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Studying a Masters in Italy is an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your education and career. You'll have the opportunity to attend historic universities, benefit from cutting edge modern research and, of course, enjoy the chance to explore one of the most beautiful parts of Europe during your degree.
This page covers everything you'll need to know about postgraduate study in Italy, with information on Italian universities, courses and fees as well as advice on applications, visas and student funding.
A Masters degree in Italy means studying in one of the most prestigious traditions of higher education in the world. Universities in Italy have existed for centuries: the oldest university in the Western world is the University of Bologna.
It's this venerable institution that has given its name to the Bologna Process – a means through which higher education systems across Europe have come together to develop a common framework for university education.
Here are some reasons why you should consider a Masters in Italy:
|Masters Study in Italy - Key Details|
|Oldest University||University of Bologna (1088)|
|Course Length||2 years|
|Typical Fees (Domestic / EU)||€1,520 (average)|
|Academic Year||September to July|
Want to know more about life for international students in Italy? Our detailed guide covers everything from accommodation and living costs to culture and entertainment.
Italy introduced the three-cycle structure found throughout European higher education in 1999. This system, called the Bologna process, aims to create a common higher education area in Europe, allowing for an easier credit transfer (called ECTS) and qualification recognition framework within Europe and beyond.
There are several different kinds of higher education institutions in Italy where you can do a Masters degree. It’s also worth bearing in mind that other ‘non-university’ institutions also offer postgraduate study in Italy (for example, design and art schools).
Italy’s status as a major European higher education hub is reflected by its performance in the three main ranking systems, with a clutch of institutions among the top 300 in the world.
View a more detailed guide to Italian postgraduate rankings.
|University||THE 2019||QS 2019||ARWU 2018|
|Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna||=153||167||-|
|Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa||=161||=175||-|
|University of Bologna||180||=180||201-300|
|University of Padua||201-250||249||201-300|
|Vita-Salute San Raffaele University||201-250||-||401-500|
|Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.|
International rankings use all sorts of metrics to assess universities and they aren't all equally relevant to postgraduate study. That's why we've put together a guide to university rankings for Masters students.
Italian university cities Italy has a great deal to choose from when it comes to picking a location to study in. Whether you’re looking for a historic university town like Padua, a modern metropolis like Milan or the ancient landmarks of Rome, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice.
The Italian higher education system benefits from very strong engagement with European institutions and partners, which means that Italian universities have numerous exchange and double degree agreements with other universities in Europe. A Masters from Italy can open the door to other high-quality European institutions.
An Italian Masters takes two years and is awarded after obtaining 120 ECTS, made up of ECTS for core courses, electives, seminars and the dissertation (which represents 30 ECTS by itself). Masters degrees are split into four semesters with a summer holiday between year one and year two.
The majority of your Masters will be based on lectures, tutorial, group work and coursework (if you are in the sciences or engineering, then it is likely you will have practical sessions too). The aim is to give enhanced knowledge of your subject as well as technical, interpersonal, and research skills.
Semester four will be dedicated to your dissertation which could be based on theory, a placement or a research project.
The academic year in Italy starts from the end of September or beginning of October until July. Generally, a semester system is followed by universities; semester one starts in September/October and ends in January/February. The second semester starts in February and ends in July.
Many of the universities and other higher education institutions in Italy establish their own fee structure and fee levels vary from university to university. However, there is a legal minimum fee for enrolment and maximum level for student contributions to costs and services, which cannot exceed 20% of state funding.
Public university tuition fees (tasse) for domestic and EU students average at €1,520 per year. You might have to pay an application fee of around €30, depending on the institution.
Private universities will be much more expensive than the state-funded universities and may charge fees of at least €12,000 per year. You may also have to pay an application fee of around €100, and if you are taking the national entrance examination, there will be an additional fee.
Generous support is provided to both international and Italian students, in the form of scholarships, student loans, housing assistance, university restaurant meal tickets and fee waivers. Financial assistance is means-tested and you will have to provide bank statements or tax returns to demonstrate your financial needs.
Within the Bologna three-cycle framework, a bachelor (or an international equivalent) is required to undertake a Masters degree.
You may also have to sit an entrance exam to gain admission into university in Italy. If you are applying for Masters degrees in the area of economics, management, finance and business studies, for example, you are likely to be asked for a GMAT or GRE.
If you want to do a Masters in Italian, you will have to demonstrate a good command of the language and universities will probably ask for an Italian proficiency certificate.
It is advisable to start your search for a Masters programme in Italy at least 12 months before your proposed start date. The documentation required generally includes:
Evidence of previous qualifications (diplomas and transcripts) will need to be submitted with an Italian translation, although some universities accept documents in English and French. Additionally, you may have to submit these documents after converting the marks or grades obtained in your home country in accordance with the grading system that is followed in Italy. NARIC can help with degree and grade equivalences.
If you’re from outside the EU, you will need to submit a pre-enrolment application for your degree programme at the nearest Italian embassy or consulate.
If you are from the European Union, then you can stay in Italy without any restrictions and without the need to get a student visa. You will, however, need to hold a valid identity card or passport and to register your residency with your local police station or town hall once you have an address in Italy.
If you are from outside the EU, you will need to apply for a student visa. This can be done at an Italian embassy or consulate in your home country. Considering the length of time needed to get your visa (a minimum of three months), you are advised to apply as soon as you have received and accepted your offer of admission, which is required for the visa application.
Student visas carry an administrative fee of €50. You will need:
If you are in receipt of a bursary, scholarship or grant from any organisation, you’ll need to supply proof of this award.
Once in Italy, holders of study visas must register with the local authorities (at a police station or town hall) within eight days of arrival to obtain a permit of stay for study purposes (permesso di soggiorno). You’ll need to submit a complicated application form at your local post office and pay a fee of €30, along with:
Employability has always been high on the Italian government’s agenda and higher education institutions are expected to prepare their graduates for the job market.
Italy is also home to world-renowned arts institutions, multi-nationals and well-known research institutes and companies (notably in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry).
Masters degrees are considered an asset by many employers, as is international experience (and language skills) – not just in Italy but also the world over.
Last updated 10/12/2018