Italian Scholastic System

In Italy the scholastic system is of a state type, even if for every order and degree of school, private institutes are available.

In 1997 with the reform of the education and formation system the scholastic obligation had been raised up to 15 years of age. Also a formative obligation had been introduced up to 18 years that can be accomplished through the scholastic system of education, the system of the professional formation or the apprenticeship.

In March 2003 a reform project that redefines the formative obligation was approved and it is similar to the scholastic obligation, founding the right - duty to the education and to the formation for at least twelve years and, however, until the achievement of a qualification within the eighteenth year of age.

The secondary education is subdivided (after 14 years) in just 2 paths, from one hand the high school education that includes 8 big areas (artistic, classic, economical, linguistics, musical and choreutical, scientific, technological and human sciences), from the other hand the professional education that includes the professional formation and the apprentice work.

Moreover in our regulation the alternation school-work has been introduced. The students between fifteen and eighteen years of age that attend the system of the high schools or the system of the professional education will be able to choose this procedure of formation to acquire a direct knowledge of the job world.

According to the reform, the system of education and formation is characterized as follows:

School level
2.5/3-5 years 3 years School of childhood Unique obligatory Cycle Primary cycle
5.5/6-13 years 8 years Primary cycle (primary school and secondary school of first degree) Unique obligatory Cycle State Examination: admission to the secondary cycle
14-18 years 4 years Secondary cycle of Second obligatory degree High school education (artistic, classic, economical, linguistics, musical and choreutical, scientific, technological and human sciences) or professional Education (professional formation or apprenticeship) Certification attesting the education achieved or qualification: admission to high technical Formation or admission to the last year of the secondary cycle or work
18-19 years 1 years Secondary cycle of Second optional degree Deepening of the contents of the chosen field State Examination of state and admission to the university or admission to the high technical formation
Ever since 18 years 3 years University or high technical Formation Varied specializations Three-year degree or work
2 years University Varied specializations Specialized degree or work
After the Degree changeable Doctor's degree, specializations and first and second level Master Various specializations Work

The accomplishment of the reform will be gradual. In the academic year 2005/06 the new regulations have been carried out only for the schools of childhood and for the primary schools, state and not state. In the secondary schools of First degree the application of the new rules has been partly realized. For the secondary schools of Second degree and for the professional formation are still valid the previous regulations, in which the subdivision included High Schools, technical Institutes, professional Institutes and professional Formation.

It is possible to have more information through the site, or contacting one of the 140 information centers distributed on all of the territory of the European union that aim to satisfy the first answers to any information request:

Advanced education

The university system is carried out through a total of 76 institutes of university education that are organized as follows:

  • 51 state university and 12 free university placed on all the national territory;
  • 3 state polytechnics (Bariums, Milan and Turin);
  • 4 state university institutes (naval and oriental in Naples, motor sciences in Rome, architecture in Venice) and a private one (Naples);
  • 2 University for foreign people (Perugia and Siena);
  • 3 advanced schools (2 in Pisa and 1 in Trieste).

The enrolment start in the first week of August and usually finish within October. Terms of anticipated enrolment are previewed in case of courses with entrance exams or for courses with semi-annual organization. Information and forms are provided by the university secretary.
During the academic year 2001-02 the didactic reform of the university course has come into force. The reform has been applied to the first year of the new university courses. Therefore in the Italian university the courses of the previous system, that are about to be over, and the courses of the new system coexist.

The reform foretells the following educational qualifications:

  • DEGREE (L) - You can obtain it at the end of a course of triennial duration and you can have access to it with the diploma of secondary school;
  • SPECIALISTIC (LS) DEGREE - You can obtain it at the end of a course of biennial duration, that has the objective to provide the student with an education of advanced level.
    You can have access to it with the triennial degree and, in some cases, it is necessary also
    to have study requirements and is verified the preparation of the universities.
  • SPECIALISTIC DEGREE IN UNIQUE CYCLE (LSU) - For the courses regulated by norms of the European Union, that do not preview triennial degree (medicine and surgery, medicine veterinary, odontology and dental prosthesis, pharmacy, chemistry and technology, architecture, building engineering - architecture) are available specialistic degree at unique cycle to which you can have access with the diploma of secondary school;
  • DIPLOMA OF SPECIALIZATION (DS) - You can obtain it at the end of a specialization course, that has the objective to provide the student with knowledge and abilities for functions required in the exercise of particular professional activities. It can be set up exclusively in application of specific norms of law or directives of the European Union (for example, medical specialities, legal professions, education for teachers of secondary school). You can have access to it with the specialistic degree;
  • DOCTOR'S DEGREE (DR) - It has the objective to provide the competences necessary in order to do, at university, local authorities or private individuals, research activity of high qualification. You can have access to it with the specialistic degree or with a title obtained abroad and considered suitable;
  • UNIVERSITY MASTER - They are issued at the end of a scientific proficiency course and of high permanent and recurrent education by universities. They can be of first or second level and can be attended after the triennial degree or the specialistic degree.

A further innovation introduced by the reform is the University Formative Credit that is acquired after having passed the examination or other form of assessments.
To the university formative credit corresponds 25 working hours for the student.
The average work amount of learning carried out in a year by a student kept busy with a full time formula at university is conventionally fixed at 60 credits.
The necessary credits for the achievement of the certificates issued by university are as follows:

  • Degree (L), 180 credits, including those regarding the compulsory knowledge of a language of the European Union besides the Italian one;
  • Specialistic degree (LS), 120 credits, apart from those already got by the student with the degree and recognized valid for the relative specialistic degree course;
  • Specialistic degree at Unique Cycle (LSU), 300 credits, 360 just for the faculty of Medicine and surgery;
  • Diploma of Specialization (DS), the number depends on ministerial decrees and must be comprised between 300 and 600 credits, as well as those already obtained by the student and recognized valid for the relative course of specialization;
  • University Master of I and II level, at least 60 credits besides those obtained in order to get the degree or the specialistic degree.

In order to encourage the mobility of the students, the access to further studies and to make the academic and professional recognition of the Foreign certificates easier in Europe, the European Union has created a certificate called "supplement to the diploma" ( that is issued in bilingual edition by University. Besides certificating the status of the studies carried out and completed by the student is integrating of the official certificate achieved at the end of a course of studies in an university or an institute of advanced education. The supplement to the diploma corresponds to the European model developed for initiative of the European Commission, of the Council of Europe and of Unesco and the issuing modalities arein compliance with the didactic regulations.
It consists of eight sections: personal identifying data, educational qualifications, level of the certificate, curriculum and marks, functions of the certificate, additional information, certification, description of the national system of advanced education.

It is possible to find furher information regarding the course and the academic activities of university and institutes of advanced education inside the web site
Universo Ministry of the Education, of the University and of the Scientific Research (MIUR), set up in order to take up young people interested in enrolling in university and in helping them in the choice of the course of studies that most responds to their interests. You can also find the list of all the university boarding schools legally recognized with information regarding the location, the available places, the entrance criteria, the costs, the possibilities to obtain the scholarships, the services offered, including the didactic-cultural activities.
It has been prepared a reading system for blind students: you can access to it from the starting page.

Information for foreign people (city dweller)
All university institutions accept the enrolment of foreign students. Each university fixes every year the number of places available: such number is defined "contingent" and is consultable on the web site of the
Ministry of University and also on the web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairi clicking on the voice foreign policy/ cultural promotion/university.
Students of the European Union are not liable to this limitation.

Foreign students must usually apply for enrolment exclusively to a single degree's course at the Italian representations in their native countries (the period of the pre enrolments varies among April-May-June months). Every year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues relative dispositions regarding the enrolment formalities of foreign students and of the Italian students with educational qualifications obtained abroad.
These dispositions regard in particular the application terms, the filling in formalities, qualifications to present, calendars and contents of the entamce exams, residence permit and entry visa for study, and so on. It is necessary therefore to get informed year by year on the precise current formalities.
You have to enclose to the application, in authenticated copy, the following documents:

  • final educational qualification of secondary studies in original copy, or substitutive certificate according to the law;
  • pass certificate required for the access to University in the native Country;
  • diplomas of Italian language and culture obtained at the University of Rome or at the University for foreign people of Perugia or Siena, or certificates of expertise in Italian language of the same Universities, issued by Italian institutes of Culture abroad, in accordance with a specific Convention with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or certificates of attendance issued by other universities that have set up courses also in convention with other formative institutions, local authorities and regions.
    Such certifications, in accordance with the single Universities' independent decisions, can be useful certificates for getting additional score with a view to being inserted in the list of the qualified (in the case of certifications corresponding to higher levels of competence).
    Without it you are supposed to pass at each Faculty the test aimed to assess the knowledge of the Italian language;
  • 2 photographies of which one authenticated;
  • document proving the insurance cover: without it, you are supposed to enter into a suitable insurance cover on your arrival in Italy, as declared in the application form, namely to opt for the voluntary registration to the National Health Service.
    All the documents written up in foreign language are to be accompanied by the official translation in Italian language.

The applications are transmitted by the diplomatic Representations to the universities.
Usually starting from the month of August the candidate who turns out to be inserted in the lists of the admitted to the tests, even if "with reserve", can ask to the Italian Representation for the entry visa for reasons of "study" with a view to being able to take the entrance exam to University. Such visa will have to be presented to the competent Police headquarters within eight days from the entrance in Italy in order to obtain the corresponding residence permit.
The issue of the residence permit, however, is subordinated to the demonstration of economic security.
The simple application for a scholarship of the Italian Government does not constitute document of economic cover. Moreover the foreign student should indicate the existence of a suitable accommodation in the national territory, let alone the availability of the sum necessary for the repatriation, demonstrable also with the presentation of the return ticket.

The Communitarian Citizens and the non-EEC national legally living in Italy, can personally present the enrolment application directly to the Foreign Offices available in every University, provided that the educational qualifications have been authenticated, (translated and legalized) by the consular Representations competent for territory in the State the educational qualifications refer to.

Foreign people are allowed to have access to university courses all things being equal with the Italian students:
- holder of residence paper, or of residence permit for subordinated or independent job, familiar reasons, and so on;
- people regularly living since at least a year having a diploma of advanced study obtained in Italy;
- wherever residents, but that they are holders of final diplomas of Italian schools abroad or of foreign or international schools, bilateral agreements or special norms for the recognition of the educational qualifications and that satisfy the general conditions requested for the entry for study reasons.

Recognition of educational qualifications

Each University provides, through the Foreign Office, information on the formalities for the recognition of the educational qualifications. As an alternative there is the NARIC net - National Academic Recognition Information Centres - where it is possible to have information about the equivalence of the educational qualifications.
For Italy the Information Centre on Academic Mobility and Equivalences is a service of the Rui Foundation.
The CIMEA information service is carried out daily by letter; it is possible also to telephone or to ask for a personal talk (on appointment), on Monday or on Tuesday, from 9.00 to 13.00.

In the page dedicated to the University, inside the web site of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of Ministry of Education, of the University and of Research , you can find indications for the enrolment of foreign students to university courses and the information on the bilateral and multilateral agreements on the recogniton of the educational qualifications.
The updated addresses of Italian Universities are available on the web site of the Ministry of the Education, of the University and of the Research in collaboration with the CINECA.

Scholarships for foreign people

The economic aid to students, both citizens of the European Union and non communitarians, can be subdivided in two categories:
a) direct aid (scholarships, loans, partial or total exemption from university taxes, and so on), generally addressed to students who are in possession of particular requirement of age, of income and merit
b) indirect aid under the form of services (accommodation, refectory, cultural and sport activities, and so on), offered at a price inferior to the market cost and, in some regions, differentiated for income bands
( In the last case students must possess particular requirements of age, regularity in the studies and income.
Such services are supplied by the agencies for the right to study, by universities (both directly and in compliance with conventions with external agencies) and by private and public bodies.
It is possible to find the complete list of the Agencies for the Right to Study inside the site

  • MIUR Ministry of Education, University and Research:
    U.R.S.T. Office for Relations with the Public, Communication and Pubblications
    piazzale Kennedy, 20 - 00144 Roma - tel. +3906/59912360 - +3906/59912357

Supplying Agencies
Among the agencies that supply scholarships to university students we point out:

  • Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
    The Ministry of Italian Foreign Affairs supplies scholarships through the Ministries of respective foreign countries to foreign and Italian citizens living abroad. The scholarships are granted in order to carry out studies or researches:
    - University
    - Academies, Conservatories
    - Institutes of Restoration
    - National School of Cinematography
    - Centers or Laboratories of research
    - Libraries, archives , museums and other institutions.
    The candidates will have to apply to the Italian Diplomatic Representations in their Country, for the addresses consult:
  • European Union:
    The European Union grants scholarships through the Socrates program in the fields Erasmus, Lingua and Comenius; the programs Alpha, Tempus; the programs of cooperation with Canada and USA and, moreover, the pilot projects of cooperation with Australia and Japan.
    Information on the projects in the site of the UE;
    the addresses of the National Agencies in different Countries to the address
  • National Research Council:
    URP Office Relations with the Public
    piazzale Aldo Moro n. 7 - 00185 Roma - tel. +3906/49932019 - +3906/49933077
    dal lunedý al venerdý dalle ore 09.00 alle ore 18.30
    National agency of Research with general scientific competence and scientific institutes scattered on the territory, that carries out activities of priority interest for the advancement of science and the progress of the Country. Through personal programs of research and scholarships awarding, it carries out activity of education in university courses of research doctorate, activity of high post-university education, permanent, continual, recurrent education.
    It can also carry out activities of advanced education which has nothing to do with university.

1) the NOOPOLIS data base, that in Italy operates on-line, collects information on study opportunity, education and research available in Italy and abroad in all the disciplines for students and scholars of whichever nationality. The information present in the database are constantly updated. The Data base is consultable by students and graduated people free of charge just turning to one of the numerous information points ( of University, Youth Centres and other Agencies subscribed to the data base in Italy and abroad (Argentina and Hungary).

2) the guide STUDY ABROAD, published by Unesco, in three languages (English, French, Spanish) collects every two years the international ban of scholarships and further financial resources offered by the countries members.
The guide is marketed all over the world:

    7, Place de Fontenoy - 75352 Paris 07 SP (France) - internazional tel.: +331/45681000

Official publication of the Italian State, contains all what Italian Institutions or Public agencies offer to students, graduated people and scholars as regards scholarships. Consultable in the main libraries or buyable at specialistic newspaper stands and bookstores. In the site it is possible to consult the G.U. published in the last 60 days.

Italian courses for Foreign People

Inside the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affair it is possible to have the addresses and the activities of the Italian Institutes of culture abroad: besides the organization of cultural events in various fields (art, music, cinema, theatre, dance, fashion, design, photography), the Italian Institutes of Culture offer the opportunity, to those who wish it, to get to know the language and the Italian culture, through the organization of courses, the management of libraries and the offer of didactic and editorial material.

Courses of Italian language for Italian foreign students generally organized in Italy by the Linguistic Centers of the different Universities and also by the university foreign people:

In Italy courses of Italian language are also organized by:

  • SocietÓ ("Society") Dante Alighieri:
    piazza Firenze, 27 - 00186 Roma - tel. +3906/6873694/95 fax: +3906/6873685
    Moral Agency, founded in 1889, with the task of protecting and diffusing the Italian language and culture in the world
  • Academy of Italian Fashion and Design:
    piazza Pitti, 15 - 50125 Firenze - tel. +39055/284616-211619 fax: +39055/284486
    International School founded in 1984. It is operative internationally as European institute of artistic and professional education that prepares designers in the field of fashion,interior decoration and textile design.
  • Giacomo Puccini Centre - italian language school:
    Via Vespucci 173 55049 Viareggio Tel. 0584 430253 Fax 0584 961275
    Italian language school to Viareggio, in Tuscany, to the sea, offers courses for  foreign people. Learn italian while learning the italian culture. School recognized of Ministry of Education.
  • Italian Study Centre:
    via Boscarini, 1 - 61049 Urbania (PS) - tel. +390722/318950 - +390722/317054 fax: +390722/317286
    The centre has started its activity in 1986 as school of Italian language and culture for international students. It organizes courses of Italian language and culture in whichever part of the world.
  • Leonardo da Vinci School :
    Central Marketing Office - via Brunelleschi, 4 - 50123 Firenze - tel. +39055/290305 fax +39055/290396
    Italian language school located in Milano, Florence, Rome, Siena, Italy, offers semester and summer study abroad programs. Take courses in language, arts, and humanities with transferable college credits. Learn italian while learning the italian culture.
  • Centro Italiano - Italian Language and Culture in Naples:
    Vico S. Maria Dell'Aiuto, 17  - 80134 Napoli - Italy  - tel. +39081/5524331 fax +39081/5523023
    E-mail: ; 
    Italian language school founded in 1982. Situated in the heart of the historical centre, the school organizes language courses as well as complementary cultural activities all the year round. School officially recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education.

Or course on line with

  • RAI International - Italica:
    Internet editorial office
    via Teulada 66 - 00195 Roma - fax. +3906/33170973
    Italica was born in 1996 under the Direction of RAI International with the institutional objective to diffuse and to promote also in Internet the knowledge of the Italian language and culture. The didactic activity, with the assistance of a tutor, is carried out entirely on-line, with a final test at Institutes and Schools of Italian language abroad or in other agreed agencies.

You can find a list of private Institutes in Italy where it is possible to attend courses of Italian language for foreign people inside the site

  • ILUSS - Italian Language Update School Service
    via Boccaccio 44/B - 50133 Firenze - tel. +39055/578620 - +39328/3913210
    fax: +39055/5058391
    E-mail: -
    A no profit-making organization that promotes the Italian language and culture in the world. It offers to the ones who study or teach Italian online free access to grammar units, to readings and to the respective interactive exercises.
  • ICON - Italian Culture on the Net
    The ICoN Consortium, composed of 24 Italian Universities, promotes the language and the Italian culture in the world through a didactic portal of Italian language and culture, that gives the possibility to attend a course of Italian language and to get a degree on the net (officially recognized and with full legal value) in "Language and Italian culture for foreign people".