Pre-College Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain

Join us in Barcelona for an insider’s experience of Spain on this Pre-College summer program for high school students. Broaden your horizons with in-depth, field-based seminars and elective workshops as you become part of an inspiring and supportive community of instructors and students from around the world. Choose one seminar and dive into your subject matter through engaging discussions and hands-on projects that immerse you in Catalán life.

High School

Grades 9–12
Motivated rising 9th graders will also be considered


June 25 — July 15, 2023


21 days


$7,590 + airfare & lunches

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Safety in a Time of COVID-19

Since Putney’s founding 72 years ago, we have approached each participant’s summer experience with the same attention to safety and security that we give our own children. This summer is no exception. Please read our FAQ to learn more about 2023 programs.

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Our Barcelona Campus

Live among the bright lights and cosmopolitan bustle of Europe’s largest city on the Mediterranean. Barcelona is a gem, known for its unique blend of pragmatism, flair, and civic-mindedness. From our base in the popular neighborhood of La Barceloneta, discover the city’s cafes and restaurants, renowned art and architecture, scenic beaches, and rich Catalán history.

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Choose a seminar and dive deep into a subject that inspires you, from Art & Architecture to Spanish Language, Cuisine to Fashion. Putney seminars combine experiential learning and global perspective, and are intentionally designed not to be like school, where learning is classroom-centered and text heavy. Instead, Putney Pre-College students learn by doing. Cap off your studies with a final project or installation to share your work.

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Afternoons & Excursions

Take a chocolate-making workshop, bike through beautiful city parks, visit the Museo de Picasso, or head to the beach. On weekends, explore the stunning Catalán countryside. Travel to Castellar de n’Hug, a scenic mountain town nestled in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenées, to hike and explore the quiet cobblestone streets. Spend a day relaxing on the turquoise beaches of medieval Tossa de Mar and experience the wild and surreal works of Salvador Dalí in his hometown of Figueres.

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“The freedom, activities, learning, and connections I made exceeded any expectations and are far better than other programs I have been part of. The instructors were amazing and the activities in Barcelona were absolutely incredible.”

— Asheley G., Lorenzo Walker Technical High School, Naples, FL


Putney Pre-College Barcelona brings together motivated and like-minded high school students to grow intellectually and personally as they immerse themselves in a subject, experience a new culture, learn from inspiring instructors and guest speakers, prepare for college, and make lasting friendships along the way.

Accommodations & Meals

In Barcelona, we stay in a residential dormitory in the popular neighborhood of La Barceloneta. Students and staff reside in singles, doubles, and triples with ensuite bathrooms and access to common meeting rooms. We begin each day together with a traditional Spanish breakfast at our residence. For lunches, seminar groups may eat together or we break into small groups of three or more students to eat at a restaurant of their choice. We eat dinners at restaurants in small groups of staff and students to discover Barcelona’s culinary scene. Please note that lunches are not included in the tuition.


Find a community of like-minded peers, invested in personal and intellectual growth. Like you, they are curious about the world and eager to have a positive impact on it. Everyone attends Community Meeting each evening, where the group shares ideas, successes, and goals, and sets plans for the coming day. Become part of a community that supports and nurtures your interests, and make lasting friendships along the way.

Guest Speakers

Gain inspiration from the experiences and perspectives of industry leaders and professionals. Guest speakers bring to the program diverse backgrounds with high-level, real-world experiences and insights. Whether a renowned chef or a professional photographer, each speaker structures their workshop or lecture to relate to the seminars and their area of expertise.


In addition to your in-depth seminar, explore other interests and topics in elective workshops offered by instructors and students alike. Tap into the unique knowledge, skills, and abilities of your peers and instructors to expand your Pre-College experience, learning on topics and skills ranging from making the perfect flan to flamenco dancing.

“We loved that work on the seminars was incorporated into field trips and exploration. I also loved that they ate all of their meals out— it added to the travel experience and made Barcelona feel like home. She gained confidence, an even greater sense of adventure, and fell in love with Barcelona and her wonderful tripmates.”

— Karen & Robert Lager, Chevy Chase, MD


Choose a seminar and explore Barcelona and the surrounding Catalán countryside through the lens of your chosen subject. Begin with classroom discussions that frame your seminar concepts and identify key issues. Take the learning beyond the classroom with site visits, meetings with local experts, guest lectures, and field trips. Barcelona’s rich historical, architectural, and cultural background makes it the perfect setting for our field-based seminars. Our dynamic seminars are designed to encourage hands-on, place-based, collaborative learning.

Art & Architecture: Medieval to the Surreal

From stark Romanesque churches that were the initial staging ground of the Medieval reconquest of Spain, to soaring Gothic and later surrealist cathedrals, Barcelona provides a remarkable thousand-year record of the development of European history, art, and architecture. At the beginning of the 20th century, artists frequented a Barcelona café called Els Quatre Gats. Among this crowd Read more

Business & Entrepreneurship

What makes a business succeed in today’s market and what are the steps between identifying a need and opening your doors? In recent years, larger-than-life characters like Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk have dominated headlines and raised questions about leadership, charisma, and risk-taking, all while cornering their markets. This hands-on course begins by examining the economic Read more

Fashion & Culture

Boasting brands such as Zara, Pull & Bear, Delpozo, and Bimba y Lola, Spain’s fashion industry is a powerhouse on the world fashion scene. In this seminar, explore Spanish fashion’s historical roots, and the social and cultural factors that helped it take shape. Examine fashion’s role in constructing Spanish identity as you visit key sites in and around Barcelona to learn about the growth of Read more

Photography & Media

Designed for photographers of all skill levels, this course teaches the basics of photography and composition before diving into more advanced shooting techniques and editing instruction. Whether your passion is portrait, landscape, adventure, or abstract photography, build your confidence and nurture your creativity through one-on-one workshops with your instructor and group Read more

Spanish Language: Out of the Classroom

Designed for students with at least two years of classroom Spanish, or the equivalent, this language immersion course focuses on group and individual fieldwork complemented by extensive, seminar-style discussions on Spanish culture, literature, history, and the contemporary art and music scene. Classroom instruction is kept to a minimum so that you can practice your Spanish throughout Read more


Our Pre-College instructors are accomplished academically and professionally. They bring to each seminar deep content knowledge and experience in their field, as well as enthusiasm for their subjects, a passion for teaching, and a proven capacity to connect with and inspire students. They are dedicated and caring individuals who also live in dormitories with students, sharing in their lives and fully participating in extracurricular activities.

Meet Our Instructors

Day in the Life

Due to the dynamic nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in Barcelona.

Daily schedule

9 AM • Enjoy breakfast on campus with your group

10 AM • Meet with your seminar in the classroom to identify topics for the day

11 AM • Take these concepts into the field—on a museum visit, for example, or a meeting with a fashion designer

2 PM • Break for lunch on the town with friends and your instructor

4 PM • Join a pick-up soccer game at Playa Barceloneta, followed by a dip in the Mediterranean

7 PM • Convene for Community Meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule 

8 PM • Head out to enjoy tapas with a small group and instructor

10 PM • Attend a Spanish guitar concert or flamenco show with your group


Outcomes & Final Projects

The Pre-College Barcelona program is designed to immerse students intellectually in their chosen seminar topic as they prepare academically and socially for the college experience. Over the course of their three-week Pre-College seminar, each student develops a final project based on their particular interests, which they present to peers and instructors at the end of the program. Display your photography or drawings in a pop-up gallery, present your designs from your Fashion & Culture seminar, or prepare a feast to share with your group.