The university enrolls over 86,000 students , and consistently ranks as the top university in Spain. It is located on a sprawling campus that occupies the entirety of the Ciudad Universitaria district of Madrid, with annexes in the district of Somosaguas in the neighboring city of Pozuelo de Alarcón.
In the course of over seven centuries, the University of Madrid has provided invaluable contributions in the sciences, fine arts, and political leadership. Alumni include renowned philosophers (Jose Ortega y Gasset, Ignatius of Loyola, Thomas of Villanova), writers (Federico Garcia Lorca, Antonio de Nebrija, Pedro Calderon de la Barca), scientists (Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Severo Ochoa, Andres Manuel del Rio), historians (Juan de Mariana, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda), military leaders (Don John of Austria, Alexander Farnese, Cardinal Cisneros), and foreign leaders (Cardinal Mazarin, Jose Rizal). In the year 1785, the Univeristy of Madrid became one of the first Universities in the world to grant a Doctorate degree to a female student. By Royal Decree of 1857, the University of Madrid was the only institution in Spain authorized to grant doctorates throughout the Spanish Empire.
In recent years, the roster of alumni comprises of winners of the Nobel Prize , Prince of Asturias Awards (18), Miguel de Cervantes Prize, as well as European Commissioners, Presidents of the EU Parliament, European Council Secretary General, ECB Executive Board members, NATO Secretary General, UNESCO Director General, IMF Managing Director, and Heads of State. According to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the university is widely regarded as the most prestigious academic institution in Spain.