Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

international programs

Bilbao/San Sebastián, Spain

program description

The Cities


The cosmopolitan city of Bilbao is the economic capital of the Basque country. It is a city of contrasts, from its industrial past and gray buildings to its beautiful parks, wide avenues, and the picturesque River Nervion, which runs through the center of the city. The colorful and historical Old Town District is located only a short distance from the ultra modern, world-renowned Guggenheim Museum, further illustrating the diverse character of Bilbao. The city has undergone a renaissance and has become a popular center for culture and the arts in Spain and Europe, attracting visitors from all around the world. The lively rhythm of the city and its warm-hearted inhabitants make Bilbao a place that students find very welcoming. Its population of approximately 500,000 makes it big enough to offer many diversions, but small enough for students to integrate easily.

San Sebastián

The seaside ancient port and resort city of San Sebastián is a one hour’s drive from Bilbao at the foot of Mount Urgull. With a population of 180,000, San Sebastián offers both the charm of a small town and the advantages of a large capital city. Its situation along the coast and the western side of the Pyrenees gives it an ideal location, easily accessible to the mountain village of Loyola where St. Ignatius was born. The city traces its roots back to its birth as a small fishing village in ancient times. San Sebastián’s historical “Old Town” retains the charm and traditions of the ancient city typified by its narrow streets and numbered balconies. San Sebastián also has all the conveniences of a modern city, with excellent restaurants, good shopping, museums, and other attractions.

The University

The Universidad de Deusto is one of the most distinguished academic institutions in Spain. Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1886, Deusto strives to be the meeting place for dialogue between culture and Christian faith. The university prides itself on its close ties with the Basque Country—a natural extension of St. Ignatius’s own links to the region—and aims to protect and promote the Basque culture. The university, with a combined population of 16,000 students, has campuses in both Bilbao and San Sebastián.

Students who go to the Bilbao campus can study in the school of arts, economics, business, philosophy, education, social sciences, theology, social work, or law. The campus, which serves as the main campus of the Universidad de Deusto, is located on the right bank of the Nervion River across the street from the Guggenheim Museum. Its main building, founded about 100 years ago, features cloisters, a striking ceremonial hall, and Gothic and Romanesque chapels. The campus also features an arboretum and offers a beautiful view of the city.

Students who go to the San Sebastián campus take courses in the school of management with its specialties in marketing, finance, accounting, strategic management, and international management.The San Sebastián campus, which was founded in 1965, has a more modern appearance, combining traditional elements of wood and tile with glass and aluminum. The chapel building, which has an unusual three-section tower, represents the main axis of the campus. The surrounding buildings and gardens make up the rest of the compact, attractive campus.

The Program

A month-long Early Start program offered in the fall and spring provides intensive study in Spanish language and culture. Following the Early Start program, students enroll at the Universidad Deusto and take all courses fully-integrated with Spanish peers.

Orientation/Academic support

The International Relations Offices at both campuses provide students with academic and personal support and offer orientation programs. If needed, students can arrange to work with tutors. Many students participate in a language exchange with Spanish students in order to improve their language skills and meet Spanish students.


Students in Bilbao live in residence halls, shared apartments, or with families. In San Sebastián, the housing office assists BC students in locating off-campus accommodations with families or in nearby apartments.


The program offers business internships and service projects that complement curricular programs. In addition, both campuses have student organizations and offer extracurricular activities in which BC students can participate. Students participate in travel to Southern Spain together with the BC Madrid program. Students at both campuses enjoy easy access to stunning geographical areas; the coast around San Sebastián is considered the premier surfing region of Europe, while the nearby mountains offer unlimited hiking, mountain climbing, and camping opportunities.