Hello, I am a sophmore in college this year and I spent last semester abroad at the university of salamanca in Spain through a U.S. exchange program. My problem is that I loved it so much, I want to study there permanently. I am nervous because I am not sure if I obtain a degree abroad it will be recognized in the United States. I am also wondering if it will be hard to obtain a work visa in spain after I finish studying there. Any thoughts on this are greatly appreciated!
This is a difficult question to answer. Despite 8 years of deliberation, a bilateral EU-US treaty on degree recognition is still not in place. This is mainly because of the fact that the US handles accreditation of educational institutes at a state level, which makes it almost impossible for the federal government or any treaty partners to assess the value of a US degree.
Conversely, the US has no single policy on foreign degree authorisation. CHEA maintains a database of accredited foreign universities, whose degrees are treated as a valid equivalent to a US degree. However, you will find that only two Spanish institutions are listed, both of whom incidentally are not very high-ranking in the eyes of Europeans.
Instead, you will need to get your degree authorised in the US state where you want to use it. Best consult state government about the authorisation procedures that are in place, and see that you get a written statement that lists all the requirements. Then, contact the university you want to attend in spain, and make sure that they will be able to provide you with all the necessary documents. Typically, you will need a transcript of your full academic record to get a degree authorised: official translation of the Spanish degree certificate, full list of courses you attended, their contents, goals, teaching methods, level, reading lists, testimony by the professors who did the teaching: the lot.
Alternatively, you could just rely on the fact that European education enjoys a good reputation in the US, and with reason (well, generally speaking). I don't many US citizens who tried, but I never heard that having a European rather than a US degree was a problem for your next step after university.
an alternative might be to look into US university degree programs abroad - NYU, Middlebury, and St. Louis all offer Masters and/or Ph.D programs in Madrid - which will be recognized in the United States.
also for St. Louis, many undergraduate students complete their bachelor degrees at the Madrid campus.