11 Best Universities in Italy for International Students

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When considering the many countries in Europe that offer valuable opportunities for higher education, Italy is one such popular study destination. Italy is very well steeped in rich history, iconic cities of art, globally recognized food culture and a thriving community.

This makes Italy one of the best study abroad destinations for international students, and it comes as no surprise that institutions of higher education offer countless study abroad and student exchange programs.

Added to this, you will notice that numerous universities in Italy happened to be established multiple centuries ago. The University of Bologna itself is literally the oldest university that still exists in the world!

The country’s history has been far from a smooth journey but currently, it proudly presents a rich and diverse blend of cultures and traditions that come from each of its 20 key regions.

In this article, we will examine a few of the best institutions of higher education in Italy for international students.


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Top Universities in Italy for International Students

1. Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC)

The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, or the UCSC, is a private research university in Italy. The main campus of UCSC is based in Milan with additional minor campuses in Rome, Piacenza, Brescia and Cremona.

Collectively with its five campuses and a student population exceeding 30,000, the university is reputed for being the largest catholic, non-secular institution of higher education in the world as well as the largest private university in the world.

The UCSC offers a diverse range of courses through its 12 academic faculties and postgraduate schools. These courses are offered in both Italian and English; owing to its international reputation, this university in Italy for international students also provides accredited double degrees in partnership with other overseas universities which enables students to study abroad.

The university is ranked highly for its teaching and employability. In terms of its subjects, UCSC is famous for its Law degrees and its faculty of Law is ranked 80th in the world.



2. The University of Padua

Located in the city of Padua, Italy, the University of Padua is known for being one of the world’s oldest universities! Established in 1222 as a university of law, the university has now expanded and grown into a diverse and world-class institution that educates well over 60,000 students.

It is ranked among the best Italian institutions of higher education in the country as well as globally. Some of its most notable alumni include the likes of Nicolas Copernicus and Sir Edward Greaves.

This university in Italy further offers a wide range of degrees under 20+ academic departments. Currently, this prestigious institution expands its campus to other parts of the province of Veneto and has further established several international links as a means of improving its global position.

To this end, international students have access to a diverse wealth of options during their studies in terms of foreign exchange and the like.


3. Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa

The Scuola Normale Superiore is a prestigious institution of higher education located in Pisa, Italy. Established in 1810 as a sister institution to École Normale Supériere in Paris with means of educating teachers of the Roman empire, the institution currently educates over 500 students in a variety of degrees.

It has currently expanded into a world-class university that is currently ranked as the top most university in Italy, among the top 30 universities of Europe and among the top 200 universities globally.

In addition to its campus in Pisa, the institution also has a separate campus in Florence. SNS offers a multitude of degrees for its students under several academic faculties.

International partnerships with other universities enable a cross-exchange of students and for improving international influx. International students, particularly doctoral candidates and postgraduate students, have access to a range of scholarship and funding opportunities as well.


4. Politecnico di Milano

Located in Milan, Italy, the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan) is one of the largest technical institutions in the country.

Established in 1863, this elite institution offers education for students in architecture, design, and engineering. In addition to its main campus in Milan, the Polytechnic also runs additional satellite campuses across the country.

Known for being the oldest university in the region, the Polytechnic is most famous for its engineering courses which are ranked the best in Italy. Its courses for design, architecture and structural & civil engineering are also highly competitive.

Furthermore, this university in Italy for international students fosters several connections with international partner universities which enables students to integrate their course studies with study experiences outside of Italy.

For example, PhD students have the opportunity to study for a year abroad at MIT. The institution also maintains a high profile for its research and takes on around 60 large-scale international projects annually.


5. Lorenzo de Medici International Institute

If you are looking for a primary international institute in Italy, the Lorenzo de Medicine Institute is an excellent choice. With its main campus based in Florence, the institution runs additional campuses in Rome, Venice, and Tuscania.

The LdM is known for providing a popular study-abroad program for international students who wish to study in Italy. With an annual student enrolment exceeding over 2500, the institution specializes in Italian language studies, liberal arts and fine arts, and all these courses are taught in English as well as Italian.

Examples of the offered courses and degrees include bachelor’s degrees for studio art, conservation studies, fashion design, Italian language and a master’s degree in Museum studies.

The LdM further has accredited programs that are run in collaboration with international universities such as in the United States (Marist College, New York) and other universities in the world. Academically, the classes are of a small nature and are therefore very interactive for the students.


6. Università di Bologna

Located in Italy’s northern city of Bologna, the Università di Bologna was established in 1088 and currently holds the title of the oldest university in the world. It is among the leading institutions of higher education in Europe as well.

Globally, the university is ranked among the top 200 universities in the world (ARWU rankings) and nationally, it is ranked as the best university in Italy. Academically comprising of 11 schools, the university currently educates over 85,000 students from Italy and across the world.

It offers programs known as undergraduate ‘laureas’ with different fields of study followed by Master’s and doctoral programs. With its international prestige, thus university in Italy for international students maintains several international connections with partner universities overseas and also has an overseas branch in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Despite its ancient history, the university is far from ‘old’ with a campus that provides an enriching student experience and the city that is known for its diverse nightlife.


7. Sapienza Università di Roma

The Sapienza University of Rome, or simply known as the Sapienza, is a research collegiate university based in the city of Rome, Italy. Founded in 1303, the university currently has a student population exceeding 112,000 which makes it one of the largest universities in Europe by student enrolment.

The Sapienza has regularly produced world-class graduates who have become Presidents of European Parliament, heads of nations, eminent scientists, Nobel Laureates and other notable positions. Famous figures include Maria Montessori, Enrico Fermi, and Evangelista Torricelli.

It comes as no surprise that this institution is highly prestigious and is consistently ranked highly in the country as well as in Europe. The Sapienza operates through 11 major faculties and has a high profile for research. Its key areas of research are in natural sciences, humanities, biomedical sciences and engineering.


8. Florence University of the Arts

Located in one of the greatest cities of art, Florence, the Florence University of the Arts is a prestigious private institution of higher education that offers education in the fine arts for students.

Established recently in 1997, although the university has recent inception, it has grown to become an elite institute of study that provides studies for over 3000 students. This university in Italy for international students academically comprises of 9 schools and offers well over 200 different courses of study.

These range from fashion technology to studies in the culinary arts. With its primarily English mode of instruction, the FUA brings together students from over 40 different countries of study.

Furthermore, Florence itself is a tourist city and fosters a strong sense of international community, giving the university and enriching environment for its students. It also collaborates with numerous overseas institutions, such as the University of South Florida in the United States, to provide accredited double degrees and the opportunity of student exchange programs.


9. University of Siena

The University of Siena is a public university in Italy located in the historic city of Siena in Tuscany. Founded in the year 1202, this elite institution is another example of one of the oldest universities in the world and is the perfect destination for students who are interested in studying in a medieval city steeped in history.

It currently provides education for over 20,000 students and academically, the university is most known for its schools of law, management, and medicine.

In addition to this, the university heavily encourages its international students to integrate with the culture and traditions of the city and emphasizes on a language exchange partnership program with fellow Italian students.

Multiple courses of study that are offered by the university tend to be delivered in English but all students are guaranteed to experience the immersive and enriching nature of the environment in this cultural city.


10. University of Verona

The University of Verona is a public research university located in the city of Verona in Italy. Known as the city of love after its inspiration and setting of Shakespeare’s timeless ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the university and its location in Verona makes it ideal for students who wish to study in a diverse, cultural and pleasant environment.

The university has consistently been ranked as the best public university in Italy for international students and has a high prestige for its academic studies. Academically divided into 12 departments ranging from Biotechnology and Economics to Medicine and Philosophy, this institution offers around 200 different programs of study for the student population that exceeds 20,000.

The university further maintains high international standards; it has a university partnership network that comprises of well over 300 overseas partners and draws in an international student community of around 1500 students. The university is committed to providing the best opportunities for study and cultural exploration.


11. Vita-Salute San Raffaele University

Based on the iconic city of Milan, the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (or the UniSR) is a private university that was established in 1996. This university mostly caters towards life sciences and philosophy and academically comprises of 3 major faculties that include Medicine, Psychology and Philosophy.

Despite its limited breadth of study, the university maintains a strong international reputation; for example, the School of Medicine runs an international MD program with English as the primary mode of instruction.

Added to that, half of the seats available for these programs are offered to international students which enhances the international experience within the UniSR. Research remains a strong focal point in the university and it operates and runs several cutting edge research facilities.

With its convenient location in one of the largest cities in Italy, students also have access to a wealth of opportunities for education and post-degree employment as well.


I hope that this article on the top universities in Italy for international students was helpful. If you are interested, visit Europe Scholarships Page for more info!