Design Study Abroad
ELISAVA - Barcelona, Spain

Application Deadline

May 15, 2024
This program has now closed. Email [email protected] for late applications.
Start Date: Sep, 2024
– End Date: Dec, 2024
End Date: Dec, 2024
Credits: 12-18
Pre-requisites: 2.75 Overall GPA and college junior or senior status

Program Overview

The SSA ELISAVA program is your gateway to mastering design amidst Barcelona’s rich tapestry of artistic legacy. Tailored for US students, engage in English-taught courses covering design, engineering, and communication through specialized, intensive tracks.

Barcelona, the design capital, is more than just a city; it’s your live classroom where every corner narrates a tale of design innovation. 

ELISAVA, the pioneer in design education, affiliated with Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya, sits at the heart of the bustling La Rambla. Venture through iconic barrios, bask on sun-kissed beaches, or explore UNESCO World Heritage sites, as you weave your design journey in a city visited by millions.

Program Details

Program Availability




Life Abroad

Discover more!


Dive into the linguistic richness of Barcelona, where Spanish meets Catalan. Engage with the community through language exchanges and immerse yourself in the dual linguistic heritage.


Barcelona’s history is a living museum, from the Roman relics to the Gothic Quarter’s narrow alleys. Each stone and street has a tale, reflecting a past that shapes the vibrant culture of today.


The city’s skyline is a testament to creativity, dominated by Gaudí’s surreal structures. Venture beyond to discover the Eixample’s grid pattern and the innovative angles of contemporary buildings.


Barcelona is a canvas for the arts, home to masterpieces by Picasso and Miró. Its streets are galleries, its buildings canvases, inviting students to find inspiration at every turn.


Savor the flavors of Catalan cuisine in bustling markets and tapas bars. Barcelona’s gastronomy is an exploration of taste, from fresh seafood to rich, traditional dishes.

Best beaches in BarcelonaBeachside Living

 Experience the Mediterranean lifestyle with urban beaches that offer sun, sea, and sand. The city’s green spaces and nearby mountains provide a natural escape for rejuvenation.

Cultural Integration

Embrace the local festivities, from traditional ‘Castellers’ to contemporary music festivals. Barcelona’s cultural calendar is an opportunity for students to blend learning with celebration.

A tapas bar in a Barcelona restaurantYour Barcelona experience extends far beyond the classroom walls. Included in your program’s cost, you’ll have access to a diverse array of cultural events and outings, meticulously organized by our Resident Director. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect:

  • Kick-off with Catalan Cuisine: Begin your journey with a convivial welcome dinner featuring local favorites like tapas and paella, where you’ll bond with your peers and our local SSA team.

  • Historic Explorations: Wander through the Gothic and Jewish Quarters, where the city’s medieval history comes to life.

  • Barcelona’s Panorama: Embark on a city tour that culminates with the awe-inspiring Sagrada Família, a testament to Gaudí’s genius.

  • Park Güell Visit: Stroll through the whimsical landscapes of Gaudí’s Park Güell, a public park system composed of gardens and architectonic elements.

  • Alternative Angles: Experience ‘Barcelona from a Different Perspective’ on a unique walking tour that reveals the city’s hidden gems.

  • Artistic Immersion: Delve into the surreal world of Salvador Dalí with a visit to his museum, a real-life canvas of his imaginative works.

  • Culinary Farewell: Conclude your stay with a flavorful tapas dinner and a captivating Flamenco performance.

Please be aware that some activities might require a nominal additional fee. The availability of activities may vary by program.

Meet your Resident Director

I will work with you from the moment you apply to the Barcelona program. Throughout your stay in Barcelona and until your departure. My role is to  help and guide you and even hug you when you need it.  This amazing experience will change your life and I want to be a part of it. I love interacting with students and making sure you feel secure and satisfied with the program. Don’t hesitate to participate in this life changing experience. We are waiting for you!
María de la Viña
Resident Director

The SSA Barcelona Office


Students may select to live with a local host family or in a student residence.

Student residences

Students interested in the cosmopolitan experience of a student residence can also opt for one in Barcelona. As a popular destination for international students as well as ones from other parts of Spain, Barcelona has a number of private student residences throughout the city. Most are fairly centrally located and so students are not far from attractions and the center of the city. They also tend to have a cosmopolitan mix of students and so provide unique social opportunities.

Because of high demand, SSA cannot always guarantee placement at a given student residence. Prices can vary so supplemental charges over our programs costs may be required as well as funds for meals.

If you have an interest in staying in a student residence, let us know as soon as you can to help us secure a place. This may require paying a deposit. SSA vets all student residence options before placing students there so while amenities can vary, all will be safe, clean, and well-located.


Your homestay includes room and board (breakfast and dinner) as well as laundry and the cleaning of your room. Special dietary or housing accommodations may be made, but may require an additional fee.


Discover more!

Design is an increasingly complex profession where the limits between traditional specialist areas have become blurred. Nowadays designers must be capable of covering every field in this extensive market and mastering the diversity of services they can offer. 

Elisava’s Study Abroad program offers a comprehensive look at the design and the emerging new opportunities. It does so in a multicultural environment in which different disciplines and knowledge areas merge. Thus, students can complement their training based on their interests to be able to materialize projects in any area.

Design contexts. Culture, history, art and architecture (Mandatory Track A)

This course connects different branches of human knowledge like architecture, design, sociology, and history and intends to develop a cognitive map of the world. The course analyses the basic theories and practices of art, architecture, and design from the Industrial Revolution to the present day and discusses their social and cultural impact. Taking Barcelona as a case study, the course will provide the student with analytical and discursive tools in order to develop a global understanding of the design and its relationship with the social context from a critical and innovative point of view. The course takes advantage of the extensive resources of Barcelona, complementing the classes with visits to the city’s museums such as MNAC (National Museum of Art of Catalonia), MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona), Joan Miró Foundation, and the Picasso Museum, emblematic buildings by Gaudi, Mies van der Rohe, and other world-class architects, among others.

The capacity to communicate through images and express the relevant aspects of a project, from the idea to the final proposal, is a fundamental aspect of design. This course is aimed at providing students with representation concepts and techniques that are broadly applied in design fields. Based on exercises, talks, and workshop sessions, the course embraces the ability of students to define and show their ideas by learning about the options and features that Adobe Suite offers as a powerful suite specifically conceived for design professionals. Mandatory for participants without experience in digital representation and visual narrative, the course is also recommended for those design students who want to deepen their knowledge of digital tools. The course also approaches the basic concepts of video editing and production, as well as the fundamentals of presentation techniques.

Through demonstrations, workshops, and studio sessions, this course will improve students’ creativity and knowledge regarding innovative ways of creating and doing, both traditional and contemporary. As creative minds and human beings in a constant learning process, we must understand the importance of context and the interactions between the artist/designer and the surrounding world. This course will guide students through research and project exercises, culminating in the creation of an ephemeral installation within the public space of Barcelona. Visiting and re-visiting the city will help students reach an immersive understanding driven by analysis, data visualization, sketches, and presentations.

The Interior Spaces course introduces design students to the complexities of the development of interior spaces, as well as putting them in touch with the local architecture and design culture. The course structure is designed to provide a general framework for the development of a range of projects, from small-scale briefs to larger-scale proposals for a residential interior. The program provides the student with knowledge and skills in all areas of space planning, theory, concept, model-making, and freehand drawing as well as communication. With the active participation of the students, several practical exercises integrated within the course promote a conceptual and experimental approach to design through a hands-on learning method. It usually begins with a presentation to provide the theoretical foundation that aims to deepen the comprehension of a specific subject.

Graphic Design is the discipline that uses visual concepts to communicate ideas. This course aims to practice Graphic design tools, Colour, Image, Composition, and Typography and the relation between them. Typography is one of the most important tools for graphic designers. Students will experiment with movable type fonts to digital typography movement. In this course, students will learn how to design projects that will range from artistic and experimental calligraphy, typography, poster composition, branding, or editorial design to digital interaction. The students will also learn basic communication skills, considering that contemporary narratives require the capacity to deal with static and dynamic images.

This course focuses on product and furniture design, covering the entire process from conceptualization, formalization, development, and pre-production of a designed object from the human, domestic, or work environment. The course will analyze the social, ergonomic, and aesthetic environment of the user, the method for producing the final work, and its impact on the environment as a whole. As part of the development and design of products, the class will visit factories, and showrooms, design boutiques, and will use the school’s workshops to produce a model of a piece of furniture.

Retail is naturally the showplace for new ideas, new concepts, and new products. As such, the store environment serves as the selling stage for the latest merchandise offerings of the day, and a tool of communication used to create a dialogue with the targeted customer. Through effective visual merchandising, the retailer communicates both the attributes of the brand and the attributes of the products offered. The main goal of this course is to introduce students to the importance of retail design and visual merchandising as an integral component of a successful retail strategy. The principles, philosophies, and technologies of both, retail design and visual merchandising will be studied through exploration of the marketplace, visits, and hands-on classroom experimentation.

In the last years moving images have become the new graphics in the digital world. The net is full of Graphics animating fonts, illustrations, and pictures that move creating the sensation of dynamism. The main goal of this subject is to introduce students to the motion graphics field and also learn visual communication as a tool to facilitate the communication of ideas. The content will focus on Storytelling, Digital Illustration, Digital filmmaking, and the Digital tools that help to build it all.

This course introduces the necessary tools for conceptualizing and developing comprehensive packaging projects. Packaging is one of the most relevant branches of contemporary design not only for practical reasons since almost all products going to the market require a package that protects them and preserves their quality, but also from a conceptual point of view, since it is the complex crossroads of highly demanding technical requirements and exciting opportunities for communicating the values of the products and their brands to the public. In this course, students will learn to communicate the attributes of a product and the placement of a brand. The goal is to understand the factors affecting the production and selection of a package for a specific product, its possibilities, and materials.

This course focuses on food from its origins to the present, in order to understand the complex system behind the fact of “feeding” people. The course will approach this subject from gastronomy, anthropology, history, etymology, and food systems amongst other disciplines, thus the course has the aim of giving the students diverse approaches and tools to make them capable not just of understanding this interdisciplinary subject but also design objects or services in relation with food and gastronomy with sense and content. The course will introduce students to the interaction of design, as a creative process, with food and health, as fundamental parts of the human being.

ELISAVA is an internationally oriented educational and research institution affiliated with Pompeu Fabra University. The school is situated in Barcelona and is home to around 2,200 students and more than 800 teachers.

In the year 2000, Elisava was awarded a National Innovation and Design Award.​ Since 2013, it has been ranked among the top 100 design and architecture schools in Europe according to Domus magazine.

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Dates & Fees



Start Date

End Date



May 15, 2024

Sep, 2024

Dec, 2024


Oct 31, 2023

Jan 7, 2024

Apr 27, 2024





What does the fee include?

Speak to an advisor

beth tyler

Beth Tyler


How to find us


433 West Street, Suite 8 Amherst MA 01002 USA


(413) 256-0011

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