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The Italian University System

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The Italian University System
The Italian University System
The Italian university system is organised in three cycles, according to the Bologna structure: the
main academic degrees are the Laurea (1st cycle), the Laurea Magistrale (2nd cycle) and the
Dottorato di Ricerca (3rd cycle). The system also offers other study programmes and related
qualifications.
First cycle. This cycle consists exclusively of Corsi di Laurea. These degree programmes provide
students with an adequate command of general scientific methods and contents as well as with
specific professional skills. The general access requirement is the Italian school leaving
qualification awarded after completion of 13 years of schooling and passing the relevant State
examination; comparable foreign qualifications may also be accepted. Admission to some degree
courses may be based on specific course requirements. The studies last 3 years. The Laurea is
awarded to students who have gained 180 ECTS credits (called Crediti Formativi Universitari –
CFU) and satisfied all curricular requirements, including the production of a final written paper or
equivalent final project. The Laurea gives access to the Corsi di Laurea Magistrale as well as to
other 2nd cycle study programmes.
Second cycle. The main degree programmes in this cycle are the Corsi di Laurea Magistrale. They
provide education at an advanced level for the exercise of highly qualified activities in specific
areas. Access is by a Laurea degree or a comparable foreign degree; admission is based on specific
course requirements determined by single universities. The studies last 2 years. The Laurea
Magistrale degree is awarded to students who have gained 120 ECTS/CFU credits and satisfied all
curricular requirements, including the production and public defence of an original dissertation.
Some programmes (namely, those in dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy,
architecture, construction engineering/architecture, law, primary education) are defined "single
cycle programmes" (Corsi a ciclo unico); for these programmes access is by the Italian school
leaving qualification (or a comparable foreign qualification); admission is based on entrance exams.
The studies last 5 years (6 years and 360 ECTS/CFU credits in the cases of medicine and dentistry).
A Laurea Magistrale degree is awarded to students who have gained 300 ECTS/CFU credits and
satisfied all curricular requirements, including the production and public defence of an original
dissertation.
A Laurea Magistrale degree gives access to Corsi di Dottorato di Ricerca as well as to other 3rd
cycle study programmes.
Third cycle. The main degree programmes in this cycle are Corsi di Dottorato di Ricerca (research
doctorate programmes); the students/young researchers enrolled in these programmes will acquire
methodologies for advanced scientific research, will be trained in new technologies and will work
in research laboratories, wherever appropriate. Access is by a Laurea Magistrale degree (or a
comparable foreign degree); admission is based on a competitive exam; studies last at least three
years and include the completion and public defence of an original research project.
Other programmes
- Corsi di Specializzazione. These are 3rd cycle programmes intended to provide students with the
knowledge and skills required for the practice of highly qualified professions, mainly in medical,
clinical and surgical specialities. Admission is by a Laurea Magistrale degree (or by a comparable
foreign degree) and is based on a competitive exam; studies may last from 2 (120 ECTS/CFU
credits) to 6 years (360 ECTS/CFU credits) depending on the discipline. The final degree awarded
is a Diploma di Specializzazione.
- Corsi di Master Universitario di primo livello. These are 2nd cycle programmes intended to
provide students with further specialization or higher continuing education after completion of the
first cycle. Access is by a Laurea degree (or a comparable foreign degree); admission may be
subject to additional requirements. Studies last at least 1 year (60 ECTS/CFU credits). The
qualification awarded (Master Universitario di primo livello) does not give access to Corsi di
Dottorato di Ricerca or to any other 3rd cycle programme, since this type of course does not belong
to the general requirements established at national level, but it is offered under the autonomous
responsibility of each university.
- Corsi di Master Universitario di secondo livello. These are 3rd cycle programmes intended to
provide students with further specialization or higher continuing education studies after completion
of the second cycle. Access is by a Laurea Magistrale degree (or a comparable foreign degree);
admission may be subject to additional requirements. Studies last at least 1 year (60 ECTS/CFU
credits). The qualification awarded (Master Universitario di secondo livello) does not give access to
Corsi di Dottorato di Ricerca or to any other 3rd cycle programmes, since this type of course does
not belong to the general requirements established at national level, but it is offered under the
autonomous responsibility of each university.
Credits: degree courses are structured in credits (Crediti Formativi Universitari - CFU).
University credits are based on the workload students need in order to achieve the expected learning
outcomes. Each credit corresponds to 25 hours of student workload, including independent study.
The average workload of a full time student is conventionally fixed at 60 credits per year. Thus, the
CFU fully coincide with ECTS credits
Classes of Degree Courses: all degree programmes of Laurea and Laurea Magistrale sharing
general educational objectives are grouped into “classes”. In developing the specific learning
outcomes of single programmes, Universities have to comply with some national requirements for
each class concerning the types (and corresponding amount of credits) of teaching-learning
activities to be included. Degrees belonging to the same class have the same legal value.
Academic Titles: Those who receive the Laurea are entitled to be called “Dottore”, the holders of a
Laurea Magistrale have a right to the title of "Dottore Magistrale”, the Dottorato di ricerca confers
the title of "Dottore di Ricerca" or “PhD”.
Joint Degrees: Italian universities are allowed to establish degree programmes in cooperation with
Italian and foreign partner universities, on completion of which joint or double/multiple degrees can
be awarded.
Further information:
Italian Qualifications Framework (Quadro dei Titoli Italiani – QTI)
http://www.quadrodeititoli.it
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