Where and for whom to study in Italy: features of the education system in the country



Where and for whom to study in Italy: features of the education system in the country

Diplomas of Italian universities are gladly accepted in 42 countries of the world, and their graduates are often invited by the most progressive, world-renowned clinics, architectural bureaus, and fashion houses. Therefore, studying here can surely become a "golden ticket" for any student.

Education system

Italy is the cradle of the famous Bologna education system. It requires 12 years of study for admission to a bachelor's degree and 15 for a master's degree. Thus, applicants from countries where the complete secondary education presumes 11 years of education, cannot enter Italian universities immediately after graduation.

To study abroad, in Italy, they need:

  • Enter and pass one academic year in a higher educational institution in their homeland;
  • Choose a one-year study under the Foundation program (this is a great option to "close" the year, enhance the language and understand if studying in Italy is your go-to option);
  • Take preparatory courses, which are called here corsi propedeutici (keep in mind: many Italian universities do not allow those who have not passed their preparatory programs to take part in admission exams).

In general, the system of higher education is traditional: a bachelor's degree involves 3 years, a master's degree 1-2 years, and a doctorate — 3-5 years of study. The academic year consists of three semesters, at the end of which students take exams. Those who fail are given several opportunities to re-pass it. Exams can also be postponed.

Where and what to study

Institutions of tertiary education in Italy are represented by universities, polytechnics (where future architects and urban planners are trained), higher technical and art schools, as well as academies (where fine art experts and litterateurs are trained).

The most powerful educational areas in Italy are:


fashion and design;



Those who plan to get an education in the field of art and fashion should know that the entrance requirements for high art schools are much higher than for other universities. Additionally, these schools often have age restrictions.

Peculiarities of studying in Italy

Some Italian universities have been known to the whole world since the Renaissance and still hold the mark. Five institutions are included in the top 200 best world universities. So, if you are considering studying in Italy, pay special attention to the university of Padua, Bologna, and Pisa, as well as La Spezia in Rome and the Polytechnic Institute in Milan.

The universities of Florence, Urbino, Verona, Genoa, Parma, Bergamo, Turin, the Milan Institute of Maragoni, and younger and more ambitious schools such as the Nuova accademia DI belle arti deserve no less attention.


The main advantages of studying in the above-mentioned institutions are the relatively low cost of education (e.g. 4,000-5,000 euros for a bachelor's year) and the ECTS crediting system along with high standards of education, which opens the door to the world's leading companies and institutions. After completing their studies, students have an additional year of stay in Italy to look for employment.

The presence of a large number of English-language programs with Intermediate (IELTS 5.5) or Upper-Intermediate (IELTS 6.5) entry-level, is also often considered an advantage. But lack of Italian language proficiency is rather a disadvantage, because:

  • English-language programs are more expensive;
  • Only 30% of Italy’s population understands English, so mastering the national language is the key to better communication and success among locals;
  • English-speaking graduates can have part-time work only as well as a limited choice of places for employment.

Those striving to learn or improve their Italian language skills before studying at a university can enroll in a language school. These institutions offer courses for any request at a fairly reasonable price. Yet it is difficult to find courses for children or teenagers because the system is aimed at adults.

Along with the language, students will take a dive into local culture, history, cuisine, and traditions.

Enrollment in language schools requires a solid package of documents. It should be noted that it is difficult to get a visa for attending courses lasting more than 3 months in Italy. However, the language school is an important step. After all, many universities in Italy do not require a certificate of knowledge of Italian, because there is a mandatory language exam as part of their entrance courses.

Disadvantages of studying in Italy

These include complex housing rental conditions, high taxes, and nuances with visas. For a long-term stay in Italy, a national visa type D is required. It is suitable for obtaining an education, but post-graduates may be refused a temporary residence permit (TRP).


In Europe or America, you probably won't surprise anyone with the absence of fixed educational programs or the possibility of making a custom schedule. But for students from developing countries, the ability to choose subjects, take additional lectures, and create a customized training schedule is a completely new experience.

Other peculiarities of education in Italy  include:

  • Lack of a fixed date for the academic year start (this applies to both universities and schools);
  • Each professor or teacher during the academic week has visiting hours which allow the possibility to receive a consultation or pass a Q&A session;
  • Studying in Italy is obviously based on students' curiosity and their desire for self-development, as lectures, provide only basic knowledge, while the listener has to "dig deep" him- or herself.

Fun fact: in public schools in Italy, 1 hour per week is necessarily devoted to a lesson on religion.

Grants and scholarships

Foreign students can receive state scholarships or private grants. Conditions and coverage depend on the direction, region, and institution. You should look for open applications in the spring, March, and April.

Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:

Travel and medical insurance for foreigners in Italy;

Checklist for obtaining a visa and necessary documents in Italy;

Insurance for foreign students in Italy;

Legal advice on medical treatmentbusinessimmigrationeducation in Italy;

Services of a personal lawyer in Italy for registration in Italy for up to one year.

Read more about health insurance for expats in Italy here.

Find the 7 best places to live in Italy for a high quality of life here.