Qualifications of the university system

The organisation of the university system following the Bologna Process three cycles is as follows (diagram of the university system):


First cycle

It consists exclusively of Laurea courses. These have the objective of guaranteeing to students a sufficient command of general methods and scientific content and the acquisition of specific professional knowledge. The minimum requirement to accede is the “Diploma di Esame di Stato conclusivo dei corsi di istruzione secondaria superiore” (“State Exam Diploma upon the conclusion of the upper secondary school courses”) - commonly known as “Diploma di Maturità” - or an equivalent foreign qualification. Laurea courses last three years.


Laurea

Classification: Bologna process first cycle qualification/EQF level 6

Access: by the upper secondary school leaving qualification, or a comparable foreign one

Workload: 180 ECTS

Duration: 3 years

Academic title: Dottore

Further studies: admission to "Laurea Magistrale" and to "Master universitario di primo livello"


Second cycle

Second cycle studies include:


a) The courses for a Laurea magistrale with the aim of offering an advanced level of education for the practice of highly qualified tasks in specific areas. Access to these courses is dependent on a Laurea or a comparable foreign qualification. Laurea magistrale courses last two years.

Certain courses (Medicine and Surgery, Veterinary medicine, Odontoiatry and dental prosthetics, Pharmaceutical studies, Architecture, Law) are defined as “single cycle” Laurea magistrale courses. They do not envision the award of the intermediary Laurea qualification and the requirement to accede is the “Diploma di Esame di Stato conclusivo dei corsi di istruzione secondaria superiore” (“State Exam Diploma upon the conclusion of the upper secondary school courses”) - commonly known as “Diploma di Maturità” - or an equivalent foreign qualification. “Single cycle” Master’s Degree courses last five or six years .

The Laurea magistrale qualification is the principal qualification of the Italian second cycle.


Laurea Magistrale

Classification: Bologna process second cycle qualification/EQF level 7

Access: by a Laurea, or a comparable foreign degree

Workload: 120 ECTS

Duration: 2 years

Academic title: Dottore Magistrale

Further studies: admission to Dottorato di ricerca, Diploma di Specializzazione and Master universitario di secondo livello


Single cycle Laurea Magistrale

Classification: Bologna process second cycle qualification/EQF level 7

Access: by the upper secondary school leaving qualification, or a comparable foreign one

Workload: 300 to 360 ECTS

Duration: 5 or 6 years

Academic title: Dottore Magistrale

Further studies: admission to Dottorato di ricerca, Diploma di Specializzazione and Master universitario di secondo livello


b) Master universitario di primo livello courses: are courses of scientific refinement or of permanent and continuing higher education that can be accessed with a Laurea or comparable foreign qualification. Master universitario di primo livello courses last a minimum of one year and do not allow access to further courses of the third cycle.


Master universitario di primo livello

Classification: Bologna process second cycle qualification/EQF level 7

Access: by a Laurea, or a comparable foreign degree

Workload: minimum 60 ECTS

Duration: minimum 1 year

Further studies: the qualification does not allow access to PhD and to 3rd cycle programmes, since this type of course does not belong to the general requirements established at national level, but it is offered under the autonomous responsibility of each university


Third cycle

Third cycle studies consist of:


a) Dottorato di ricerca (Research Doctorate) courses with the aim of imparting the correct methodology for advanced scientific research, adopting innovative methodologies and new technologies, with the expectation of internships abroad and activity in research laboratories. A Laurea magistrale (or comparable foreign qualification) and passing a public competition are necessary for admission. Dottorato di ricerca courses last a minimum of three years.


Dottorato di ricerca

Classification: Bologna process third cycle qualification/EQF level 8

Access: by Laurea magistrale, or a comparable foreign qualification; admission is dependent upon passing a public competition

Workload: n.a.

Duration: minimum 3 years

Academic title: Dottore di ricerca; PhD


b) Diploma di specializzazione courses with the aim of providing skills and knowledge for the practice of highly-qualified professional tasks, particularly in the sector of medical, clinical and surgical specialities. A Laurea magistrale (or comparable foreign qualification) and passing a public competition are necessary for admission. Other requirements and professional licenses can be necessary according to the field of study. Diploma di specializzazione courses are of varying duration, according to the academic discipline concerned, from a minimum of two to a maximum of six years. Furthermore, a final thesis must be presented.


Diploma di Specializzazione

Classification: Bologna process third cycle qualification/EQF level 8

Access: by Laurea magistrale, or a comparable foreign qualification; admission is dependent upon passing an entrance exam

Workload: from 120 to 360 ECTS

Duration: from 2 to 6 years

Academic title: Specialista


c) Master universitario di secondo livello courses: are courses of scientific refinement or of permanent and continuing higher education that can be accessed with a Laurea magistrale or comparable foreign qualification. Master universitario di secondo livello courses last a minimum of one year and do not allow access to further courses.


Master universitario di secondo livello

Classification: Bologna process third cycle qualification/EQF level 8 

Access: by Laurea magistrale, or a comparable foreign qualification

Workload: minimum 60 ECTS 

Duration: minimum 1 year

Further studies: the qualification does not allow access to PhD and to 3rd cycle programmes, since this type of course does not belong to the general requirements established at national level, but it is offered under the autonomous responsibility of each university


Other courses

Besides the qualifications listed above, Italian universities can institute other courses which come under the category of lifelong learning or continuous education. Known as Corsi di perfezionamento, they respond to cultural needs for follow-up in specific study areas or for update needs or professional requalification and permanent education. They are usually between two months and one year in duration and the structure of each course and admission qualification are decided autonomously by each university. The certificates relative to higher education programmes do not allow admission to any course but are assessed in the workplace or to gain extra points for public competitions.

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