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Our History

Saint Louis University's campus in Madrid, Spain, dates from a study abroad program launched by Raymond L. Sullivant, S.J., in the 1960s. Its success led Father Sullivant to offer classes in conjunction with the University of Comillas and then to establish an independent, permanent program, with its administrative offices and classrooms located between Madrid's Complutense University and the city center in 1967.

A black and white photo features students sitting at classroom desks while a professor stands in the center of the room.
ENG 150 class with Father Sullivant, Fall '82.

Shortly thereafter, several Spanish students, attracted to the University's liberal arts curriculum, enrolled in classes. Within a decade the campus was home to hundreds of students. Our program expanded, providing a full range of courses and a library, which permitted Spanish and European students to complete the first two years of their undergraduate studies in Madrid.

Our distinct position as the American, Jesuit university in Spain prompted SLU to build a campus. In 1990, SLU purchased the buildings that now stand as Padre Rubio and Padre Arrupe halls. In 1996, SLU-Madrid was the first U.S. university to receive official recognition from the Consejería de Educación y Cultura, Madrid's higher education authority. Thereafter, Saint Louis University approved SLU-Madrid's first full degree program, the B.A. in Spanish. Today, SLU-Madrid can complete over 15 undergraduate majors and 30 minors on their campus. These degree programs are also accredited by the University's regional accrediting agency in the U.S., the Higher Learning Commission.

In 2011, the University expanded its Madrid Campus further with the acquisition and renovation of San Ignacio Hall, doubling the size of the campus and providing additional space to support both students and faculty, including a new library, cafeteria and auditorium.

The campus has also received special recognition for its international programs in nursing, and hosts visiting students pursuing undergraduate degrees in engineering and the natural sciences.  With this expansion, SLU-Madrid has continued to host study abroad students from many U.S. universities, including large freshman cohorts from the George Washington University, Northeastern University and the University of Delaware.

Today, SLU-Madrid has over 1,200 students from over 65 countries and continues to grow. In the fall of 2024, the campus will inaugurate over 1,300 square meters of space in a building close to its campus. The new Manresa Hall will allow for more office space, six new classrooms, state-of-the-art physics/computer engineering and mechanical engineering labs, a larger nursing lab, and a media lab.

SLU-Madrid has earned recognition for its highly rigorous and transformative educational programs in Spain while remaining committed to the ideals of service and leadership that the University, its students, faculty and staff have upheld since 1818.