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Best universities in Italy 2024

Explore the top universities in Italy using data from the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings 2024

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October 5 2023
University in Pisa


Top 8 universities in Italy 2024

Scroll down for the full list of best universities in Italy

Italy Rank 2024  World University Rank 2024   World University Rank 2023  University City 
1  =155   =161  University of Bologna Bologna
2  =168   =183  Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Pisa
3  181   201–250  Sapienza University of Rome Rome
=4  201–250   201–250  University of Padua Padua
=4  201–250   301–350  Politecnico di Milano Milan
=4  201–250   201–250  Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa Pisa
=7  251–300   201–250  Humanitas University Milan
=7  251–300   201–250  Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Milan

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 2024.

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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.

Top 6 universities in Italy

=4. 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.

=4. Politecnico di Milano

Politecnico di Milano was established in 1863.

It provides courses in engineering, architecture and design and is the largest technical university in Italy. Many of the courses are taught in English and the university has more than 7,000 international students from over 100 countries. 

The university's two main campuses are located in Milan, while there are other satellite campuses in five other cities across the Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna regions. 

=4. 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.

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.

2. Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa

The Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, together with 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 2024

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2024 results

Italy Rank 2024  World University Rank 2024   World University Rank 2023  University City 
1  =155   =161  University of Bologna Bologna
2  =168   =183  Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Pisa
3  181   201–250  Sapienza University of Rome Rome
=4  201–250   201–250  University of Padua Padua
=4  201–250   301–350  Politecnico di Milano Milan
=4  201–250   201–250  Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa Pisa
=7  251–300   201–250  Humanitas University Milan
=7  251–300   201–250  Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Milan
=9  301–350   NR  Catholic University of the Sacred Heart Milan
=9  301–350   251–300  University of Pavia Pavia
=9  301–350   351–400  University of Rome II – Tor Vergata Rome
=12  351–400   401–500  University of Florence Florence
=12  351–400   401–500  Free University of Bozen-Bolzano Bolzano
=12  351–400   301–350  University of Milan Milan
=12  351–400   301–350  University of Milan-Bicocca Milan
=12  351–400   351–400  University of Naples Federico II Naples
=12  351–400   401–500  University of Trento Trento
=18  401–500   351–400  University of Brescia Brescia
=18  401–500   NR  Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome Rome
=18  401–500   401–500  University of Catania Catania
=18  401–500   401–500  University of Genoa Genoa
=18  401–500   401–500  University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Modena
=18  401–500   401–500  University of Pisa Pisa
=18  401–500   601–800  Polytechnic University of Turin Turin
=18  401–500   401–500  University of Turin Turin
=18  401–500   351–400  Verona University Verona
=27  501–600   501–600  University of L’Aquila L'Aquila
=27  501–600   601–800  Ca’ Foscari University of Venice Venice
=27  501–600   801–1000  University of Calabria Cosenza
=27  501–600   401–500  University of Ferrara Ferrara
=27  501–600   501–600  University of Messina Messina
=27  501–600   601–800  Polytechnic University of Bari Bari
=27  501–600   501–600  University of Salerno Salerno
=27  501–600   401–500  University of Siena Siena
=27  501–600   501–600  University of Trieste Trieste
=36  601–800   601–800  Amedeo Avogadro University of Eastern Piedmont Vercelli
=36  601–800   601–800  University of Bari Aldo Moro Bari
=36  601–800   601–800  University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli Caserta
=36  601–800   801–1000  University of Foggia Foggia
=36  601–800   601–800  Gabriele d‘Annunzio University Abruzzo
=36  601–800   501–600  University of Insubria Como and Varese
=36  601–800   601–800  Marche Polytechnic University Ancona
=36  601–800   801–1000  University of Palermo Palermo
=36  601–800   601–800  University of Parma Parma
=36  601–800   801–1000  Parthenope University of Naples Naples
=36  601–800   801–1000  University of Rome III Rome
=36  601–800   801–1000  University of Salento Lecce
=36  601–800   601–800  University of Sannio Benevento
=36  601–800   501–600  University of Sassari Sassari
=36  601–800   501–600  University of Tuscia Viterbo
=36  601–800   501–600  University of Udine Udine
=52  801–1000   801–1000  University of Bergamo Bergamo
=52  801–1000   601–800  University of Camerino (Unicam) Camerino
=52  801–1000   601–800  Kore University of Enna Enna
55  1001–1200   801–1000  University of Urbino Carlo Bo Urbino
56  1501+   1501+  University of Macerata (UNIMC) Macerata

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