The ancient Romans were a learned bunch. They gifted us with central heating, sanitation and the 365-day year. They also did a fair bit for advancing education, and Italy is home to the oldest university in the world – Bologna. It’s no wonder then, that this country is a favorite choice of students who want to exercise their grey matter overseas. If you aspire to study in Italy, this guide will give you a few tips to get you started.
What can Italy offer me?
Before your head becomes awash with visions of sipping an espresso while riding a Vespa around the Coliseum, it is vital to know if Italy has the right course for you.
For full-time higher education level, Italy offers three choices: A 3-year Bachelor of Arts or Science (“Diploma di Laurea”), a 2-year Specialization Degree (“Laura di Specializzazione”) and a 1 to 2-year Research Doctorate or Postgraduate Degree (“Dottorato di Ricerca”).
Those who want to dip their toes in the Italian culture (language, art, cuisine) should enroll in a summer school, or a shorter language course. These are run in conjunction with Italian universities or otherwise as independent entities. Choices in this category are vast.
Am I qualified to study in Italy?
If you’re a member of the EU and possess the required prior education, you may be lucky enough to score yourself a full-time HE position at one of Italy’s universities. Research different universities to find the right degree program, then contact the university directly to determine if they can offer you a place. They should guide you from there.
If you’re a non-EU student looking for a full-time HE course, find the Italian university degree course you want to enroll in, then contact your Italian consulate in spring time of the year you want to commence your studies. They will let you know if enrollment is possible or not.
If neither of these options is available to you, you might consider enrolling at a university in your native country that offers a year or a semester studying in Italy. The Universities of Chicago, Columbia, Toronto, Edinburgh and Royal Holloway are just a handful that do this. If you enroll in an Italian-themed degree, your chances of getting to Italy will be greatly increased, “naturalmente”.
To study in Italy for more than 90 days, you’ll require a study visa. To obtain one, you’ll need to be able to prove you have arranged accommodation and medical care in Italy, as well as the financial means to support yourself and to return home when you’re done.
If you’re attending a summer school or language course for fewer than 90 days, you should be able to get by on a tourist visa.
Will I need to understand Italian?
Every university in Italy accepts a certain quota of foreign students on the condition that they take an Italian language preparation course. This doesn’t mean you have to be fluent in the language; simply that you have shown an interest.
Most major Italian universities offer degree programs entirely in English, although choice at each university is limited. The University of Milan, for example, offers full English courses in Economic and Political Science, Computer Science and International Medical School. Verona University has a Master’s Degree in Economics. The University of Siena’s English-speaking courses are comprised of Economics, Management and Governance, and Finance.
As in any other country, if you make the effort to learn at least the basics of the language, you’re more likely to become more integrated into the society, make more Italian friends, experience more cultural going-ons, and generally have a better time.
If you’re in Italy to study Italian itself then your language issue is already solved for you!
Where are the best places to study in Italy?
Everyone has their own idyllic vision of study in Italy, whether it’s being inspired by the Renaissance beauty of Florence, or imbibing good wine and a volume of Dante in the shade of a Tuscany vineyard. The reality is that you will have to allow for some degree of compromise. Your ideal university may not offer the course you want to study. Even if they do, they might not be able to accept you.
The good news is that Italy has a decent transport infrastructure and it’s relatively cheap to get around. Therefore, it’s recommended you focus on the right course and dedicate your spare time to exploring the country.
If you’re looking for a degree program, look no further than www.study-in-italy.it. This site has a great search facility that includes all English-speaking courses at all Italian universities, meaning you can whittle down your choices very quickly. Then, simply click through to individual university websites for a little fine-tuning of your research.
Language and summer schools
The Instituto Il David, based in Florence, specializes in teaching foreign students about Italian language and culture and is officially authorized by the Italian Ministry of Education. They also run arts and craft workshops.
If you’d prefer to study with a sea breeze in your hair, Accademia Leonardo offers intimate (no more than 12 students per class) language and culture courses on the stunning Amalfi Coast.
John Cabot University is unique in that it is an American university based in the center of Rome. It has both full-time undergrad programs, plus shorter study abroad initiatives. Their website is certainly worth a look.
How much will it cost?
A degree program will cost you somewhere in the region of $1,100-$1,300 per year. On top of that, of course, you will have to fund your own accommodation and various living expenses. In Rome you will pay anything between $80-$130 per week for a room. On average a glass of beer is $5, a cappuccino is $1.70, a loaf of bread is $2.00 and a one-way ticket on local transport will set you back $1.50. Outside of Rome, things are generally a little cheaper.
Summer and language schools vary in price, depending on the length of your course. At the Instituto Il David, a standard four-week course (80 lessons) is $687. For an intensive course (120 hours) it’s $1,004 per month. A standard four-week course at Accademia Leonardo costs $820 while intensive is $1,240.
Will Noble is a freelance writer from England who has written for the
Prague Post and the Bournemouth Daily Echo. He studied Scriptwriting for
Film and TV at Bournemouth University and is co-creator of comedy sketch
show The Chop House. He regularly writes for the Pimsleur Approach, sellers of language courses including Learn to Speak Brazilian Portuguese and Learn To Speak Japanese.