Here's What to Expect From Academics at UPF

Sep 21, 2019 10:04:00 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

When you directly enroll on the new CAPA Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) study abroad program, you’ll be welcomed into one of Spain’s most prestigious academic institutions. UPF ranks in the top 1.1% of universities worldwide, has been named number 11 among the world’s top young universities by Times Higher Education and best university in Spain by the (London) Times Higher Education Supplement.

Pinterest Graphic -UPF- Academics

UPF: Academics

As you study among a diverse and intelligent group of students from across the globe you’ll be challenged by a rigorous academic program, intrigued by innovative research happening on campus and the opportunity to get involved, and more knowledgeable about life in Spain (and specifically in Catalonia) as well the cultures of the many countries your new friends call home.


UPF has three campuses across Barcelona, but as a CAPA student, you’ll most likely be studying on the Ciutadella campus in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods where social sciences and humanities are taught. If you’re studying ICT and communication sciences, then your classes will be held at Poblenou. Health and life sciences classes will be on the Mar campus.

Language of Instruction

It’s not often you come across a tri-lingual university, but UPF hosts classes taught in Catalan, English, and Spanish. It’s truly a European, and international, institution.

Even if you don’t speak one of the local languages, you’ll have a large selection of English language classes to choose from, so language won’t be an issue when it comes to academics. If you do have a high enough level of Spanish or Catalan to take courses taught in one of those languages, it’s an incredible opportunity to challenge yourself and you’ll have even more course options.

Interestingly, regardless of the language of instruction of each class, students have the right to submit their coursework and exams in any of the three languages and will be fairly graded in whichever language they’ve committed to using.

UPF Academics - Photo 1

GPA and Other Academic Requirements

Legal Studies Abroad and Experiential Learning students are required to have a minimum GPA of 3.3. STEM students will be considered with a minimum GPA of 2.7. All other courses require a minimum GPA of 3.0.


Many prominent national and international researchers work and teach at UPF, and research plays an important role for both faculty and students, with opportunities to engage in independent research. The university ranks highly when it comes to quality and international impact of their research, they’ve obtained an impressive number of research grants, and the spirit of innovation that drives their research work is highly valued.

Recently, UPF Research Park was developed to coordinate activity in the health and life sciences fields at the Ciutadella and Poblenou campuses with the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park on the Mar campus.

UPF Academics Photo 2 - UPF Research Park

Choice of Classes

CAPA students will be fully integrated into the student body at UPF. That means you’ll have access to the same classes as full degree students. Students typically take four classes per term.

Some key areas of study at UPF are business, STEM, global health, European and Hispanic studies, and international relations. You can combine a wide variety of classes from different fields and disciplines alongside other academic opportunities, such as independent research projects, academic internships, and language courses.

One highlight is the Hispanic and European Studies Program where you’ll find topics that focus on promoting a better understanding of the reality of Spanish and Catalan life.

Business courses, especially branding and marketing, tend to fill up faster than others. It’s also the most competitive communication school in Spain and those classes have fewer options in English, so you’ll want to be organized and sign up right away when registration opens.

You can find more detail on courses when you click into specific course areas on their website.


You can expect classrooms at UPF to be very international. About 1,500 students come to study from countries around the world each year, and the teaching staff is also incredibly diverse with 20% born abroad and 43% having taught internationally.

Most classes will meet twice each week: once for a theory lecture, and once for a seminar. Attendance is compulsory. You’ll likely be asked to be more independent in your approach to studying at UPF than you’re used to at home. For example, many classes use a flipped learning methodology in which you study the theory behind a subject at home, unguided, and ahead of your class so that you’re able to make better use of face time with the instructor to focus on activities and case studies. You can read more about different learning methodologies they use here.

You will need to be academically focused to achieve great grades; as you would expect from one of the top universities in the world, courses are academically demanding and fast-paced. Motivated students are the ones who will excel.

UPF Academics Photo 3


You’ll likely find course evaluation methods to be similar to those you experience on your home campus. Depending on the classes you’re taking, you can expect a mix of presentations, tests, take-home or mid-term exams, and final exams in most classes which  will fall sometime within the last three weeks of your program. You’ll have all of your dates and deadlines with enough time to plan ahead and prepare.

Academic Support Services

An academic coordinator will be available to give guidance if you need it. There are several libraries and a resource center you can use as well as access to IT services.

Grading System

UPF uses a grading system where you’re awarded 0-10. A 5 is a minimum passing grade. 9-10 is considered an A; 7-8.99, a B; 5-6.99 equivalent to a C, D, and E; and anything below 5 is a failing grade.

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Topics: Barcelona, Spain, Direct Enroll