by Sophia E Hodgkinson August 07, 2020 20 min read

Considered by many ones of the most beautiful countries in the world, Italy remains one of the most loved destinations for tourists and students alike. Some love the breathtaking views: from the historic beauty of Rome to the Shakespearian charm of Verona, from the timeless walks in Florence to the relaxing nights at Cinque Terre. Some love the food and the great coffee. Some love the rich history and architecture. Most love the concept of la dolce vita or dolce far niente.

The Italian regions are still very different in terms of tradition, culture, and overall atmosphere. This is a huge factor in diversity and multiculturalism. In the last decade, transportation has been improved, most of the regions are accessible by plane, bus, or train. Italy will be a surprise at every step of the way, one will be able to discover local traditions, local accents, and regionally used words. Locals will introduce tourists in their vast culinary traditions, their festivals, and events or in the historic heart of monuments and sites.

All these reasons are not just motives for booking a trip or a holiday somewhere in the country, but also great reasons to move and study in Italy. For young people ready to combine great academic opportunities with the true Italian lifestyle, Italy is the perfect destination to study abroad. Enjoy a world-class education from prestigious institutions such as Sapienza University of Rome, University of Bologna, Politecnico di Milano, University of Turin, or The European School of Economics which offer a variety of programs and innovative classes. Studying in Italy might be cheaper than studying in France, the UK or Germany, in terms of tuition (approx 1000/year) and overall expenses (around 1000/month), so this could be an important reason to consider for students who are still figuring out their academic destination.

As the international language remains English, Italy has been able to adapt to this trend. There are a lot of degrees taught in English, including Medicine, International Relations, Architecture or Fashion Design. Most of the universities offer Italian courses as part of their curriculum, which makes it easier for future students to adapt and learn the language.

Apart from the great academic offer, Italy offers way more than this, a unique experience for every student, regardless of their passion. If one is fascinated by culture and architecture, they can enjoy a good cup of coffee and study for their exam in front of the stunning Milan Cathedral or near Fontana Di Trevi. Art is present not only in the well-known museums but also at every street corner, as street artists and performers are popular in most of the Italian cities. If the party scene is one of the most needed parts of university nights, Italian cities have a great party culture, from clubbing to outdoor discos and festivals.

Even if it is not yet regarded as one of the top destinations for university abroad, Italy has a huge potential, not only from an academic perspective but also because it can offer a complete student experience. From making unforgettable memories with the new friends you have made to great traveling experiences, great food, and good music, Italy has everything one can need and an extra component of the traditional: la vita e bella!

Medical Schools in Italy

There has been a constant improvement in the medical universities in Italy, with high-level education being provided, as well as a more and more international environment, with students coming from all over the world. The international student body has created a great environment for students to come together and share their experiences and has facilitated a multicultural space.

There are currently 13 public universities that have medical programs in English (with one of them, University of Siena having only a program in Dentistry). There are also 4 private schools that teach classes in English. If it were for the medical schools to be divided into regions, the categorization would look like this:

  • Region of Lombardy: 3 public schools (Pavia, Milan, Bergamo) and 2 private schools (both of them in Milan)
  • Region of Lazio: 2 public schools (both of them in Rome) and the private schools (both of them in Rome also)
  • Region of Campania: 2 public schools (both of them located in Naples)
  • Region of Piedmont: 1 public school (located in Turin)
  • Region of Apulia: 1 public school (located in Bari)
  • Region of Emilia Romagna: 1 public school (located in Bologna)
  • Region of Veneto: 1 public school (located in Padova)
  • Region of Sicily: 1 public school (located in Messina)
  • Region of Tuscany: 1 public school, only specialized in Dentistry (located in Siena)
University Region EU seats International seats
(non-EU seats)
University of Pavia Lombardia 70 40
University of Milan Lombardia 34 16
Federico II University of Naples Campanie 15 10
The University of Milan-Bicocca Bergamo 22 13
University of Turin Piemont 70 31
Bari Aldo Moro University Apulia 42 8
University of Bologna Emilia Romagna 75 15
University of Rome: La Sapienza Lazio 38 10
University of Rome Tor Vergata Lazio 25 10
Luigi Vanvitelli University Campanie 40 40
University of Padova Veneto 54 9
University of Messina Sicily 30 30
University of Siena
(Dentistry)
Tuscany 28 12
Cattolica University Lazio 20 30
The University of San Raffaele Lombardia 17 25
Humanitas University Lombardia 17 25
Uni Camillius Lazio 80 65

The total of EU seats in public universities is 543, and 244 for non-EU seats. As for private universities, there are 135 EU seats and 145 Non-EU seats.

The University of Pavia

The University of Pavia medicine

Pavia is an extremely convenient city to live in as a student, simply due to the fact that out of its 70,000 inhabitants, 20,000 of them are students. The living cost is not [too] high, especially compared to Milan. The total expenses estimated by students for a month would probably cover just the rent in direct comparison to Milan. The public transportation is packed but is also unnecessary; cycling and walking around do not take a lot of time. If one shares a “deep-rooted love for buses”, there is a ‘UniPass’ that costs six euros and allows you to ride the busses freely for a year.

The medical school from the University of Pavia is ranked in the 200-250 top universities and offers a full time, 6-year program in English. Regarding the date and year when the courses were founded and opened for international students, The Harvey Medicine and Surgery Course was founded on October 1st, 2009 by professor Ermanno Gherardi, Head of the Department of Molecular Medicine. An interesting fact about the English taught program is that the Harvey Medicine and Surgery Course was the first medicine course taught entirely in English in Italy, together with other MD programs offered in English by the University of Pavia.

In the academic year 2020/2021, the tuition fee will be divided into 4 installments, which makes it easier and more affordable for students to access the courses. The deadline for the submission of tuition documents is set for 23rd October 2020.

The 2019 IMAT score to enter the university was 45.5 (for Non-EU students) and 51.3 for EU students. Admission is also dependent on the results of the entrance exam, which is a national test drawn up by the Italian Ministry of Education. All the 12 semesters usually run for a duration of 12 to 14 weeks each. Starting with basic notions about sciences to offer a good background, the courses get more and more specialized over the years, being closely related to clinical methods, legal and ethical medicine, and many others. There are two types of exams (without marks- idoneità) and with marks (esami di profitto).

As far as student life is concerned, students describe their experience as full of life and vibrant, due to the university spirit that dominates the city: “ As far as leisure goes, well [if you] put 20,000 students in a few square kilometers, throw in a few hundreds of years of collegiate traditions and a glass of wine for good measure and every night could be an occasion if you so choose. There are mostly bars but also quite a number of clubs”.

The University of Milan

The University of Milan medicine

Even if at a first glance one will think about Milan from a pop-culture perspective, as the capital of fashion or as the house of one of the most well-known operas in the world (La Scala), Milan is a very interesting destination to choose for your studies.

The Medical school from the University of Milan is ranked amongst the top 100 universities (QS Ranking), the program lasts for 6 years and needs 360 overall credits to be validated. The application for admission was between 1/07/2020 and 23/07/2020, the test date is scheduled for 10/09/2020, while the application for matriculation for accepted students will start on 7/10/2020 and finish on 12/20/2020.

In 2019, the IMAT score for the Non-EU students was 54.2, while the one for European Students was 53.9. The IMAT exam for 2020 is scheduled to take place on the 10th of September.

Concerning the programs, the first one (a 2-year program) deals exclusively with pre-clinical training: Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Advanced Technologies. The remaining 4 years are exclusively dedicated to exploring and learning about clinical medicine. The last 4 years are very practical in terms of the learning experience, taking place at the Luigi Sacco Hospital Located in the central city of Milan.

Regarding the student life, the students that were part of the conducted interviews describe it as “this magical city with the power to inspire that will make every student feel at home from the very first second.” ‘They believe that it takes time to discover its beauty: “Milan is not a love at first sight, it’s a long time crush and a lasting romance, it’s a place of culture and a home to many. It will make you grow with her and open your mind.” They see it as an intense and life-changing experience: “Milan changed me in many ways and I hope I will be able to give back half of what she gave me. Embrace her dynamism and go with her flow, close your eyes, and enjoy the journey because in this city you will find everything you need.”

The Federico II University of Naples

Federico II University of Naples medicine

Naples is the third-largest city in Italy and a quite modern European metropolis considered the most historically significant city in Europe. Since 2011 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a relatively cheap and quite affordable city to live in, compared to other cities in the North of Italy as well as Rome. As for the accommodation, it is rather easy to find a choice that fits your interests, with prices ranging from 500-700 euros for an apartment and 300-400 for a single room in a shared flat.

The Medical School from the Federico II University of Naples is ranked among the top 300-350 by the QS Ranking, offering a 6 years program. The English taught medical school opened in 2015. With over 78.000 students and more than 5 000 employees, this university is one of the largest in Italy.

In 2019, the IMAT score for the Non-EU students was 33.1, while the one for European students was 49. The school is focused on providing scientific, theoretical, and practical skills for its students, all of them equally important in pursuing a future medical career. The school uses a multidisciplinary approach in regards to disease prevention and health promotion. The practical aspect of the courses can be seen in internships and clinical units being an important part of the course.

Regarding the students’ life, some students describe Napoli as a unique overall experience for their university years. Napoli is a very unique place:, it's a vibrant city, full of history, nice people, beautiful landscapes and at the same time, it can be pretty chaotic. It's a very cheap place to live, the food here is amazing and very accessible. If one lives in the city center, you can easily access most places on foot, but public transportation can be reliable at times.

The University of Milan-Bicocca, Bergamo

University of Milan-Bicocca medicine

Situated in the alpine region of Lombardy, Bergamo is located 40 km away from Milan and 19 km away from the border with Switzerland. The population of Bergamo is about 122,.000 inhabitants, being the fourth largest city in Lombardy. The city is divided between the old historical region of Citta Alta (Upper-Town) and the modern part of the city. The Upper Town fosters Venetian defensive systems, which were included in the UNESCO Heritage.

The Medical school offers a program for 6 years and is ranked in the top 250-300 by the QS Ranking. The IMAT score for 2019 for the Non-EU students was 37.1 and 53.1 for the European Students. The application process is considered more straightforward and less complicated than for other Italian medical schools. The registration has to be done online and an entry test is required before any further procedure.

The University of Milano-Bicocca collaborates with the School of Medicine and Surgery (SMS), the University of Surrey in the UK, Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital, and the University of Bergamo to offer a complete and engaging student experience. They offer degree programs, as well as postgraduate programs, making sure that students become medical professionals, ready to excel in their future careers. In order for students to adapt to the continuously changing world, the university has opened masters programs, adapted to the new technological requirements and the new waves of innovation.

University of Turin

University of Turin medicine

Turin is a very important business and cultural city in Northern Italy, it is well known for the Savoy Residences, having multiple palaces and residences all around the city. It is also home to one of the most loved football teams in Italy, Juventus Torino, gathering fans from all over the world to watch both the national and the international games of their favorite team. There are also some culinary delights that await to be discovered, such as the gianduiotto, traditional chocolate, or the Bicerin, a traditional hot drink with espresso, chocolate, and milk.

The Medical school at the University of Turin is ranked in the top 200-250 by the QS Ranking, offering 6-year medical programs. The 2019 IMAT score was 36.6 for Non-European students and 49 for European Students. The admission will take place between the 1st of September 2020 and the 15th of October 2020. The MD program in Medicine and Surgery is taught completely in English and takes place in the educational facilities at the San Luigi Gonzaga University Hospital, which allows complete integration of students because of its campus-like feeling.

Regarding student’s life, international students have been pleasantly surprised with all the aspects of the city, from the level of education that is being offered to the vibrant nature of the city itself. They think the city of Torino is fantastic, with lots of places to explore including historical buildings, museums, and generally beautiful streets and piazzas.

Another benefit of the city is the reasonable living costs, very visible when compared to cities like Rome or Milan. The medical school/university where lectures are held is based outside of the city so there is a substantial difference in the cost of accommodation depending on where you decide to live, but even with the differences costs are still lower when compared to bigger, more tourist-oriented cities.

Bari Aldo Moro University

Bari Aldo Moro University medicine

Bari is located in the South of Italy, being the second most important economic center of the region. The University of Bari was founded in 1925, offering very diverse academic services, including 12 different faculties.

The Medical school is ranked in the top 350-400 by the QS Ranking, the 2019 IMAT score being 34,3 for Non-European students, and 46.6 for European Students. The English taught curriculum offers a 6 years degree program, being accessible both to European and non-European students.

Being taught fully in English, the teaching experience will consist of lessons, seminars, practical sessions, distance learning, self-study, and constant interactions with foreign teachers coming from international universities. Agreements are soon to be confirmed with several other European and extra-European universities and the Erasmus/LLP network. Following the logic of all the other Italian Medical Schools, the program is divided into 2 cycles, offering the possibility of post-graduate studies afterward.

Regarding student’s life, living costs are not high here, Bari probably being Bari is one of the cheapest cities in Italy to study. On the other hand, finding a job is absolutely impossible for students, especially if they don't know Italian. There isn’t much to say about public transportation – there are bus lines only. Luckily Bari is a small city, and if you study medicine you might want to live in the Policlinico area. So actually, you won’t need to use any kind of transportation even if you want to hang out in the city center during the weekend. It doesn’t take more than 30 minutes of walking to reach almost anywhere you might want. There are not many places to visit during weekends, but one can always find a new bar or a coffee shop and hang out with their group of friends.

University of Bologna

University of Bologna medicine

Bologna is a historic city, in the North of Italy, it is called the red town due to the color of the rooftops and facades. The University of Bologna is the oldest university in Europe, being opened in 1088, so the city definitely has a vast academic tradition.

The Medical school is ranked 177 by the QS Ranking, with the 2019 IMAT Score being 43,3 for Non-European students and 51 for European students. The IMAT test date for 2020/21 admission is Thursday, 10 September 2020.

The University’s medical program is a 6 years program of 12 semesters with every student being expected to carry out approximately 1020 hours of internship. The internship period begins in the 3rd year. During the 6th year which is also the finals, each medical student at the University is expected to finish up with 29 CFU and 393 hours of internship.

The academic past of Bologna has its advantages and disadvantages. It is a great city though for students since it's been a university center since the Middle Ages. However, that means that for the majority of students, it’s very hard to find a place to stay and if they do manage to it’s usually very expensive. This happens because Bologna is not a huge city like Milan or Rome, but has a very high demand for the University, ending up in a situation where landlords have increased the prices of apartments to very insane levels.

University of Rome: La Sapienza

University of Rome La Sapienza medicine

Seen as the outdoor museum, Rome is one of the most visited cities in the world. Being home to beautiful antic monuments, such as the Colosseum or the Roman Forum, to beautiful galleries and museums and to stunning parks, Rome is definitely on the bucket-list of most travel addicts. Living as a student in Rome can be an enriching experience and can offer a different perspective on a city that mesmerizes people from the first step.

The Medical School is ranked in the top 50-100 by the QS ranking, having three medical faculties: the faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, the Faculty of Medicine & Pharmacy, and Medicine & Psychology. The University of Rome La Sapienza believes in the notion of accessible qualitative education, as such, students are charged with different fees depending on their wealth. Students who come from low-income families are usually given discounts on fees, some of them paying 350 euros as a tuition fee. The 2019 IMAT Score was 49.3 for Non-European students and 49,6 for European students.

The courses take place at different locations in the city, including three specialist hospitals: Policlinico, Sant’Andrea and Latina. Because of the low tuition fees, Sapienza offers a quality and accessible education for international students, creating a diverse and multicultural environment.

Regarding student’s life, some students believe that it is cheaper compared to cities like London, especially from a transportation point of view, but they also believe that public transportation cannot be compared to the one in bigger cities, from an efficiency point of view. Some students point out that the placement of the university (on the outskirts of the city) makes it harder to find places to hang out, like bars or clubs and that they should always go to the city center to enjoy the leisure activities. Even if it might be hard to travel all around the city at times, the fascinating views and places Rome has to offer are worth the wait, as there is something to enjoy for everyone, regardless of preferences and passions.

University of Rome Tor Vergata

University of Rome Tor Vergata medicine

The Medical school is ranked in the top 200-250 by the QS Ranking System. It offers three departments: Systems Medicine, Biomedicine and Prevention and Clinical Science and Translational Medicine. There is a one cycle type degree: Medicine and Surgery (6 years) and Pharmacy (5 years).

A good IMAT score is the fundamental qualification for a student that wants to apply to this university, the 2018 IMAT score for the Non-European students being 45,4 and 48,4 for the European Students. A B1 Italian Certificate will be required only when a student gets in the 3rd year. This requirement comes from the desire to integrate students in the workforce as smoothly as possible. The course is organized in 12 semesters and 36 integrated courses. Regarding Pharmacy, all subjects are completed with lectures, workshops and E-Learning sessions. There are constant meetings at companies or pharmaceutical industries are organised by the university, as a framework of supplementary activities.

Luigi Vanvitelli University, Naples

Luigi Vanvitelli University medicine

Ranked amongst the top 450-500 universities by the QS Ranking System, the IMAT scores for 2019 were 30,4 for Non-European students and 46,8 for European students. The Medical degree program covers everything necessary for a medical professional, including the work ethics, approaches when treating diseases and ways of patient examination. These specific skills will be learned during the time spent at the clinical university teaching hospital.

In order for a complete learning experience to be facilitated, students are assigned to groups in their fourth year. They analyze medical cases and collaborate with lecturers and medical staff. Students are also allowed to attend seminars in and out of the University of Napoli Luigi Vanvitelli medical school campus to broaden their knowledge.

University of Padua (Padova)

University of Padua medicine

Padova is one of the oldest cities in Italy, being situated in the region of Veneto, in Northern Italy. One of the most known tourist attractions is Basilica di Sant’Antonio, together with the oldest botanic garden in Europe.

The Medical School’s IMAT scores for 2019 were 48 for non-European students and 50,4 for European Students. Out of the 360 ECTS credits, 60 are dedicated to a professional internship. Students that apply for the university must have a Secondary High School Diploma and should take the IMAT test before proceeding with the registration. The application should be done both on Uniweb and the University. An international student will have to go for pre-enrollment in the Italian embassy of their country.

Regarding student’s life, the cohort’s diversity makes it easy to connect with people from all over the world and exchange experiences and cultural aspects. There are a lot of grants and scholarships that one can access, facilitating academic experiences from students from different countries. The city is a very friendly environment for students, as they are 30% of the city’s population. Padova is a very charming, diverse city, combining arts, lifestyle and culture in an unique mix.

The University of Messina

University of Messina medicine

Messina is the third city in terms of length from Sicily, and the capital of the province with the same name. University of Messina is a state university, founded in 1548, being considered one of the oldest universities in Italy.

The English taught medicine course began its activity in 2018, the course lasts 6 years like all the medical programs, being ranked in the top 400-450 in the QS Ranking. Out of the 360 credits, 60 are expected to be the result of students engaging in training activities related to their professional development. The 2019 IMAT scores were 17,9 for non European students and 46,3 for European students. The admission process can vary, being open to amendments and changes. The Ministry of Education and MUIR controls the number of students eligible for admission, the date of the test, and the selection process. The IMAT test is required to access the courses of the prestigious institution, the deadline for 2020 is the 5th of October.

This medical school uses both oral and written testing, preparing students for the challenges of their future career. It takes students through professional activities which often takes place in the Operative Units at the G. Martino University Hospital right at the heart of Messina.

Regarding student’s life, the campus is spread across the city, both in old historical buildings and new modern campuses. There are a lot of attractions in the city, from the beautiful Piazza del Duomo to Camposanto, beautiful views by the water and tiny coffees shops at street corners.

University of Siena (Dentistry)

University of Siena dentistry

Siena is an important city in Tuscany. The historic centre of Siena has been included in the UNESCO heritage, being one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008. Siena is also famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held on two occasions every year.

The University of Siena only offers Dentistry specialisations, with the 2019 IMAT score being 31,4 for non-European students and 47,4 for European students. The duration of the program is 6 years, being ranked in the top 350-400 in the QS Ranking. The admission test is scheduled to take place on the 10th of September 2020.

The University of Siena has as the most important requirement for students to have a secondary school diploma, together with the admission test. In order for students to access an inclusive learning process, the curriculum combines medicine and dentistry courses. The students are expected to take courses in: endodontics surgery, implantology, orthodontics or prosthodontics.

Cattolica University

Cattolica University medicine

The Cattolica University is the largest private medical school in Italy, providing scientific basis and a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge. Students have a constant exposure to technical competencies, as well as to ethical competencies. The objectives are pursued with a teaching technique meant to examine health issues in depth, with special attention to physical, biological and social environment.

The University is ranked in the top 100-150 in the QS Ranking. Students are required to score high at the entrance admission, together with having a high school diploma and a minimum of 12 schooling years. British students need to have 3 GCE A’Level irrespective of it having a Biology A’Level. The average tuition ranges between 7 000 and 16 000 euros per year and is very dependent on the family’s background. Scholarships are also provided, as a support mechanism for students.

The University of San Raffaele

University of San Raffaele medicine

The 2019 IMAT scores for European Students was 43, and 27 for Non-European students, with the English track starting just two years ago, in 2018. The Admission for European citizens will take place during August 2020, within the 24th and the 31st. The second intake, for non-European students will be held in September, on the 17th.

The medical school, the research institute and the hospital at San Raffaele in Milan share the same premises, which makes it easier for students to navigate between. Medical students also have access to the Campus facilities, being able to interact with students from different cohorts, who study Nursing or Psychology. The classes are smaller, in comparison to other universities, which will offer students the opportunity to be more engaged and more interactive. By constant visits to the hospital, the students will be able to interact with different kinds of patients, seeing both patients with everyday diseases, as well as patients with rare genetic pathologies.

Humanitas University

Humanitas University medicine

Since 2015, the university has trained over 1200 students yearly in all the medical programs (medicine, physiotherapy, nursing). The 2019 IMAT test score was 43 for European students and 27 for Non-European students, with the English track starting in 2018. For students in the EU, the most important criterion is the IMAT test score, without which, students cannot be offered admission. On the other hand, British students need 3 GCE A’ Levels or an International Baccalaureate diploma which should include both chemistry and biology.

There is a combination of theoretical and practical skills from the first year, the multidisciplinary modules and the guidance of the academic staff providing a high-level, interactive education. The educational body includes 3 Nobel Prize Winners and 150 doctors tutoring and teaching students every year. There is an International Advisory Board that supports the University in all its educational and training goals.

There are two different medical degrees that can be accessed: HUNIMED (mainstream medical degree, majoring in clinical teachings) and MEDTEC (combination of biotechnology and medicine).

Uni Camillus

Uni Camillus medicine

The Saint Camillius International University of Health Sciences is composed by 4 separate departments: Medicine and Surgery, Nursing, BSc Radiology. Imaging & Radiotherapy and Physiotherapy. The combination of the departments makes the university different from the others, by offering a high diversity level. In order for the admission to be successful, students must take the UCAT test. The average cost of tuition is about 12 000 and 18 000 euros, depending on the general financial capacity of the student.

Registration for the admission test in 2020 is possible until the 28th of September, with a list of candidates containing their test score to be published after. By the 28th of October, the University will publish the single ranking of merit ensuring the anonymity of candidates.

The main objective of the University is to prepare healthcare workers as world-class professionals with a high expertise in pathologies specific to the Southern Hemisphere, such as AIDS, TBS or Malaria.


Italy is a great destination for studying medicine, not only because of its great, world-class institutions, but also because of the great historical heritage, the food, the overall atmosphere and the welcoming people. You can live la dolce vita right where it was created, while studying the subject you are most passionate about. You can drink the best coffee in the world, while exchanging experiences with your colleagues. You can eat great pizza, lasagna and pasta at a chic bistro, or enjoy delicious artisanal ice-cream on a hot summer day. You can listen to street performances, or witness painters creating art at street corners. You can walk on the narrow streets while staring at the beauty of the different architectural styles. It’s definitely going to be an experience that you will not forget!

Sophia E Hodgkinson
Sophia E Hodgkinson

Sophia is the founder of Omnes Education, a company that shares theMSAG's values of widening access to medicine with high quality resources and the use of technology. She is currently studying medicine at the Università degli Studi di Torino in Turin, Italy.


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