Universities in Madrid - QS Best Student Cities Ranking | Top Universities

Study in Madrid

By Staff W

Updated January 23, 2024 Updated January 23, 2024

QS Best Student Cities ranking: 44th

Spain's capital and most populous city, Madrid has much to offer, ranking it firmly in the top 50 of the QS Best Student Cities. It’s also one of Europe's major financial, administrative and cultural centers, as well as being a tourist magnet with legendary nightlife and gastronomic traditions.

Home to the famous “galacticos” of Real Madrid, the city also boasts some of the world's most important art galleries, such as the Prado, as well as a chic fashion scene. International students may also be interested to know that the city is famed for its outgoing and sociable lifestyle: lengthy siestas, leisurely evenings socialising at the city's innumerable tapas bars, and late, late nights out at the weekends.

Madrid scores well in most of the indicators used to compile the QS Best Student Cities, getting its strongest score for desirability, placing 24th worldwide. Students frequently cite the city’s nightlife, diversity, lifestyle and weather among its pros whilst answering our student survey.

Madrid’s highest-ranked university is the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, at joint 215th in the QS World University Rankings® 2023 and is also Spain’s third best institution.

Internationally ranked universities in Madrid

World ranking University
=215 Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
=226 Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
=320 Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
=488 Politécnica de Madrid

More about Madrid

Spain's capital performed well across almost all rankings indicators, and in particular for desirability, student view and employer activity. The city, in fact, is not only a hub of amenities and activities aimed at making student life better, it's also one of Spain's main business hubs.

To find out how each of the above categories is calculated, view the methodology.

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (=215th)



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student View rank


Why study in Madrid?

Great education

Madrid is home to several high quality institutions, making it a great place to study in. Whether you're into STEM or humanities, the city will give you plenty of opportunities to kick-start your educational and professional career surrounded by a vibrant student community.

Amazing food and weather

Madrid ranked high for both the student view and desirability indicators - and for a good reason! The city has great weather all year round as well as an incredible local cuisine, blending classic Spanish dishes with contemporary food trends. Plus, it can be very affordable, helping students make the most out of their experience.

Beautiful sights

Madrid is undoubtedly one of Europe's most beautiful cities. Between the Palacio de Cibeles, the Royal Botanical Garden, the Madrid Rio urban beach and a plethora of museums and galleries, the city offers students incredible sights that they'll never be bored off.

Cost of living in Madrid

Madrid ranks in the top 120 cities in the world for affordability, a not-so-impressive feat for a European capital. However, the city is still cheap than its Spanish counterpart Barcelona, giving it an edge as the most attractive Spanish city for costs.

According to Numbeo, a single person estimated monthly costs amount to US$811, with an extra US$1,040 to be added for rent.

Life & culture in Madrid

Madrid is an extremely diverse city, bringing together cultures from all over Europe and the rest of the world. 

The city offers a vibrant local lifestyle that suits people from all backgrounds. Are you a football fan? No better place to enjoy the historical football competition between Atlético and Real. Are you a foodie? You can stroll in local markets for a taste of typical Mediterranean food, or enjoy a meal in the oldest restaurant in the world - Restaurante Botin. Are you a fan of urban outdoors? Going for a walk to El Parque de Retiro, The Madrid Rio or the Royal Botanic Garden will make your day. 

Careers in Madrid

Madrid ranks joint 44th in the world for employer activity, a great feat for a European city. 

While finding jobs in Spain has been more difficult since the economic crisis, Madrid remains one of the country's major business hubs, with industries such as the government, banking, insurance, tourism and publishing showing signs of recovery.

This article was originally published in November 2015 . It was last updated in January 2024

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