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Best universities in Italy 2023

Explore the top universities in Italy using data from the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings 2023

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October 28 2022
University in Pisa


Top 8 universities in Italy

Scroll down for the full list of best universities in Italy

Italy rank 2023  WUR rank 2023  University City
1  =161  University of Bologna Bologna
2  =183  Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Pisa
=3  201–250  Humanitas University Milan
=3  201–250  University of Padua Padua
=3  201–250  Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa Pisa
=3  201–250  Sapienza University of Rome Rome
=3  201–250  Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Milan
8  251–300  University of Pavia Pavia

It isn’t difficult to see why Italy is a popular place to study. After all, it is the home of the University of Bologna, believed to be the world’s oldest university.

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Situated in the heart of southern Europe, Italy has a multitude of landscapes: from the alpine pistes in the north to the Mediterranean beaches in the south. You would be forgiven for thinking you had crossed international borders every time you entered a new region.

Italy (tied with China) is home to more Unesco World Heritage sites than any other nation in the world. These attractions, alongside Italy’s famous cuisine and rich history, are just some of the reasons it is among the world’s most visited countries each year.

If you think Italy sounds like a good destination for your studies, read on to find out about the nation’s best institutions based on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023.

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Every major Italian town has a university, most of which are state-funded. However, there are also private universities and superior graduate schools, which are specifically focused on teaching and research at graduate level and above.

There are four main types of qualification in the Italian higher education system. The most basic is the three-year laurea – the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.

The laurea magistrale consists of the three-year laurea followed by an additional two years of study, which makes it the equivalent of a master’s degree. Then there’s the laurea magistrale a ciclo unico, a five- or six-year course only awarded in some fields – including medicine, architecture and law – which is similar to an integrated master’s degree because there is no separation between the bachelor’s and master’s parts to the qualification.

Finally there’s the dottorato di ricerca, a doctoral programme primarily offered in superior graduate schools.

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=3. Vita-Salute San Raffaele University

The Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, also known as UniSR, is a private university in Milan.

The university is particularly well known for groundbreaking research in cancer, HIV/AIDS and rare diseases. 

The institution began in 1996 with only one department of psychology, but today it has Faculties of medicine and surgery, psychology and philosophy, all following cognitive and experimental lines of thought. Courses tend to have an interdisciplinary emphasis.

=3.  Sapienza University of Rome

The Sapienza University of Rome was founded in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII, making it Rome’s oldest university.

It is the largest university in Europe, supporting about 115,000 students, including nearly 9,000 international students, and almost 4,000 academic staff.

It offers 280 degree programmes and 200 specialist courses across 63 departments, with 50 libraries available for student use (the largest number of any Italian university) as well as 18 museums.

=3. Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa

The Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa is a public university specialising in applied sciences. 

The university has a rigorous entrance exam and if students are able to achieve top marks and demonstrate proficiency in two languages, they are able to study for free. As a result, the student population is very small with fewer than 1,000 students attending the university. 

The Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies offers degrees in business sciences, economic sciences, legal sciences, political sciences, agricultural sciences, medical sciences, industrial engineering and information engineering.

=3. University of Padua

The University of Padua was founded in 1222 as a school of law.

It is the second oldest university in Italy and the world’s fifth oldest university. 

The university is made up of 32 departments and eight schools. It also has a university hospital, a museum and 14 halls of residence.

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=3. Humanitas University

Humanitas University is a private university which specialises in the medical sciences. 

The university provides a six-year medical course which is taught in English.  There is also a three-year course in nursing and a three-year course in physiotherapy, both of which are taught in Italian. The university offers 11 other courses postgraduate courses in urology and endoscopy. 

The university is part of the Humanitas group, a group of private hospitals in Milan. 

2. Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa

The University of Pisa and Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, is a part of the Pisa University system. 

The university was founded in 1810 as a branch of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. 

It offers programmes in both the humanities and sciences and still operates from its original building, Palazzo della Carovana, in the medieval centre of Pisa.

1. University of Bologna

The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is believed to be the world’s oldest university.

There are campuses in Bologna, Cesena, Forli, Ravenna and Rimini in Italy and an international campus in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Bologna has varied nightlife and lots of live music, from opera to modern DJs and bands.

The University of Bologna is also responsible for the Bologna Process, a series of agreements between European countries with the aim of ensuring cooperation and comparability between the higher education systems of Europe.

The university’s long list of alumni includes Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, a number of popes, Nobel-winning inventor and engineer Guglielmo Marconi, and Enzo Ferrari and Giorgio Armani, founders of their eponymous brands.

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Top universities in Italy 2023

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2023 results

Italy rank 2023  WUR rank 2023  University City
1  =161  University of Bologna Bologna
2  =183  Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Pisa
=3  201–250  Humanitas University Milan
=3  201–250  University of Padua Padua
=3  201–250  Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa Pisa
=3  201–250  Sapienza University of Rome Rome
=3  201–250  Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Milan
8  251–300  University of Pavia Pavia
=9  301–350  University of Milan Milan
=9  301–350  University of Milan-Bicocca Milan
=9  301–350  Politecnico di Milano Milan
=12  351–400  University of Brescia Brescia
=12  351–400  University of Naples Federico II Naples
=12  351–400  University of Rome II – Tor Vergata Rome
=12  351–400  Verona University Verona
=16  401–500  University of Catania Catania
=16  401–500  University of Ferrara Ferrara
=16  401–500  University of Florence Florence
=16  401–500  Free University of Bozen-Bolzano Bolzano
=16  401–500  University of Genoa Genoa
=16  401–500  University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Modena
=16  401–500  University of Pisa Pisa
=16  401–500  University of Siena Siena
=16  401–500  University of Trento Trento
=16  401–500  University of Turin Turin
=26  501–600  University of L’Aquila L’Aquila
=26  501–600  University of Insubria Como and Varese
=26  501–600  University of Messina Messina
=26  501–600  University of Salerno Salerno
=26  501–600  University of Sassari Sassari
=26  501–600  University of Trieste Trieste
=26  501–600  University of Tuscia Viterbo
=26  501–600  University of Udine Udine
=34  601–800  Amedeo Avogadro University of Eastern Piedmont Vercelli
=34  601–800  University of Bari Aldo Moro Bari
=34  601–800  Ca’ Foscari University of Venice Venice
=34  601–800  University of Camerino (Unicam) Camerino
=34  601–800  Gabriele d‘Annunzio University Abruzzo
=34  601–800  Kore University of Enna Enna
=34  601–800  Marche Polytechnic University Ancona
=34  601–800  University of Parma Parma
=34  601–800  University of Perugia Perugia
=34  601–800  Polytechnic University of Bari Bari
=34  601–800  Polytechnic University of Turin Turin
=34  601–800  University of Sannio Benevento
=34  601–800  University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli Caserta
=47  801–1000  University of Bergamo Bergamo
=47  801–1000  University of Calabria Cosenza
=47  801–1000  University of Foggia Foggia
=47  801–1000  University of Palermo Palermo
=47  801–1000  Parthenope University of Naples Naples
=47  801–1000  University of Rome III Rome
=47  801–1000  University of Salento Lecce
=47  801–1000  University of Urbino Carlo Bo Urbino
55  1501+  University of Macerata (UNIMC) Macerata

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