The Italian University System

Students can apply to Italian Universities only if they have an educational qualification that allows them to enroll. The secondary education qualification has to be awarded after a study period of at least 12 years. If it has been awarded in less than 12 years, it has to be accompanied by the academic certification of the examinations taken or a post-secondary title to compensate for any missing years of secondary education.
The university system is organized into 3 cycles

  • The first cycle ("Laurea") has a 3-year duration for a total of 180 ECTS. It leads to a Bachelor of Science equivalent degree (UK);
  • The second cycle ("Laurea Specialistica"  or "Laurea Magistrale") has a 2-year duration for a total of 120 ECTS. It leads to a Master of Science equivalent degree (UK);
  • The third cycle (Dottorato - Phd) has a 3-year duration for a total of 180 ECTS. It leads to a PhD equivalent;
  • On top of the first cycle, the Italian system provides a 1-year course (minimum of 60 ECTS) leading to a 1st level University Specializing Master;
  • On top of the second cycle, the Italian system provides a 1-year course (minimum of 60 ECTS) leading to a 2nd level University Specializing Master.

In order to better understand which level you are allowed to enrol in, see the here below diagram of the Italian University system:

 

The Italian university system in brief

CYCLE/PROGRAMME ENTRY REQUIREMENTS DEGREE EARNED ECTS/CREDIT DURATION/YEARS

First cycle

High school Diploma

Bachelor’s degree

180

3

Second cycle

Bachelor’s degree

Master’s degree

120

2

Long single-cycle

High school Diploma

Master’s degree

300/360

5/6

Specializing Master
(I level Master )

Bachelor’s degree

Master’s Diploma

60

1

Specializing Master
(II level Master)

Master’s degree Diploma

Master’s Diploma

60

1

Third cycle

Master’s degree

Doctoral degree
Ph.D.

 

3+

The Credit System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System is used to measure the student’s workload of every single course. Credits measure the workload of class attendance, classwork, laboratory work and individual study. It is possible to obtain credits for other training courses, or project works, group works, theses, internships, knowledge of foreign languages or basic computing skills, and training in communication and public relations.
One credit corresponds to a workload of about 25 hours and the yearly workload for an average study course corresponds to about 60 credits.
Each subject is assigned a number of credits which the student obtains when he passes the final examination.

Assessment

Exams are held after the teaching period and are mainly oral exams although some courses will have written tests taking place during the semester or before the oral exam. Each exam will have a number of dates offered during the exam period and students can choose which date they wish to take the exam. They are also entitled to turn down a mark and take the exam again if they are not satisfied with the result. Rules apply as to how often a student can take an exam within an examination period.

Grading systems

Examinations are graded according to a scale ranging from 0 to 30, with 18 as a pass mark. A "cum laude" may be added to the highest grade (30; 30 e lode) as a mention of special distinction. All examination results are used to calculate the overall degree mark on a scale of 0 – 110. The final result is based on exam results plus the presentation of a project or dissertation in front of a Board of Examiners. The pass mark is 66 and students who obtain full marks of 110 may also be awarded 'summa cum laude' (110 e lode).

Additional Info