Embracing La Dolce Vita: Studying in Italy for Non-Residents

Created: Sep 22, 2023 | Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Italy offers more than just a conventional study abroad experience. For international students, studying in Italy is an opportunity to imbibe a rich culture while receiving a quality education. The country is a living museum, a modern playground, and a top-notch classroom all wrapped into one. Here, we delve into the multifaceted benefits and practicalities of pursuing education in Italy.

  1. The Beauty of Italy: More Than Just an Education Destination
  2. Studying in Italy: Why is it an Attractive Spot for International Students
  3. Top Universities in Italy and Their Rankings
  4. A Deep Dive into Italy's Education System
  5. How to Choose the Right Italian University as a Foreigner
  6. Popular Cities in Italy for International Students to Live in
  7. General Structure of the Italian Academic Year
  8. Financial Aid and Italian Scholarships
  9. How to Apply for a Scholarship in Italy: A Step-by-Step Guide
  10. Documents Required to Apply for an Italian Scholarship
  11. Language Exam Scores Required by Italian Universities
  12. Types of Italian Student Visa
  13. How to Apply for a Student Visa in Italy: A Comprehensive Guide
  14. How to Get Sworn Translation in Italy for Your Documents as an International Student
  15. Why Choose Translayte?
  16. How to Stay Safe in Italy
  17. FAQs


The Beauty of Italy: More Than Just an Education Destination

From the ancient ruins of Rome to the scenic Amalfi Coast, Italy's beauty is unparalleled. This allure extends to its vibrant culture, history, and arts. The country is home to 59 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other country in the world. In 2022, it drew in 74.7 million tourists, making it the 4th most visited country globally, according to wisevoter.

Beyond tourism, Italy is increasingly becoming a hotspot for international students. Various universities offer courses in English, making the transition easier for non-Italian speakers. But the question looms, can one study in Italy for free? The answer depends on several factors, including scholarships and specific agreements between universities and countries.

Italy is not merely an academic destination but a holistic experience that enhances your intellect while enriching your soul.


Studying in Italy: Why is it an Attractive Spot for International Students

Italy has long been a destination for scholars and thinkers. From being the birthplace of the Renaissance to its contemporary status as a hub for research and innovation, Italy has a rich academic history. But what makes it particularly attractive for international students today?

Academic Excellence
Italian universities are known for their rigorous academic programs, especially in fields such as art history, architecture, and engineering. The quality of education is often reflected in international rankings, with several Italian institutions featuring prominently.

Cultural Enrichment
Studying in Italy provides an immersive cultural experience. Whether it's through museum visits, historical field trips, or simply walking through the ancient streets, you're constantly exposed to elements of Italian global history.

Language Benefits
While Italian is the primary language of instruction in most universities, there are plenty of courses taught in English. Moreover, being in Italy can provide a unique opportunity to learn or master the Italian language, which can be an asset both personally and professionally.

Strategic Location
Italy's central location in Europe makes it easier for students to travel and explore the continent. Many educational programs also offer excursions or study terms in other European cities as part of the curriculum.


Top Universities in Italy and Their Rankings

This ranking was created by Times Higher Education and takes into account the reputation of research done by universities and how often papers produced by universities were quoted around the world.


University Name Location World RankingTypeNotable Fields of Study
University of BolognaBologna161Public Humanities, Law, Sciences 
Sapienza University Rome 201 Public Engineering, Psychology  
University of PaduaPadua 201Public Medicine, Sciences
Bocconi UniversityMilan 142 Public Engineering, Architecture 
Scuola Normale SuperiorePisa183Public Humanities, Sciences 
University of Trento Trento 401Public Computer Science, Cognitive Sciences
University of Turin Turin 401Public Social Sciences, Law 
Università degli Studi della TusciaViterbo501Public Biotechnology, Arts & Agriculture
University in Italy


A Deep Dive into Italy's Education System

Italy's education system is well-structured and provides various avenues for students to pursue their interests. It comprises several cycles of education, each catering to a specific age group and educational need. Below is a more detailed breakdown:

Student's AgeLevel of EducationDescription
3-6 Pre-school (Scuola dell'infanzia)This is an optional stage that offers basic education in language development and social skills.
6-11Compulsory First Cycle (Scuola Primaria or Elementary School)This stage is compulsory and covers basic subjects like Italian, Mathematics, History, and Science. The aim is to offer a solid foundation for further education.
11-14Middle School (Scuola Media)Also part of the Compulsory First Cycle, it prepares students for higher education and allows them to explore subjects in more depth.
14-19Second Cycle of Education (Scuola Secondaria di Secondo Grado or High School)This includes specialized high schools and vocational training, culminating in a diploma that can lead to university or direct employment.
19+Universities /AFAM/ ITSProvide undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees in various fields of study.


Integrated System
Italy's education system is integrated in a manner that allows smooth transitions from one level to another. The skills and knowledge acquired at each stage are designed to prepare students for the subsequent levels, making the educational journey cohesive and comprehensive.

Compulsory First Cycle of Education
This encompasses both the elementary school (Scuola Primaria) and middle school (Scuola Media) stages. It is mandatory for all children aged 6–14. The curriculum is designed to provide a broad-based education that lays the foundation for specialized learning in the future.

Second Cycle of Education
This stage is for students aged 14–19 and offers a variety of academic and vocational paths. Students can choose to enrol in a Liceo (High school) for a more academic-oriented curriculum or a vocational institute for skill-based training.

Universities / AFAM / ITS
After completing the second cycle, students have the option to pursue higher education at a traditional university, an AFAM (Alta Formazione Artistica e Musicale) institution, or an ITS (Istituti Tecnici Superiori). Each offers distinct advantages depending on the student's career goals and interests. Universities are ideal for those looking for a broad academic education, AFAM is for those interested in the arts, and ITS provides specialized technical training.

This structured approach allows Italy to offer a wide range of educational options, catering to the diverse needs and aspirations of its student population.


How to Choose the Right Italian University as a Foreigner

Selecting a university is crucial and involves multiple considerations. To choose the right university for your needs, consider these options:

  1. Location: Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of a metro like Milan or the historic calm of Florence, your choice will influence your cost of living.
  2. Courses Offered: Ensure your preferred course is offered in the school you are considering.
  3. Language of Instruction: While many programs are in English, some may require you to be proficient in Italian. 
  4. Accreditation: Ensure the university is accredited internationally.
  5. Budget: While it's possible to study in Italy for free through scholarships, not everyone will qualify. Know your budget.
  6. Campus Facilities: State-of-the-art labs, libraries, and experienced teachers can enhance your academic experience.
  7. Student Reviews: Search the university's sites or Facebook communities to read honest reviews about the school. This gives you unfiltered insights into university life.
  8. Extracurricular Activities: They can enrich your student life and make you more well-rounded.


Popular Cities in Italy for International Students to Live in

Italy offers a diverse range of cities that are not only educational hubs but also centres of culture, history, and lifestyle. Below is a more detailed table highlighting popular cities for international students, including the average cost of living and schooling.

City University Avg. Cost of Living (per month)Avg. Schooling Cost (per year)Top Reasons to Live There 
Milan Bocconi University €850 - €1,450€6,700Business Hub, Fashion, Nightlife
Rome Sapienza University€850 - €1,450€500 - €1,000History, Culture, Job Market
Florence University of Florence€850 - €1,300€1,500Art, Quality of Life, Scenery
Turin University of Turin€900€1,250Automotive Industry, History
Bologna University of Bologna€750 - €1,100Free/€900Student Life, Culinary Scene


General Structure of the Italian Academic Year

Semester Start DateEnd Date Activities 
First Semester Late September Late January Lectures, Mid-term Exams, Holiday Breaks
Winter ExamsEarly February Late February Final Exams for First Semester Courses
Second Semester Early March Late June Lectures, Mid-term Exams, Spring Break
Summer Exams Early July Late July Final Exams for Second Semester Courses
Autumn Exams Early September Late September Additional Exam Session for Both Semesters


Financial Aid and Italian Scholarships

Financing your education in Italy can be a major concern, especially for international students. However, the good news is that numerous options exist to alleviate this financial burden. Whether it's through Italian government grants, university-based scholarships, or external funding organizations, there are various avenues to explore.

Italian Government Scholarships
The Italian government often provides scholarships to international students on a merit-based system. These scholarships usually cover tuition fees, accommodation, and sometimes even living costs. To find out more, consult the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s website or the Italian Embassy in your home country.

Regional Scholarships
Many Italian regions also offer scholarships, which are mostly need-based. These are managed by the DSU (Diritto allo Studio Universitario) offices within the universities. These scholarships often include free meals at the university canteens and reduced fares for public transportation.

University-Based Scholarships
Many Italian universities offer scholarships based on merit or need. Institutions like Bocconi University, Sapienza University of Rome, and the University of Bologna have their scholarship programs, often covering both tuition fees and living expenses. Visit the scholarship or financial aid page on the university's website for more information.

Erasmus+ Program
For students from the European Union, the Erasmus+ program can be a great way to study in Italy. This program provides mobility grants for students who wish to spend a semester or an academic year in Italy.

External Funding Organizations
There are several international organizations that offer scholarships for studying abroad, including in Italy. These include the Fulbright Program for American students, the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program for Japanese students, and many more.


How to Apply for a Scholarship in Italy: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Research Scholarships: Browse the internet to identify opportunities that fit your profile.
  2. Check Eligibility: Review the scholarship criteria to ensure you meet all the requirements like academic qualifications, nationality, and language proficiency.
  3. Contact Admissions: For university-based scholarships, contact the admissions office to confirm application procedures and deadlines.
  4. Gather Documents: Compile essential documents such as your transcript, application letter, and ID.
  5. Sworn Translation: If required, get a sworn translation in Italy of your documents through a certified translation service.
  6. Letters of Recommendation: Request letters from teachers or professionals who can vouch for your qualifications and character.
  7. Write Essays: Craft compelling essays or statements of purpose.
  8. Financial Statements: Prepare financial statements or proof of income to establish your need for financial aid, if applicable.
  9. Application Form: Fill out the scholarship application form meticulously, adhering to all guidelines and instructions.
  10. Review Application: Double-check your application package to make sure it is complete and free of errors.
  11. Submission: Submit your application before the deadline via the method specified, whether it's online or through postal mail.
  12. Confirmation: Ensure you receive a confirmation of application receipt, often sent via email.
  13. Interview: Prepare for a possible interview, either in-person, via phone, or video conference.
  14. Acceptance and Follow-up: If successful, follow the steps outlined in your acceptance letter to claim your scholarship.
  15. Visa Applications: If your scholarship includes a study abroad component, start your Italian visa application process.
  16. Keep Records: Maintain all records and correspondence related to the scholarship for future reference.
  17. Report to University: Finally, inform your university’s financial aid office about your scholarship, as it may affect other forms of financial aid you could receive.

By following this comprehensive step-by-step guide, you'll improve your chances of securing a scholarship to study in Italy. Each step is crucial, so pay attention to detail and adhere to deadlines.


How to use Translayte for Sworn Translations in Italy


Documents Required to Apply for an Italian Scholarship

The exact documentation can vary depending on the scholarship program and the university, but the following list outlines the most commonly required documents:

Identification and Personal Information

  • Passport Copy: A clear copy of your passport's identification pages.
  • Passport-sized Photos: As per the specifications mentioned in your scholarship guidelines.

Academic Records

  • High School Transcripts: If you're applying for an undergraduate scholarship.
  • University Transcripts: Required if you are applying for a postgraduate scholarship.
  • Diplomas and Certificates: Copies of all your relevant academic diplomas and certificates.
  • Grading Scale: A document explaining the grading system of your previous institutions if they are different from the Italian system.

Language Proficiency

  • Language Certificates: Proof of proficiency in Italian or English, depending on the medium of instruction. This could be a TOEFL, IELTS, or CILS certificate.

Financial Documents

  • Financial Statements: Documents that attest to your financial situation, which may include bank statements.
  • Affidavit of Support: If someone else is financing your education, an affidavit of support may be necessary.

Letters and Essays

  • Statement of Purpose: A well-crafted essay explaining why you wish to study in Italy and how the scholarship will assist you.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Usually two or three, from teachers or professionals familiar with your academic or work history.
  • Research Proposal: Mostly required for research-based postgraduate courses.

Work Experience

  • CV/Resume: Detailed and up-to-date, outlining your academic and professional experience.
  • Work Certificates: Proof of employment and experience, if applicable.

Additional Documents

  • Portfolio: Required for art and design courses.
  • Audition Tape: Required for music and performance arts courses.
  • GRE/GMAT Scores: For some business and management courses.

Official Translations

  • Sworn Translations: Some scholarships require documents in Italian. In such cases, you'll need a sworn translation in Italy.
  • Proof of Previous Scholarships: If you’ve already received scholarships, some programs may require proof.

Special Requirements

  • Medical Certificates: Some scholarships, particularly those for sports, may require a medical fitness certificate.
  • Criminal Record Certificate: Some programs may ask for a police clearance certificate.

Always make sure to double-check the specific requirements of each scholarship you apply for, as they may have unique documents or criteria. Being meticulous in your preparation and ensuring that all your documents are in order can significantly increase your chances of securing financial aid for your studies in Italy.


Language Exam Scores Required by Italian Universities

Language proficiency is a critical factor when considering studying in Italy. While some programs are taught in Italian, an increasing number of courses are offered in English, especially at the postgraduate level. Depending on the language of instruction of your chosen course, you might need to provide proof of proficiency in either Italian or English. Below is a tabular guide that outlines the typical language exam scores required by Italian universities.

  • IELTS = 5.5 bands
  • TOEFL PBT = 507 - 557
  • TOEFL CBT = 180 - 217
  • TOEFL IBT = 80 - 99


Types of Italian Student Visa

Short-term Italian Study Visa (Type C)

The Short-term Study Visa, also known as a Type C visa, is for those who intend to stay in Italy for a short duration, typically up to 90 days. This visa is suitable for students who are enrolling in short courses, language programs, or summer schools. You cannot extend this visa, so it's essential to be sure that your study program will not exceed the 90-day limit.

Key Features

  • Up to 90 days of stay.
  • Non-extendable.
  • Cannot be converted into a long-term visa.
  • Usually does not permit work.


Long-term Italian Study Visa (Type D)

The Long-term Study Visa or Type D visa is for students who plan to stay in Italy for more than 90 days and up to a year. This visa is the go-to option for those enrolling in undergraduate, postgraduate, or Ph.D. programs. It can be renewed annually for the duration of your study program.

Key Features

  • More than 90 days, up to one year (renewable).
  • Can be converted into a residence permit once you arrive in Italy.
  • Allows you to work part-time (up to 20 hours per week).


Visa for Italian Language Courses

This is a special type of long-term visa for students who wish to take Italian language courses. While it falls under the Type D category, it's tailored for language learners and usually lasts for the duration of the course.

Key Features

  • Duration varies, depending on the course.
  • Can be converted into a residence permit.
  • May or may not allow part-time work, depending on the regulations.


Visas for Internships or Research

If you're planning to go to Italy for an internship or a research project connected to your studies, you'll likely need a specific type of long-term visa. The requirements and allowances, such as the ability to work, may vary depending on the nature of your internship or research.

Key Features

  • Duration varies, usually up to one year.
  • May be renewed depending on the length of the internship or research.
  • Work permissions may vary.
  • You can get a Family Reunion Visa for dependents.


Important Notes on Italian Student Visa Application

  1. Documents: Ensure you have all the necessary documents, including an acceptance letter from an Italian university, proof of accommodation, and financial stability.
  2. Sworn Translation: All travel documents that are not in Italian will require a Sworn translation. Using a Certified translation service can help in such cases.
  3. Application Timing: Apply well in advance before your travel, as visa processing can take several weeks or even months.

How to Apply for a Student Visa in Italy: A Comprehensive Guide

Step 1: Confirm Your Admission

Before you apply for a student visa, ensure you have an official admission letter from the Italian university where you'll be studying. This letter is a mandatory document for visa applications.

Step 2: Determine the Type of Visa

The kind of visa you need depends on the duration of your course.

Step 3: Gather Necessary Documents

Compile all the necessary documents beforehand to avoid any delays. It's often required to have both originals and copies for submission.

Step 4: Book an Appointment

You should book an appointment with the nearest Italian consulate or embassy. It's advisable to do this well in advance due to the high demand for appointments.

Step 5: Attend the Interview

At your interview, be prepared to answer questions about your course, university, and reasons for studying in Italy. After which you submit your application form and pay any applicable visa fees. Some consulates allow online payment, while others might require payment in person.

Step 6: Collect Your Visa

Your application will go through a review process. The duration varies, so it's best to apply as early as possible. After your visa is approved, you'll be notified to collect it from the consulate. Double-check all the details on the visa to ensure there are no errors.

Step 7: Enter Italy

Once you arrive in Italy, you may be required to obtain a residence permit, depending on the length of your stay. Make sure to complete this step within eight days of your arrival.


How to Get Sworn Translation in Italy for Your Documents as an International Student

Navigating a foreign education system can be challenging, particularly when language barriers exist. As an international student in Italy, you'll often find yourself in need of translating official documents, whether it's your birth certificate, academic transcripts, or financial statements. Here, the importance of sworn translation services like Translayte comes into play.

Why Choose Translayte?

Translayte offers a certified translation service that is both efficient and reliable, making it an excellent choice for international students. With Translayte, you can be assured of:

  1. Quality: Translayte employs translators who are experts in legal and academic language, ensuring the highest quality of translations.
  2. Speed: Knowing the urgency that often accompanies academic applications, Translayte aims for quick turnarounds without compromising on quality.
  3. Convenience: Translayte's online platform means you can get your sworn translation in Italy without the hassle of visiting any office.
  4. Affordability: Competitive pricing makes Translayte a cost-effective solution for students on a budget.


Translayte customer review


By focusing on services like Translayte for your sworn translation needs in Italy, you not only simplify a complex process but also ensure that your documents meet all the legal requirements, effectively paving the way for a smooth academic journey in the country.


How to Stay Safe in Italy

Staying safe in Italy involves a combination of common sense, awareness, and local knowledge. Italy is generally a safe country, especially in comparison to other Western countries. However, like any other place, it has its risks and challenges. Here are some tips to help international students stay safe in Italy:

  1. Be Vigilant in Tourist Areas: Pickpocketing and petty theft may be more common in tourist-heavy areas.
  2. Use Reputable Transportation Services: Opt for well-known taxi services or trusted public transportation, especially when travelling at night. Avoid unmarked taxis and be cautious if using rideshare services.
  3. Understand Local Customs and Laws: Being aware of local customs can not only enrich your experience but also keep you out of trouble. For instance, in some Italian cities, eating or drinking in public areas near historical sites can result in fines.
  4. Emergency Contacts: Always have a list of emergency numbers, including the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate.
  5. Health Precautions: If you're on medication, know the generic names, as brand names can differ. Keep a list of local pharmacies and hospitals. EU students can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), while non-EU students should register for the Italian National Health Service (SSN).
  6. Take Precautions with Alcohol and Nightlife: While Italy has a vibrant nightlife, always exercise caution. Never leave your drink unattended and avoid excessive drinking, especially in unfamiliar settings.
  7. Language Preparedness: While many Italians speak English, especially in larger cities, having a basic grasp of essential Italian phrases can be very helpful in emergencies.



Is Studying in Italy Worth it?

Studying in Italy offers a unique blend of top-notch education, rich cultural experiences, and global career opportunities. With renowned universities, especially in fields like art, architecture, engineering, and business, the academic benefits are undeniable. Combined with the life experiences and skills you'll gain living in Italy, many students find that studying in Italy is indeed worth it.


Are International Students Allowed to Work in Italy? What's the 20-hour Rule?

Yes, international students are allowed to work in Italy while studying. The 20-hour rule refers to the maximum number of hours a student can work per week during their studies. This rule ensures that work doesn't interfere with academic commitments. Moreover, Italy is generally considered a safe country, so working part-time usually poses minimal safety risks.


Where can I Find Jobs? Can I Work in the University?

Job opportunities for students are often available both on and off-campus. Some universities offer work-study programs or have job boards that list part-time opportunities. Retail, hospitality, and tutoring are common sectors where students find work. Additionally, teaching assistantships and research roles are often available within universities.


What are Some Popular Jobs Along With the Salary Offered?

The type of job and the salary can vary widely depending on the city, the sector, and the level of expertise. Here are some common jobs and their approximate salary ranges per hour:

  • Retail Jobs: €8 - €12
  • Tutoring: €15 - €25
  • Teaching Assistant: €12 - €18
  • Research Assistant: €15 - €20
  • Hospitality Jobs (Waitstaff, Bartending): €8 - €12


Student Insurance in Italy: What are the Options?

For EU Students

If you are an EU student, you can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access healthcare services in Italy. The EHIC ensures that you get the necessary medical care on the same terms as Italian citizens, usually free of charge or at a reduced cost.

For Non-EU Students

If you're coming from a non-EU country, you'll need to register for the Italian National Health Service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, SSN). The SSN provides comprehensive healthcare and is funded through tax contributions. Registration typically involves a nominal fee, and it grants you access to a wide range of medical services for one calendar year.

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