Studying in Italy
Italian institutions offer qualifications similar to those in the UK. Most courses are taught in Italian, although an increasing number are taught in English.
Higher education in Italy is divided into two main sectors: university and non-university. There are 89 universities, including state universities, which are public institutions whose main remit is higher education and scientific research, and non-state universities.
The non-university sector provides vocational, professional and specialist training and is divided into four main types of institution:
- Higher schools of design (for the arts, fine arts, applied arts and music)
- Institutions that specialise in languages
- Higher education institutions which offer programmes of technological education and training
- Institutions providing specialist training in areas such as archiving and military studies.
What courses can you study?
Italian institutions offer qualifications that are comparable to those in the UK and which in general follow the structure of first degree, masters degree and PhD.
The Laurea Magistrale is the Italian equivalent of a masters and typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. The Dottorato di Ricerca is the equivalent of a research doctorate and takes a minimum of three years to complete, but the overall length is determined by the subject matter.
It is also possible to take a specialist masters programme, which usually involves one year of full-time study. This qualification forms part of the Italian university system and provides students with professional knowledge and expertise at a technical, operational or planning level.
Many courses are taught in Italian and a range of topics are available in the main areas of:
- social studies
Some universities offer masters courses taught entirely in English in a range of subject areas and the number is growing. There are also some courses taught in English as part of a masters programme that are aimed at visiting or exchange students. These are generally in science and technology. Find a postgraduate course using the Study in Italy course search facility.
See Top Universities for Italian university rankings.
How do you apply for postgraduate study?
EU citizens apply directly to their chosen university. In general, you must hold a degree-level qualification or equivalent. You must also be competent in Italian and will usually need to sit an exam or show documentary evidence that you've reached a certain level of competency in the language. Contact individual institutions to find out specific requirements.
Applications are usually online and must be submitted with the necessary supporting documents, for example copies of transcripts and degree certificates. Contact the institution you're interested in to find out specific deadlines for applications.
Fees and scholarships
Individual institutions are able to set their own fees but on average the amount paid by a student is approximately €1,500 per year for a masters course. However, fees vary depending on the subject of study, and private universities will charge more. Specialist masters programmes are also more expensive. Contact institutions direct for more information.
All university students, including foreign students, are able to apply for financial support. This includes scholarships, student loans and housing assistance. These are all managed by the DSU Office (diritto allo studio universitario). Contact the office in the university you are applying to for more information.
Are there any exchange programmes?
UK students on both undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in studying in Italy through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas, but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in what subject areas.
Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a postgraduate course from Italy is directly comparable to the UK equivalent.
Do you need a visa to study in Italy?
EU nationals do not need a visa to study in Italy but citizens of non-EU countries may be required to have these documents.
EU citizens wishing to stay in Italy for longer than three months to study must apply to their nearest town hall for residency. They will be issued with a certificate, valid for up to five years from the date of issue.
Non-EU nationals should contact the Italian embassy in the country where they're currently living about how to obtain a visa for study. If you're living in the UK, visit the Embassy of Italy in London website.
AGCAS editors, June 2014