Barcelona Study Abroad

The Illinois Architecture Study Abroad Program in Barcelona-El Vallès (Illinois at ETSAV) is our flagship international program of overseas studies.

Program Introduction


The Illinois at ETSAV Barcelona Program is a comprehensive international learning experience for students enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture.  It is part of an overarching institutional agreement between the Schools of Architecture of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) that provides for a significant and long-term academic collaboration. The IASAP-BV is hosted at the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura del Vallès (ETSAV), one of the two archi­tecture programs of the highly-ranked UPC.  However, while hosted at the ETSAV, the program is an integral part of the Illinois School of Architecture, and is institutionally autonomous from the host institution.

The Program is a unique opportunity for living and studying in a historically and architecturally vibrant overseas environment.

Offering a curricular structure that is fully equivalent to the courses offered on the Illinois campus, the Barcelona program is academically rigorous, intense, challenging, and broadening as it exposes students first­hand to the architecture of Western Europe.  Moreover, it provides a wealth of op­portunities for professional and personal growth through a wide range of curricular and extracurricular activities, and possibilities for independent travel throughout the Mediterranean basin and Europe. The program is for the entire academic year (September to May) for undergraduate junior and senior-level students.  Graduate-level students are eligible to participate for one-semester (Fall or Spring). For more information see Eligibility and Application Process below.


The mission of the Barcelona Program is to provide students with a multicultural and cross-national approach that fosters the enrichment of their personal and professional development. We are committed to providing a holistic and dynamic architectural education that focuses on an integrated approach to the discipline of architecture, continuing the students’ academic path toward graduation with a degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Program of Study

The program of studies consists of three core courses:

  • Architectural Design
  • Architectural History
  • Overseas Architectural Studies

The first two are equivalent to similar courses offered on campus; the third one is specific to the Barcelona Program.  All of them adapt their content to take full advantage of the program’s extraordinary location in one of the most vibrant architectural environments worldwide.   Architectural Design courses explore urban and architectural themes typical of dense, historical urban fabrics like Barcelona in particular and the European city in general.

Architectural History courses focus on aspects related to the history and evolution of architecture in Europe with an emphasis on the history of Catalonian architecture, from the city’s Roman foundation to the vitality of its contemporary architecture.  The format of this course is unique: half of the time is spent in the classroom, but the other half takes place at historically relevant buildings and sites, learning history where history took place.

The Overseas Architectural Studies course consists of a wide range of activities such as field trips, independent studies, and special workshops.  Among the latter, the Architectural Photography and Video-documentary workshops, architectural and urban graphic analysis and sketching workshop/module, and joint ETSAV+Illinois thematic workshops are typical highlights of the year.  This course is also the home and vehicle for the many assignments that students develop during the periods for independent traveling.

All courses are taught in English by professors appointed by the Illinois School of Architecture and are conceived to guarantee that all program participants continue on regular path toward graduation.

Students (undergraduate or graduate) who need to complete other courses during the year or semester abroad will be provided with a range of possibilities to satisfy their credit/hour and requirement needs while abroad.  These may include taking courses online and/or other alternative teaching methods.

Extracurricular Experiences

In addition to the field trips and workshops integrated to the structure of the three core courses, the Barcelona Program offers a wide range of related curricular and extracurricular activities such as public lectures, exhibitions, cultural activities and celebrations, and a numerous optional support sessions and workshops on portfolio design, time management, travel planning, and cooking, to name just a few.  Another optional activity available to participants are the Mindfulness sessions and Koru Mindfulness Course offered by Magali Veronelli, the Program Coordinator and certified Koru Mindfulness instructor.


The program starts in early September (typically during the week that begins with the Labor Day Holiday in the US) and ends in mid-May (typically on Tuesday/Wednesday before Commencement weekend at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

The calendar is based on the Illinois’ school calendar but adapted to the program’s location and its pedagogical needs.  It consists of two semesters separated by a winter break.  A week-long period for independent travel is built into the calendar of activities in each of the two semesters.  One or two “long-weekends” are often included in the calendar to allow students to travel independently.

The weekly calendar includes typical and atypical weeks.  Typical weeks are dedicated to regular sessions of the three core courses; atypical weeks are dedicated to thematic workshops, organized travel, or other special activities such as, for example, final exams and reviews.  Regardless, every week is intense and demanding, but coordinated to avoid being burdensome to the students.



Hosted by the ETSAV, the Illinois’ Barcelona Program is located at Sant Cugat del Vallès, a beautiful and prosperous town that has a rich history dating back to the medieval period and is part of Barcelona’s metropolitan area.

Sant Cugat is well served by culture and entertainment, shopping, sports and health care facilities.

A 20/30-minute ride on modern and safe trains connects Sant Cugat with downtown Barcelona at a frequency rate of several trains per hour during regular business hours (2 or 3 per hour in the late evening/night).   An excellent transportation network connects Barcelona to other destinations in Spain and the rest of Europe.

map of barcelona program location

More information about the program

Eligibility & Application Process

Junior and senior-level undergraduate students of the Illinois School of Architecture are eligible to participate in the Yearlong program of studies (the one-semester option is not available for undergraduate students).

Graduate-level students are eligible to participate for one-semester (Fall or Spring).

The application to participate in this program is made through the University’s Study Abroad Office.

Student Lodging and Daily Life

Lodging for students is included in the Program Fee (see Costs and Fees below).

Typically, students live at Unihabit Sant Cugat, a university residence adjacent to the ETSAV. The building was designed by well-known local architects and has been widely published internationally. It is a modern residence (built in 2012) that consists of double-occupancy units organized around a sunny and nicely landscaped social courtyard.  Units are approximately 450 square feet; they accommodate two individual sleeping areas, a social/dining space, a small kitchen and a bathroom. Laundry machines are available at each end of the courtyard.

Everything needed for  daily life–groceries, supplies, entertainment and medical attention–is available within a 5-to-20-minute walking radius. This includes Sant Cugat’s train station, 5 to 10 minutes away. The train ride to downtown Barcelona takes about half an hour.

In the event that the student residence at Sant Cugat is not available, the program will offer alternative options for student lodging.

Costs and Fees

Program Fee

To participate in the Barcelona study abroad program it is necessary to pay a Program Fee, which covers the following:

  • Group roundtrip airfare between Chicago and Barcelona
  • Students’ housing (does not including utilities or security deposit)
  • Most course-related costs such as fees to access the numerous significant sites and buildings visited during the year (however, it does not include school supplies)
  • Travel and lodging in program-organized traveling (does not include meals and personal expenses during program-organized travel, nor any expense related to the students’ independent travel activity)
  • Some administrative costs (for example those associated with getting the student visa to study in Spain)
  • Some costs related to the organization of curricular and extracurricular activities.

Additionally, participants are required to pay University Tuition and other fees determined by the University such as a mandatory International Insurance, and a non-reimbursable Application Fee.

Cost Summary

  • University Tuition (variable according to level of study and length of participation)
  • Program Fee for academic year 2023/2024
    • Yearlong program: $16,200
    • One-semester program: $11,000
  • International Insurance
    • Academic Year: $450
    • One Semester: $250
  • Application Fee (non-reimbursable): $100

All admitted applicants will be eligible to receive an Allen Scholarship that will effectively reduce the out-of-pocket fee.  Information regarding other scholarships and financial aid opportunities for interested participants is available through the University’s Office of Student Financial Aid.

The average cost of living per student during the yearlong program is approximately $10,800.  This figure includes all personal expenses, from food and meals, to school supplies and traveling.  However, this figure is highly variable and depends on personal spending habits (including the frequency and length of travels during weekends, and periods of independent travel).

Permanent Faculty and Staff

Core Faculty

Part-Time Faculty and Collaborators (partial list)

Guillem Bosch, Invited Workshop Instructor

Guillem co-teaches workshops on architectural and urban graphic analysis and drawing.

Xavi Campreciós, Invited Workshop Instructor

Xavi teaches a workshop on architectural video documentary.

Raimon Farré, Invited Workshop Instructor

Raimon co-teaches workshops on architectural and urban graphic analysis and drawing.

Josep Maria de Llobet, Invited Workshop Instructor

Josep teaches a workshop on architectural photography.


Barcelona Studio Highlights

Barcelona Program Instagram

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins
Error: There is no connected account for the user iasapbv.


Barcelona Program overview by Professor Alejandro Lapunzina, and student experiences through the years.

Class of 2014-2015 slideshow
Class of 2015-2016 slideshow

Alumni Testimonials

A selection of perspectives on the program from our alums. Find more on our YouTube channel.

Cookie Settings