Studying in Italy
On the topic of academia in Italy for foreigners, two models quickly become relevant: (1) Education for children of residents spanning from daycare through postgraduate studies, and (2) Study abroad, meaning short-term programs in Italy for international students.
On a local level, Italian education from daycare to university is a guaranteed right, offered at little to no cost to students and their families through the well-developed public education system. A sprinkling of élite private institutions, such as Bocconi in Milan, round out the mix. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website offers excellent information in English about studying in Italy, at all levels.
Compulsory education is free and available to children of all nationalities who are residents in Italy. Compulsory education lasts from 6 to 16 years of age and is divided into five stages:
- Scuola dell'infanzia (preschool)
- Scuola primaria or scuola elementare (primary school)
- Scuola secondaria di primo grado or scuola media inferiore (lower secondary school)
- Scuola secondaria di secondo grado or scuola media superiore (upper secondary school)
- Università (university)
Early Education in Italy
Public daycare (asilo nido) is available for infants, typically beginning at one year of age. It is highly regulated and of excellent quality. Some daycare spots are reserved for low-income families and children.
Between age two and three, children are promoted to materna, or preschool. Preschool lasts three years and is grounded in the pedagogical philosophy of Maria Montessori, an Italian pioneer in public education. Montessori schools emphasize developmental growth, emotional education and cultivating empathy through music and the arts.
Primary School in Italy
After three years of materna, children enroll in scuola primaria or scuola elementare, usually entering first grade in the academic year in which they will turn six. Many subjects are taught, including reading, math, penmanship, science, social studies, English, geometry, history, and more. Elementary school extends from first through fifth grade, concluding the year the child turns ten.
It’s worth noting that Italy regards the education of the palate as an important component of formation, and the school lunches and snacks are accordingly of high quality varying with the seasons and offered at reasonable cost. In some locales even toddlers in daycare will in be served lunch on china with cutlery, enjoying multiple courses and dessert. Snacks in preschool may come in the form of olive oil on bread, a sliced and dressed tomato, or an apple.
Secondary School in Italy
Scuola media lasts three years and ensures the expansion of the basic skills acquired in elementare. Successful completion of the scuola media results in a promotion to liceo.
The liceo, or high school, in Italy lasts four years and funnels students into specialized tracks. Starting the first year of liceo, the local comune school week may vary so students have one half-day of school during the week, attending school on Saturday for a half-day.
Typical track options include the liceo classico, lingustico, sportivo, and scientifico (respectively, Classics, Linguistics, Athletic, and Scientific). Students must decide which “track” they wish to specialize in, which will have a lasting impact on their university and eventual career options. For example, attorneys and teachers often complete the curriculum of the liceo classico; scientists of all stripes and medical professionals opt into the liceo scientifico. The liceo sportivo ensures that budding professional athletes receive a sound education along with training. Italian liceo is demanding and serious. The maturità, or final exams, are completed at age eighteen. Successful completion of the high school diploma is a requirement for entrance into an Italian university.
University of Bologna
Higher Education in Italy
Italian universities are excellent and enjoy a sound global reputation. Although, Italian university students tend to stay close to home, enrolling in a campus with a location that makes weekend trips home simple and affordable.
Italy leads the pack as a study abroad destination and has held a place of honor ever since the Grand Tour became the sign of a well-heeled upbringing for eighteenth-century nobles. If you are currently considering relocation as a university student or parent of, a wise first step is to check with the international education office of your university to learn if Italy active study abroad ties exist. Enrolling in a recognized program for academic credit in Italy will open up financial aid options.
As a short-term study abroad destination, Italy boasts a whopping 316 programs. With its superlative cuisine, appealing language, art treasure and storied history, programs offer a rich blend of Italian cultural studies and courses in a variety of majors from business to fine arts. Most programs require little to no Italian language study. Italy is plentiful of panoramic landscapes, history on every corner, and gelato in an infinite array of colors. However, a lack of Italian language skills may make integrating into the local culture a challenge.
Italy also fills a special niche as a destination for intensive language learning. (For an illustrative example, watch Italian for Beginners, a Danish comedy released in 2000.) These programs have rolling admissions, bundling room and board with tuition, and offer value for cost while decoding Italian cultural mysteries which so frequently remain opaque to short-term tourists.
In 2021, Italy created a special exception for students who come to Italy to attend a satellite campus of a main U.S. campus. These students no longer need to acquire a student visa before coming to Italy. An important component of this new exception is that their stay in Italy cannot exceed 150 days (five months). Consequently, students must bear in mind the restrictions on the Schengen Visa zone (of 90 days). The student is unable to travel in the Schengen Zone from days 90-150 of their stay since Schengen rules will not permit the re-entry to Italy from abroad once the 90-day period of Schengen Visa validity has concluded.
Learn More About Academia in Italy
Whether you are a family with young dependents or a university student seeking a special adventure, Italy can be an excellent study destination. Academia in Italy is held in high regard from the early years onwards. Discover an experienced and bilingual Italian Advisor on the Relocate platform who can help you access Italy’s education system based on your needs.