When you study abroad in Italy, you have so much to explore and experience right at your fingertips. Discover great Italian cuisine and coffee on every corner, make fast friends with famously warm and open Italians, and practice the local language while admiring some of the greatest museums, historic sites, and works of art in all of Europe.
Whether you choose to stay in the historic, busy capital of Rome, walk the fashionable streets of Milan, or enjoy the beautiful Mediterranean coast in one of Italy's many colorful seaside cities, you will have an unforgettable experience studying abroad in Italy.
How to Enroll
If you have EU citizenship, direct enrollment in an Italian university is generally easy. Though you do have to contact the Italian embassy or consulate in your own EU country to get a Letter of Academic Eligibility and Suitability, this process is usually quite fast. Other than that, all you have to do is research Italian universities, choose the undergraduate or graduate program you are interested in attending, and send in an application and any extra requested documents directly to the university.
For non-EU citizens, there are a few extra steps when it comes to direct enrollment. First, you should find the program you wish to apply to, and contact them to ensure that you are eligible to apply, as some programs will not accept non-EU students. After you confirm your eligibility, you have to request the same Letter of Academic Eligibility and Suitability from your country's Italian embassy as EU students, as well as a general pre-application request. To do this, you need a pre-enrollment application, a copy of your school reports and any university entrance exams you took (all translated into Italian and authenticated), and two passport-sized photos. The Italian embassy will then directly submit your application, and publish a list of accepted students in August.
If you are already studying at an institution in your home country with a direct exchange program, this may be one of the easiest ways to enroll in an Italian university. Many universities, especially in the US, have direct exchange programs with foreign institutions in which a certain number of students from each university will switch places for a semester. Though there are a limited amount of countries where you can go to through direct exchange, Italy is usually a popular choice for universities with this type of agreement.
A third party provider takes care of all the legwork for you when it comes to studying abroad. Simply tell them your country of choice, and they can arrange for you to spend a semester or year abroad while helping you take care of your accommodation, classes and paperwork.
The costs of tuition for state institutions in Italy are relatively inexpensive compared to many universities in the US and the rest of Western Europe, though private universities tend to have significantly higher costs. Since tuition varies a lot among universities, check costs and find out if you will be attending a private or state university before enrolling.
The average tuition for state universities is around 1,000 Euros a year for EU citizens. However, if you are a non-EU citizen and enroll in a private university (which are usually the ones that have study abroad agreements with other institutions), you can expect to pay up to 3,000 or 4,000 Euros a semester. If you use a program provider, which will usually also cover accommodation, you could end up spending as much as $20,000 a semester.
Cost of Living
Italy's major cities and tourist centers, including Rome, Milan, and Venice, are much more expensive than the rest of the country in terms of cost of living. If accommodation isn't covered in your university program, budget anywhere from 400 to 1,000 Euros a month for rent. Other than that, most universities recommend setting aside around 3,000 Euros for a semester abroad in Italy.
EU students don't need visas to study abroad in Italy, though they do need to apply for a residence permit within three months of their arrival. Non-EU students must apply for a student visa at their local Italian embassy or consulate before starting their program, preferably as soon as they are they are accepted since the process can take 1-3 weeks.
There are no language requirements for the student visa, but there is a 116 Euro application fee. You must also present your acceptance letter, proof you can support yourself and pay for your program, proof of health insurance, and proof of accommodation in Italy at your embassy interview.
EU students are eligible to apply to the same scholarships Italian students apply for, which are usually merit-based.
For non-EU students, you can search the scholarships listed on the Go Overseas scholarship page, or look at the scholarships on the international student page of the university you will be attending in Italy. If you are using a third-party provider or secured your study abroad placement through your university's direct exchange program, check with their offices for available scholarships as well.
Oldest University in Italy
Italy has a very long history of higher education, so it boasts plenty of centuries-old universities within its borders. The oldest university in Italy, which also happens to be the first university of its kind in the Western world, is the University of Bologna, founded in 1088. The term "university" was in fact coined here.
The University of Bologna has managed to uphold its high standards through the last millennium, as it is now ranked as one of Italy's highest-rated institution, either first or second in the country depending on the ranking organization. You will certainly receive a great education at this historic institution, and be able to pick from many different study and degree programs, as the University of Bologna has Schools of Arts & Humanities, Economics, Law, Engineering, Agriculture, Medicine, Science, and many others offering almost every degree you can imagine.
Enrolling in the University of Bologna is very similar to enrolling in any other Italian university. You must apply through your local Italian embassy, but before doing so check which degree program you would like to pursue at the university and what specific qualifications you may need. The university also offers tuition fee waivers and study grants for some students, so apply for these on the university's website.
Biggest University in Italy
The Sapienza - University of Rome is the biggest university by enrollment in all of Italy. Founded in 1303, the university has 110,000 students enrolled, of which 6,000 are international. When you attend Sapienza, not only will you find yourself in Italy's largest, most cosmopolitan city, but you will also be getting one of the best educations in the country.
Sapienza is ranked 223rd worldwide and is one of the top five universities in Italy. Six Nobel laureates have graduated from this institution, including inventor Carlo Rubbia.
As with most universities in the country, if you wish to enroll in Sapienza you will have to go through the embassy application program and prove proficiency in Italian as part of your application, as the courses are all in the local language. The university website gives detailed step-by-step instructions regarding the application procedure.
Quirkiest Degree You Can Earn in Italy
Of the programs reviewed on Go Overseas, the John Felice Rome Center offers one of the quirkiest courses in the spring, called "Aesthetics: Aesthetic Experience in Rome". The course includes an exploration of art and beauty from a philosophical standpoint in the Eternal City.
In addition to learning how to effectively interpret and understand the local art and beauty of Rome, you will explore deeper questions such as the value of beauty and the role that it plays in human nature.