Obtaining degree recognition, or homologación de título, in Spain means that your qualification meets the academic and/or professional requirements in Spain and are recognized as thus through a process called homologación. The process of homologation in Spain can be tricky and time-consuming for foreign nationals.
What is homologación, or the recognition of foreign qualifications?
There is no automatic recognition of your university studies (or other professional certificates) abroad, so the homologation process allows your foreign credentials to be considered as on-par with those awarded in Spain.
This is especially true of non-EU citizens who wish to work or study in Spain. You can complete a homologation for university studies at any level, or even your secondary school coursework should you wish to attend a public Spanish university.
You are likely to be asked to present qualifications for pursuing higher studies, as well; an exception would be if you chose to undertake a máster propio, which does not have recognition under the Bologna Plan of 2008.
Why should I do a homologation in Spain? What sorts of jobs require homologation?
There are two types of job markets in Spain: public and private. Public would include becoming a civil servant to work in administration, the military, public healthcare services or as a teacher in a public school or university. If you intend to take any civil servant exam, called oposiciones, you absolutely must have your degree officially recognized by the Ministry of Education through the homologation Spain process.
Other jobs that require having your foreign credentials officially recognized would be anything in the healthcare realm, architecture and law. These jobs also require your participation in a professional society, un colegio, as you must obtain a registration number to practice. That said, if you are a European citizen or a member of the EEA and have earned a degree in one of these countries, you can apply for professional recognition of your degree instead.
Most jobs in the private sector will not require any sort of homologation.
Homologación or equivalencia?
You can apply for one of two types of recognition tiers: homologación (tipo 1) or equivalencia (tipo 2).
Equivalencia is the shorter and less complicated route, as it confirms that your degree’s academic level is more or less on-par with Spain’s academic system; it is not tied to a specific major. I’ll use myself as an example: I have a B.A. in Journalism from an American university. If I wanted to work in the communications sector but don’t need any specific professional qualifications, I could do an equivalencia to prove that I have done tertiary studies, but my certificate would not say in what (I thankfully work in higher education so my colleagues have a breadth of knowledge when it comes to American qualifications!). However, you will not be able to sit a civil servant exam with equivalencia.
You should choose homologación, which is more involved and thus takes additional paperwork and time to complete, if you plan to work in a professional sector or if your degree closely aligns with a Spanish degree.
How and where to apply
Those who aspire to complete an homologación or equivalencia should start with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, or MECD for short). You can either turn in your paperwork and copies at the Ministry (Subdirección General de Títulos y Reonocimiento de Cualificaciones on the Paseo del Prado, number 28, 3rd floor in Madrid) or begin the process online at the Ministry’s Portal de Homologación.
You can also apply at a Spanish consulate or embassy abroad.
What documents do I need?
In order to apply, you must fill out an application form and provide a number of documents that should be official, translated into Spanish and legalized with the Apostille of the Hague (if they were issued outside of the Schengen Zone).
- Application form (here; in Spanish);
- Official identity document, such as a passport or Spanish residency card, plus a certified copy;
- Original degree conferral, plus a certified copy;
- Academic transcript plus course descriptions of all courses undertaken, plus a certified copy, noting that the course hours should be converted into European credits (ECTS);
- Accreditation of knowledge of the Castilian language, typically a B2 or above, as certified by the DELE exam;
- Fee of 163,22€ paid via form Modelo 790; inability to provide proof of payment will result in your petition being archived.
Note that additional documentation may be asked, particularly if you are applying for the homologation of a medical- or health sciences-related degree.
How long does degree recognition take in Spain?
Getting your degree recognized in Spain is a lengthy process. By the time you have gathered the necessary paperwork, had them professionally translated and verified by the issuing government and turned in the paperwork, the hard part begins: you wait. It can take upwards of a year for an equivalencia and nearly twice that for an homologación. What’s more, if the Ministry of Education determines that you have not satisfactorily completed all degree requirements, you may have to take additional courses to complete the process.
For this reason, it is advisable that you consider for what and when you would need your credentials recognized – or if you even need to at all.
I work in the private sector and have had gainful employment in Spain for more than ten years. I chose to do a máster propio that did not require anything more than a certificate from my university stating that I had successfully completed an undergraduate degree, and I have not needed a homologation to work in the communications field. I chose to forego doing any sort of homologation in Spain because it was not necessary in my case, despite having an American undergraduate degree.