ELISAVA Design Abroad in Barcelona, Spain

Providing unique learning experiences for North American university students since 1969

Program Information

The Spanish Studies ELISAVA program is designed to allow you to complete coursework in English, as you gain a comprehensive understanding in the fields of design, engineering and communication through specialized and intensive courses.  There is no better place to discover the new opportunities Design Studies affords than in Barcelona, capital city of Design.

ELISAVA is the first school of design, an internationally oriented educational and research institution affiliated with Pompeu Fabra University.  The ELISAVA campus is right in the heart of the hustle and bustle of La Rambla.  You may take a stroll through one of the many barrios, or enjoy any of its famous Mediterranean beaches. This city is host to several UNESCO World Heritage sights, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Why choose this program?


Choose your term

Start Date: Sep, 2023
Apply by: May 15, 2023
End Date: Dec, 2023
Cost: $15.500
Additional Fee for student residence ($900 double room or $1500 individual room)
Start Date: Jan 7, 2023
Apply by: Oct 15, 2022
End Date: Apr 29, 2023
Cost: $14.500
Additional Fee for student residence ($600 double room or $1100 individual room)

Choose your courses

This course focuses on food from the origins to the present in order to understand the complex system of the fact of “feeding” people. We will approach to 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 to understand this interdisciplinary subject but to create 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 part of human being. The relation between design food and health is not only based on the tangible aspects (space, forms, product, packaging…), but in a wide range of approaches, from culture to territory, from well-being to aesthetics. We must understand the whole relation of man with environment to create innovative ways, systems or products to enhance this interaction. Designing in a creative way, connecting mind and hand, the senses and the culture, in a constant communication with other designers, will allow us to find out new ways of understanding our world and improving it. As part of the development of the aims of the course, the class will visit exhibitions, culinary centers and food designers’ studios in Barcelona’s area.
Pre-requisites: Interest in design, food and gastronomy is required.
Credits: 3
Contact hours: 45
Academic Year, Fall, Spring
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. This is the reason why the construction of a coherent narrative -involving spaces, products and graphic elements- is an essential requirement for retail design and visual merchandising. The main goal of this course is to introduce students to the importance of visual merchandising as an integral component of a successful retail strategy. This course will include an in-depth analysis of the retail store environment. The principles, philosophies and technologies of visual merchandising will be studied through exploration of the marketplace, visits, and hands-on classroom experimentation.
Pre-requisites: Interest in interior design, furniture and materials is required.
Credits: 3
Contact hours: 45
Academic Year, Fall, Spring
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 the impact of this on the environment as a whole. Students will approach the semantics of objects, their functional and communicative capacity along with the integration of materials and technology. As part of the development and design of products, the class will visit factories, showrooms and design boutiques and will use the school’s workshops for producing a model of a piece of furniture.
Pre-requisites: Weekly assignments: Students will undertake project assignments to apply and analyze the course content. These projects will help students to develop creativity and resourcefulness. Semester project: Students will apply everything learned throughout the semester to identify a design company they would like to work for and propose a brief of a project to them.
Credits: 3
Contact hours: 45
Academic Year, Fall, Spring
This course focuses on graphic communication with special attention to texts and the written word, and their integration and relationship with images, colors and textures. The course aims to introduce to the students and to practice the basic tools of graphic design: Typography, Color and Composition. It will discuss graphic and visual design as essential elements of communication across social, cultural and functional boundaries. Students will become familiar also with basic visual communication skills, considering that contemporary narratives require the capacity of dealing with static and dynamic images. Short projects will allow students to implement and experiment with design methodology and basic design skills. Projects will range from artistic and experimental calligraphy, typography, poster composition, editorials and digital interaction. All mock-ups (except for digital design) will be presented in foam.
Pre-requisites: Daily Projects. Student will develop creativity and resourcefulness in developing project proposals and working on daily projects: · Poster design: Design poster with only one color typography, no computer. · Template: Design a template for designer’s research. · Weekly designer research: Each week students will research 4 known designers. · Project assignment: Corporate identity including new technologies. Semester Project: Apply all the knowledge learned during the semester. Students will identify and propose a design context to create their graphic design. Final Exam: The final exam will be a presentation of all the works the student has created during the semester.
Credits: 3
Contact hours: 45
Academic Year, Fall, Spring
This course introduces the tools necessary 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 protect them and preserve 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 —both formally and graphically— the attributes of a product and the placement of a brand. The goal is to understand the factors affecting production and selection of a package for a specific product, its possibilities and materials.
Pre-requisites: Research & Analysis essays, Project (definition & development), Final presentation. At the end of the course students will make a public presentation of their Project Proposal using posters, mock ups and a document explaining the design process including references.
Credits: 3
Contact hours: 45
Academic Year, Fall, Spring
The capacity of communicating trough images and expressing 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 Photoshop, Adobe Indesign and Adobe Illustrator offer as a powerful suite specifically conceived for design professionals. Mandatory for participants to the Study Abroad programme 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 and learn more about the Adobe Suite. The course approaches also the basic concepts of video editing and production, as well as fundamentals of presentation techniques, in order to provide students with a complete range of options that they will put into practice in many visual communications required by the Study Abroad programme as well as by future design projects.
Pre-requisites: Students will complete the following exercises: Photoshop: software tools and methodologies for the creation of new images. Illustrator: software tools and methodologies for understanding the goal, importance and message behind endless possibilities of a vector. Indesign: software tools and methodologies for composition, storytelling and ephemeral publications. Documentation, storytelling and visual creation.
Credits: 3
Contact hours: 45
Academic Year, Fall, Spring
Through demonstrations, workshops and studio sessions, this course will exercise students’ creativity and knowledge regarding both traditional and contemporary, innovative ways of creating and doing. 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 emphasizes collective creation, building teams and bringing students out of their comfort zones. 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. Students will select the most interesting ideas and make them happen.
Pre-requisites: Students will create the following project exercises: Genius Loci: the essence of the space. Analysis and simplification: History of infography. Visualisation as a tool of change.
Credits: 3
Contact hours: 45
Academic Year, Fall, Spring
This course relates different branches of human knowledge like architecture, design, sociology, history and art with the aim of developing a cognitive map of the world. The course analyzes 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 design and its relationship with the social context from a critical and innovative point of view. The analysis of Barcelona, which epitomizes the formation process of the modern industrial city and its shifting to the post-industrial metropolis of the globalization era, will be related with the specific contexts of the students, with the aim of reflecting on the different approaches to the design issues from a multicultural perspective. 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.
Pre-requisites: Students will be asked to read key texts, research, visit museums and art galleries in Barcelona, and present to the rest of the class the results of their work. A sketchbook will be the method through which students will write, draw, compare and synthesize all the topics of the course. A final project will confirm the students’ capacity to apply the methodologies of the course and communicate their findings.
Credits: 3
Contact hours: 45
Academic Year, Fall, Spring

The key areas available are

Retail Design

Design for Packaging

Furniture and Product Design

Digital Representation Principles

Typography and Graphic Design

Historic Context of Art and Design

Food, Design and Health

Visual Merchandising

What are you spending your program fee on?

Chart by Visualizer

For a specific price for this program please reach out to us, as fees vary depending on the destination.

What does the program fee include?


Double occupancy room & full board


Overnight & local study visits & cultural activities


Health Insurance

Spanish Studies transcript

Support of onsite staff

Special Dietary Needs

Students with food allergies, intolerances, or other medical conditions that require a special diet may incur an extra fee to cover related dietary expenses. Please contact Spanish Studies for additional details.

All fees are in U.S. dollars and based on current exchange rates. Any considerable decrease in the value of the dollar will affect fees.

How much spending money should I budget for?

Table by Visualizer

These costs are merely orientative*

This plan estimates personal and miscellaneous expenses at approximately $175 per week. 

If you need to travel to a consulate for the purpose of obtaining a visa before your program abroad (semester students only), remember to budget for that travel expense.

Some students will spend more and others will spend less, of course. Consider your lifestyle and budget accordingly. 

The “Short Term” estimate is for one 3.5 week program; if you are participating in two, multiply by two.

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

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