Best Universities in Italy for International Students | Ranking

Italy is home to one of the earliest universities in the world, University of Bologna, which also initiated the university system that we know today. Hence, when considering the countries in Europe that offer valuable opportunities for higher education, Italy is a good study destination.

However, if you are uncertain which university is best for you, this article proffers information on the best universities in Italy for international students. Also, this article will detail how much it may cost you to study in Italy amongst other concerns you may have.

Italy is well-steeped in rich history, iconic cities of art globally recognized food culture and a thriving community. This makes Italy one of the best studies abroad destinations for international students, and it comes as no surprise that institutions of higher education offer countless study abroad and student exchange programs.

Overview of Italy

Italy is a beautiful country on the Apennine peninsula in Southwestern Europe. The country covers mainland Italy and the surrounding islands. The country stretches southwards, almost to the coasts of North Africa.

Italy has something for everyone. Basically, it is home to stunning old cities, the Mediterranean and breathtaking natural views. It is known for its fantastic food, wine, and passionate people.

At the same time, it is among the 8 most industrialized countries in the world, hosting several world’s biggest companies and research facilities. Italy has a rich cultural tradition and history and many World Heritage Sites that you might wish to visit during your stay.

The top tourist attractions in Italy include:

  • The Colosseum: the largest and most popular amphitheater in the Roman world, built in the first century AD.
  • Canals of Venice: “The City of Water”, as Venice is called, has above 150 canals. The principal tourist attractions are romantic gondolas and Italian architecture along the Grand Canal. If you plan on visiting Venice, don’t forget about St Mark’s Basilica, located on Piazza San Marco.
  • Pompeii: a city that was covered in ash and soil in 79 AD, when the volcano Vesuvius erupted. The city was preserved under the ashes.
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa: its construction started in 1173 and soon after the tower began to sink due to a poorly laid foundation.
  • Lake Como: the lake is shaped like an inverted ‘Y’ and it’s popular for the attractive villas which have been built here since Roman times. Line 1

Why Should I Study in Italy?

Italy is a famous destination for international students. It gives quality higher education with more affordable tuition fees than other Western European countries.

There are about 32,000 international students in Italy, including independent students and those on exchange programs. The country has a rich history and tradition of higher education. This makes it an attractive option for students.

Several prominent institutes for higher education are in Italy especially in Architecture and Design, Sciences and Engineering, New Technologies, Economics and Management, Agriculture, Human Sciences, Conservation and Restoration of cultural assets, Cinema, Dance, Drama, and advanced musical studies.

Furthermore, the quality of education and the strengthened international relationship between Italian and many foreign institutions give students many chances for a fulfilling academic and successful future career within an academic environment and in many other professional fields.

Read: Scholarships in Rome for International Students

Why choose Italian Higher Education System in 6 points:

  • Excellence: Studying in Italy gives the opportunity to achieve a prestigious degree in Italian universities and academies recognized throughout Europe as well as many by international ranking society reports (Shanghai Jiao Tong, QS, Times Higher Education).
  • Professionalism: Italian universities and academies give high competencies and they also support and counsel students during the course of their studies.
  • Labour market opportunities: Italy is in the vanguard in various fields of higher education many of which correspond to the most developed professional sectors of the labor market. 
  • Flexibility: Higher education programs are based on a credit system (ETCS, European Credit Transfer System) by which students can make their plan of study according to their needs.
  • Scholarships and Fellowships:  Several universities and academies offer scholarships or fellowships, with services for lodging and catering, set up by the Agency for the Right to Education which is organized at a regional level.
  • Quality of life: Italy is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it has a rich collection of arts, culture, and literature from many different periods as well as a long tradition in numerous sports, both at the individual and team level. You can enjoy a high and unique quality of life and a welcoming atmosphere. 

How much does it cost to study in Italy?

Tuition fees at Italian institutions differ, but they are generally lower compared to other parts of Europe or North America. This makes Italian universities an enticing proposition for foreign students. International students in Italy receive a quality higher education at an affordable cost.

The cost of tuition will differ at each institution. However, anticipate paying more if you choose to attend a private university. A bachelor’s course will, on average, cost about €900 to €4,000 per year at a public institution.

Fees at a private institution normally cost, on average, €6,000 to €20,000 per year. If you are from the EU or EEA, you probably won’t pay more than Italian citizens. Other international students should expect higher course costs.

There are options to help you fund your studies. All students (Italian and International) can apply for financial aid. It will distribute the funding according to your financial status and academic merit. If you receive help, this can help with tuition fees, accommodation fees, and other living costs. Contact your chosen institution for information about what financial help they can give to you.

In Italy, institutions rarely have halls of residence. They do, however offer services to help you find a place to live. This can include university-owned housing or assisting you to find suitable private housing. Private renting in Italy is the more costly, so make sure you plan for this!

Getting a part-time job is a great way to help fund your studies in Italy. As an EU student, you can work without additional permission.

What are the Best Universities in Italy for International Students?

Here is a list of the Best Universities in Italy for International Students

  • Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC)
  • The University of Padua
  • Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
  • Politecnico di Milano
  • Lorenzo de Medici International Institute
  • Università di Bologna
  • University of Padova
  • University of Torino
  • Milano Fashion Institute
  • – Milan
  • Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
  • Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
  • European School of Economics

#1. Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC)

The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, or the UCSC, is a private research university in Italy. The main campus of UCSC is based in Milan with additional minor campuses in Rome, Piacenza, Brescia, and Cremona.

Collectively with its five campuses and a student population passing 30,000, the university is reputed for being the largest catholic, non-secular institution of higher education in the world and the largest private university in the world.

The UCSC offers different courses through its 12 academic faculties and postgraduate schools. These courses are offered in both Italian and English; owing to its international reputation, this university in Italy for international students also gives accredited double degrees in partnership with other overseas universities, enabling students to study abroad.

Someone rank extremely the university for its teaching and employability. In terms of its subjects, UCSC is renowned for its Law degrees and its faculty of Law is ranked 80th in the world.

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#2. The University of Padua

Located in the city of Padua, Italy, the University of Padua is recognized for being one of the world’s oldest universities! Founded in 1222 as a law university, the university has now expanded and grown into a diverse and world-class institution that educates over 60,000 students.

It is ranked among the best Italian institutions of higher education in the country and globally. Some of its famous alumni include the likes of Nicolas Copernicus and Sir Edward Greaves. This university in Italy further gives a wide range of degrees under 20+ academic departments.

Currently, this prestigious institution extends its campus to other parts of the province of Veneto and has further built several international links to improve its global position. International students have a path to a diverse wealth of options during their studies in terms of foreign exchange.

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#3. Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa

The Scuola Normale Superiore is a prestigious institution of higher education located in Pisa, Italy. Founded in 1810 as a sister institution to École Normale Supériere in Paris to educate teachers of the Roman empire, the institution currently educates over 500 students in various degrees.

It has currently developed into a world-class university that is currently ranked as the topmost university in Italy, among the top 30 universities in Europe and among the top 200 universities globally. Besides its campus in Pisa, the institution also has a separate campus in Florence.

SNS gives a multitude of degrees for its students under several academic faculties. International partnerships with other universities enable a cross-exchange of students and for improving international influx. International students, especially doctoral candidates and postgraduate students, have access to various scholarship and funding opportunities.

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#4. Politecnico di Milano

Located in Milan, Italy, the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan) is one of the biggest technical institutions in the country. Founded in 1863, this elite institution educates architecture, design, and engineering students. Besides its main campus in Milan, the Polytechnic also runs additional satellite campuses across the country.

Known for being the oldest university in the region, the Polytechnic is most popular for its engineering courses, ranked the best in Italy. Its courses for design, architecture and structural & civil engineering are also highly competitive.

Furthermore, this university in Italy for international students raises several connections with international partner universities, enabling students to integrate their course studies with study experiences outside of Italy. For example, Ph.D. students study for a year abroad at MIT. The institution also maintains a high profile for its research and takes on around 60 large-scale international projects yearly.

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#5. Lorenzo de Medici International Institute

The Lorenzo de Medicine Institute is an exceptional choice if you are looking for a primary international institute in Italy. With its main campus based in Florence, the institution runs additional campuses in Rome, Venice, and Tuscania.

The LdM is known for providing a popular study-abroad program for international students who wish to study in Italy. With a yearly student enrolment passing over 2500, the institution specializes in Italian language studies, liberal arts, and fine arts, and all these courses are taught in English and Italian.

Examples of the offered courses and degrees include bachelor’s degrees for studio art, conservation studies, fashion design, Italian language and a master’s degree in Museum studies.

The LdM further has accredited programs that collaborate with international universities such as in the United States (Marist College, New York) and other universities in the world. Academically, the classes are small and very interactive for the students.

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#6. Università di Bologna

Located in Italy’s northern city of Bologna, the Università di Bologna was founded in 1088 and currently holds the title of the oldest university in the world. It is among the leading institutions of higher education in Europe as well.

Globally, the university is rated among the top 200 universities in the world (ARWU rankings) and nationally, it is ranked as the best university in Italy. Academically comprising 11 schools, the university currently educates above 85,000 students from Italy and across the world.

It offers programs known as undergraduate ‘ laureas ’ with different fields of study followed by Masters and doctoral programs. With its international prestige, thus university in Italy for international students maintains many international connections with partner universities overseas and also has an overseas branch in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Despite its old history, the university is far from ‘old’ with a campus that provides an enriching student experience and the city that is known for its diverse nightlife.

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Here are other Best Universities in Italy for International Students

  • University of Padova
  • University of Torino
  • Milano Fashion Institute
  • – Milan
  • Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
  • Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
  • European School of Economics


In conclusion, when considering the countries in Europe that offer valuable opportunities for higher education, Italy is a good study destination. Italy is well-steeped in rich history, iconic cities of art, globally recognized food culture, and a thriving community.

This makes Italy one of the best studies abroad destinations for international students, and it comes as no surprise that institutions of higher education offer countless study abroad and student exchange programs.



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