University Education in Italy

Higher education in Italy falls into three distinct categories: university education, higher-level artistic and musical training, higher-level technical training and other higher education opportunities.
The entire sector, but especially the university education category, underwent a radical renewal at the end of the 1990s, motivated both by choices of national significance and by the desire to bring the system into line with the European model outlined by the Bologna Process , which Italy has helped to promote from the outset.
In line with this model, Italian university education is today based on three main cycles of study, which are as follows:
First Cycle (Primo Ciclo)
– Bachelor programme (Corso di Laurea – three years)
– Single-cycle Degree (Corso di Laurea Magistrale a Ciclo Unico – five or six years)
Second Cycle (Secondo Ciclo)
– Master programme (Corso di Laurea Magistrale – two years)
– 1st Level vocational master (Master Universitario di Primo Livello)
Third Cycle (Terzo Ciclo)
– Doctorate (Dottorato di Ricerca)
– Specialisation School (Scuola di Specializzazione)
– 2nd Level vocational master (Master Universitario di Secondo Livello)

BACHELOR PROGRAMME (LAUREA)
The 1st level degree course gives the student an appropriate command of general scientific methods and principles, even when the programme is oriented toward the acquisition of specific professional knowledge, and provides a solid base for those who wish to continue their studies with a 2nd level degree or a 1st level master.
To be admitted to a 1st level degree course, you must have a secondary school diploma or a suitable equivalent foreign qualification.
The 1st level degree course lasts three years.
To obtain the qualification (1st level degree) it is necessary to accumulate 180 credits (60 for each year of the course).
SINGLE-CYCLE DEGREE (LAUREA MAGISTRALE A CICLO UNICO)
Single-cycle degree courses do not draw a distinction between the initial three-year period of study and the subsequent two-year period of specialisation; the entire study cycle is structured over a single period of five or six years, at the end of which it confers a 2nd level degree (laurea magistrale).
The single-cycle degree provides the student with advanced education and training for professions in specific fields regulated by European directives that require a high level of qualification (medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy and architecture) and for access to legal professions.
To be admitted to a single-cycle degree course you must have a secondary school diploma.
To obtain the qualification (single-cycle degree) it is necessary to accumulate 300 credits, in the case of five-year courses, and 360 credits, in the case of six-year courses (60 for each year of the course).
MASTER PROGRAMME (LAUREA MAGISTRALE)
The 2nd level degree, also known as a specialised degree, provides the student with advanced education and training for professions in specific fields that require a high level of qualification.
To be admitted to a 2nd level degree course, you must have a 1st level degree or a suitable equivalent foreign qualification.
The course lasts two years.
To obtain the qualification (2nd level degree) it is necessary to accumulate 120 credits (60 for each year of the course).
VOCATIONAL MASTER
The aim of a master course is to reinforce, broaden and hone the skills and expertise of graduates and postgraduates, utilising and expanding upon previous training to meet the demands of the professional world. There are both 1st and 2nd level vocational master courses.
To be admitted to a 1st level master course, which is part of the second cycle of university studies, you must have a 1st level degree.
To be admitted to the 2nd level master course, which is part of the third cycle of university studies, you must have a 2nd level degree.
A vocational master course generally lasts from six months to one year (500 didactic and experiential hours).
To obtain the qualification (1st or 2nd level master) it is necessary to accumulate 60 credits.
There are a limited number of places available for vocational master courses. To be admitted you must pass the selection examinations.
DOCTORATE (DOTTORATO DI RICERCA)
Provides the expertise necessary for high-level research activities in universities, public institutions and private associations.
To be admitted to a doctoral programme you must hold a 2nd level degree. Candidates must also pass the selection examination, as only a limited number of places are available.
A doctoral degree is awarded after a period of study lasting three to four years.
SPECIALISATION SCHOOL (SCUOLA DI SPECIALIZZAZIONE)
Provides the student with knowledge and skills required in specific professional fields. These courses may only be instituted by the application of specific laws or European Union directives.
To be admitted to a specialisation course you must hold a 2nd level degree.
The length of the course and the number of credits required to obtain the specialisation qualification are defined by the academic structure of each course.
ADVANCED COURSE (CORSO DI PERFEZIONAMENTO)
A refresher/permanent training course that allows students to develop their expertise and skills in order to further improve their professional qualities.
To be admitted you must hold a 1st or 2nd level degree. The courses vary in length.
It differs from a master, in that no academic qualification is awarded; students will receive a certificate that details the skills that have been acquired.
Educational credits
The university educational credits system was introduced to facilitate the mobility of students at both national and international level. Credits (CFU) are units that are used to measure the total amount of coursework required from a student, in terms of hours of study and tuition.
One credit corresponds to 25 hours of work. An academic year requires a total of 60 credits.
Credits are obtained by passing examinations or through other forms of assessment established by each university.
They do not count towards the overall mark and are therefore independent of the grade obtained with examinations or assessments of other kinds.
Grade debits
Grade debits, on the other hand, indicate a lack of adequate preparation for admission to a particular course of study.

The first cycle of university studies consists of three-year bachelor programmes (corsi di laurea).
The minimum requirement for admission is a secondary school diploma or a suitable equivalent foreign qualification.
It is important to note that a secondary school diploma or a suitable equivalent foreign qualification also entitles students to be admitted to a single-cycle degree programme (corsi di laurea magistrale a ciclo unico) that confers a master degree (laurea magistrale).
Admission may be subject to entrance exams or additional conditions.
Some programmes are taught entirely in English, some others have a set of courses taught in English.
Second cycle courses include master programmes (lauree magistrali) and vocational master courses(master di primo livello).
Some programmes are taught entirely in English, some others have a set of courses taught in English.
The minimum requirement for admission is a bachelor degree or a suitable equivalent foreign qualification.
It is important to note that single-cycle degree programmes (corsi di laurea magistrale a ciclo unico) also confer a master degree (laurea magistrale). Single-cycle degree programmes (like Medicine or Law) are included in the first cycle because you can be admitted with a secondary school diploma.

Master programmes provide the student with advanced education for professions in specific fields that require a high level of qualification.
Some programmes are taught entirely in English, some others have a set of courses taught in English.
To be admitted to a master programme you must have a bachelor degree or a suitable equivalent foreign qualification.
The master programme lasts two years.
To obtain the qualification (master degree) it is necessary to accumulate 120 credits (60 for each year of the course).

Advanced Courses are refresher/permanent training course that allow students to develop their expertise and skills in order to further improve their professional qualities. The courses vary in length, but they generally last from three to six months.
They differ from masters, in that no academic qualification is awarded. At the end of an advanced course, students will receive a certificate that details the skills that have been acquired.
To be admitted to the advanced courses you must have a bachelor degree, a master degree or a suitable equivalent foreign qualification according to the individual announcement.
Admission is also subject to the passing of a competitive examination.

Vocational masters provide graduates with additional specific expertise in order to increase professionalism.

The programmes generally last from six months to one year.
To be admitted to a 1st Level vocational master programme you must hold a bachelor degree or a suitable equivalent foreign qualification, while to be admitted to a 2nd Level vocational master programme, you must hold a master degree or a suitable equivalent foreign qualification.
Those who wish to broaden their knowledge – in order to keep themselves up-to-date or for simple personal interest – can attend one of the University’s current courses for one academic year, sit the final examinations and receive a regular certificate.
To be admitted to a single course you must have one of the following qualifications: a secondary school diploma, a bachelor degree, a master degree or a suitable equivalent foreign qualification.
Enrolment with Italian universities is regulated by the Ministry of University and Research (MIUR) in accordance with the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Entry requirements
Bilateral agreements and special conventions exist with various countries, but as a general rule, applicants must have studied for at least 12 years before applying for a university course.
Those from countries where admission to university is possible after only 10 or 11 years of study must prove that they have attended the local university and passed all necessary examinations for 2 years or 1 year, so as to reach a total of 12 years of study. As an alternative to university studies they must prove to have a post-secondary title. In any case they must have passed the University entrance examination in their country, if required by law.
For details concerning the validity of qualifications obtained abroad, consult the ministerial regulations (Italian text), in particular the updated attachments to regulations 1 and 2 .
European citizens, non-EU citizens resident in Italy with a current, valid permesso di soggiorno (residence permit) and natives of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, San Marino apply to the university like Italian citizens, submitting their admission application directly to the University, together with the documentation pertaining to their foreign academic qualifications.
Non-EU citizens resident abroad must submit a pre-application request to the Italian Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence.
Please remember that all non-EU students who obtain a visa for study reasons must apply for a stay permit no later than 8 days after their arrival.
Graduates who wish to apply for a place on a doctoral programme or in a medical specialisation school must adhere to the instructions in the competitive examination announcements.

Qualifications
When applying for a university course, you must enclose your qualification and the required documentation with your application.
All qualifications must be officially translated into Italian and authenticated by the authorities of the country in which they were issued (except in the case of international agreements and conventions that provide for exemption).
Each qualification must be accompanied by a “Dichiarazione di valore in loco (Certificate of Equivalence of Qualification), issued by the Italian Embassy in the country in which the qualification was awarded.

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