Italy Higher Education

Italy Higher Education


In Italy, there are many higher and vocational educations within the artistic disciplines, e.g. music, design and theater. The University of Bologna was founded in 1088 and is the world’s oldest university.

There are significant differences between northern and southern Italy. Northern Italy is one of Europe’s strongest economic powerhouses with large industrial companies, IT companies and some of the world’s leading fashion houses.

Southern Italy is an agricultural area and is relatively poor with an unemployment rate of around 20%. Although southern Italy has experienced strong economic growth, the contrast with the northern part of the country is still great.

For centuries, Italy was the leading country in Europe in the fields of art, science and culture. This is still reflected in many different ways, e.g. the large number of educational institutions in virtually all artistic fields.

In recent years, Italy has implemented a number of changes to the education system, which aim to make the Italian education system more flexible and equal to that of other EU countries.

Worth knowing

Vocational training in Italy

Italy is the country in the EU that has the largest range of vocational education in the arts.

There are two types of vocational education that you start in the 9th school year:

  • Technical line, takes place at Istituto Tecnico, which offers education in Agriculture, Industry and Crafts, Service, Health sector, Special sectors (eg musical instruments). Lasts 5 years.
  • Vocational line, takes place at Istituti Professionali, which is more practice-oriented than the technical line. After 3 years, you gain access to the labor market. The education does not give access to higher education. After 5 years, which consists of 2 years of general subjects and 3 years of specialization, you gain access to the labor market and to higher education.

The Italian Cultural Institute in Copenhagen has information about e.g. art schools.


If you are thinking of taking all or part of your own internship abroad, read the section on internships abroad for vocational education under the section Primary school and upper secondary education.

Higher education in Italy

There are higher institutions in all forms of education, and especially for Italy there are also a number of institutions in art, theater and design. These institutions are generally part of the non-university institutions. There are a few universities with creative educations. You can find information on state-recognized higher education institutions, including art academies, on the website of the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (Italian).

Information about educations in Italy can be obtained from Study in Italy, which describes opportunities for higher education. The Italian Cultural Institute’s website has good links. The Italian resource resource center has information in Italian.

The academic year starts from approx. November 1 to June 30. However, the Italian universities can decide for themselves when they start their semester, and therefore some universities start already in mid-September.


Higher education takes place at universities and at a large number of non-university institutions that offer vocational and artistic educations.

In Florence is the European University Institute, where European issues are taught and researched. The teaching takes place in English and is offered in the following 4 areas: History & Civilization, Economics, Law and Political & Social Sciences. You can get more information about the university on the department’s own website

Degrees at university level

Higher education was completely changed around 2000/2001. This means, among other things, that Italy offers basic and postgraduate education according to the same structure as the Danish one, in line with the Bologna Declaration.

  • Laurea, is the name of the Italian bachelor’s degree, which is obtained after 3 years of study

There are several superstructure studies. The one that best corresponds to a Danish master’s education is

  • Laurea Magistrale / Specialistica, which takes 2 years in extension of a Laurea.

In addition, there are i.a. one

  • Master universitario di primo livello, which takes 1 year. To take a Master universitario you must have a Laurea.

There are also several research programs, including

  • Master universitario di secondo livello, which takes 1 year.

The education that is most reminiscent of a Danish PhD degree is

  • Dottorato di ricerca, which takes a minimum of 3 years. To take a Dottorato di ricerca you must have a Laurea Magistrale / Specialistica.

At Study in Europe you can find a list of accredited institutions of higher education in Italy.

Application for higher education

In Italy, applications for higher education must be sent directly to the individual educational institutions. You must be prepared to document your previous exams in great detail, preferably with original versions or legalized copies.

You can find information about admission requirements on the individual universities’ websites.

Applications for admission to art academies and music conservatories must go through the Italian Cultural Institute. You must enclose an authorized translation of your high school diploma or other entrance exam.

Admission requirements

A Danish upper secondary education entitles the holder to apply for higher education in Italy. In most cases, requirements will be set for specific levels and disciplines corresponding approximately to the requirements for studies at the same level in Denmark.

With few exceptions, there is no general entry restriction, but certain highly sought-after universities have entrance exams.

Language proficiency

Most educational institutions require you to take a language test before admission. You can get more information about language tests at the individual educational institutions.

Application deadlines

You must contact the individual educational institutions for information on application deadlines.
Application deadlines for art academies and music conservatories vary. However, they are all in the spring for study start in the fall.

Recognition of foreign educations in Denmark

If you have completed a publicly recognized education abroad, you can have it assessed by the Danish Agency for Research and Education

Economics and education

You have to pay tuition fees at virtually all higher education institutions in Italy. The amounts can vary greatly. You must also pay a fee when you are enrolled in a higher education. The amount varies from place to place, but is approx. 850-1000 euros per year.

Grants for exchange

If you are under 18, you can receive a subsidy for an exchange stay in Italy. The stay must last at least 10 months and be arranged by an approved exchange organization.

Work in Italy

Unemployment in Italy was 12.2% in May 2013, but youth unemployment is significantly higher.

Special qualifications are required for many jobs in Italy. Often it may be necessary to take an extra education in Italy to get a job. Most positions in Italy require a good knowledge of Italian. However, there are few jobs where you can manage with English.

It is very common to have to pass various written tests in connection with hiring.

The normal working hours are 40 hours a week. You have between 25 and 30 days holiday. Often you get paid an extra month’s salary in December.

Job search

You can receive unemployment benefits for 3 months while you apply for a job in Italy. See more about this in the article Job search abroad in the folder Paid work.

You can get information about working in Italy from the EURES Advisers at the country’s Job Centers.

In addition, you can also search for e.g. this Italian job database:

Work-and residence permit

As an EU citizen, you are free to stay in Italy for up to 3 months. Should you stay in the country for more than 3 months, e.g. in connection with work or study, you must apply for a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) with the local foreign police (Ufficio Stranieri). The foreign police have offices at the central police station (La Questura).

If you are looking for work in Italy, you must apply for a special residence permit (permesso di soggiorno in attesa di lavoro). The residence permit can last for up to 1 year.

You can get more information at the Danish Embassy in Rome and on the EU portal.

See also the article Visas, work and residence permits.

Practical conditions


It is often quite difficult to find a home in Italy. Students can not count on there being enough housing in the big university cities. Often you have to find a room through the local newspapers.

You can contact the educational institution’s international office (Segretariato degli Studenti Stranieri), where you can get help with housing search.

Facts about Italy

Population: 60.9 million

Language: Italian.

Employment: In May 2013, unemployment was 10.2% (Eurostat). Very high youth unemployment.

Residence permit: Applied to the local foreign police (Ufficio Stranieri).

Italy Higher Education