Rich in history and culture Italy has long been associated with educational excellence no surprise then that the country appears on many study abroad wishlists...

When you think of Italy you probably think of coffee, food, football and iconic places such as the Coliseum in Rome, the leaning tower of Pisa, the canals and gondolas of Venice and the fashion houses of Milan; however that's not all that's on offer.

The country that's shaped like a boot ticks many boxes when it comes to international study - prestigious universities, reasonable tuition fees, accessible funding opportunities and an increasing number of courses taught in English.

That said, for admission onto many degree programmes and to really immerse yourself in Italian culture you need to learn the language and you know what they say, when in Rome...

The Italian education system

Italy's higher education sector consists of two main areas:

  • university;
  • non-university.

There are currently around 89 universities, which fall into the following categories:

  • state universities;
  • non-state universities;
  • universities for foreigners;
  • universities specialising in postgraduate studies;
  • technical universities;
  • telematic universities.

In addition, higher education institutions exist in the non-university sector. These include:

  • higher schools of design;
  • schools of higher education in language mediation;
  • schools of higher integrated education.

The University of Bologna is not only one of Italy's top rated universities and widely believed to be one of the oldest institutions in the world, but is also the namesake of the Bologna Process , a higher education reform that is now being adopted and implemented throughout all of Europe.

Due to this reform degrees are structured as follows:

  • First cycle/Laurea triennale - comparable to Bachelor/undergraduate programmes they involve three years of study.
  • Second cycle/Laurea magistrale - consisting of two years of study these are equivalent to Masters degrees.
  • Specialist Masters programmes/Master universitari di l e di ll livello - usually involve one year of study and provide students with professional knowledge.
  • Third cycle/Dottorato di ricerca - PhD level three-year programmes.

Courses are available in a wide selection of subjects and are usually categorised into five main areas:

  • health;
  • humanities;
  • sciences;
  • social sciences;
  • technology.

The academic year in Italy is split into two semesters. The first starts in September/October and finishes in January/February and the second commences in February and ends in July. Exams are held after the teaching periods and are usually oral in nature.

For more information, visit Study in Italy.


The American University of Rome

The oldest private American institution of higher education in Rome offers a mixture of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees


Ca'Foscari University of Venice

Specialising in disciplines such as foreign languages, the humanities, economics, management and environmental science, Ca'Foscari has a variety of postgraduate courses to choose from


St John's University

A global perspective means success in today's competitive workplace. St. John's provides students with extensive study abroad opportunities at campuses in New York, Rome, and Paris


Universita Politecnica delle Marche

Choose from 39 degree courses at UNIVPM - a student-oriented university offering a stimulating and comfortable environment


University of Siena

The University of Siena has a rich history and great tradition of teaching, with 28 graduate and 12 Doctoral programmes on offer

Entry requirements

For admission onto all degree programmes in Italy you need to hold the minimum educational requirements as well as an understanding of Italian. Competency in the language may be tested by individual institutions.

This means that a school leaving qualification is needed to enter into first-cycle studies, a first-cycle (undergraduate) degree for admission onto postgraduate programmes and a second-cycle (Masters) qualification to undertake a doctoral degree.

However it's best to check entry requirements with your chosen university as procedures vary depending on whether you are a European Union (EU), or non-European Union (non-EU) student.

After you have received an offer of a place at a university, you can then apply for a student visa at your country's Italian embassy. EU nationals can enter the country without visas, but will need to show:

  • details of accommodation;
  • satisfactory financial stability;
  • some form of health cover.

Course fees

Fees to study in Italy will differ depending on the university and course that you choose, so it's important to check with institutions individually to find out about costs.

On average, undergraduate courses cost €850 - €1,000 per year, while fees for postgraduate courses are considerably higher.

Funding to study in Italy

The same rules apply to international students as native Italian students when it comes to scholarships and grants. All students can apply for them, and they are distributed depending on financial situation and academic merit. This applies to scholarships, student loans, housing assistance, meal tickets and fee waivers.

There are different types of funding you can apply for and the international office at your chosen university can help you decide your options.

To find out more about funding in Italy, visit Study in Italy - Scholarships and Financial Aid.

Universities in Italy don't normally have halls of residence but do offer accommodation finding services so check with your individual institution.You'll also need to keep in mind that Italy is one of the more expensive EU countries and that living expenses in the north will be considerably higher than those in the south.

Italian exchanges and placements

Students attending a university in the UK can take part in the EU's education, training and youth support programme Erasmus+. The scheme replaces its predecessor 'Erasmus' and offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements to millions of young people, students and adults. Opportunities last from three months to one academic year.

Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative to any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation actively involved in education and training.

Your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in another EU country. Check that your university is involved in the programme and offers the Erasmus+ scheme in your subject.

It isn't always necessary to speak the language of your host country and you can arrange intensive language courses before you go. Speak to the Erasmus+ coordinator at your university about available opportunities.

Student visas

EU citizens are permitted to live in any EU country while studying as long as they:

  • are studying for more than three months;
  • are enrolled at an approved university/ other educational institution;
  • have sufficient income (from any source) to live without needing income support;
  • have comprehensive health insurance cover.

All students including those from within the EU must register with the local police within three months of arrival in Italy. Find out how to register at Europa - Rights, Conditions and Formalities.

Find out more