete their courses taken through these programs in time to return home for winter break if they so wish. Students enrolling in asignaturas de licenciatura must plan to remain in Madrid until mid-January in order to complete these courses.

The spring term at the Carlos III begins in late January or early February. The Curso de Estudios Hispánicos and the Cursos de Humanidades end in mid-May. Regular university classes (asignaturas de licenciatura) end in late May, with final exams in early June.

Please select "Guía del estudiante" on the V-W Madrid website for this year's calendar:

Academic Credit and Grades

Each Curso de Estudios Hispánicos course carries one unit of credit.  Asignaturas de Licenciatura carry between one and two credits.  The Cursos de Humanidades that carry 3-4 Spanish credits usually carry one-half credit.  (If they are worth less than 3 credits, an arrangement will be discussed with the Madrid Director and the home institution.)

The Santiago and Granada sessions earn one-half credit, and are graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory. All courses in Madrid must be taken for a letter grade. In Madrid, students are expected to take a full course load, the equivalent of four courses at Vassar or Wesleyan, each semester. In their first semester in Spain, they are expected to take a language course. A language placement exam is administered at the beginning of each semester in Madrid. Lectures, discussions, exams, and papers in all courses are conducted exclusively in Spanish.

For further information...

Vassar-Wesleyan in Madrid -- this site is designed to give you even more information about courses, housing, culture, extra-curricular opportunities, etc.