The Italian University System

Since 1999, Italian university studies have been fully reformed so as to meet the objectives of the “Bologna process”. Further to such reform the university system comprises 3 cycles: the 1st cycle academic degree (Laurea: L) grants access to the 2nd cycle, whose main degree is called Laurea Magistrale (LM), which gives access to 3rd cycle doctorate programmes, resulting in the uppermost degree called Dottorato di Ricerca.

Study Course
(L) (first cycle)
Corso di Laurea/Bachelor
Laurea Magistrale
(LM) (second cycle)
Corso di Laurea Magistrale/Master
Diploma di Specializzazione
Corso di Diploma di Specializzazione
Dottorato di Ricerca
Corso di Dottorato di Ricerca/PhD
Master Universitario di 1° livello 1st level Master
Master Universitario di 2° livello 2nd level Master


Undergraduate/First Cycle (3 years)

Undergraduate studies consist exclusively of 1st degree courses (Bachelor’s level of Bologna process): Corsi di Laurea (CL) that enable undergraduate students to get to an adequate command of general scientific methods and contents as well as specific professional skills. General access requirement is the Italian secondary school leaving certification, awarded on passing the relevant state examinations, and it is achieved after 13 years of schooling; also foreign comparable qualifications may be accepted. Admission to individual degree courses may be subject to specific course requirements.

First degree courses last 3 years. Laurea (L) is awarded to undergraduates who have earned 180 ECTS credits. L allows transition to labour market, access to civil service and professions regulated by EU sectoral directives; it also grants access to all degree programmes of the 2nd cycle


Masters/Second cycle and Single Cycle

Postgraduate studies consist of Corsi di Laurea Magistrale (CLM). Access to CLM requires either the Italian Laurea (L) or a foreign comparable degree; admission is subject to specific course requirements determined by each universitiy on local basis; workload: 120 ECTS credits; duration: 2 years.

The final degree, Laurea Magistrale LM (master-level of Bologna process), is awarded at the end of undergraduates’ academic career characterised by an original dissertation in the final degree examination.

A limited number of 2nd cycle programmes, namely those leading to professions regulated by EU sectoral directives (in dentistry, human medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, architecture, law), are defined “one long cycle degree programmes” (Corsi di Laurea Magistrale a ciclo unico – CLMU); they differ form ordinary CLM’s mainly because of the following features: 1. Access requirement: either the Italian secondary school leaving certificate or a foreign comparable qualification 2. Admission always subject to entrance exams 3. Curricula consisting of just one long cycle of 5-6 years and a total number of 300-360 ECTS credits.
All LM’s and LMU’s allow transition to labour market, access to civil service and regulated professions ; they also grant access to research doctorate programmes as well as to all other degree courses of the 3rd cycle.

More information are available here