A modern nation at the forefront of style, fashion and design, Italy combines new and old with more World Heritage sites than any other country in the world. Visit superb museums, explore small towns with wonderful history and enjoy gelato and espresso in this Mediterranean country with a family-oriented culture.



Languages Spoken:

Italian

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

There are three cycles of higher education in Italy: 

First cycle: bachelors: Laurea and Laurea Magistrale a Ciclo Unico (Laurea Magistrale a Ciclo Unico is a combination of the first and second cycles) 

Second cycle: masters 

Third cycle: doctorate, second-level masters and specialization school 

 

Most ISEP students will take courses at the bachelor level in a Laurea degree. A Laurea degree is composed of 180 ECTS credits and is normally completed in three years. The five- to six-year Laurea Magistrale a Ciclo Unico degree is usually reserved for architecture, law or medical sciences. 

Regular class attendance will be very important to your academic success in Italy. You may find that some professors do not take attendance, while others have strict attendance policies, where absences may affect your grade. Individualized learning is emphasized; there is a large amount of outside reading, and students study hard for exams. Professors establish set office hours, but you should contact professors to arrange an appointment in advance. 

 

STUDYING IN ITALY 

Courses 

Italian institutions offer the majority of their courses taught entirely in Italian. A selection of courses may be taught in English, partially taught in English, or have the option to complete course assignments, readings and exams in English.  

A pre-session Italian language course and/or Italian language course during the semester may also be offered.  

Registration 

With the exception of those participating in the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore International Curriculum, all students will register for courses after arriving in Italy. Normally you will have a trial period to determine which courses you want to register for. 

Course Load 

A typical, full-time, Italian student takes 30 CFU (crediti formativo universitario) units each semester. CFU credits measure the total amount of effort the student must put into a course, including outside study. Each CFU typically represents 25 hours of student work. One CFU credit equals one ECTS credit. 

Students taking courses in the International Curriculum at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore should note that course credits are awarded in U.S. credit hours. Typically, these courses bear three U.S. credits unless otherwise noted. 

ISEP participants should speak with their home and host coordinators to determine the requirements for full-time enrollment. Your home university and Italian student visa may have distinct requirements. 

Exams & Grading 

Grades are given on a scale of zero to 30, with 18 considered the lowest passing grade. 

While grading policies will vary by course and university, many courses taught in Italian will have an important final exam, the esame di profitto, which will determine a large portion of your grade. Many of these exams are oral, but some may be written. The minimum passing grade is 18. 

Transcripts 

In order for you to receive grades and credits for the courses you complete, you must follow the explicit instructions of your host institution coordinator. There may be forms you need to fill out or postage to purchase for your transcripts to be sent to your home institution or ISEP. You may also be required to present a libretto, a booklet, or other documentation, for your professor's signature after completing the course. 

Visa and Residency

INSURANCE/STUDENT VISA/PERMESSO DI SOGGIORNO/TRAVEL IN THE SCHENGEN AREA

 

INTRODUCTION

ALL students studying in Italy for more than 90 days (with the exception of European Union and European Economic Community passport-holders) must obtain a student visa prior to departing for Italy. You cannot obtain your student visa once in Italy and must apply in your country of residence. Do not wait to start the visa application process!

Students studying in Italy for less than 90 days (summer programs) do NOT need to obtain a student visa before arrival. 

The student visa application process can take four months or more to complete, and students must begin the process IMMEDIATELY after accepting their ISEP program. Students should check with the Italian Consulate that serves their home region, carefully review all requirements and begin collecting the necessary paperwork. This includes completing any internal application or processes required by the host university in order to ensure you receive your official letter of acceptance as soon as possible. All visa fees and any visa-related travel is the responsibility of the student. 

Consulates that require students to apply in-person at the Consulate General for their home region generally require students to schedule an appointment online, and these appointments can fill up three months or more in advance. Students should review procedures at the Consulate for their jurisdiction and if applicable start checking the appointment portal for a date no more than 90 days but at least a month in advance of their program start date, taking into account when they expect to have assembled all required documentation (in particular, when they realistically expect to receive the letter of acceptance from their host university). Please note you must enter Italy within 60 days of obtaining your visa. Visa fees and visa-related travel costs are the responsibly of the student. 

 

INSURANCE

Students are required to enroll in the ISEP student insurance as it will provide coverage during travel time, cover medical evacuation and repatriation, and satisfy the Italian National Insurance standards. 

All ISEP students will be issued a Confirmation of Insurance Coverage letter in English and Italian that they should print in color and submit to the Italian consulate as a part of the visa application. This letter will be emailed to students at the email address they have listed in the ISEP Portal within four weeks of enrollment in the ISEP student insurance. Therefore, students must enroll in the ISEP Student Health Insurance AT LEAST four weeks in advance of their visa appointment. 

Students will also need to bring a copy of this insurance letter and the consulate-stamped confirmation of enrollment (acceptance letter) with them to Italy in order to get the "permit to stay" (permesso di soggiorno) once in-country.  More information about the permesso di soggiorno can be found below. 

 

STUDENT VISA

You must apply for a visa through the Italian Consulate with jurisdiction over your permanent residence, not your school address. Please note that consulate may differ significantly in their application requirements for the visa. The consulate’s website should indicate their specific visa requirements, whether an in-person appointment is necessary, and hours of business. All questions regarding the visa should be directed to the consulate. ISEP Central cannot contact consulates on behalf of students.

It has been ISEP's experience that consulate requirements change frequently and that consulates will not accept incomplete applications or those that do not comply with each consulate's criteria. Start researching the visa process as soon as you are accepted to your ISEP program. Students holding visas are required to enter Italy within 60 days of the issuance of the visa. Remember to ask how long your relevant consulate takes to process the applications, so that you will not submit it too early or too late. Student visas are generally valid for the duration of your program.

Note that not all Italian Consulates will accept visa applications by mail. If your consualte allows you to submit the visa via mail at an honorary consualte, ISEP recommends that you mail your application and all documents by certified mail with return receipt, so that you will know the Consulate General received your documents. Mailed applications must also follow certain procedures. All signatures on the application and affidavit forms must be submitted in original and photocopy and must be notarized (photocopy only will result in the refusal of the application). 

It is a good idea to bring copies of all documents below with you to Italy in case you need them for your permesso di soggiorno.

Sample Required Documents

As a guide, the following are the visa requirements from the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Follow the guidelines set forth by your specific consulate explicitly. Note that some consulates may require certain documents to be notarized and authenticated with the Apostille Seal of The Hague. Normally they will provide links to who can authenticate your documents.

1) Application form filled out completely, signed, with recent passport-size photographs (some consulates require students to sign the application in the presence of the consular officer)

-Note: students should request a "multiple-entry" visa 

2) Passport valid at least three months beyond the applicant's planned stay in Italy with enough blank pages to affix the visa

3) Driver's license or State I.D. as proof of residence in the consulate's jurisdiction. Submit the requested document in original and photocopy 

3a) Alien Registration/Residency Card, if not a citizen 

4) Official Letters of Acceptance:

A. Official Letter of Acceptance from your host institution indicating that you have been admitted. The letter must be original, on the official letterhead of the institution, stamped with the official seal of the institution, and signed. The letter must contain the following information:

• Name of the student, and complete name and address of the host institution

• Exact period of study (day/month/year) and weekly hours

• The indication that tuition, room and board, and health insurance are covered or that you have made arrangements with the host institution for the same

• The address of your housing in Italy

B. Some consulates may also require a letter from your home institution. The letter should be on university letterhead, bearing an authoritative signature and the seal of the institution. It should verify that you are enrolled at the university as a full-time bona fide student pursuing a degree program, and that you will return to that university to complete the degree program after your exchange in Italy. This may also include information about any financial aid that you might receive if you are anticipating receiving funds. Bring all of this information with you to the appointment.

C. ISEP Acceptance Package: Letter of Certification, Program Information and Contract of Participation; original and a photocopy

5) Confirmation of Health Insurance Coverage: After you have accepted your placement and enrolled in the ISEP student insurance, ISEP will provide you with a letter in English and Italian explaining your health coverage. You will need to bring this letter AND your ISEP Health Insurance Cards to the consulate. Proof of health insurance must also be shown on your arrival to the local Police Office (Questura), the office in charge of issuing your residence permit (Permesso di Soggiorno per motivi di studio). REMEMBER: Students must enroll in the ISEP Student Health Insurance AT LEAST four weeks in advance of their visa appointment. 

6) Proof of Financial Means: Personal bank letter or bank statement on official letterhead, indicating the total amount of funds in student’s personal account (no joint bank accounts). NOTE: Required minimum amount varies by Consulate. Please verify the specific amount required with your local consulate 

- In most cases students who have been granted a scholarship/financial aid from their home university for their time abroad can provide a letter on official university letterhead stating the exact amount and the date of disbursement.

- Some (but not all) consulates allow students to submit an affidavit of support if the applicant doesn’t have own funds because supported by the parents.  Student should verify requirements and procedures with their local consualte

7) Proof of suitable lodging: This should be addressed in your acceptance letter.

8) Copy of flight itinerary (including return flight)

9) Visa Fee: Verify cost and permitted payment methods before submitting an application, as these change with some frequency 

Note that not all Italian Consulates will accept visa applications by mail (generally must be mailed in the presence of an Honorary Consul). If your consualte allows you to submit the visa via an Honorary Consul, ISEP recommends that you mail your application and all documents by certified mail with return receipt, so that you will know the consulate received your documents. Mailed applications must also follow certain procedures. All signatures on the application and affidavit forms must be submitted in original and photocopy and must be notarized (photocopy only will result in the refusal of the application). 

 

PERMESSO DI SOGGIORNO

When you arrive in Italy you will be required to register within eight days with the police to obtain a permesso di soggiorno (residence permit). You will need two copies of your passport photograph, the consulate-stamped confirmation of enrollment (Letter of Acceptance) and proof of insurance (Confirmation of Insurance Coverage letter). The current cost of the permesso di soggiorno is approximately 160 euros.

 

TRAVEL IN THE SCHENGEN AREA

Italy is a member of the Schengen area. Students should review the important regulations that dictate travel and visas within the Schengen area.

Current Schengen signature countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. 

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and, most notably, the United Kingdom are NOT part of the Schengen zone.

Travel in Italy Outside of Program Dates

Citizens of nations that are party to the Schengen Accord or similar treaties (see list below), can stay in Italy or other Schengen Zone countries for a period of up to 90 days every six months without a visa. These days are “suspended” during the validity of a visa. So, for example, a U.S. student can enter 45 days before and leave 45 days after the validity of their visa or enter 88 days before and leave 2 days after, or any other combination that suits their needs. Students from countries that have not signed similar accords must enter and leave only within the exact dates on their visas. 

Citizens of the following nations may follow the guidance above:

Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong SAR, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macao SAR, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, St. Kitts-Nevis, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela.

*Taiwanese citizens receive the same privileges ONLY if their passports include their Identity Card reference number.

Culture

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Greetings
Typically, Italian friends greet each other and say goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. A handshake is appropriate for professional introductions.

Space and Distance
The concept of personal space is less important in Italy than in other countries. Italians stand and talk closer than you may be accustomed. Italians are also more comfortable with physical touch throughout a conversation. It is common to see both male and female Italians walking down the street arm in arm.

GENDER ROLES

Women may receive some appreciative whistles and comments (Ciao Bella!) from men. Usually, these signs of appreciation are harmless and are best ignored. Smiling and laughing at the attention may be viewed as an invitation for further communication. Dressing more conservatively and "blending in" is a practical way of minimizing unsolicited comments.

REGIONALISM

Italy is made up of 20 different regions, each with their own regional culture. Each region also has their own dialect and dishes. Historically Italy’s northern regions have stronger economies and a lower rate of unemployment. Personal identity is strongly tied to a person’s birth region.

FOOD

Italy is arguably most famous for its gastronomical delights, and Italian cuisine is regional. What is commonly considered "Italian" food in the U.S. (pasta and tomato-based sauces) originates from the southern regions of Italy. The naval port of Naples is most well-known for pizza and seafood, while northern regions of Italy offer more cream-based white sauces, risotto and polenta. Sicily has lemons the size of grapefruits, blood oranges and a multitude of other fruit due to its temperate climate.

RELIGION

The national religion of Italy is Catholicism. Although Vatican City is its own country, it is situated in the middle of Rome. The vast majority of Italians consider themselves Catholic, however, a smaller percentage consider themselves practicing Catholics.

Daily Life

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Greetings
Typically, Italian friends greet each other and say goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. A handshake is appropriate for professional introductions.

Space and Distance
The concept of personal space is less important in Italy than in other countries. Italians stand and talk closer than you may be accustomed. Italians are also more comfortable with physical touch throughout a conversation. It is common to see both male and female Italians walking down the street arm in arm.

GENDER ROLES

Women may receive some appreciative whistles and comments (Ciao Bella!) from men. Usually, these signs of appreciation are harmless and are best ignored. Smiling and laughing at the attention may be viewed as an invitation for further communication. Dressing more conservatively and "blending in" is a practical way of minimizing unsolicited comments.

REGIONALISM

Italy is made up of 20 different regions, each with their own regional culture. Each region also has their own dialect and dishes. Historically Italy’s northern regions have stronger economies and a lower rate of unemployment. Personal identity is strongly tied to a person’s birth region.

FOOD

Italy is arguably most famous for its gastronomical delights, and Italian cuisine is regional. What is commonly considered "Italian" food in the U.S. (pasta and tomato-based sauces) originates from the southern regions of Italy. The naval port of Naples is most well-known for pizza and seafood, while northern regions of Italy offer more cream-based white sauces, risotto and polenta. Sicily has lemons the size of grapefruits, blood oranges and a multitude of other fruit due to its temperate climate.

RELIGION

The national religion of Italy is Catholicism. Although Vatican City is its own country, it is situated in the middle of Rome. The vast majority of Italians consider themselves Catholic, however, a smaller percentage consider themselves practicing Catholics.

Health and Safety

Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference the Health and Safety section of the ISEP website for general information regarding health and safety abroad. 

Detailed information about Italy can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and Security, Local Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. 

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S. nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections. 

Currency

MONEY MATTERS


Currency

Italy uses the euro, which has the same value in all euro-zone countries. There are seven euro notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros) and eight euro coins (one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and one and two euros). It is smart to keep track of exchange rates between the euro and your home currency.

Customs Regulations
Travelers entering Italy should declare all currency in their possession. Declarations must be made on form V2, available from customs authorities or on incoming flights. This form, which is stamped by customs upon arrival, must be shown on departure in order to export foreign (including U.S.) currencies. There are no limits on the amount you may bring into Italy; there may be a maximum amount that can be exported per person.

Banking
Students can open either a conto estero or a conto corrente. You will need your passport for identification. Banks are generally open Monday through Friday only, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It is not unusual for banks to be closed by strikes; so it is a good idea to transact bank business early in the week and to have an alternate plan such as cashing a check at an American Express office if the bank should be closed. Most restaurants and retail stores deal in cash.

ATMs are very common throughout cities in Italy. An American ATM card connected to a major network can be an easy way to access money deposited in a U.S. bank.

{{articleTitle}}

More Topics in Visa and Residency