Last Updated on January 17, 2023
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Italy certainly has plenty of charms to tempt tourists and international students alike: a diverse landscape; an immense cultural and historical legacy; iconic and historic sites including Rome’s Colosseum and Pisa’s Leaning Tower; incomparable cuisine; an impressive history of inventions and discoveries… and, of course, universities in Italy include some of the world’s oldest and most prestigious.
Aside from the monumental legacy of the Roman civilization, Italy has a long history of leadership and innovation. Notable Italians include explorers Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo; Enrico Fermi (physicist who created the world’s first nuclear reactor); Leonardo da Vinci, who proved the world is not flat; Alessandro Volta, who studied electricity (recognize the term ‘Volt’?); and Galileo Galilei, who discovered four moons around Jupiter and invented the telescope, with which he proved that the Earth revolves around the sun.
That’s just for starters – the list of famous Italian thinkers and inventors goes on and on, ranging from eyeglasses and espresso machines to automobiles and eau de cologne. The origin of the word ‘university’ is also attributed to Italy, and the University of Bologna is believed to be one of the very oldest in the world. To learn more about studying in Bologna in particular, download our guide to studying abroad in Bologna.
There are around 90 universities in Italy, of which the majority are publicly funded. There are also a number of specialized postgraduate centers, polytechnics and other academies that form part of the higher education sector.
Under the Bologna Process, Italy has implemented the nuovo ordinamento system, replacing the former vecchio ordinamento. Higher education in Italy now consists of a three-year bachelor’s degree called the laurea triennale, which can be followed by the two-year master’s degree (laurea magistrale, previously the laurea specialistica).
There is a credit system in place to quantify the amount of work needed to pass each course (e.g. 25 work hours = one credit), as well as an opportunity to change your course or continue your studies abroad after three years. Students wishing to study law must take the five-year Laurea Magistrale a Ciclo Unico, while medical students must take a six-year degree.
Top universities in Italy
A total of 30 universities in Italy feature in the QS World University Rankings® 2019, of which 12 make it into the world’s top 500. The top five are:
Politecnico di Milano
The highest-ranked Italian university at 149th in the world, Politecnico di Milano ranks particularly well for its art and engineering courses, with places in the top 20 of the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020 for art and design (sixth), civil and structural engineering (seventh), architecture (seventh), mechanical engineering (ninth) and electrical engineering (joint 17th). Notable alumni of Politecnico di Milano include celebrated Italian chemist Giulio Natta, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963 for his work in high polymers.
Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
Not far behind is Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa at 167th, which was established in 1810 by a Napoleonic decree. It’s a small university, with only around 500 students enrolled. It ranks within the world’s top 300 universities for agriculture and receives the highest score among all Italian universities for its research citations per faculty member (18th in the world).
Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Pisa
Also based in Pisa, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Pisa is ranked joint 175th in the world this year. Established in 1987 from previously existing institutions, the university mainly operates in the applied sciences and is part of the Pisa University System alongside Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and Università di Pisa.
Università di Bologna
Ranked joint 180th in the world in 2019, Università di Bologna (UNIBO) lays claim to being one of the very first universities established, although the actual date of its founding is uncertain. If the name sounds familiar, that may be due to Italy’s continued leadership in higher education. The University of Bologna gives its name to the Bologna Process, the ongoing project to make academic systems and qualifications more compatible across Europe.
Sapienza – Università di Roma
Ranked 217th in the world, Sapienza – Università di Roma is another of the world’s oldest universities, founded in 1303. Sapienza is one of the largest European universities, with a large student population (112,500) of which around 8,300 are from outside Italy. It counts seven Nobel laureates among its alumni and faculty members, including particle physicist and inventor Carlo Rubbia.
Other top universities in Italy include:
- Università di Padova (249th in the world)
- Università degli Studi di Milano (325th in the world)
- Politecnico di Torino (joint 387th in the world)
- Università di Pisa (joint 422nd in the world)
- Università degli Studi di Trento (joint 426th in the world)
- Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II (joint 472nd in the world)
- Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (joint 491st in the world)
- Università degli Studi di Firenze (UNIFI) (ranked 501-510)
- Universitá degli Studi di Roma – Tor Vergata (ranked 511-520)
- ESCP Europe Business School also has a campus in Italy, located in Turin.
- Official name: Italian Republic (RepubblicaItaliana)
- Capital: Rome (Roma), nickname “The Eternal City”
- Amount needed for living costs: €12,000 (~US$13,500) per year
- Average international undergraduate tuition fees: from €900 (~US$1,000) per year
- Borders with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia
- Italy has numerous islands, and the mainland is famously shaped like a boot.
- There are two independent states within Italy, both enclaves: Republic of San Marino and Vatican City.
- Italy has the only active volcano in mainland Europe: Mount Vesuvius. Of Italy’s 14 volcanoes, three others are active: Mount Etna, Stromboli and Vulcano.
- Europe’s third-largest economy, eighth largest in the world
- 51 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other country
- Official language: Italian. Other recognized linguistic groups have co-official status including French, German, Ladin and Slovene.
- Main religion: Roman Catholic
- Currency: Euro (€)
- Main exports: engineering products, textiles and clothing, machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, chemicals, tobacco, minerals, and nonferrous metals
- Italy’s national football (soccer) team has won the FIFA World Cup four times, in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 – only Brazil has been more successful.
- Other popular team sports in Italy include volleyball, basketball and rugby.
- There is a European law safeguarding the ‘traditional Italian pizza’.
- The language of music is in Italian (for example mezzo, lento, andante, allegro, vivace and presto).
- Famous Italian cheeses include Parmesan, from the Parma area in Northern Italy and mozzarella, traditionally made using Italian buffalo milk.
- Time zone: Central European Time (UTC+1), UTC+2 in the summer
- International dialing code: +39
- Internet domain: .it
Top ranked universities in Italy
|University||QS Ranking 2022||THE Ranking 2022||ARWU Ranking 2021|
|Politecnico di Milano||142||351||201|
|University of Bologna||166||172||201|
|Sapienza University of Rome||171||197||151|
|University of Padua||242||201||151|
|University of Milan||316||301||151|
|Politecnico di Torino||334||601||501|
|University of Pisa||388||401||151|
|Vita-Salute San Raffaele University||390||201||401|
|University of Naples Federico II||424||401||301|
|University of Trento||440||351||401|
Top Business Universities In Italy For International Students
Italy, located in south-central Europe, is a vibrant and dynamic country with a large history of culture and strengths. From literature and architecture to phenomenal cuisine, Italy has it all. It also has a reputation for success in the world of International Business. Its thriving economy gives students an understanding of business management, finance, and international relations, firsthand. Some of Italy’s largest metropolitan cities are among the best in Europe to study and Milan alone has two of the best business schools in the country. Here is a list of the best business schools in Italy.
Best Business Schools in Italy
1. SDA Bocconi School of Management
Number one on the list of Best Business Schools in Italy is SDA Bocconi School of Management. Continually ranked as the third best business school in Europe, this school is one to be reckoned with. Located in Milan, the epicenter of a thriving economy, SDA creates a unique and highly sought-after environment for business enthusiasts. Milan has had a reputation of success since the Renaissance period and has continued this success into the modern world. It is a primary place of production of luxury and is the wealthiest city in Italy.
Students applying to this program can expect one year of intensive studies with a large investment of around 62,000 Euros, making it one of the most expensive business programs in Italy. With a highly selective process, this school can be a challenge to get into. However, those that do, find a return on their investment in as little as 10 years. Global MBA rankings by QS rated this school 3rd out of 251 for payback time and 10-year return on investment, an impressive fact the school is highly proud of.
2. Luiss Business School
- Custom programs
Luiss Business School, accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), is located in the heart of the national capital of Italy. Rome is mostly known for its stunning architecture, but it also comes second to Milan in terms of finance and business. Living and studying in Rome gives students the opportunity to explore an economy rich in culture and history. Luiss Business School is recognized as Italy’s best university and is accredited by EQUIS.
In terms of cost, this business school in Italy is a relatively affordable option when compared to SDA Bocconi’s hefty price. Luis Business School costs around 30,000 Euros per year and offers a wide range of customizable programs. Whether you have professional experience or not, Luiss Business School has something for you.
3. University of Bologna – Bologna Business School
- Global MBA
- Full-time masters
- Executive masters
- Open programs
The University of Bologna Business School, otherwise known as the “Center for Sustainability”, is another top business school in Italy and focuses its energy on research and multi-cultural education. Students that display creativity, innovativeness, and principles of responsibility will be strongly valued at this school. Located in Northern Italy, this school offers a variety of degrees for both EU and non-EU citizens and has been rated one of the top 10 places to study abroad.
This Northern Italian city is the largest in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and has a rich history of culture. In addition, it is considered the epicenter for agricultural and industrial transport. Hosting many mechanical and electronic companies, this is a city booming with business. Moreover, Bologna is home to one of the largest trade fairs in Europe, making this an ideal location for studens to study. Tuition cost is similar to that of Luiss Business School coming in at 35,000 Euros per year. However, what makes this school unique is its moral belief in educational accessibility. Bologna Business School provides scholarships every year and encourages international students to apply.
4. MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business
Politecnico di Milano Business School (MIP), is another Italian business school built on the theme of sustainability, research and development into global studies, and innovation into the modern world of business. Located in the bustling metropolis of Milan, students can enjoy a vibrant and diverse lifestyle. Due to a majority of classes being taught in English, this school values the diversity of its campus and encourages students from abroad. MIP hosts students from over 100 different countries, further contributing to their diversity mission.
Milan’s reputation with success and industrialization makes this the perfect location for a business school. Students can experience international business firsthand which is a huge selling point. Considering this location, the tuition is relatively affordable, costing students around 39,000 Euros per year
5. MIB Trieste School of Management
Last, but certainly not least on the list of Best Business Schools in Italy is Trieste School of Management (MIB). Ranked in the Top 10 Budget accredited MBAs, this school offers students the opportunity to explore the world of business, for a reasonable price. Tuition costs 25,000 Euros per year, making this the least expensive Italian business school on this list.
Located in Trieste, a unique and historical port city on the Slovenian border gives students a fresh look into international trade and relations. Students are exposed to a variety of business essentials as well as the ability to network with a wide range of individuals. Lastly, MIB is one of three schools in Itay that have received AMBA global accreditation.
The MBA program is split into three phases; core, elective, and projects. Starting with the core subjects, students get a comprehensive look into business concepts. Once the core subjects are mastered, students will then focus on a minor to zero in on a niche topic. Eventually, students begin working on professional projects to put their skills to the test. The way this curriculum is organized has gotten positive reviews from several successful alumni.