Italy is a country in South-Central Europe known for its diverse landscapes, astonishing architecture, and incredible cuisine. It has numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, rich with renaissance art, and is home to world-famous musicians. Furthermore, Italians are generally friendly and generous people. They like celebrations with family and friends and are known to enjoy the finer things in life.

In terms of education, Italy has played a vital role in fostering the Bologna Process, the reform of European higher education. Universities in Italy are among the oldest in Europe and the world. So when the country followed the reform in 1999, it only strengthened its longstanding academic tradition. With time-honored and innovative universities, Italy is becoming a famed study-abroad destination. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Italy for international students.

Top Universities in Italy for International Students

1. University of Bologna (UNIBO)

The University of Bologna is the world’s oldest university, founded in 1088. The Bologna Process was held and named after the institution, befitting its time-honored academic tradition in Europe. Presently, the university has 232 degree programs. Eighty-four of these are international, and 68 are taught in English. Significant subjects include medicine, mathematics, hard sciences, economics, engineering, and philosophy. Because it has excellent research activities and is among the top universities in Europe, the University of Bologna is the best in Italy for international students.

UNIBO has five campuses all over Italy, and a branch in Buenos Aires, ensuring quality education reaches the whole region. The university develops cross-cultural competence with several global strategies too. Domestic and international students will have a rich learning experience with excellent academic services, sports facilities, and student clubs.

2. Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies (SSSA / Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna de Pisa)

The Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, or Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, is one of the best public universities in Italy for international students. It is a leading model of a Superior Graduate School (grandes écoles), which means a prestigious institution autonomous from the government. They are known for advanced teaching and research and a highly competitive admission process. The fields of study are mainly social sciences (e.g., business and economics) and experimental sciences (e.g., medical and industrial sciences).

This elite university aces international rankings, especially young university rankings. Its Economics course is outstanding in Italy, and the Specialized Graduate Study is gaining international attention. Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna is located in the historic town of Pisa in Tuscany, a region known for its beaches and vineyards.

3. Scuola Normale Superiore (La Normale)

Scuola Normale Superiore is an Italian university established by Napoleon in 1810. The leader’s decree aimed to train teachers in the empire and subsequently educate its citizens. Until now, la Normale placed first in Italy in the Teaching category in several rankings. The institution was also the first in Italy to create a Ph.D. program back in 1927.

As a top Italian university for international students, Scuola Normale Superiore offers programs in humanities, mathematical & natural sciences, and political & social sciences. Admission to this university is a rigorous process but accepted students do not pay any fees. The la Normale has campuses in the historic cities of Pisa and Florence.

See Also: Best Scholarships in Italy for International Students

4. Sapienza University of Rome (Sapienza)

Sapienza University is a prestigious university in Rome and one of the oldest in the world. Since 1303, Sapienza has been home to notable historical figures, Nobel Prize winners, and key players in Italian politics. Its present teaching and research have placed the institution among the top 3% in the world. Classics & Ancient History, and Archaeology are some of its leading subjects. The university has significant research contributions in biomedical sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and engineering.

Sapienza is first in Italy in the Academic Reputation category, attracting over 1500 international students every year. Furthermore, it is known for its historical library, 18 museums, and the School of Aerospace Engineering.

5. University of Padua (UNIPD)

The University of Padua, one of the best universities in Italy for international students, was initially established as a school of law and theology in 1222 by a group of scholars to pursue more academic freedom. Today, the university has eight schools with 32 departments. Its degrees are broad and multidisciplinary, ranging from Information Engineering to Cultural Heritage to Neurosciences. UNIPD is part of the Coimbra Group, an international league of research universities.

Its campus in the art city of Padua is home to its medieval buildings, library, museum, and a university hospital. The university also operates the Padua Botanical Garden and Astronomical Observatory at Asiago.

6. Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (UniSR)

The Vita-Salute San Raffaele University is a private university in Italy dedicated to Medicine, Philosophy, and Psychology. These three faculties fortify the university’s practice of humanistic medicine. It ranks first in Italy for research citations in international journals. UniSR is renowned for its exceptional primary care as experienced by its affiliated medical institution, the San Raffaele Hospital.

UniSR offers an international MD program held in English. Students can also study in its internationally recognized science park. The UniSR campus is a student-centered environment that includes high-quality teaching, research, sports, and living facilities.

7. University of Trento (UniTrento)

The University of Trento started as a social science institute in 1962 and pioneered the first Faculty of Sociology in Italy. Over time, it has expanded into physics, mathematics, psychology, industrial engineering, biology, economics, and law. This top university in Italy presently has ten academic departments and several doctoral schools. UniTrento values internationalization and has alliances with educational institutions globally.

UniTrento confirms its first-class teaching by achieving several international university rankings. It especially excelled in Young Universities rankings and Microsoft Academic Ranking which recognized its computer science department.

8. University of Milan (UniMi / La Statale)

The University of Milan is a leading public research university in Italy for international students with over 64000 students, making it one of the largest universities in Europe. It comprises ten faculties of 33 departments and 53 research centers. UniMi provides quality education overall and is best known in sociology, philosophy, political science, and law. It is also the only institution in Italy included in the 23-member League of European Research Universities.

The campus of La Statale includes historic buildings, a rich archive, botanical gardens, and the Brera Astronomical Observatory for students to enjoy. The university implements comprehensive internationalization strategies to increase its current 2000 international students.

9. University of Milano-Bicocca (Bicocca / UNIMIB)

The University of Milano-Bicocca is young and future-oriented in Milan and Monza. Its subject areas include Sociology, Psychology, Law, Sciences, Economics, Medicine & Surgery, and Educational Sciences. Research in Bicocca covers a broad range of topics with a cross-disciplinary approach. This top university in Italy for international students transformed the Pirelli industrial complex into state-of-the-art learning facilities and research centers.

The UI GreenMetric World University Rankings awarded Bicocca for its environmental sustainability efforts. The university is also known for operating the Marine Research and High Education Center in the Maldives, which studies marine biology, tourism science, and environmental science.

10. Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi)

The Polytechnic University of Milan (in Italian, Politecnico di Milano) is Italy’s largest technical university dedicated to engineering, design, and architecture. From the QS World University Rankings results in 2020, the university placed 20th in Engineering & Technology. It ranked 9th for Civil & Structural Engineering, 9th for Mechanical Aerospace Engineering, 7th for Architecture, and 6th for Art & Design.

PoliMi, one of Italy’s top universities, has always focused on experimental research and technological transfer for a more productive world. It collaborates with leading European institutions and has extended to countries from North America to Southeast Asia. It also participates in scientific research globally with over 2000 patents and 700 inventions.

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11. University of Rome II – Tor Vergata

Another top university in Italy is the University of Rome Tor Vergata. It placed among the best 500 universities in the QS World University Rankings. Tor Vergata also belongs to the EUA Network (European University Association), an organization of representatives for higher education.

Carsharing and carpooling services are available for students and staff at the university. There are also on-campus facilities at the university, including a health surveillance clinic and the Policlinico Tor Vergata hospital.

12. University of Brescia

Grounded in the Ursuline tradition, the University of Brescia calls for educating the student holistically — mind, body, and soul. As a Catholic institution, it follows the mission of Christ and aids students in cultivating their God-given talents.

It is ranked among the top 400 universities in Italy according to the Times Higher Education. It is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to provide high-quality education and award associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degrees.

Learn More: Cheapest Universities in Italy for International Students

13. University of Pavia (UNIPV)

The University of Pavia (UNIPV) was established in 1361 as an institution devoted to the study of the law. It is one of the oldest universities in the world and a leading university in Italy. UNIPIV was ranked number 1 in the country by the Census Ranking of Italian Universities.

With a strong international vocation, it has been a member of the European Campus of City-Universities (EC2U) Alliance since 2017. It also has hundreds of projects financed by both public and private foundations, ministries, and regional and local authorities.

14. University of Turin (UNITO)

Considered a city within a city, the University of Turin (UNITO) is one of the largest universities in Italy. It houses facilities for the study of important disciplines such as Medical Diagnostics, Nanotechnology, Military Strategy, and Sport Sciences to name a few. UNITO is distinguished as the top 485th university by the QS World University Rankings.

UNITO also houses historic museums featuring different collections like the Cesare Lombroso Museum (Criminal Anthropology Museum) and Luigi Rolando Museum (Human Anatomy Museum).

15. University of Florence (UniFl)

The University of Florence is one of the most prestigious public universities in the world, ranking 451st best in the QS World University Rankings. It recruits students from all over the world to promote both scientific and cultural exchange. UniFl employs research-backed strategies to maximize learning opportunities for students.

Through its Welcome Service, it can help various international students, both undergraduate and graduate, to find appropriate arrangements within the city. Aside from academic activities, students can also participate in the university choir, orchestra, and theatre company.

Learn More: Cheapest Universities in Italy for International Students

16. University of Pisa (UNIPI)

Founded in 1343, the University of Pisa (UNIPI) is one of the best and most recognizable universities in Italy. It is where great minds studied, including world-renowned scholar Galileo Galilei, and Nobel Prize winners: Giosuè Carducci (Literature), Enrico Fermi (Physics), and Carlo Rubbia (Physics). UNIPI is a public institution that centers its education on the growth of the economy and shaping entrepreneurial interests across different fields.

UNIPI partners with the Pisan Institutes of the National Board of Research and industries focused on information technology. International students are welcome to enroll in short-term summer courses. A student guidebook is readily available on their website.

17. Federico II University of Naples (UNINA)

The Federico II University of Naples (UNINA) is the oldest public university in the world that is non-sectarian. It was built to establish a standard of independent, quality education across Naples. UNINA has produced brilliant minds by the likes of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Samantha Cristoforetti.

International students in UNINA will be exposed to a diverse environment and culture due to the university’s partnership with more than 260 universities. They can also apply to Double and Joint degree programs.

18. Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Cattolica)

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Cattolica) places among the top 520 universities in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings. Cattolica has five campuses situated in Milan, Brescia, Cremona, Piacenza, and Rome.

Cattolica presents various opportunities for students to learn outside the four walls of the classroom and laboratories. Through Cattolica’s Internship programs and research projects, students can apply what they learned from lectures to real-life projects.

19. University of Genoa (UniGe)

University of Genoa (UniGe) is another top-ranking university in Italy, consistently placing among the top 700 universities in the world according to reputable rankings. This private university has different departments that deliver quality programs, including the School of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences, School of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and School of Humanities.

UniGe holds the Open Day to invite prospective students to discover which degree program suits them the most. In this event, applicants can engage with a professor to learn more about the offered courses, available school services, lodging, and recreational activities.

20. University of Siena (UNISI)

Founded in 1240, the University of Siena (UNISI), is a world-renowned public university in Siena, Italy consisting of fifteen departments. The Tuscany Agency for University Services (DSU-Toscana) holds events for students that foster camaraderie in the cultural diversity existing in the UNISI.

Moreover, UNISI conducts guidance counseling and tutoring sessions to help international students psychologically, socially, and academically cope during their stay at the university.

FAQs about Studying in Italy

Is Italy a Good Place to Study for International Students?

Italy provides high-quality academic programs and innovative research opportunities. The Italian education system is recognized by 42 countries, meaning a degree earned in Italy is equivalent to degrees earned in the UK, France, Sweden, Denmark, and more.

The country encourages international students through various programs such as Invest Your Talent in Italy (IYT) and the yearly Italian Government Scholarship by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Italian government sustains most of the costs in public universities. Because of this, Italians and international students all pay their tuition depending on their family income. Fees range from a full exemption to around 5,000 euros per year for specialized programs. There are also many affordable universities in Italy for international students.

Knowledge of the Italian language is recommended. However, many programs are taught in English entirely. Living costs in Italy depend on the city, but it ranges from 700 – 1000 euros per month. Studying in Italy grants you a rich cultural experience in the historic towns of Bologna, Milan, Pisa, Rome, and many more.

Check Also: Programs in Europe for International Students

Can International Students Work in Italy While Studying?

International students and holders of a residence permit for study can work in Italy alongside their studies. However, they should not exceed 20 hours per week and 1040 hours per year. EU/EEA nationals can work immediately, while non-EU students need an Italian work permit. To acquire this permit, you must have a job offer from an Italian company or employer.

Can International Students Stay in Italy after Graduation?

If you wish to find work in Italy after graduation, you have to apply for a residence permit for work. You need to present the following to the Immigration Law (Decreto Flussi): a valid residency permit for study, a housing contract, and proof of your bank account. Next, you will choose what type of work permit you need, if it’s for subordinate work or self-employment. The Immigration office will then evaluate your application against quotas for the year. Once granted, the permit is valid for one year and can be renewed once you’re employed or started a business.

We hope that this article on the best universities in Italy for international students was hel