Elisava School of Design
Spring Semester Elective 2024
12 - 18 credits

The design semester at Elisava allows visiting SAI students the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in English-taught design courses at one of Europe’s top design schools, with a special focus on hands-on experience and direct engagement with the city of Barcelona. Two program tracks allow options for students with or without previous design experience. Students select their track and choose 4 to 6 design courses for a total of 12 - 18 credits.

Application: closed

Application Requirements
Complete online application
Personal statement (300-500 words)
Official transcript
Passport scan (photo page)
Digital photo (passport style)
EU privacy consent form
Track B: Portfolio (4 pages and 2MB max, PDF)


  • World-class faculty of design professionals.
  • Small campus makes it easy for visiting students to mix with locals.
  • Interdisciplinary approach to design encourages collaborative classroom environment.

Program Dates
January 4, 2024 – April 27, 2024

Eligibility Requirements

Age: 18+

Academic Year: Sophomore (2nd year) or above

Cumulative GPA:* 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)

* contact SAI if you don’t meet requirements

Semester Abroad in Design
Spanish Language

Semester Abroad in Design

3.0 Credits
Design | Course #: 200932 | Open
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.
Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
Design | Course #: 200933 | Open
Through demonstrations, workshops and studio sessions, this course will exercise student‚s 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.
Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
Design | Course #: 200934 | Open
The capacity of communicating through 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.
Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
Design | Course #: 200935 | Open
Pre-requisite: Understanding of the basic concepts of graphic design, 3D modeling and prototyping (mock ups)
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.
Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
Design | Course #: 200936 | Open
This course focuses on Graphic Design as the discipline that uses visual concepts to communicate ideas. The course aims to practice the tools of graphic design, Colour, Image, Composition and Typography and the relation between them. Typography is one of the most important tools for graphic designers. Students will experiment from movable type fonts to digital typography movement. In this course students will learn how to design projects that will range from artistic and experimental typography to poster composition, branding, editorial design and digital interaction. Students will also become familiar with basic communication skills, considering that contemporary narratives require the capacity to deal
with static and dynamic images.
Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
Design | Course #: 200937 | Open
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 as well as use the school's workshops.

- Design management
- Creativity
- Techniques of model construction
- Technical project development
- Suppliers, materials research, and the hardware
- Presentation skills and project communication
- Trade fairs and the latest trends
- Preparation for final project presentation

Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
Design | Course #: 200938 | Open
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

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.
Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
Design | Course #: 200939 | Open
This course focuses on food from its origins to the present, in order to understand the complex system behind the fact of "feeding" people. The course will approach this subject from gastronomy, anthropology, history, etymology and food systems among 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 a fundamental part of the human being. 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.
Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
Design | Course #: 200940 | Open
The Interior Spaces course introduces design students to the complexities of the development of the interior spaces, as well as putting them in touch with the local architecture and design culture. The course structure is designed to provide a general framework for the development of a range of projects, from small scale briefs to a larger scale proposal for a residential interior. The program provides the student with knowledge and skills in all areas of space planning, theory and concept, model-making and freehand drawing as well as communication. Priority is given to learning strategies that foster critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making capabilities. As a result, students will increase their creative skills and get a substantial vision in all areas related to interior space design. With an active participation of the students, several practical exercises integrated within the course promote a conceptual and experimental approach to design through a hands-on learning method. It usually begins with a presentation to provide the theoretical foundation that aims to deepen the comprehension of a specific subject. During class, students will develop a quick draft resolution, PowerPoint presentations, and/ or a physical model.
Contact Hours: 45
3.0 Credits
Design | Course #: 200941 | Open
In the last years moving images have become the new graphics in the digital world. The net is full of Graphics animating fonts, illustrations and pictures that move creating the sensation of dynamism. The main goal of this subject is to introduce students to the motion graphics field and also learn visual communication as the tool to facilitate the communication of the ideas. The content will focus on Storytelling, Digital Illustration, Digital film-making and the Digital tools that help to build it all.
Contact Hours: 45

Spanish Language

3.0 Credits
Spanish | Course #: 200057 | Open
Pre-requisite: This is an optional course that can be added to any 12 or 15-credit program.
Contact Hours: 45

International Service Certificate
The SAI International Service Certificate is awarded to SAI semester students who are motivated to engage with and give back to their host community. Supported by SAI on-site staff, students who earn the certificate gain valuable skills collaborating with local community groups, and obtain a unique perspective of their host city. Volunteers are able to explore a field of their interest, and build skills that can transfer into their future careers. For more information see SAI International Service Certificate.

Program Options
SAI students at Elisava choose from the following two program tracks:

Track A (for students without a design background): Students enroll in three mandatory courses (below), and select an additional 1 – 3 elective courses for a total of 12 – 18 US credits.

  • Design Contexts: Culture, History, Art, and Architecture
  • Advanced Principles in Design
  • Digital Representation Principles

Track B (for students with a design background): Students select any 4 – 6 courses from the offering for a total of 12 – 18 US credits.

Want to get a sense of what courses are like? Read our blog posts highlighting the Furniture & Design course and the Interior Spaces course!

Optional Spanish Language Add-On Course
Semester students are welcome to enroll in a Spanish Language Add-on course (3 credits), in addition to a full-time schedule of design classes (not to exceed a total of 18 US credits). The Add-on Spanish courses carry an additional fee and are only offered at the Beginning (A1/A2) and Low-Intermediate (B1) levels. Please select the add-on at application if you wish to add a Spanish class to your schedule.

Courses & Registration
Students make their course selections when submitting SAI’s online application. It is important that students select at least 3 alternate courses from the schedule of classes. Course registration is confirmed well in advance of the program start date.

Pre-Departure Calendar
October 1 2023
Application Closes
Applications accepted after closing as space permits.
Within 1 week of acceptance
SAI Deposits Due
$500 Confirmation Deposit (applied toward program fee)
$300 Security Deposit (refundable)
October 1 2023
50% of Total Program Fee Due
Students who are accepted and submit SAI deposits after this date will have an amended pay schedule. Either 50% or 100% of Program Fee will be due within 5 business days, based on the deposit payment date.
October 15 2023
Enrollment Closes
Students must complete their enrollment, including paying deposits, by this date. 
October 15 2023
SAI Scholarship Application Deadline
Students wishing to apply for a SAI scholarship must have all application items submitted by 11:59pm Pacific Time on this date
November 15 2023
SAI Financial Aid Verification Deadline
Students wishing to defer payment until financial aid disbursement must submit the financial aid verification forms to SAI by this date.
December 1 2023
Balance of Total Program Fee Due

On-Site Calendar
January 4 2024
Arrival & Housing Check-in
Students arrive at El Prat Barcelona (BCN) airport. SAI airport pickup is provided between 10:00am and 3:00pm, and students are transferred to SAI housing.
January 5 2024
SAI Orientation
Mandatory SAI orientation is held at the SAI Barcelona office and introduces students to their city while covering safety, policies, housing, and culture.
Coming soon
Elisava Welcome & Academic Orientation
Elisava orientation provides details on academic policies, and allows students to meet one another and their professors.
January 9 2024
Elisava Classes Begin
Coming soon
Midterm Exams
April 26 2024
Final Exams End
April 27 2024
Program End & Housing Check-out
Students must move out of SAI housing by 10:00am to return home or pursue independent travel.
SAI Program Fees* USD
Application Fee $120
Security Deposit
Refundable at the end of the term.
Program Fee: 12 credits
Includes tuition, standard housing and SAI 360° Services (see What’s Included).
Program Fee: 15 credits
Includes tuition, standard housing and SAI 360° Services (see What’s Included).
Program Fee: 18 credits
Includes tuition, standard housing and SAI 360° Services (see What’s Included).
Optional / Additional Fees:  
Optional Spanish Language Add-On Course (3 credits)
This course can be added to any 12 or 15 credit program.
Optional Private Room Housing Supplement
Private room in a shared apartment, with a shared bathroom.
Optional Homestay Housing Supplement
Family homestay in a private occupancy bedroom, breakfast and dinner included
Optional Student Residence Housing Supplement
Private bedroom and bathroom in a student residence
Optional Visa Processing Service
Available for some jurisdictions.
International Mailing Supplement
When applicable, students are charged an international mailing supplement to ensure visa paperwork arrives in a timely manner.

*prices are subject to change

Note: certain SAI-affiliated US universities require specific payment arrangements. These may require that some fees are paid by the student directly to SAI, and other fees are paid to SAI by the affiliated university on behalf of the student. If you attend a SAI-affiliated university please contact your study abroad office or speak with your SAI Admissions Counselor for details.

Budget Low Est. High Est.
Airfare to/from Barcelona
$950 $1,500
Cost depends on travel to Consulate.
$160 $360
Books, Supplies & Course Fees $200 / course $250 / course
Includes groceries and eating out.
$700 / month $1,000 / month
Personal Expenses $300 / month $350 / month
Transportation within Barcelona
Public transportation with some taxi rides.
$100 / month $150 / month
Weekend Travel
Cost varies greatly by student.
$300 / month $1,000 / month

This is a SAI 360° Services Program; it includes our full services!

  • Program tuition and U.S. academic credit
  • Accommodation in carefully selected student housing
  • Airport pickup and transportation on arrival day
  • Welcome reception and events
  • SAI orientation to the host city and school
  • SAI staff on-site dedicated to fostering a welcoming community for all students by providing assistance to diverse needs
  • SAI Viva Experience: frequent cultural activities & trips outside host city
  • Student health insurance providing full coverage and medical emergency evacuation
  • 24-hour on-site emergency support
  • Farewell event with all students

Pre-departure and Re-entry services

  • US-based admissions counselor assigned to you, providing friendly assistance
  • Helpful pre-departure tools and resources
  • Online student groups to acquaint you with other SAI students
  • SAI Student Visa consulting
  • Assistance with financial aid processing
  • Need-based SAI scholarships
  • Paid registration fees for national re-entry conferences
  • SAI Ambassador Program for SAI alumni, with paid internship opportunities
  • SAI alumni network

SAI offers all students the Viva Experience: frequent cultural activities, at no extra cost, for participants to get to know their community, city and country. Following is a sample of the activities included in this program. Please note that actual activities may differ.

Welcome Lunch
Students are welcomed to their new city over a traditional 3 course Spanish lunch to mingle and get to know each other.

Barcelona Bike Tour
This tour is a fun and exciting way to discover Barcelona’s old port, renowned beaches, and picturesque Ciutadella Park. Along the way, students see the sights that make Barcelona so famous and hear the stories behind them.

Modernism Tour
During this tour, students get to know the iconic and symbolic Modernist architecture of Gaudi by discovering the Sagrada Familia and the Casa Battló, among other famous buildings.

Cultural Workshop: Navigating Spanish Culture
Students learn about local habits, traditions, food and language tips to get to know their new home!

Medieval Heritage: Girona and Besalu Day Trip
This exciting day trip takes students to Girona and Besalú, both cities that have been featured in Game of Thrones. Girona has more than 2000 years of history, with its two fortified enclosures: the first built in the 1st century BCE, and the medieval extension of the city walls from the 14th and 15th centuries. Besalú is a small town with a Romanesque bridge and remarkable medieval buildings situated close to Girona. Once an important local capital during the Middle Ages, it is nowadays a hidden treasure.

Visit the Bunkers of Carmel
A visit to one of the most astonishing viewpoints in Barcelona. These anti-aircraft batteries from the Spanish Civil War have become a popular spot amongst locals and visitors.

Montserrat & Organic Wine Cellar Day Trip
Students take a day trip to Montserrat, a spectacularly beautiful Benedictine mountain retreat. Its unusual rock formations and its natural beauty have made it a Catalonian icon. Students take the cable train up the mountain to visit the monastery and wander the mountain paths, with amazing views of the Catalonian countryside. In the afternoon, students have the chance to enjoy the countryside of one of the most well-known Catalan wine regions with a wine tasting and a typical “Esmorzar de pagès”.

Poblenou Visit
This ex-industrial district has transformed into a hub for creativity and technology in recent years. Students visit this fascinating neighborhood that has a personality outlined by charming smokestacks that are scattered throughout the area. Discover old factories that have been converted into galleries and studios and communication and technology companies that have based their headquarters in the 22@ district. There will also be a stop at the Encants flea market!

Gracia Tour
Gracia is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Barcelona. For a long time, it was an independent town just outside Barcelona, and today it still maintains its independence and free spirit. On the tour students discover the many secrets of Gracia, its history, its hidden corners, and many stories and curiosities about it.

Ceramic Workshop
In this course for beginners SAI students have the option of making one or two pieces of a functional nature (cup, plate, pot, etc.) based on simple techniques that have been adapted to a beginner’s level.

Camp Nou Stadium Museum
Almost nobody would guess that the Camp Nou is the most visited museum of Barcelona, but it is! Get a panoramic view of the iconic soccer stadium, while seeing the area dedicated to Leo Messi, the trophy cabinet, and more!

Dalí Day Trip
SAI students visit the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Salvador Dalí’s hometown of Figueres. The Dalí Theatre-Museum opened in 1974 and it houses the single largest and most diverse collection of works by Salvador Dalí. Following the museum, students visit the small and beautiful village of Cadaques, considered the jewel of the Costa Brava. Students enjoy a nice stroll from Dali’s home in Port Lligat, to Cadaques.

Parc de Collserola Hike
Behind Tibidabo’s iconic outline, there lies a wealth of woodland and fields including a protected park where a wide variety of Mediterranean flora and fauna brings us into contact with nature just 15 minutes away from the bustling city. This is Barcelona’s great green “lung”. Students enjoy a hike in this beautiful protected land.

Sitges Beach Day
Students visit the town of Sitges, which is a paradise of sun, sea and mild temperatures year-round, and a venue for international film and music festivals. Beautiful views and long beaches make Sitges a wonderful day trip.

Spanish Cooking Lesson
Students take a cooking lesson designed to teach typical Spanish (mostly Catalan) dishes that are easy to make again independently. Dishes are prepared according to the season and include appetizer, main course and dessert.

Olympic Barcelona
The incredible transformation of Barcelona took place in the lead-up to the 1992 Olympic Games. Students visit the two most important sites for the Barcelona Games starting with Montjüic Hill, where the Olympic Stadium is located. Later, students visit the Olympic Museum, which puts Barcelona’s Olympic history into context.

Farewell Dinner
Students celebrate the end of a successful time abroad and say their goodbyes over a delicious Spanish meal.

Standard Housing: Student apartment
SAI student apartments are convenient and well equipped, with shared occupancy bedrooms (option to upgrade to private bedroom, if available). Typical residences house 2 – 8 students and contain a combination of private and shared bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and living areas. Furnishings, a washing machine, basic kitchen supplies, bed linens and towels are provided. All apartments are equipped with wireless Internet. Housing configurations are designated as female, male, and in some locations, gender-inclusive. SAI on-site staff is available to respond to any maintenance needs that may arise.

Optional Housing: Family homestay (additional fee applies)
SAI homestay families are thoroughly screened and are accustomed to welcoming visiting students into their homes. Homestays provide a private occupancy bedroom in the family home with basic furnishings. Daily breakfast and dinner are included, as is weekly laundry. Mostly Spanish is spoken in the home, granting students an excellent opportunity to practice their language skills. Please note that some homestays may be outside of the city center.

Optional Housing: Student residence (additional fee applies)
The student residence is conveniently located in the Eixample neighborhood. The residence houses students in private bedrooms with a private bathroom and a shared kitchenette. Shared common spaces include a study room, game room, reading lounge, gym, swimming pool, and coin operated washing machines. Bedrooms are furnished and include linens, towels, WIFI, AC, and heating. There is a 24 hour front desk and visitors (1) are allowed between 8am and 10pm. Please note that availability is limited, and students are placed in student residences on a first come first served basis.

Passports should be valid for at least 4 months after planned return from Spain.

Student Visas
In accordance with Spanish law students studying in Spain for 91 days or more are required to obtain a student visa. Those with Spanish/EU citizenship are exempted. Non-US nationals should consult their local Consulate for details on student visa requirements.

Students must appear in person at the Spanish Consulate to present their visa application. SAI is able to process visa applications (no trip to the Consulate required!) for students who live or attend school in some jurisdictions. Students who wish to use this optional service should contact SAI directly to confirm that they are eligible. For those who prefer to present their visa application in person, SAI provides student visa consulting at no cost.