information for global expats

Universities for Expats in Italy

Submitted: February 2014

Universities in Italy provide top-tier teaching and research and have consistently established their presence in various world university rankings. Italy is considered to have been the country to pave the way for the modern university system as we know it today. Most of the world’s oldest Universities are located in Italy. The University of Bologna (Università di Bologna) was founded in 1088, and therefore one of the oldest universities in the Western World. It is considered to be the first institution to use the word “University”.

There are public and private universities in Italy. The difference between the two usually comes down to funding.  Both types of universities receive government funding, however private universities invariably receive less funding and therefore have higher tuition costs. Depending on the university, annual fees for public universities range between EUR 150- 3500. Private Universities can charge up to EUR 16,000 per annum. International Students are entitled to the same funding assistance as Italian students.

The Italian university system is divided into 3 cycles. The first cycle (Laurea) is undergraduate studies which generally lasts three years. Students must complete 180 credits and upon completion one obtains the equivalent of a Bachelors degree. The second cycle is graduate studies (Laurea Specialistica /Laurea Magistrale) and lasts for two years. Students must obtain 120 credits to gain this Masters degree.  The third cycle (Dottorato) has a three-year duration and students must complete 180 credits in order to achieve this PhD equivalent.

Admissions are the next hurdle if you are serious about tertiary education in Italy. Some courses require that the applicant pass a test in order to gain admission. Further information can be obtained from the website (all in Italian):


Enrolling in a university can be a daunting task and it is advisable that research is done well in advance to find the best University for your circumstances.

General Requirements for Undergraduate studies:

  • Valid foreign high school diploma that has been translated and presented with a declaration of value. A declaration of value (Dichiarazione di Value) is information describing the qualification awarded to a student  in an education system other than the Italian education system.
  • Pre Enrolment at the Italian Embassy (for non EU students)
  • Application for registration
  • Student Visa for non EU students

It is advisable that you Contact the Italian Embassy in your home country and find out what documentation is necessary to complete your application.

To cater for foreigners who want to study in beautiful Italy, but are not proficient in the language, there are a few universities where the language of instruction is English. For example, you can receive an American university education in the heart of Rome from John Cabot University.

Cut off dates for applications vary, but typically students need to apply between January to April of the academic year they wish to start.  Proficiency in Italian is also required and applicants will need to demonstrate this proficiency either by sitting an examination or by submitting evidence of an Italian language instruction previously taken.



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