Higher education in Italy

Unlike Dutch higher education, Italian higher education is not divided into and . Italian higher education institutions can offer both types of education. This often means that for each diploma we have to determine whether it is HBO or WO. Below, we describe the diplomas that we often see.

Diploma di tecnico superiore

Istituti Tecnici Superiori (ITS) offer study programmes for a Diploma di tecnico superiore.

  • : 2 years, sometimes 3 years.
  • : 120 or 180 ECTS.
  • Content: vocational subjects and an internship.
  • Admission requirements: a Diploma di superamento dell’esame di stato conclusivo.
  • Function of the diploma: work and or exemptions from certain subjects in bachelor’s programmes (Laurea). These exemptions enable students to complete the bachelor’s programme in a shorter time.
  • Diploma: Diploma di tecnico superiore.

We compare a Diploma di tecnico superiore to an associate degree or 2 years of HBO.

Laurea

At universities and polytecnici, the bachelor’s degree is called Laurea. In some cases, the term Laurea di primo livello or Laurea triennale is used. Laurea programmes are abbreviated as L/L3.

  • Duration: 3 years.
  • Study load: 180 ECTS.
  • Content: usually research-oriented subjects, sometimes vocational subjects or a combination of both.
  • Admission requirements: a Diploma di superamento dell’esame di stato conclusivo.
  • Function of the diploma: access to master’s programmes or work.
  • Diploma: Laurea.

We usually compare a Laurea to a WO bachelor’s degree, sometimes to an HBO bachelor’s degree. This depends on the content and goal of the study programme.

Diploma accademico di primo livello

At educational institutions for arts and music (Istituzioni dell'Alta Formazione Artistica e Musicale, AFAM), the bachelor's degree is called Diploma accademico di primo livello.

  • Duration: 3 years.
  • Study load: 180 ECTS.
  • Content: vocational subjects in the field or art or music.
  • Admission requirements: a Diploma di superamento dell’esame di stato conclusivo. Often, students have to take an entrance exam as well.
  • Function of the diploma: work and access to master’s programmes.
  • Diploma: Diploma accademico di primo livello. Sometimes, ‘1°’ instead of ‘primo’ is stated on the diploma.

We compare a Diploma accademico di primo livello to an HBO bachelor's degree.

Diploma di mediatore linguistico

At educational institutions for interpreting and translation (scuole superiori per mediatori linguistici), the bachelor’s degree is called Diploma di mediatore linguistico.

  • Duration: 3 years.
  • Study load: 180 ECTS.
  • Content: vocational subjects in the field of interpreting and translating.
  • Admission requirements: a Diploma di superamento dell’esame di stato conclusivo.
  • Function of the diploma: work or access to master’s programmes.
  • Diploma: Diploma di mediatore linguistico.

We compare a Diploma di mediatore linguistico to an HBO bachelor's degree.

Laurea magistrale/specialistica

Universities and polytecnici offer study programmes for a Laurea magistrale/specialistica. These are research-oriented master’s programmes, abbreviated as LM/LS.

  • Duration: 2 years.
  • Study load: 120 ECTS,
  • Content: research-oriented subjects.
  • Admission requirements: a Laurea.
  • Function of the diploma: access to PhD programmes or work.
  • Diploma: Laurea magistrale or Laurea specialistica.

We compare a Laurea magistrale to a WO master's degree.

We compare a Laurea specialistica to a WO master's degree.

Integrated master’s programmes (Lmu/LSu)

Alternatively, students can get a Laurea magistrale/specialistica via an integrated master’s programme (LMu/LSu). With these study programmes, a bachelor’s and a master’s programme are combined into 1 study programme (ciclo unico) of 5 years (300 ECTS) or 6 years (360 ECTS). After completing the programme, students get 1 diploma: a Laurea magistrale or Laurea specialistica. These diplomas have the same level als a regular Laurea specialistica/magistrale.

Master universitario di primo livello

Universities and polytecnici offer study programmes for a Master universitario di primo livello (MU1). These are vocational master’s programmes.

  • Duration: at least 1 year.
  • Study load: at least 60 ECTS.
  • Content: usually vocational subjects, sometimes research-oriented subjects.
  • Admission requirements: a Laurea.
  • Function of the diploma: work. The diploma does not give access to PhD programmes.
  • Diploma: Master universitario di primo livello.

We usually compare a Master universitario di primo livello to an HBO master's degree, sometimes to a WO master's degree. This depends on the content and the goal of the study programme.

Diploma di specializzazione di primo livello

Universities and polytecnici offer study programmes for a Diploma di specializzazione di primo livello (DSI). These study programmes are intended for students who want to specialise further after obtaining a Laurea magistrale/specialistica.

  • Duration: 2 to 6 years.
  • Study load: 120 to 360 ECTS.
  • Content: vocational and research-oriented subjects.
  • Admission requirements: a Laurea magistrale/specialistica.
  • Function of the diploma: work.
  • Diploma: Diploma di specializzazione di primo livello.

We compare a Diploma di specializzazione di primo livello to an HBO master's degree or a WO master's degree. This depends on the content and the goal of the study programme.

Diploma accademico di secondo livello

At educational institutions for arts and music (AFAM), the master’s degree is called Diploma accademico di secondo livello.

  • Duration: 2 years.
  • Study load: 120 ECTS.
  • Content: vocational subjects in the field of art.
  • Admission requirements: a Diploma accademico di primo livello or a Laurea in a relevant field of study.
  • Function of the diploma: work or access to further education.
  • Diploma: Diploma accademico di secondo livello. Sometimes, ‘2°’ instead of secondo’ is stated on the diploma.

We compare a Diploma accademico di secondo livello to an HBO master's degree.

Master universitario di secondo livello

Universities and polytecnici offer study programmes for a Master universitario di secondo livello. These are vocational or research-oriented study programmes. Often, they offer more specialisation than study programmes for the Master universitario di primo livello.

  • Duration: at least 1 year.
  • Study load: at least 60 ECTS.
  • Content: vocational or research-oriented subjects.
  • Admission requirements: 1 of the following master’s degrees:
  • Function of the diploma: work. The diploma does not give access to PhD programmes.
  • Diploma: Master universitario di secondo livello.

We compare a Master universitario di secondo livello to an HBO master's degree or a WO master's degree. This depends on the content of the study programme.

Dottorato di Ricerca (PhD)

When students complete a PhD programme at a university or polytecnico, they get a Dottorato di Ricerca.

  • Duration: at least 3 years.
  • Content: research and writing and defending a thesis.
  • Admission requirements: a Laurea magistrale/specialistica. Students also have to pass a rigorous entrance exam.
  • Diploma: Dottorato di Ricerca.