Valencia First

Program Description

UVA Valencia First offers first-year students a new program of international study through our oldest and largest study abroad program, UVA in Valencia (founded in 1983). This unique opportunity provides well-qualified and ambitious students a carefully crafted plan of first-year study and the transformative experience of living abroad.

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, with a population of around 800,000. Located on the Mediterranean Coast and surrounded by immense beaches, it gracefully mixes old and new, with modern public services, business establishments and leisure attractions, set against a backdrop of historically important civic and religious buildings, monuments and museums. Valencia is well located with respect to other interesting cities in Spain as well as continental Europe. With its own airport, much of Europe is accessible.

Students enroll in the College’s New Curriculum, and together take the engagement course, “"The Individual and Society," taught by Professor Herbert Braun, the director of the program. The course focuses on cultural patterns of daily life among individuals and groups in the United States, Latin America, and Spain, thus offering a seamless connection between the classroom and the daily lives of the citizens of Valencia, of Spain, and beyond.

Students in UVA Valencia First select one of two exciting new tracks not available through the UVA London or Shanghai programs (see below).

1. Pre-health track

Students in the pre-health track complete key requirements for medical school and benefit from a full semester abroad. They take up to three first semester, pre-health classes, which are taught in English. Courses in biology with lab, chemistry with lab, math and statistics are available. These classes will be taken at the Universitat Politècnica de València. Students will also enroll in a 4-credit engagement class (also in English), taught by the Faculty Program Director. The fifth class is a Spanish language course. Eligibility for this track requires Spanish language proficiency equivalent to at least that of a student who has completed SPAN 2010 (Intermediate Spanish).

2. Language and Culture Track

Students who place out of SPAN 2020 will have the opportunity to take three upper-level Spanish classes. They will also enroll in a 4-credit engagement class (in English) taught by the Faculty Program Director. Their fifth class can be one of the pre-health track classes or PSYC 2600 Social Psychology, all offered in English. Eligibility for this track requires Spanish language proficiency equivalent to that of a student who has completed SPAN 2020 (Advanced Intermediate Spanish).

Fall courses can be viewed online.

Service Learning Internships

Regardless of their track, all students in the UVA Valencia First program may participate in a Service Learning Internship (non-credit). Internships provide an additional point of entry into Spanish culture as well as a means for students to advance their learning and Spanish language proficiency.

These two tracks open up new opportunities not available in London and Shanghai. Students selected for the program will immediately begin a process of global learning relevant to the academic path they ultimately follow. At the same time, they will be making solid progress toward meeting the requirements for general education. Students will take ENWR 1510 in the spring 2020 semester. Those participating will establish an academic foundation for subsequent semesters; they will get to know the faculty well; and they will establish themselves as a valuable community of committed young global scholars.

Like all students who participate in the UVA in Valencia program, UVA Valencia First students will stay with a local family–vetted and approved by the Valencia staff. All homes are within easy reach of both the UVA in Valencia Center and the Universitat Politècnica de València.

Students selected for the program will immediately begin a process of global learning relevant to the academic path they ultimately follow. At the same time, they will make solid progress toward meeting their initial requirements for general education. Proram participants will establish an academic foundation for subsequent semesters; they will get to know the faculty well and they will establish themselves as a valuable community of committed young global scholars.

UVA Valencia First is a strong sign of UVA's commitment to preparing students for global engagement in the 21st century.

Why consider UVA Valencia First?

The benefits of international education are significant, diverse, and lifelong. After graduation, students who studied abroad commonly state that their time away was the most important in their UVA careers. These students return to Grounds with a broadened perspective and a deeper understanding of the key issues and questions in their fields of study. They also demonstrate a greater understanding of cultural differences, are more adaptable, and display greater coping skills and self-knowledge than their peers who did not study abroad. Participants in UVA Valencia First enjoy a language and culture immersion experience though their study and use of Spanish, their home stay, co- and extra-curricular activities, and a service learning internship.

For most students, studying abroad is a life-changing experience that opens their eyes to different ways of life and promotes greater understanding and tolerance. It is also is one of the best ways for students to acquire the global skills necessary to succeed and lead in their professional lives, opening up unexpected personal and professional opportunities. Watch this short film made by UVA student Ryan Keane on his summer experience.

Program Dates (2019)

  • Arrival and Check-In: September 2
  • UVA Orientation (in Valencia): September 3-4
  • UVA in Valencia Orientation: September 5-6
  • Classes: September 9 to December 18
  • Depart Program: December 19


  • UVA Valencia First students enroll in five classes.
  • All courses are direct credit UVA courses.
  • All courses and grades are recorded on each student's UVA transcript.
  • Fall courses can be viewed online.


Students in the program will take courses within the New College Curriculum, which includes courses in three categories: EngagementsLiteracies and Disciplines.


  • Students will enroll in one 4-credit engagement class (class is TBD).
  • Students will complete their engagements requirement with an additional four credits/2 engagement classes in Charlottesville in the spring 2020 semester.


  • Students who have not placed out of SPAN 2020 will take SPAN 2020 in Valencia to complete the World Languages Literacy Requirement.
  • Math and Statistics courses offered through the program may count toward the Quantification, Computation, and Data Analysis Literacy requirement.
  • All students (except Echols Scholars) take ENWR 1510 in the spring 2020 semester at UVA.


  • All courses will be "tagged" for any disciplinary or literacy requirements they fulfill.

UVA Valencia First students are expected to communicate in Spanish when they are in the UVA in Valencia Center other than when in a classroom where their class is taught in English.


  Tuition* Program Fee* Room & Board* Other (Estimate)**
VA Resident $7,047 $5,261 $3,692 $2,885
Non-VA Resident   $23,165 $5,261 $3,692 $2,885

*  Charged to a program participant's SIS account and paid through SIS. Undergraduate tuition rates for 2019-2020 were set by the UVA Board of Visitors on December 7, 2018.

** Roundtrip air fare, books & supplies, personal expenses, additional meals.

Financial Aid

Students who qualify for need-based financial aid may apply their aid toward the cost of the program and may be eligible to receive additional grant (non-loan) aid from UVA. Our objective is for any interested and qualified student to be able to participate in the program, regardless of family income.

Note: In the UVA Global First programs to date, nearly a third of program participants received additional grant aid to cover the gap between cost of attendance in Charlottesville and the cost of attendance in their overseas location based on their financial need eligibility.

Housing and Dining

  • UVA Valencia First Students are housed in homestays with full board, hosted by families with a long-standing relationship with the program.
  • Students are provided three meals a day and their laundry is done once a week.
  • Each UVA Valencia First student will have a fellow UVA Valencia First student or UVA in Valencia student as a roommate.

Benefits of Homestay

  • Homestays help students gain an understanding of the culture and customs of Valencia.
  • Students increase their Spanish language skills through everyday interactions with their host family.
  • Among the UVA Global First opportunities, the homestay option is unique to UVA in Valencia First.

Student Life & Services

The University of Virginia's education abroad program, UVA in Valencia, founded in 1983, offers a full range of student services including access to health care. Participants in UVA Valencia First will have full use of the program’s resources, access to athletic facilities, library, computer services, and study areas.

UVA Valencia First students will enjoy regularly planned excursions in Valencia and a weekend trip outside of Valencia as part of the program. In addition to the excursions that are part of the formal program, students may take advantage of generous independent exploration time to arrange weekend visits to such sites as Madrid, Seville, Salamanca, Barcelona, Paris, or Rome.

Through their classes, they will interact with various communities in the city and visit museums and other Valencia landmarks while engaging with the city as an experiential learning lab.

Extracurricular life:

  • Language Partners
  • Activities including guided visits to the heart of Valencia, the City of Arts and Sciences and Oceanographic Park, the Bioparc, and museums
  • Workshops on Spanish cooking, painting and using a Spanish fan, sailing, flamenco
  • Events such as films, concerts, soccer games, bull fights, parades, and local celebrations
  • Thematic field trips to cities near Valencia including Bocairent, Calpe, Cullera, Morella, Peñíscola, and Xàtiva
  • Optional fall-break trip walking on the Camino de Santiago; optional weekend trips which may include Madrid, Granada, Toledo, and Bilbao as destinations.
  • Events at Universitat Politècnica de València

Health, Safety and Security

  • All UVA Valencia First students will have health and emergency assistance insurance as part of the program.
  • Students have access to health services. Health care services are available in English, if needed.
  • Access to the the UVA in Valencia Center is controlled, as is access to all campus buildings at the Universitat Politècnica. Student IDs are required. Valencia has a lower crime rate than most US cities, and violent crime is unusual.
  • UVA students remain subject to the UVA Standards of Conduct and the UVA Honor Code while overseas.
  • The University of Virginia monitors health, safety, and security conditions where our students travel for University-related purposes, as do UVA in Valencia program staff. If risks are identified, students are advised on how to respond and directed to support services.
  • UVA has an emergency and communication plan that includes the services of an evacuation assistance provider and security intelligence services which furnish us with regular and emergency updates. We are also members of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, a division of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in the U.S. Department of State.

Spring 2020 Semester in Charlottesville

You will be assigned housing in one of the first-year residence halls, residential colleges, or upperclass housing areas. Due to the limited spaces available, you are not able to specify a preference for a particular location. Each building is unique, and no matter where you are assigned, you will have a Resident Advisor (RA) and Senior Resident (SR) nearby who will help you transition to life on Grounds and provide support throughout the semester.

You will also attend a one-day Orientation before spring 2020 classes begin (classes start on Monday, January 13, 2020). There will be follow-up events with the cohort during the spring semester.