University in Italy

University is the top level of education in Italy. Learn about going to university in Italy.

Going to university is a choice. Students go to university in Italy if they decide to continue with their studies after secondary school. Many students start university just after secondary school. They are about 19 years old when they start.

Other students take a few years and start university later. There are many middle-aged and older students, too. You can start university at any age!

The different university levels

At university, students study for a certificate called a degree. A degree shows you have deep knowledge of a subject and have studied it for a long time. Usually it takes three years to get a basic degree. Here are the different levels of degree you can study for.

the Italian university system

First level

There is only one degree in the first level:

Bachelor’s degree

This is a basic university degree in any subject. The courses last about 3 years, or 180 credits. (You receive a certain number of credits for each class you take towards your degree.) You must complete secondary school or have valid foreign qualification to be accepted into university.

Second level

The second level degrees has three options:

Master’s degree

Study for a master’s degree usually takes an additional two years, or 120 credits. You must have a bachelor’s degree or a valid qualification to be accepted into a master’s degree program.

Master’s universitari di primo livello

Some universities offer master’s courses that will prepare you for specific professional areas. These courses take one additional year after a bachelor’s degree. You must have a bachelor’s degree or an equal qualification to be accepted into one of these programs.

Master’s degree a ciclo unico

These courses combine bachelor’s and master’s degrees and last 5 to 6 years (300-360 credits). You enter a laurea magistrale a ciclo unico after finishing secondary school. The courses are:

  • medicine and surgery
  • dentistry and dental prosthetics
  • veterinary medicine
  • pharmacy
  • chemistry and pharmaceutical technologies
  • EU architecture and building engineering
  • architecture
  • law
  • educational sciences

Third level

The highest-level degrees come from many years of study:


Doctorates (also called PhDs) are very advanced degrees. The courses last at least 3 years and involve many hours of research laboratories and internships. You need a master’s degree to be accepted to a doctorate program. By the end, the doctoral student must produce a work of original research.

Master’s universitari di secondo livello

These courses are specializations (60 credits) for certain professions. You need a master’s degree to be accepted.


These courses offer recognition and a license in certain professions, including medical, legal, and educational. The courses last from 2 to 6 years. You need a master’s degree to be accepted.

Do all universities follow the same system?

Universities are not all organized in the same way. Each school decides on its courses, fees, and enrollment methods.

For some courses, students need to pass an admission test. The government may set a limit on the number of students for some courses. This means that if a course is full, not all of the students who pass the test will be accepted.

How much does university cost?

Universities each decide their own fees. You may be able to get help to pay for university.Read about the costs of school and help with expenses from the ISEE.

Where can I find more information about university in Italy?

  • University offices and websites provide information before you enroll.
  • Once you are enrolled, you will get information to help new students.

Do you need more information?

Here are some useful Italian words that could help you if you want to do more research on the internet:

  • “studiare all’università”
  • “università (informazioni, iscrizioni, ateneo, corso di)”

Remember to add the name of your city!