Harvard Summer Program Madrid, Spain

June 1, 2019 to July 27, 2019
Apply by: 
January 31, 2019

De Madrid, al cielo ("From Madrid, and then to heaven”)

Study Spanish language, history, and culture in Spain’s dynamic, elegant, and hip capital city.

Designed for students at the intermediate level of Spanish language study, this 8-week immersion program focuses on the history, culture and languages of urban, insular and rural Spain. Based in urban and cosmopolitan Madrid, the program will expand your appreciation and understanding of the diversity of Spain through excursions to nearby Toledo and Segovia, as well as a weekend in Mallorca and a week in Galicia—two regions of the country with very distinctive histories and cultures. The program operates in cooperation with San Pablo CEU University, the University of the Balearic Islands and the University of Santiago de Compostela, offering you a wide range of academic exposure throughout the summer.

The program provides rigorous, comprehensive training in spoken and written Spanish through classes, host families, and direct engagement with the extensive history, unique cultures, and different languages (catalán, gallego and castellano) of three distinct and significant regions of Spain.

Program structure

The program will guide you in making rapid progress toward fluency in Spanish. Intensive language instruction is combined with exploration of the culture and history of Madrid and other parts of Spain through the lenses of art and architecture, literature, politics and ethnography.

You enroll in one 8-credit course which counts as two half-year courses toward the foreign language citation. This is a second-year-level immersion course in Spanish language and culture, which provides thorough grammar review and language instruction, combined with an in-depth study of the culture and character of Madrid through history, art, architecture, literature, and ethnography, focusing on five periods: when Madrid became Spain’s capital (1561) and before; the theatrical boom of the 17th century through the enlightenment of Charles III; the vast contrasts of the nineteenth century; the civil war, subsequent dictatorship and transition to democracy of the 20th century; and Madrid’s place in Spain, in Europe and in the world in current times.

You engage with Madrid directly, living and studying there for 7 weeks, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the city in the greater context of Spain by comparing the capital to smaller cities (on day trips to Segovia and Toledo) and to the culturally, geographically and linguistically diverse regions of Mallorca and Galicia over visits of several days.

You will expand and strengthen your linguistic skills and learn about the history and culture of Madrid by participating in language sessions, instructional excursions, writers’ workshops, lectures, film screenings, and community service, and viewing the centuries of art and architecture which surround you.  The course provides you with eight weeks to speak Spanish with native speakers from diverse backgrounds. In class, you compare levels of formality in both written and spoken language and become familiar with the vast and fascinating lexicon of Castilian Spanish while developing your written and spoken academic Spanish, and attaining an advanced linguistic level by the end of the course.

Morning sessions integrate language instruction with cultural materials and readings. Afternoon and evening sessions include a weekly writing workshop, lectures and conversations with scholars and artists, visits to the Prado and other museums, the Royal Palace, the Retiro Park, the Hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida, the Barrio de las Letras, other emblematic neighborhoods, and a night at the theater.  All afternoon and evening sessions are directly related to classroom study and assignments, and provide students with greater exposure to the cultural life of the city.

Prerequisite: Harvard students must have completed Spanish 11, Spanish 15, or Spanish 20, or received the equivalent score on the Harvard University placement test. Other students must have completed one year or one accelerated semester of college-level beginning Spanish.

Where you live and study

Madrid is an extraordinarily welcoming city, a relatively young European capital (founded in the mid-16th century), in which students will quickly feel at home.  After all, most madrileños, while living proudly in their spectacular capital city, will also identify with their pueblo (small town) where they, their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents have their roots, and where they spend holidays, or often simply retreat.  Thus in order to truly understand Madrid, students, as well, will visit several parts of Spain, besides its capital. Toledo and Segovia recall Jewish, Moorish and Roman history, whereas Mallorca holds medieval and twentieth century art and letters, and international island culture. In Galicia, we will walk part of one of the medieval Caminos de Santiago, meeting other pilgrims, visiting the Cathedral where San James is said to be buried, and a monastery, a small town art gallery, vineyards, fish market, and replicas of Columbus’ boats at Finisterre, Europe’s most western point, in addition to hearing bagpipe performances and participating in other programs in gallego with local artists.


In Madrid, you will live and take meals with a local host family. Host families all live within a short distance of the Universidad San Pablo CEU in the Moncloa neighborhood of Madrid, where classes are held.  This lively, walkable area is filled with students and a diverse array of other residents, and is well connected by Metro and bus to all other parts of the city.


Early application is strongly encouraged. Each program has unique requirements included in the online application. Beginning your application early is the best way to ensure that you have sufficient time to review and complete the application requirements by the deadline.

A complete online application includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • A statement of interest
  • Your most recent transcript
  • Program-specific requirements (if applicable; may include letters of recommendation, audio or video submissions, etc.)
  • A $75 application fee (per program)

Interviews may be requested at the discretion of the program.

Applications are due by 11:59 pm ET on January 31, 2019. You may apply to up to two programs; each program requires a separate application and fee. Harvard College students applying for funding from the Office of Career Services (OCS): Please note that the OCS funding application is separate.

The online application will open in early December.

If you have questions about the application, please contact the Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Office by email at summerabroad@summer.harvard.edu, or by telephone at (617) 998-9602.

Cost & Expenses

The program fee includes:

  • Tuition
  • Accommodations
  • Scheduled program activities
  • Some meals (the program will provide further details)

You will also need to budget for a number of expenses not covered by the program fee. The amounts listed below for these out-of-pocket expenses are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not noted here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including personal spending habits and currency exchange rates.

  • International airfare ($1,300 - $1,600)
  • Ground transportation ($200)
  • Meals ($500)
  • Personal expenditures, communications, course materials, and miscellaneous ($700)

If you have specific questions about personal budgeting, please contact the program directly.

See Funding and Payment for information on how to submit payments and funding options.

Additional information

program director

Johanna Damgaard Liander