Universidad Complutense de Madrid - Science Only

As the capital of Spain, the Royal Palace, big places and buildings used by the Spanish Monarchy, enormous cathedrals and churches are all plentiful in Madrid.

Located in the bustling metropolis of Madrid, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) is one of the oldest universities in the world, tracing it's origins back to 1293. Making significant contributions in the field of science, it also has a reputation for progressiveness - in 1785, it became one of the first universities to grant a doctorate to a female student.

UCM is also the largest university in Spain with about 90,000 students, and is currently ranked #4 in Spain and #212 of the top universities in the world by QS World Rankings 2014.

Key information


Madrid, Spain




Academic Year, Fall, Winter

Program type


Application information

Application Status



2024-2025 applications

First come first considered for remaining spaces until

Winter 2025: August 15, 2024

University-specific additional requirements

No reference letter required, minimum GPA 2.7. See Eligibility section below for details.

2025-2026 applications

Open November 1, 2024

Program details

UCM offers a wide variety of science programs, including: Astronomy, Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geology, Physics, Mathematics, and Statistics.

UCM works on the ECTS system and 30 ECTS per term is standard. 6 ECTS = 1 U of C half course.

Courses can be found by department (, then "details of the degree" then "plan structure."

The exchange agreement with UCM falls under TASSEP. TASSEP is the Trans-Atlantic Science Student Exchange Program, a consortium designed specifically with the curricular needs of science students in mind. Canadian science students have access to a variety of European Partners in the consortium.

There are two semesters at UCM. The first semester runs from late September to mid-February and the second semester runs from mid-February to late June.

  1. Costs

    General costs of living vary, but average monthly expense estimates range from €900-1300, though monthly expenses can vary a lot depending on the cost of housing and the type you choose. There are a lot of discounts for students available as well. The university provides a guide to Living in Madrid including tips on banking, healthcare, traditions, tourism, and culture, etc. that may be helpful.

    Madrid cost comparison vs. Calgary: Click Here

  2. Funding

    Did you know that you can take your UCalgary funding with you on exchange?  
    Since you remain a degree seeking student at UCalgary while on exchange you remain eligible for any awards and scholarships you are eligible to receive from the university as well as student loans.

    Our office administers several awards, including the Global Access Fund (based on a funding-first model where students apply prior to committing to a global learning program) and the Global Learning Award (students apply after being accepted to a global learning program; the amount varies year-to-year as the money is split among chosen recipients). Students may only receive these awards once. Please see the funding page, linked below, for more information.

    Students studying in Spain may also be eligible for the Julio Peris Award, valued up to $1350 per student. 

UCM has 5 catered halls of residence and the Housing office is able to provide advice about both the residences and off campus housing. For more information on University life, you can check out their guide

This exchange is open to regular, full-time students in the Faculty of Science, who have completed at least 1 full year (10 courses) at the post-secondary level, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 (B-).

Most courses at UCM are taught in Spanish - as such, applicants must have a command of Spanish at the B1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) at a minimum, or have completed at least two 300-level or above courses in Spanish. Students do have the opportunity to take Spanish language courses during their stay (see FAQs for more information).

Do I have to speak Spanish?

As courses are taught in Spanish, advanced language skills are required (see Eligibility section for more details). 

What options are available for improving my Spanish at UCM?

There are Spanish intensive courses offered for free for TASSEP students every September and February.

What supports or services are available at UCM? 

UCM's Office for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities (OIPD) supports staff and students with accessibility needs in a variety of ways. For information on accessibility and support services of campuses across Europe, please check out Inclusive Mobility. For city-specific services and places in Europe, the Jaccede interactive platform (website and/or smartphone app - both Android and iOS) also provides a searchable user-built database to identify important accessibility information of public places and locations.

What's special about Madrid?

The city of Madrid is one of the greenest in the world. 

Student Tips: "The best things to check out in Madrid are the main tourist community, Gran Via – this is where everything happens at night in Madrid – stores and bars are open late, and everyone is out walking around. Be careful of pickpockets in this area as they target tourists, but generally it is a safe area to be in. Buen Retiro Park is also a must-see place to visit – it’s a park/forest within the city, with a lake that you can rent a boat to ride on. Temple of Debod is a cool place to take photos as well - it's full of columns donated from Egypt. Tapas in Spain is also an essential experience; there are tapas bars where you can enjoy a series of small appetizers, usually with a drink included. One to check out would be Los 100 montaditos, which offers a wide selection of tapas for 1 euro each. In Spain, the general rule is that you don’t tip unless the restaurant/bar gives you tapas, or you just round up to the nearest euro."

Have questions?

Global Learning 101

Please watch this short YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment. In these videos, you will learn much of the basics about Global Learning, which may answer your initial questions.

Watch Global Learning 101

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how this program might align with your degree (e.g. best time to go, what courses you need).

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/transfer credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Global Learning Advising

If you have questions, please reach out to our office! We offer drop-in advising for general inquiries, and if you have questions about this specific program or any others, you can book an appointment with the responsible advisor.

Please use the link below to find the most up-to-date information about our current advising options.

View the Global Learning Advising page

The exchange advisor for this program is: Tara Jorgensen

How to Apply

Download the application guide

This PDF contains information on how to complete your application and what to do after you have applied.

Application guide

Identify three programs of interest

We recommend applying for your top three programs for the priority application deadline, as placement may be competitive. We will assess your applications in ranked order.

Check requirements and deadlines

These may vary by program, so check the individual program pages and make sure that you are aware of any different application deadlines or eligibility requirements.

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular global learning program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Global Learning Advisors will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

If you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Global Learning Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.

Please note: All participants must adhere to COVID-19 and other vaccination-related requirements for the destinations visited on this program. Failure to do so may have consequences such as being denied access to accommodation/housing, program activities, or to the host country itself.