Study System in Italy

Study System in Italy


La Dolce Vita, Mediterranean flair and breathtaking art treasures – many are drawn to Bella Italia not just for a vacation. To study in the country that is considered the cradle of European culture is a dream for many. Whether a short-term study such as a semester abroad or a full study: thanks to the Bologna reform, the recognition of degrees and academic achievements within the EU is no longer a problem. Even if the qualification titles initially suggest otherwise, because in contrast to most EU countries, Italy has not adopted the Anglo-Saxon terms “Bachelor” and “Master”. In Italy, people like to cherish old traditions, partly in the study system. In the following you will learn how the study system in Italy is structured. See more on 800zipcodes for Italy.

The structure of the study system in Italy

Italy implemented the Bologna Process as early as 2001 and introduced the three-tier study system. Only a few departments were excluded from this. The use of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) is also common at all universities in Italy. Nonetheless, the country with the oldest university landscape in Europe sticks to certain traditions and retained, for example, the allusion to the Roman laurel wreath in the title “Laurea”. A symbol of honor that the graduates wear on the day of the graduation ceremony and that they have truly earned.

The admission requirement for an undergraduate degree in Italy is the higher education entrance qualification, the Diploma di maturità. International applicants of course need sufficient knowledge of Italian (usually at least level B2). Degree programs with nationally restricted admission are human, dental and veterinary medicine, health sciences, architecture as well as teaching and education. To be admitted to study in one of these subject areas, applicants must pass an aptitude test, the test d’ingresso, consist. In addition to the cognitive abilities, this examines the general education and the technical prior knowledge of the applicants in certain subjects. Other subject areas may also have restricted admission (a numero programmato), although there are large regional differences.

In Italy the academic year is divided into winter and summer semesters ; however, it is usually only possible to start studies in the winter semester. The application for a course at an Italian university takes place in the summer months, whereby the application deadline for programs with restricted admission is often earlier.

All courses of study are divided into “study classes” (laure class), which are part of a total of four main study areas of the entire university system:

  • Health sector
  • Humanities area
  • Scientific and technological area and
  • Social area.

The study classes bring together a series of courses, all of which have the same educational objective and the same training activities and which are established at national level by the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (Ministerio dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca, MIUR) . For example, the courses “Consulente del lavoro” or “Diritto italiano e europeo” belong to the subject group “Scienze die servizi giuridici”, which in turn belongs to the social area. There are currently 43 such classes at Bachelor level (Laurea Triennale) and 94 at Master level (Laurea Magistrale). Unlike in this country, in Italy there is no distinction between a Bachelor / Master of Arts and a Bachelor / Master of Science. On the you will find all courses currently on offer at universities in Italy.

The classic degrees

The classic degrees in the study system in Italy are divided into an undergraduate and a postgraduate area. The individual study sections correspond to the resolutions of the Bologna Declaration, although the Anglo-Saxon terms “Bachelor” and “Master” were not introduced for these. As in Germany, the Italian study system can generally be divided into three cycles: the undergraduate degree, the postgraduate degree and the doctorate. The three-tier system also applies at the AFAM institutes (Alta formazione artistica e musicale), the Italian art and design colleges, although the degrees differ.

Laurea (Triennale) (Bachelor)

The Corso di Laurea (Triennale) is the three-year, undergraduate degree that corresponds to the German Bachelor degree. The course teaches the basic scientific content and methods of a particular subject. The undergraduate course comprises a total of 180 ECTS and, like in Germany, is the first professional academic degree in Italy and enables postgraduate studies.

Admission requirements for a Corso di Laurea are the Abitur and possibly the passing of an aptitude test. During their studies, students attend the compulsory and optional courses specified in the curriculum (piano di studio). The performance review takes place during the course, mostly through oral exams. At the end of their studies, the students write a short thesis (tesi).

As soon as the graduates have obtained their first academic degree, i.e. the Laurea, they are allowed to use the title Dottore / Dottoressa. This fact often leads to confusion in this country, since in Germany the doctorate can only be used after a doctorate. In Italy this is called “Dottore / Dottoress di ricerca”.
Undergraduate graduates of the AFAM institutes receive the diploma accademico di primo livello, which also corresponds to a German bachelor’s degree.

Laurea Magistrale (Master)

The Corso di Laurea Magistrale (Laurea Specialista until 2004) belongs to the second cycle of the Italian study system. It corresponds to the German master’s degree and offers a scientific specialization in the field of the Laureate degree. As in Germany, this postgraduate course lasts two years, during which the students acquire a total of 120 ECTS and at the end write a scientific thesis. The admission requirement is a Laurea Triennial or a Bachelor’s degree. An entrance exam may also be possible.

After receiving the academic degree Laurea Magistrale (or Diploma accademico di secondo livello at AFAM institutes) one is entitled to use the title “Dottore magistrale”.

Special feature: Laurea magistrale a ciclo unico

In addition to the two-tier undergraduate and postgraduate system, there are still unstructured master’s programs in the study system in Italy with the so-called Laurea magistrale a ciclo unico. These are five- to six-year courses in subjects that mostly enable the practice of a regulated profession and for which the breakdown into bachelor’s and master’s degrees does not make much sense. This includes, for example, the fields of medicine, pharmacy, engineering or law. Admission to these courses is bound by entrance exams across the country.

Study System in Italy

Dottorato di ricerca (PhD, doctorate)

It is not easy for anyone wanting to do a doctorate in Italy, because the doctorate places are very limited. Unlike in this country, an individual doctorate that comes about on the initiative of doctoral candidates and doctoral supervisors is not possible in Italy. There, all doctorates are advertised nationally (concorsi) and the applicants have to pass a written and oral examination.

The duration of study is three to a maximum of four years, whereby the maximum duration must not be exceeded. Doing a doctorate in Italy is much more academic than you know it in Germany, and there is also no publication requirement. As a rule, doctoral candidates are involved in teaching and research at the institute. A large number of doctoral positions are linked to a scholarship, because doctoral candidates in Italy are also obliged to pay tuition fees.

The main component of the doctoral program is the writing of an independent research paper, the tesi di dottorato and its defense (disputation / discussione) before an examination committee. The acquired doctoral degree entitles to use the title “Dottore / Dottoressa di ricerca”. The doctorate at the AFAM institutes concludes with a Diploma accademico di formazione alla ricerca.

The country-specific degrees in Italy

In addition to the classic degrees, there are three different types of postgraduate courses in the Italian study system. The two Italian study types Master universitario di 1 ° / 2 ° level do not correspond to the German Master’s program, but rather resemble Anglo-Saxon study types such as MBA or LLM.

Shorter study stays in Italy

Italy is particularly popular when it comes to shorter study trips, such as a language course or a semester abroad – studying here always feels a bit like vacation. Many Italian universities offer international students the opportunity to attend courses for one or two semesters as visiting students and collect creditable credits in the process. In addition to the well-known Erasmus program, there is also the option of fulfilling your dream of spending a semester abroad in Italy as a free mover.

The study system in Italy compared to Germany

By and large, the study system in Italy is comparable to that in Germany. There, too, the provisions of the Bologna Declaration were largely implemented and the three-tier study system introduced. An essential difference is that in Italy there is only one way to obtain a doctorate, whereas in Germany it is also possible and common to obtain a free doctorate in consultation with a supervising professor.