First phase

Degree Course

The aim of this course is to ensure that students acquire sufficient knowledge of general methods and scientific content. These degree courses last 3 years, equivalent to 180 CFU (ECTS). Students are admitted if they have a high school diploma or another qualification taken abroad and recognized in Italy. This Degree corresponds to the Bachelor of Science in the European university system as defined in Bologna in 1998.

Second phase

Master’s Degree

The aim of this course is to provide students with a high level of education in order to be able to work in specific environments requiring high-level qualifications. These courses last 2 years, equivalent to 120 CFU (ECTS). Students are admitted with a degree or a qualification taken abroad and recognized in Italy.

There are Master’s Degrees available in some universities and for some subjects (Medicine, Pharmacology) to which students can be admitted with a high school diploma or another equivalent foreign qualification, which last for 5 or 6 years and require 300 or 360 CFU (ECTS).

The Master’s Degree corresponds to the Master of Science in the European university system as defined in Bologna in 1998.

Some universities also offer a specialization or post-graduate degree course aimed at increasing students’ professional education: this is a 1st level university Master’s Degree. This qualification is not part of the European university system as defined in Bologna in 1998.

Third phase

Research doctorate

This aims to provide the skills necessary for carrying out research at high levels. This course lasts 3 years. Applicants must have an Italian or foreign post-graduate / Master’s degree to be admitted and they have to do an admission exam.

Post-graduate Diploma Course

This course aims to provide the knowledge and skills required for carrying out the functions required by particular professional activities. It qualifies people to work in such professions and aims to train specialists for certain professional sectors. These courses last at least 2 years.

Specialist Master’s Degree¹

The Specialist Master’s Degree is a postgraduate university education course which students may apply to do on finishing a Master’s Degree. It requires students to complete at least 60 CFU (ECTS).

Italian qualifications 
First phase 
Bachelor of science
Second phase 
Laurea magistrale
Master of Science
Master universitario di 1° livello
Specialist Bachelor
Laurea magistrale ciclo unico
Master of Science
Third phase
Dottorato di ricerca
Specializzazione di 2° livello
Postgraduate diploma course
Master universitario di 2° livello
Specialist Master’s Degree

¹ The name given to this course in Italy may cause confusion as it has nothing to do with the Master’s qualification used internationally, since it is actually a higher level of qualification.

The credits system

The university reform introduced the Sistema dei crediti formativi universitari – CFU, equivalent to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System ECTS. The main objective was to create a more student-oriented system that took the time required for learning into account, in contrast to the Credit Hour used in the United States for example, which measures teaching time.

Each ECTS credit corresponds to 25 hours of student work, including lessons and individual study. On average the workload for 1 academic year is 60 credits. These credits are earned by students once they have passed the final assessment for a course and they are recognized by other degree courses and by other universities, in line with their internal rules.

The system includes a minimum number of credits to be achieved in order to complete 1 year of study.


Foreign students in Italy can benefit from three main types of scholarship or grant which are given by universities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation ( and by Regional Bodies for the Right to Education.

In the Italian system the Bodies for the Right to Education are organized on a regional basis and are responsible for assisting university students if they need economic and/or logistic help. They pay out grant cheques or scholarships, help with food and accommodation, loans for books, cultural events and sometimes provide counselling and psychological assistance services. The EDISU contribution is a sum of money (which is exempt from university taxes) which may be given to Italian and international students enrolled at local universities who have achieved good academic results and have a low level of income. The money received by students depends on their family’s income and their attendance at university (full time/part-time) as agreed with the university.

When students apply for scholarships or grants, they are required to produce an EESI or Equivalent Economic Situation Indicator (ISEE), which is a document that may be obtained a CAF office (CAF Tax Assistance Centre) in the Italian city where students are resident.

A student’s EESI certificate (ISEE) is a document based on the relevant documentation produced in a student’s country of origin that must be certified and translated by the relevant authorities of the country in which the income was earned and then certified again at the consular offices of the Italian diplomatic network abroad.

The above-mentioned document specifically consists of:

  • Composition of the household;
  • Income of all members of the household from the year previous to the presentation of the document;
  • Copy of the tenancy contract (if the household does not own its house) indicating the yearly rent and the details of the contract’s registration;
  • The financial situation of each household member:

– personal estate up to December 31st 2012 of all household members: bank and post office account balances;

– property assets up to December 31st 2012 of all household members;

– personal estates and property assets owned abroad;

  • Tax code number and personal document.


There is no guarantee of receiving an EDISU scholarship or grant even if students meet all the requirements since it depends on the funds available and on the number of students applying. There are also other types of scholarship or grant, such as intergovernmental ones and those provide by private bodies.

For further information students may contact the Students’ Offices at the universities where they are enrolled.


Research Grants and Scholarships

Apart from scholarships for education there are also grants and scholarships for mobility for research activities. For information about this, consult the relevant university sites and make requests at the Italian Cultural Institute or at the Uni-Italia office at the Italian Embassy of the country of origin.

Equivalence And Equalization Of Diplomas

Evaluating the equivalence of diplomas means identifying an equivalence at an academic level between diplomas obtained and at the various levels of the diplomas themselves: the Bachelor’s Degrees, Master’s Degrees, etc.

In this regard, the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research establishes through specific criteria and legal references the equivalence and the equalization between diplomas in an unambiguous and easily consulted manner, with the purpose of avoiding mistakes and omissions.

Having received the request, the competent authority can decide to recognize in toto or only in part the curriculum of studies carried out, providing for any supplementary examinations if deemed opportune. In general, a demonstration of competence in the Italian  language is always required.



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