This article provides an eagle eye view of the education system in Italy. Whether you're seeking an admission in any of the Italian university or are a wee bit curious; go through it!

Education System in Italy

As like most of the education systems around the world, including the ever popular UK and US; the education system in Italy also follows the same approach of compulsory education for every child, followed by a few additional yet optional years of higher secondary schooling. It’s only after successful completion of the higher secondary schooling that the students can pursue further higher education by seeking admissions into various universities in Italy. Many state-funded and private schools operate across Italy, providing compulsory and additional higher education to the students. And as far as higher education through universities is concerned; there are about 89 universities that offer a wide array of courses in almost every discipline and that too at affordable fee structures. In fact, it wouldn't be wrong to say that the educational prospects at Italy are at par with those proffered by UK and US. The following part will enlighten you about the education system in Italy with details. Keep on reading!
Pre-Schooling (Scuola Materna)
Pre-schooling or kindergarten is a non-compulsory part of education in Italy and is not a part of primary education. It’s generally for children of age 3-4 and lasts for 1-2 years, depending on for how long the parents want to train their children before they join school. There are many day care units, play schools, and small kindergarten schools that provide pre-schooling education to children and have them ready for real schooling.
Primary Education (Scuola Elementare)
Right after pre-schooling is over; the compulsory part of the education system in Italy starts with 5 years of primary schooling, generally when children are of the age of 5-6. Both private and state run schools operate in Italy but provide the education in same subjects like Italian, English, Mathematics, Life and Earth Sciences, History, Geography, Social Studies, Physical Education, and Visual & Musical Arts. Though earlier an examination system existed which students had to appear and clear before they could be promoted to next stage of education i.e. secondary schooling, but the system has been discontinued and the students can now directly enter secondary school.
Secondary Education (Scuola Media & Scuola Superiore)
  • After the students are done with 5 years of primary schooling, they are automatically admitted into further 8 years of secondary education divided into two parts: Lower Secondary School (Scuola Media) of 3 years and Upper Secondary School (Scuola Superiore) of 5 years.
  • After every term of the 3 years of lower secondary schooling, students receive a teacher’s report, outlining their aptitude, behavior, and achievement. At the end of 3 years, students are required to appear in several written and oral examinations and upon successfully clearing them; they are awarded a lower secondary school diploma.
  • The upper secondary schooling of 5 years is further divided into two parts: the compulsory education of 2 years, followed by 3 years of additional but optional education in specialized subjects. However, it is only after 3 years of completion (written and oral exams cleared) of additional education that the upper secondary education diploma is awarded. This diploma is an essential requirement if a student is seeking admission in Italian universities for higher education.
The primary and secondary schools in Italy follow a 10 point scale; 6 being the minimum grade for passing. Several symbols like “+” “-“ “½” are used by the professors and teachers when they want to apply a more precise scale.
Higher Education
In order to pursue higher education in Italian universities, students need to complete 3 years of additional upper secondary schooling, and clear the written and oral exams at the end of each term. The higher education studies in Italy have been further divided into three parts:
1st Cycle Degree Programs (Undergraduate Courses)
The first cycle degree programs in Italy are generally of 3 years duration (some are of 4 years duration) and require Italian upper secondary education diploma or equivalent qualifications with 12 years of indispensable primary and secondary education from other countries to be eligible.
2nd Cycle Degree Programs (Graduate/Master’s Courses)
The second cycle degree programs in Italy are generally of 1-2 years of duration and require successful completion of 1st cycle degree programs or other equivalent qualifications with 3 years of undergraduate study from other countries to be eligible. There are also professional master’s degrees offered by some universities that are of 1 year duration.
3rd Cycle Programs (Doctoral Courses)
The third cycle degree programs are the highest level of academic degrees offered in Italy and are of minimum of 3 years duration. These are doctoral programs that require successful completion of 4 years of bachelor’s degree from Italy or equivalent degree of 4 years from other countries to be eligible.
Apart from these, some universities in Italy also offer single cycle degrees/combined bachelors and master’s degree that are of 5-6 years of duration.
Agriculture, food industry and forestry; Applied languages; Architecture and construction engineering; Aviation and maritime navigation; Biology and Biotechnologies; Business and management; Chemistry; Communication; Computer Science; Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage; Co-operation, development and peace studies; Cultural heritage studies; Defence and security; Dentistry and orthodontics; Earth sciences; Economics and Administration; Education; Engineering; Environmental sciences; Geography; Health professions; History; Humanities; Industrial design; Law and Political sciences and international relations; Legal services; Mathematics; Medicine and surgery; Modern languages and civilizations; Nursing and midwifery; Pharmacy; Philosophy; Physics; Psychology; Social work; Sociology; Sport sciences and physical education; Statistics; Tourism; Town, regional and environmental planning; Veterinary Medicine; Visual arts, music, performing arts and fashion studies; Zoology.
Academic Year
The academic year in Italian universities start by the end of September or beginning of October and is divided into 2 semesters. The first semester starts in September/October and ends in January/February. The second semester starts in February and ends in July.

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