Dreaming about studying in Italy but not sure if you can?
In this article, we have translated and simplified this official Italian document which provides information on the recognition of foreign educational qualifications for the purpose of accessing higher education in Italy.
In case of ambiguity, we always recommend referring to the original version and its possible future revisions.
For the purposes of the article, please bear in mind the following:
- Qualifications: these are the diploma or leaving certificates students obtain in their countries after completing high school;
- Institutions: these are the Italian Universities, Academies, Higher schools and in general every legally recognized higher education provider in Italy;
- Country of origin: this is the country where the qualification has been obtained, even if it differs from the student’s nationality. E.g., in the case of a Swiss citizen who went to high school in the UK, the UK is the country of origin;
- Candidate: the prospective student willing to enroll in an Italian university.
Let’s have a look at all the different backgrounds of students willing to enroll in an Italian university.
Case 1: Qualifications obtained after 12 years (or more) of school
Provided that, in the country of origin, the qualification allows access to university (to a course similar to the one the student is willing to access in Italy), then this qualification is valid to access a first-level degree course or a single-cycle degree course in Italy.
A few side notes:
- The student must have spent at least the last two years in the education system of the qualification;
- The Italian institution reserves the right to verify the qualification and the overall school record of the student. If necessary, the Italian institution can require additional documentation.
- If the attendance of preschool year is mandatory and it involves teaching reading and writing and the first elements of calculus, then it adds up to the 12 years.
Case 2: Qualifications obtained after a school period of less than 12 years
In case of a high school qualification obtained after a 10- or 11-year period, additional requirements must be met. These requirements will offset the missing years of education. Some examples of additional requirements are:
- An academic certification attesting the successful completion of the first year of university studies in the country of origin. In case of a 10-year school period, it must prove completion of the first two years of university studies.
- An official qualification obtained from an Italian or foreign higher institution (not a university). This qualification must be related to the subject of the chosen course of study at the Italian university. In this case too, the qualification should be obtained after one year in case of an 11-year period of studies, or after two years in case of a 10-year period of studies.
- The successful completion of a Foundation Course. The Foundation Course is a specialized course aimed at preparing students for enrollment in an Italian university. You can find more information about the foundation courses here. If you’re fond of art & design, you should definitely check out the Foundation Year in Art & Designed by Syracuse Academy and MADE program.
- Certifications of other preparatory courses that provide adequate and specialized knowledge, skills and abilities to prepare the student for a University degree within the same institution. In some cases, these courses can also be shorter than 1-year.
In all cases, remember that qualifications aimed at complementing a shorter school period are only evaluated for enrollment in the first academic year with the Italian university. In no case such qualification and certifications can be evaluated further, for example to enroll in a shortened university course.
Case 3: Qualifications obtained from ecclesiastical university institutions in Italy (approved by the Holy See)
To be valid, such qualifications must be endorsed by the relevant ecclesiastical authority.
A candidate with such endorsed qualification can apply to the Italian university providing a copy of the aforementioned qualification. After the admission test (if applicable), the candidate presents the original qualification to finalize the enrollment with the Italian university.
Case 4: United States High School Diploma
To enroll in an Italian university, students holding a U.S. High School Diploma must have passed at least three Advanced Placements (APs). In particular, the three APs:
- the student must have achieved them with a score of 3 or higher;
- the APs must be on three different subjects, relevant to the Italian university course chosen.
The presence of an AP Italian will be a requirement for all students with non-Italian citizenship. This does not apply if the student enrolls in a university course taught in a language other than Italian. Similarly, the AP Italian won’t count as valid if the student has Italian citizenship.
In any case, the U.S. High School Diploma and the three APs will be considered valid only if the student has been enrolled in the U.S. education system for the last two years (at least).
The Italian university is responsible for checking and evaluating the student’s curriculum of studies, considering their whole education path.
Students who hold a U.S. High School Diploma and have completed a two-year Associate Degree in college can enroll in an Italian University, too. This is valid also if the student has obtained the Associate Degree in a third country. Correspondingly, the Italian university will be responsible for checking and evaluating the consistency of the overall education path of the student. In no case, however, the associate degree can be considered valid if obtained over a less-than-one-year period of time.
You haven’t passed the necessary APs? Don’t despair!
Depending on the desired university course, students holding a U.S. High School Diploma without any APs could enroll in an Italian University through a specific foundation course. That’s the case of the Foundation Year in Art & Designed by Syracuse Academy and MADE program, which is open to students with a U.S. high School Diploma who don’t have any APs.
Case 5: United Kingdom qualifications
To enroll in an Italian university, students holding an officially issued U.K. General Certificate of Education (GCE) must have passed at least three A-levels relevant to the desired course. Same applies to students holding an International Certificate of Education (IGCE). The three A-Levels must have a passing grade or above.
An A-Level in Italian is a requirement for all students with non-Italian citizenship. This does not apply if the student enrolls in a university course taught in a language other than Italian. Similarly, the A-Level in Italian won’t count as valid if the student has Italian citizenship.
A combination of three different subjects between A-level and Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects can also be evaluated.
Correspondingly, also the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma, consisting of 3 Principal Subjects + Global Perspective and Research, can be an alternative to the three A-levels.
The presence of an A Level or Pre-U Principal Subject in Italian will be a requirement for all students with non-Italian citizenship. This does not apply if the student enrolls in a university course taught in a language other than Italian. In the same way, the Pre-U Principal Subject in Italian won’t count as valid if the student has Italian citizenship.
The qualifications obtained at the British Schools referred to in Annex 2 are valid for enrollment in Italian universities, too. In these cases, students don’t have to sit the Italian university Italian language test, provided that they have successfully studied Italian as a foreign language.
Scottish qualifications are also valid for enrollment, provided that the student has passed at least three Advanced Highers or, alternatively, two Advanced Highers and at least four Highers.
Case 6: Greek qualifications “Apolytirion”
To enroll in an Italian university, students holding the official Greek high school qualification of Apolytirion must:
- Have obtained the Apolytirion with a grade of at least 10 out of 20
- Have also obtained the academic eligibility certificate called “Veveossi Prosvasis”
If a student has achieved the Apolytirion before 1999 and they were resident in Italy from 1999 to 2001, then they do not have to prove that they hold the Veveossi Prosvasi certificate.
To put it simply, let’s just say that the Italian university is accessible to everyone who has the necessary requirements, and that those requirements are clearly stated and relatively easy to achieve.
Remember that the above-presented guidelines come from an official Italian document which is updated every year, hence small changes may occur.
Moreover, keep in mind that every University also has its own admission requirements, therefore we suggest you reach out to the Italian university of your choice to find out more.
If you’ve already fallen in love with Italian art and design, hesitate no more: contact us to find out how easy it is to kickstart your university career in Italy!