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 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 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.

Is Italy Good for International Students to Study In?

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 a 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): valid residency permit for study, 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.

Best 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 university 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 on 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.

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 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 acing several international university rankings. It especially excelled in Young Universities rankings and Microsoft Academic Ranking that 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 a young and future-oriented university 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.


I hope that this article on the best universities in Italy for international students was helpful. If you are interested to know more information, check out the Programs in Europe for International Students!