Earn a Degree in Italy

Looking for a degree program in Italy? Your search is now made easier with the website UniversItaly (in English and Italian) by Italy’s Education Ministry.

Here are a few must knows about the Italian university system and some tips for applying.

Further information can be found on the Study in Italy website.

An Italian Degree: The basics

An Italian bachelor’s degree: laureatriennale takes three years. You need 180 credits (60 per year). Most courses are six to eight credits.

Specialty degrees in subjects like pharmacy, medicine and law take longer to complete. You begin these as you would a bachelor’s degree program. These single-degree cycles, laurea magistrale a ciclo unico, take five to six years to complete.

Italian master’s degrees occur in three levels: First level master’s Corso Master 1° livello, a second level master’s laurea specialistica and a second level master’s Master Universitario di secondo livello.

The first level master’s, Corso Master 1° livello, serves as a continuation of the Italian bachelor’s degree and takes two years to complete. The second level masters’ laurea specialistica takes one year to complete. The second level master’s Master Universitario di secondo livello is considered a vocational master’s.

Italy also offers:

  • Doctorate degree  (Dottorato di Ricerca): You must have a Master’s and pass a selection examination. The program lasts three to four years.
  • Specialization School (Scuola di Specializzazione)
  • Art and Music academies: Often require an audition for admittance


The academic year is split into two semesters: September/October-January/February and February/March-July.

The grading system ranges from 0-30. You must score above 18 to pass. The grade is one cumulative (usually oral) exam and you can observe other students taking the exam. You can choose from a set of dates (usually three) and you may postpone your exam until the next semester. Exams can be taken until you’re satisfied with your grade. Choosing to postpone an exam or failing to pass an exam may result in what Italians call: Studente fuori corso.

There’s no exact way to translate studente fuori corso. It’s best explained as not finishing your degree on time by still having exams to complete. In Italy, if you follow a course but do not take or pass the exam, you must repeat an exam until you pass. After completing courses, you can enroll to only to take the exams that you still have left.

Tips for Applying

You apply through your local Italian consulate who can certify your U.S. degree as equivalent to an Italian degree.

There are a certain number of seats (sedie) for foreigners per program. This number is determined yearly.

Language Requirement

You must prove your fluency in Italian by passing an exam, obtaining a certificate from the University for Foreigners in Siena or Perugia or successfully completing levels B1 or B2 in Italian language.

Additionally, several degree programs are taught in English. If the degree you apply for is conducted exclusively in English, proof of fluency in Italian is not required.

Visa/Stay Permit

For a student visa you must have proof of finances no less than 429 Euros a month for each month of the academic year.

Upon arrival in Italy you must apply in the town in which you study for a residence permit.

This is not a complete guide, for more info please visit the sites provided in this article.

Written by OSIA National Office Assistant, Carol Cummings.

One thought on “Earn a Degree in Italy

  1. Hey, I’ve just started studying at the University of Bologna. Some of the units are taught in English, but others are obviously in Italian. Not being completely fluent yet, I’m using the Online Italian Club grammar exercises to speed up the process. Hope this helps other people too!

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