University in Italy

University is the highest level of the education system in Italy. There are many universities in different cities of Italy and all subjects can be studied. University is not compulsory and therefore you have to pay to enroll, even for public universities.

University is the highest level of the education system in Italy. To enroll at university, it is necessary to have finished scuola superiore (secondary school) and have obtained a 5-year secondary school diploma which is called diploma di maturità.

In Italy, you can enroll at university even if you have attended school in another country. The important thing is that your school diploma is recognized at the same level as the Italian one. This means that you must have a valid qualification.

Going to university is a choice. This means that according to Italian law it is not a compulsory school.

Many students decide to start working, while others continue to study and go to university. It is also possible to take a break and continue studying at university later on. In fact, it is not mandatory to start university immediately after secondary school.

For some courses, students must pass an admission test or test di ammissione.
For others, the state may set a limit on the number of students per course. This means that when the maximum number is reached, no more students will be accepted. These courses are called corsi a numero chiuso.

Enrollment in a university course must be done following the indications of the university where you have decided to go. Generally, the documents you need are:

  • the diploma certificate of secondary school
  • an identity document 
  • receipt of payment of university fees 

If you have applied for financial help or a scholarship, they may also ask you for documents to explain your financial situation. 

Laurea triennale

The Laurea triennale is a 3-year degree course. This is an initial preparatory degree in a subject.

To enroll, you must have a secondary school diploma or an equivalent foreign qualification.

Laurea magistrale

These courses last 2 years.

To enroll, you must have a university degree or an equivalent foreign qualification.

Master universitari di primo livello 

These are first-level university masters of 1 year. These courses are for specific professional areas.

To enroll, you must have a university degree or an equivalent foreign qualification.

Lauree magistrali a ciclo unico 

These courses are one cycle master’s degrees.

They last approximately 5-6 years and combine laurea and laurea magistrale.
People enroll in Lauree magistrali a ciclo unico after finishing secondary school. 

The courses are:

  • Medicine and Surgery
  • Dentistry and dental prostheses
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Pharmacy
  • Chemistry and pharmaceutical technologies
  • Architecture and construction engineering
  • Architecture
  • Law
  • Educational Sciences


Doctorates, also called PhDs, last at least 3 years and are very advanced courses. These courses require many hours of laboratory, research, and internships.

To enroll in a Ph.D., you must have a Master’s degree.

Master universitari di secondo livello 

Second-level university Masters are specialized courses for certain professions.

To enroll, you must have a Master’s degree.


Specialization courses last from 2 to 6 years and offer recognition and licensing for some professions, such as medical, legal, and educational.

To enroll, you must have a Master’s degree.

In the case of the university system, universities are not all organized in the same way. They decide on courses, fees, and enrollment methods.

Visit this page to find out about the costs of public school and state support

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