Have you ever thought of doing a Master’s degree abroad? I graduated from the Instituto Franklin Master’s degree in Spain program. This year-long Master’s program allows you to teach and learn in Spain.
In today’s post, I’ll share how the program works, some pros and cons, and how to apply. I’ll also share my experience (2011-2012) as well as the experience of a more current student.
What is the Instituto Franklin Master’s Degree Program in Spain?
To begin, the “Teach and Learn” Instituto Franklin Master’s degree program takes place in the beautiful city of Alcalá de Henares, just outside of Madrid. It’s a year-long Master’s degree program that runs from September to June.
As part of the program, you’ll be placed in a Spanish school as a language assistant. You receive a monthly stipend and health insurance as compensation for teaching.
During the program, you’ll have some online classes and some classes on campus in Alcalá de Henares. This is known as a “blended” program. You will complete a Master’s thesis by the end of the program.
You can choose from a variety of Master’s programs. These are the current offerings:
- Learning and Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language
- International Education
- Bilingual and Multicultural Education
- Global Higher Education
- School Management
Back in 2011-2012 when I did the program, Instituto Franklin kept half of my monthly stipend in order to “pay” for the Master’s program. This means I was paying about 700 euros per month for the degree program. Now, there are three different options.
Cost of the program:
€0 for Option A – There are a limited number of Option A spots. You will be placed in a private or charter school as a language assistant.
- A stipend of between €600 and €800 per month (9.5 months), depending on the number of classroom hours in the placement school
- Health, accident and repatriation insurance
- Tuition remission
- Pay a 500€ deposit upon acceptance which is refunded upon graduation (minus PayPal fees)
€4.000 for Option B – work in a public school as a language assistant as part of the Auxiliares de Conversación program.
- €1.000 per month (9 months)
- Health, accident and repatriation insurance
€4.400 for Option C – students pay tuition and must already be placed in a teaching-related program/field.
- Health, accident and repatriation insurance.
- A €200 discount is given for paying the entire price upfront
- For more details on this option, visit the official website.
For an American looking to do a Master’s degree, these prices are extremely tempting! One of the benefits of the program is getting a Master’s degree without going into debt. However, there are some issues with the program, so keep reading.
Is the Instituto Franklin Master’s Degree Program a REAL Master’s program?
The answer might surprise you – yes and no. Yes because it’s an accredited academic program from the University of Alcalá worth 60 credits. It is recognized by some countries as a real Master’s program. I was able to use it when teaching abroad to get a higher salary.
No, because in Spain there are two kinds of Master’s degrees – un máster oficial (also called universitario) and un máster propio. The “Teach and Learn” Instituto Franklin Master’s degree program is a máster propio. This means that it is not accepted as a means to apply for a doctorate program in Spain. It will also not be accepted when searching for some jobs in Spain.
So, what does this mean for you? If you plan on using the Master’s degree outside of Spain, make sure you check with the country to see if it’s accepted. I’ve heard of some people having it recognized in the US while others didn’t. It was recognized for me in Australia, but only because the program I did included a Multicultural Education component. Do your research!
If you are trying to work as a teacher in Spain, it’s better to do a recognized máster oficial. It also depends if you want to work in public, private or charter schools. Each has their own requirements. Again, do your research so you aren’t disappointed.
What are the pros of the Instituto Franklin Master’s Degree Program in Spain?
In general, here are some of the positives of the “Teach and Learn” Master’s program in Spain:
- Get hands on teaching practice in local schools – you will be working as a language assistant in Spanish classrooms. This gives you the opportunity to put into practice some of the things you’ll learn in the coursework
- The cost of the program is much more affordable than Master’s degrees in the United States – while still considered expensive as far as a European Master’s degree goes, it is definitely cheaper than one in the US
- Meet other students from around the world – while most of the students are from the US, there are students from other English-speaking countries as well
- Get a visa to live in Spain for one year – This program is one of the easiest ways to live abroad for a year. I think everyone should spend at least one full year abroad!
- For teachers already in Spain, this Master’s program is a great way to stay in Spain – people often apply to this Master’s program after working for the Auxiliares de Conversación program, BEDA, UCETAM and more
- The coursework isn’t difficult – when compared with my undergrad at Lawrence University in the US, this Master’s program wasn’t very challenging
What are the cons of the Instituto Franklin Master’s Degree Program in Spain?
In general, here are some of the negatives of the “Teach and Learn” Master’s program in Spain:
- You may be placed in a school far from the Madrid city center and/or from Alcalá de Henares – some of the teachers in my program lived so far from the university that they had to stay overnight in Alcalá de Henares on the weekends that we had class
- If you are doing the Teaching English as a Foreign Language Master’s program you’ll be teaching English, not Spanish, for your internship
- The Master’s isn’t always accepted – as mentioned above, not all institutions or countries recognize this Master’s degree
- Your teaching internship experience will vary from amazing to horrible, depending on the school in which you are placed and the teachers you work with. Good luck!
My experience in the Instituto Franklin Master’s Degree Program
I did the Master’s program in 2011-2012. Obviously, a lot has changed since I did the program, but some things haven’t. I can only speak from my experience.
My teaching internship
I was placed in a school in the Vallecas neighborhood in Madrid. This allowed me to live in the city center (right across from Retiro!) and commute to school by bus/metro. The trip took about 1 hour each way.
I worked in a “Gredos San Diego” charter school connected with the UCETAM program. The school was absolutely MASSIVE and I was placed in primary with two other assistants. I taught English, Art and Science classes for grades 1-6 with multiple sections of each grade.
While technically an “assistant,” my role in the classroom really varied from teacher to teacher. Some teachers had me teach the whole lesson, only intervening to scream at the kids when they got too rowdy. I created PowerPoint presentations for Science classes, created games that could be played with 30 students at a time (hello group games) and taught lessons related to American holidays.
I worked well with some teachers, and not so well with others. Some teachers were great at letting me know exactly what they needed me to prepare, while others just used me as a babysitter.
I taught 26 teaching hours each week. However, due to gaps in the schedule and long lunch breaks, I was at my school from 9 am to 5 pm nearly every day. I used my gaps to plan lessons, do my homework and study French. Lunch was provided by the school and I usually took a walk with the other assistants after eating.
Since I only got to keep half of my teaching stipend (the other half paid for the Master’s), I ended up teaching private lessons on the side to fund my travels and going out. Madrid is a fantastic place to spend your youth!
The Master’s classes
I did the Master’s in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. There were only three options when I did the program and most people did this program.
The year that I did the program, 2011-2012, the schedule for the on-site classes in Alcalá de Henares was HORRIBLE. We had about 5 hours of class on Friday afternoons (after teaching all morning) and then 10 hours STRAIGHT of class on Saturdays. I’m pretty sure they never did this kind of schedule again because so many people complained.
The worst part was the teachers didn’t have 10 hours straight of material (or the will to teach for that long) so they usually sent us home early. It was a mess.
During the week, there were a few assignments to complete and forums to post on. Most of the students doing the program didn’t seem to care, so it was always the same 3 students posting on all the forums.
In the on-site classes we did presentations, listened to lectures, had discussions and watched films (for the film class.)
The work wasn’t particularly challenging, especially anything related to teaching. I already had a US teaching certificate, so a lot of the material was review for me.
The Master’s thesis
For my thesis, I chose to create a unit of lessons plans. I created a unit based on fables to teach English. I have since been able to use this unit in my actual teaching career.
There were a few different choices for the thesis. You have several months to write your thesis and there were teachers to support you. I recommend starting your thesis sooner rather than later!
Overall opinion of the program
In general, I think you get out of the program what you put in. I did all of the work and took the thesis seriously and I was able to use it later on in my teaching career. While the classes and teachers weren’t particularly memorable or helpful, I still think the program was a great way to experience education in another country.
I ended up renewing my position at my school for a second year. It was a super simple way to stay in Madrid. If you are a teacher who is curious about living in Spain for a year, this is a great way to do it.
Additionally, I have had the Master’s recognized by some of the schools that I’ve worked at. This has helped me start at a higher pay rate.
A more current student’s experience in the Instituto Franklin Master’s Degree Program
Leah Tompkins did the program in 2020-2021 and did the Learning and Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language Master’s program. In person classes were on Friday afternoons. During the week there were online “classes” which consisted of homework that had to be submitted.
After March 14, due to Covid-19, in-person classes transitioned to online video calls.
Leah chose option B and was placed in a public school in San Martín de la Vega. The workload was very light. She is currently doing a máster universitario (also called oficial) which requires regular research and an intense workload. Because of this, she isn’t surprised that the Instituto Franklin Master’s degree program is only a máster propio.
The Instituto Franklin Master’s didn’t allow students to conduct research in Spanish because they didn’t believe students would be capable of this, so everyone did curriculum designs. This was frustrating for Leah because she was passionate about research.
The Instituo Franklin workload consisted of a few pages of reading per week, answering some comprehension questions and creating lesson plans.
For the Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language Master’s, students were supposed to have a C1 (Advanced) level of Spanish. However, most students only had a B1/B2 level so the professors slowed down their speech which was frustrating for students at the correct level.
Some of the pros: most countries outside of Spain don’t know the difference between the two types of Master’s degrees so it’s possible to use it to get pay raises.
Some of the cons: If trying to use the Master’s degree in Spain, everyone knows the difference between the two types. Also, Leah doesn’t feel like she got much out of it besides to a bit more exposure to academic texts in Spanish.
How to apply to the Instituto Franklin Master’s Degree in Spain Program
In order to apply for the Instituto Franklin Master’s Degree in Spain program, you must:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent)
- Have a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale
- Be a native English speaker with a passport from: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, India, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, the Philippines, Portugal, the Netherlands, South Africa, the UK, the US or Sweden.
- A B2 level of Spanish (C1 for the Teaching and Learning Spanish as a Foreign Language Master’s program)
There is a fee to apply for this program.
Applications are typically open from January to March.