Italy has become an increasingly popular study-abroad destination among international students. The country’s renowned academic institutions, rich history, and popular cuisine collectively contribute to its appeal. With Italian universities offering an interesting range of academic programs in several fields, international students are more enticed to welcome the unparalleled experience the country offers.

Thus, the country makes an ideal location for international students willing to delve into the country’s attractions. That said, for anyone wishing to pursue higher education in Italy, this article is for you. It will highlight the process of enrolling in Italian universities, some general and optional application requirements, and a few crucial facts for international students.

University Application Process at Italian Universities

Applying for a university is a tumultuous process, especially for first-time applicants. The application procedure involves several steps from researching your desired university and program to awaiting your admissions decision.

Step 1. Research and Select Universities Offering Your Desired Program

You must start your application procedure by conducting thorough research and narrowing down all universities that offer programs you may be interested in. There are also several other factors you may consider when selecting potential universities, like the program curriculum, faculty experience, location, and reputation of the university, among others.

As an example, many students prefer the University of Bologna because it is among the world’s oldest academic institutions. In addition to its magnificent history and prominence, it offers a comprehensive range of study programs in a variety of disciplines. Similarly, another institution that is known for its prominence is Politecnico di Milano, which is popular for its architecture, design, and engineering programs.

Step 2. Check Admission Requirements

After selecting potential universities, you must then visit the official websites of each institution and review the admissions requirements of the programs that interest you. You must ensure you meet entry requirements for a successful admission. This will typically involve academic qualifications, language proficiency requirements, personal statements, and letters of recommendation, among others.

Step 3. Prepare the Required Documents

Preparing your documents would involve gathering and compiling all necessary documents like language proficiency test scores, academic transcripts, certificates of achievement, and letters of recommendation. To obtain them, you may have to accomplish additional steps like taking a language proficiency exam to get the scores. Through it all, ensure that your documents meet any specific formats required by the university.

Step 4. Take the Admissions/Entrance Exam (If Required)

The “Test di Ammissione” or “Esami di Stato” are entrance exams that are an important part of the admissions process in some Italian universities. After selecting the program of their choice students may be required to register online for an entrance exam. The structure of these exams will vary and may include oral interviews, multiple-choice questions, or essays.

Students must ensure they are well prepared, for which they may utilize past papers and recommended study materials. These exams take place in designated centers and locations and dates will be announced in advance. Students will receive their results within the stated period and successful candidates may also receive their official acceptance letters. Applicants must note that these exams can be quite competitive, and thorough preparation will be necessary.

Step 5. Submit the Application and Pay the Application Fee

Next, send in your completed application form and additional documents either by mail or via the university’s online portal, as per the instructions provided by the institution. Keep an eye on the university deadline to ensure you make your submission within the specified application period.

An institution that requires students to submit their application through the official university webpage is the University of Milan. Students submit the entry requirements and other additional documents through the school’s online portal to complete their enrollment procedure.

Universities may also require application fees to successfully submit your application and they are usually paid alongside the submission of documents. Information on payment methods and application fee amounts can be found on the university website.

Step 6. Wait for Your Application Decision

After submitting your application and settling the application fees, you must then wait until the university admissions committee reviews your application and notifies you of their admissions decision. The time taken to receive a response will vary between programs and universities.

Step 7. If Accepted, Complete the Enrollment Process

If your application is accepted, the university will provide you with the necessary instructions to confirm your placement and complete your enrollment process. There may be additional requirements like having to provide supplementary documents, paying a tuition fee deposit, and sending in your confirmation for accepting the offer.

Remember, admissions procedures vary between universities and programs. It is advised that you consult the official websites of the universities you are interested in for accurate information on specific requirements, application procedures, fees, and deadlines.

General Admission Documents

1. High School Diploma or Equivalent

If you are applying for an undergraduate program, a high school diploma serves as proof of completing your secondary education. It may also reflect several pieces of important information, starting with your identity, enrollment, graduation dates, your grades during high school, and awards or honors you may have received. You must provide a true copy of your high school diploma or its equivalent and, if required, a certified translation in English or Italian.

As for graduate studies, applying for master’s programs will require the candidate to present a bachelor’s degree while Ph.D. applicants need to show that they have obtained a master’s degree.

2. Academic Transcripts

Your academic transcripts must be officiated and include the seal or stamp of the relevant institution. They will showcase your academic performance throughout the years. They will also include details of all your academic achievements, including the grades you received, awards you qualified for, and the courses or subjects you may have taken.

3. Language Proficiency Test Results

As international students, you must demonstrate proficiency in the language of instruction of your program. In Italy this would either be Italian or English, depending on the institution or program.

Applicants must provide results of standardized language proficiency tests, like CILS (Certificate of the Italian Language) or PLIDA (Progetto Lingua Italiana Dante Alighieri) for Italian, and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language for English) for English. These tests will assess your listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills in Italian or English.

4. Passport or Identification Document

All applicants must provide valid identification documents, like a passport or birth certificate, to verify their citizenship and identity. If passports are provided, ensure they are valid for the duration of your study period in Italy. Non-Italian citizens may also be required to provide additional documents like a residence permit or valid visa.

5. Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A curriculum vitae would provide a detailed overview of your achievements, skills, educational background, and work experience. You must provide all information on your academic and extracurricular endeavors, including internships, research projects, leadership roles, and volunteer activities. Also, your CV must especially highlight any experiences that may be relevant to the program you are applying to, along with other strengths, as these will help you stand out from other applicants.

6. Recommendation Letters

One to three recommendation letters may often be required, depending on the university. However, you may be asked to submit more. These letters would usually be written by individuals who can provide insight into your personal qualities and academic abilities, like professors, employers, or teachers. They can vouch for your strengths and potential for success.

7. Motivation Letter

A motivation letter, also known as a statement of purpose, is typically used to share your reasons for wishing to enroll in a particular program or university. It can highlight any unique and admirable experiences, qualities, or motivations you may possess. You can also share your goals and enthusiasm and highlight how your selected program aligns with your career and academic aspirations.

Optional Materials / Documents to Consider

1. Additional Certifications or Achievements

You may want to consider including additional certifications or achievements, as they can help enhance your chances of acceptance. These achievements can serve as proof of experience in a certain field as well as reflect your knowledge, specialized skills, passion, and genuine interest in that field. Additionally, they can also reflect your adaptability, proactivity, and motivation as a student, providing you with a competitive advantage over other applicants.

2. Research Proposal

A research proposal can be submitted when applying for research-oriented programs. This is a document that will allow applicants to align their research interests with the university’s expertise, as well as demonstrate their academic preparedness and research potential. It can help participants enhance their chances of successfully securing scholarships or admission by highlighting them among a pool of other applicants

3. Portfolio

For applicants in fields, like design or arts, that require them to demonstrate their creative skills, they may consider including a portfolio alongside their application. A portfolio can be used to showcase your potential and talent, as it can include samples of your designs, photography, or artwork.

Please note, that while most optional documents are not mandatory requirements of your application, they can add value to your application. However, you must review your application guidelines with care, as certain universities may have specific criteria and preferences when it comes to optional documents.

Key Facts for Applying to Universities in Italy

1. Ensuring That Your Qualifications are Recognized by the Italian Education System

Due to Italy’s unique grading system, international students must make sure their previous educational qualifications are recognized by authorities in Italy. To do this, you must verify the equivalence of your diploma or degree with the education system in Italy, which may involve consulting the CINEMA (Italian ENIC-NARIC) website. It offers details on recognition of foreign qualifications or reaching out to the Italian embassy in your country,

2. The Cost of Living in Italy Will Depend on Your Lifestyle and Location

As an international student, finances and living costs will play a vital role in your study abroad experience. Accommodation in smaller towns is typically more affordable compared to major cities like Milan, Florence, and Rome. Additionally, other factors that must be considered when planning your finances include food, utilities, transportation, and leisure activities. The cost of living in Italy will depend on your lifestyle choices as well as your location. It is up to you to strategically plan your finances so that you can comfortably manage your expenses.

3. Adapting to the Italian Culture Can Enhance Your Study Abroad Experience

International students may find Italy’s diverse and rich cultural heritage may seem overwhelming at first sight. However, adapting to the local lifestyle and culture will greatly enhance your study abroad experience as an international student. You may take your time to familiarize yourself with the various traditions, social norms, and customs. Delve into the Italian lifestyle, take part in cultural events, experience the local cuisine, and explore its historical landmarks. You may also consider learning the language and interacting with locals to further enhance your experience.

4. Preparing Essential Documents Like Visa and Residence Permit for International Students

A student visa and residence permit are essential for international students planning on studying in Italy for over 90 days. You must research the application process and requirements for your visa through the Italian consulate or embassy in your home country, as well as prepare the required finances and documents. It is advised that you work on your visa application process at least 3-6 months before your intended date of traveling, as the process of gathering the required documents and completing the application can be time-consuming.

5. There are Many Scholarship and Financial Aid Opportunities Available for International Students in Italy

Scholarships and financial aid opportunities are made available for international students in Italy. They are offered by universities, external organizations, and the government. International students are encouraged to gain financial support for their studies, for which they must research and apply for relevant scholarships.

These key factors can help international students prepare a solid application, increase their chances of acceptance, and successfully navigate the application process to Italian universities.

FAQs: University Applications in Italy

Can International Students Apply to a University in Italy?

Yes, international students can apply to a university in Italy. Additionally, most Italian universities offer programs in both English and Italian. However, the proportion between such programs may vary among universities.

However, you will generally find a good number of English-taught degree programs in Italy for Ph.D. students. That may be because these programs are specifically for attracting foreign students to pursue their studies in a globally recognized university without having to worry about language barriers.

What are the Entry Requirements to Study in Italy?

All undergraduate and postgraduate applicants of Italian universities must ensure that they meet certain prerequisite requirements, which include academic qualifications (e.g., high school diploma). Another important entry requirement to enroll in Italian universities would be proof of language proficiency. Applicants will be required to demonstrate proficiency in either English or Italian, depending on the language of instruction of their selected program.

In addition to language proficiency and academic qualifications, applicants may be required to take entrance exams or interviews. Other universities may also require the submission of additional documents like letters of recommendation, personal statements, or a portfolio, as required by the program. For example, Italian institutions like the University of Bologna and Politecnico di Milano specify their requirements for each program, with typical requirements being proof of language proficiency, high school qualifications, and entrance exams.


When applying to a university in Italy as an international student, you must give much thought to several factors like your admissions requirements, application deadlines, documents, recognition of qualifications, and entrance exams. By familiarizing yourself with these key factors you may effectively address them and have a successful application process.


We hope this article will serve as a guide when you apply for a university in Italy. Get more information like this on our Study in Italy Page! Also, check out Open Courses to search for available programs!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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