Study in Italy as an International Student
Did you know that the word ‘university’ actually originated in Italy?
10 Key Facts
- There are around 90 universities in Italy. The majority of programmes are taught in Italian, but an increasing number also offer programmes delivered fully in English (see below). Universities are also very keen to support international students with learning Italian. Entry requirements, the application process, teaching methodologies and fees will vary considerably between public and private institutions.
- Home to one of the world’s oldest universities – the University of Bologna founded in 1088 – Italy welcomes over 32,000 international students each year.
- Undergraduate degrees are typically 3 years – known as ‘laurea triennale’. Law, medicine and architecture programmes are 5-6 years. Note that there is quite a wide choice of Medicine and Surgery programmes offered in English at Italian universities.
- Public universities tend to focus on the study of academic theory to ensure that students have strong background knowledge. Students can be in classes and lectures for 5-6 hours each day which is more than in many other countries. Check carefully that the teaching approach is best suited to you, especially if you are looking for more practical experiences and transferable skills. There is also a small, but growing, number of Technical Vocational Schools with programmes such as Tourism and Hospitality, IT and Supply Chain Management that include work experience.
- There are typically two semesters. The first starting end September/early October and runs until the end of December. The second begins at the end of January/early February until the end of May.
- Applicants must hold a secondary school qualification following a minimum of 12 years of schooling. Some universities will offer a Foundation Year for those that do not qualify.
- EU students apply directly to universities and deadlines vary – check individual websites carefully. For non-EU students the process is more complicated: in Italy, each public university and programme has a ‘contingente’ of places reserved for international students they can receive from outside the EU. The number of places is set each year by the Ministry of Education, University, and Research. This means that you need to work with your local Italian embassy or consulate to reserve one of these places for your chosen programme early on in your application process. You will also need to have all of your documents translated into Italian.
- Tuition fees are very reasonable in Italy. For EU/EEA students public university tuition fees average around 1,500 Euro and 3,000 Euro for non-EU/EEA students. As expected, science and medical programmes are more expensive than arts and humanities courses. Fees can be paid in installments and are determined by family income and citizenship. There are also lots of opportunities to apply for scholarships both before and during your programme. Details are found on individual university websites. Private universities will cost significantly more.
- If you budget carefully, Italy can be an affordable country for international students. Living costs will vary depending on where you live. In the major cities expect to pay between 600-900 Euro per month for private rent. Smaller cities will be slightly cheaper: on average 450-650 Euro per month. University accommodation is usually cheaper and is a great option in your first year. Make sure you contact the international office to ask about accommodation options when you have received your offer.
- Full-time students can work up to 20 hours per week alongside their degree programme. If you are a non-EU/EEA student you will have to apply for a work permit once you have been offered a job. This process can be complicated and you are not always guaranteed a permit so make sure you have enough funds to support yourself without a job.
Some Institutions Worth Exploring
The majority of courses taught in English are to be found at the private institutions, however, many of the public universities also offer a few undergraduate courses that are worth exploring. Most offer many more options at Master’s level.
*(Course details are correct as of May 2022 – always check university websites carefully for updates)
- Bocconi University, Milan – internationally renowned in the fields of business and economics. Offers a range of BSc programmes including the prestigious World Bachelor in Business – students spend 4 years at 3 world-leading universities in 3 countries – Bocconi, University of Southern California, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. There is also a Bachelor in Global Law.
- Cattolica University – with 5 affiliated campuses, Cattolica is the largest private university in Europe. Has a good selection of programmes in English, including: Psychology, Medicine and Surgery, International Relations and Global Affairs, Finance, Economics and Management, Communication Management, and Food Production Management.
- ESCP Europe Business School – Turin Campus– one of 6 European campuses, Turin’s key academic areas are food & beverage and entrepreneurship. Home to around 650 students from 40+ countries. Students earn a Bachelor in Management (BSc) after spending 3 years in 3 countries.
- Istituto Marangoni – Italian school of fashion and design with many other campuses overseas.
- John Cabot University – based in Rome, this is a four year American style liberal arts programme consisting of 40 courses with a major and distribution requirements, including English, Mathematics and a Foreign Language.
- Marist College, Italy – Florence campus of the US liberal arts college. Marist College, in partnership with Lorenzo de’ Medici (LdM), offers four-year bachelor’s degrees in Studio Art, Fine Arts, Art History, Conservation Studies, Digital Media, Fashion Design, Interior Design, Italian Language and Global Marketing Communication.
- Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti – largest private art and design academy in Italy. Campuses in both Milan and Rome. QS World Rankings for Art and Design – Top 100 in 2022. 3 year bachelor programmes in areas such as: Fashion Design, Creative Technologies, Film and Animation, Set Design, Painting and Visual Arts, and Graphic Design.
- The American University of Rome – US liberal arts and sciences education. Students complete a General Education programme before choosing to major in one of a range of subjects, including: Art History, Business Administration, Film, Fine Arts, International Relations and Global Politics, Archeology and more. Communal learning, small seminars and Rome as a classroom. Student population of around 600.
Politecnico do Milano – largest Italian university for Engineering, Architecture and Design, with Over 45,000 students. They offer an international track taught in English in Civil Engineering.
Politecnico di Torino – located in Turin, the oldest public technical university in Italy. Offers a bachelor in Architecture and a number of engineering programmes in English. Around 20,000 undergraduates.
Sapienza University of Rome – comprehensive, public research university with the largest student population in Europe – over 112,000 students. Currently 5 programmes are taught in English: Bioinformatics, Nursing, Sustainable Building Engineering, Classics, and Hospitality Management (TBC). A Foundation Year programme is available for those who have not completed the mandatory 12 years of schooling. There are many options at masters level.
University of Bologna – the oldest university in continuous operation in the world. The first woman to earn a degree graduated from here. They offer a range of English programmes across study areas: statistics, sciences, political science, engineering and architecture, economics and management, and pharmacy and biotechnology.
University of Milan – offers a six year international medical programme taught in English and one bachelor degree in International Politics, Law and Economics
University of Milan Bicocca – a newish (1998) university with over 32,000 students. Offers Medicine and Surgery delivered in English, as well as a bachelor in Artificial Intelligence
University of Naples Federico II – the oldest public university in the world with around 80,000 students. Medicine and Surgery is offered in English.
University of Padova – the second oldest university in Italy, Padova offers a few programmes in English, including Psychology, and a new 2022/23 course in the Biology of Human and Environmental Health in cooperation with the University of Bologna.
University of Pavia – offers a bachelor programme in Artificial Intelligence.
University of Pisa – one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Italy and in Europe. Galileo was a student and teacher here. Currently, there are two English-taught programmes: an International Programme in Humanities (12 months leading to a choice of 5 BA degrees) and BSc in Management for Business and Economics.
University of Rome Tor Vergata (University of Rome II) – a public research university in the southeastern suburb of Rome with particular strengths in business and economics. 3 degree programmes in English: Global Governance, Engineering Sciences, and Business Administration and Economics.