The best universities in Italy for international students


Updated on Sep 01 • 6 minute read

If you're looking for an unforgettable European university experience, look no further than Italy.

Besides getting the opportunity to study in one of the world-class universities in the country, being a student in Italy means that you’ll also have the chance to experience the country’s stunning scenery, vibrant culture and thriving nightlife.

With such great perks and an affordable cost of living, it’s no surprise that there’re more than 700,000 international students pursuing their higher education in Italy.

Excited to study in Italy as an international student? Here’s what you should know before you send your university applications:

  • Do Italian universities offer English-thaught programs?
  • What are the rankings of the best universities in Italy?
  • How much does it cost to study in Italy?
  • Are there scholarship options for international students in Italy?

Do I need to know Italian to study in Italy?

Italians aren’t exactly known to speak English but this doesn’t mean that Italian universities don’t offer English language programs. All of the best universities in Italy offer programs that are taught entirely in English.

In general, you don't need to know Italian unless you're planning on doing courses in Italian. In this case, you'll need to know Italian at level B2 of the European language framework.

Are universities in Italy free for international students?

International students cannot study in Italy for free. But unlike in many other European countries, the tuition fees in Italy are the same for both EU and Non-EU students.

The tuition fees in Italian universities depend on whether the university is public or private and the type of program you’d like to enroll in.

Here’s the average tuition fee in Italy in 2022 across public and private universities:

  • €500 – €5,000 per year in public universities
  • €5,000 – €25,000 per year in private universities

As with the majority of universities everywhere, the tuition fees in Italy only cover the costs of your education. This means that you’ll have to pay for all of the study materials, such as books and other resources for studying. You should budget at least €100 per semester for study supplies.

You can save money on books by buying a digital copy or even purchasing them second-hand from the many student social media groups.

Although tuition is not free for international students, there’re some scholarships you can apply for that would cover either a part of the tuition fee or the whole sum.

What are the top scholarships for international students in Italy?

There’re several different types of scholarships available for international students in Italy. The top 5 scholarships for international students in Italy are:

Now let’s dive into which public universities in Italy are the best and offer programs in English.

What are the best universities in Italy for international students?

There’s a total of 92 universities in Italy and there’re 195 English-taught programs that you can choose from.

The best universities in Italy are spread across major cities like Milan and Rome, but there’re also great options in Turin, Bologna, Pisa, Padua and Trento.

Here’s the list of the top-ranking public universities in Italy:

UniversityRanking (World/ Local)Number of English-thaught programsAverage tuition fee
Politecnico di Milano351-400/ 102 Bachelor’s & 41 Matster’s programs€3,500 - €3,900
University of Bologna172/ 112 Bachelor’s & 14 Matster’s programs€500 - €3,000
Sapienza Univeristy of Rome197/ 25 Bachelor’s & 34 Matster’s programs€988 - €2,924
University of Padua201-250/ 46 Bachelor’s & 46 Matster’s programs€2,533-€2,948
University of Milan301-350/ 72 Bachelor’s & 27 Matster’s programsMax € 3,900
Politecnico di Torino601-800/ 366 Bachelor’s & 22 Matster’s programs€2,600 - €3,820
University of Pisa197/ 22 Bachelor’s & 16 Matster’s programs€2,400
University of Trento351-400/ 103 Bachelor’s & 25 Matster’s programs€2,000 - €4,500

Is Italy a cheap country for students to live in?

Italy is one of the cheapest European countries for students due to the low tuition fees and cost of living. Of course, the cost of living can vary depending on the city you choose to study in. For example, a student budget in Milan needs to be higher than a student budget in Bologna or Florence as the cost of living differs.

To give you an idea, the minimum amount you’d have to set aside for a student budget in Italy is €700 – €1,300 per month.

Type of ExpenseMonthly Cost
Groceries€150 - €200
Public Transport€22 (People under 27)
Leisure time€200 - 300
Local sim contract€5 - €10 all-inclusive
Total€532 excluding rent

The average the rental expenses in Italy in 2022 are:

Type of AccommodationAverage Price

Overall, with a little careful planning, you can find ways to save money and enjoy your time in Italy on a student budget.

Now that you’re aware of the best public universities in Italy and how much money to budget per month, you’re all set to start sending out your applications.

How to apply to an Italian University

To ensure that your application is successful:

  1. Make sure you’re aware of the application deadlines

Application deadlines vary from university to university. So, if you're applying to multiple schools, check the deadlines on each university’s website.

Also, make sure that you request your letter of academic eligibility and suitability from the Italian consulate by mid-May of the same year you intend to start studying in Italy.

  1. Gather all the required documents

When applying to an Italian university, you'll need to submit a few key documents as part of your application:

  • Application form
  • An academic transcript
  • Language proficiency certificate
  • A motivation letter
  • Passport or ID card
  • Passport-sized photographs

Submitting a letter of recommendation along with your application can increase your chances of getting accepted significantly, so make sure to ask your high school teachers to write you one!

  1. Apply for the correct visa

If you’re from a country outside the EU and EAA zones, you’ll have to acquire a visa for the period of your studies.

There’re 2 types of student visas for Italy. You’ll have to apply for either one depending on the duration of your program:

  • The type C (Schengen) visa is valid for stays of up to 90 days and doesn’t give you the right to work in Italy.

  • The type D visa is valid for stays of more than 90 days and gives you the right to work up to 20 hours per week or do an internship in Italy.

So what are you waiting for? After you’ve applied and been accepted by an Italian university, start working on your checklist for relocating to Italy.

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