What are the best international medical schools in 2021 in Italy? Which med-school has the best admission chances? Which are the highest ranked? Did COVID-19 affect the admission process?
Different schools are right for different people. We, therefore, gathered all the most important and relevant facts and numbers about all international medical schools in Italy for you here, so that you could make the most educated choice to when it comes to medical school ranking, minimum entry IMAT score, tuition fees, and living expenses, and even curricular design – to see which are the best suited medical schools for you.
After you’re done reading, you should also consider checking out our students’ review page to see what current students say about each university! The page is continuously being updated, so come back every now and then to see if someone else wrote something new.
In this page you will find lists comparing IMAT thresholds, tuition fees and costs of living in Italy, the medical education offered, and independent rankings for all the English-language Italian med schools!
COVID-19 – How are Italian universities getting along?
In the wake of the worldwide pandemic, a serious issue arose – a large portion of IMAT applicants and students accepted to English-taught Italian med schools are international students and most of them do not have the possibility to reside in Italy or even in Europe at the moment of writing this update.
Two major questions came up among candidates:
- Would IMAT be held? (for the year of 2020)
- In case you got accepted, would the academic year of 2020/2021 be affected by the COVID-19?
Lo and behold, the 2020 IMAT exam did indeed take place without any delay on September 10th, 2020 like every other year. The necessary sanitary precautions such as masks and distancing were taken and students who could not attend last minute were offered a full refund.
As per possible changes through out the academic year, the situation was incredibly quickly dealt with and in a matter of weeks – an efficient online modality was implemented which allowed for lectures, exams, and even practical cases to be conducted from the comfort of your home! Currently a mixed modality is taking place – students are free to choose between online and on-premises lectures.
Here’s what this means for IMAT 2021: based on the quick reaction the Italian authorities displayed last year, COVID-19 is unlikely to affect this year’s entrance exam. So buckle up and start preparing!
Minimum IMAT admission scores
There are huge differences in how difficult it can be to enter one Italian medical school compared to another. The difference in competition levels between each university is large, making it so that with the same IMAT score you can be sure to get into one medical school yet not even scratch the bare minimum passing threshold for another. So choosing the right medical schools can make the difference between getting in or having to skip a year.
One thing you must know before sending in your application is how competitive the universities you have chosen are, especially for non-EU students. There is no fixed IMAT passing score, because it all depends on how many students apply to the same university as you, how many places the university offers and how well the candidates perform on the IMAT.
What follows from this is that, firstly, you cannot foresee what the exact minimum IMAT entry score for each med-school will be next year, because it always changes as a function of these factors. Secondly, with the same IMAT score, you may or may not pass depending on which university you chose. But we’ll say more about this later.
In the next table, you can find the number of seats available at each university, for EU and non-EU respectively. The figures are all different, but the main takeaway is that almost all universities offer slightly more seats to EU citizens than non-EU, with ratios on average between 60%-40% and 75%-25%. There is an important exception in this trend, however, in some of the southern universities: Campania Luigi Vanvitelli reserves an equal number of seats for EU and non-EU (40 each), as well as Messina (38 each). Napoli Federico II, on the other hand, is the only university to reserve more non-EU (25) spots than EU (15)!
Number of seats available:
|Available places 2020||Eu||Non-Eu|
|Rome Tor Vergata||25||10|
|Napoli Federico II||15||25|
|Napoli SUN/ Campania LV||40||40|
|Available places 2020||Eu||Non-Eu|
|Rome Tor Vergata||25||10|
|Napoli Federico II||15||25|
|Napoli SUN/ Campania LV||40||40|
|Available places 2019||Eu||Non-Eu|
|Pavia Harvey||70||35 (+5 Marco Polo)|
|Rome Tor Vergata||35||10|
|Napoli Federico II||25||10|
|Napoli SUN/ Campania LV||40||40|
|Turin||70||30 (+1 Marco Polo)|
|Available places 2018||Eu||Non-Eu|
|Rome Tor Vergata||25||10|
|Napoli Federico II||15||10|
|Napoli SUN/ Campania LV||40||40|
The total number of seats, however, doesn’t say much about how competitive each medical school in Italy is. So what does?
The minimal entry score. Your IMAT score, relative to the other candidates’ scores in the ranking, is the sole determinant of whether you’ll get a spot or not.
These numbers change every year, so you can never know what the IMAT minimum score will be for the next year. For example, you can take a look at the 2016 scores and see how different they are! The difficulty of the test and questions can’t be known in advance. Therefore you cannot be sure that a certain number of points corresponds to a certain position in the ranking.
First round entry scores for Eu and Non-Eu:
|First-round entry scores 2020||Eu||Non-Eu|
|Rome Tor Vergata||52.9||34|
|Napoli Federico II||56.4||31.7|
|Napoli SUN/ Campania LV||51.9||30.8|
|First round entry scores 2019||Eu||Non-Eu|
|Rome Tor Vergata||48.4||36.9|
|Napoli Federico II||48.9||34.3|
|Napoli SUN/ Campania LV||46.8||33.1|
|First round entry scores 2018||Eu||Non-Eu|
|Rome Tor Vergata||46.6||30.8|
|Napoli Federico II||46.2||30.8|
|Napoli SUN/ Campania LV||45.6||18.7|
Keep in mind that Eu and Non-Eu ranking lists are organized differently. This is due to the fact that Non-Eu candidates have one choice of university, while Eu candidates can choose to apply to all 12 universities. Therefore, 1st round entry scores of Non-Eu ranking are a realistic predictor for a minimal entry score, while 1st round entry scores for Eu applicants are way higher than the minimal entry score for Europeans.
Since Eu applicants can apply to so many universities, depending on their score, at first they may be offered a spot in one of the less desired universities they applied for. In this case, they need to decide whether to take the spot or to resign it, and wait to get into some of their top choice universities. The updated ranking is released each week and this goes on for months until all spots are filled. Yes, your maths is right: an Eu candidate could get accepted way after the beginning of the 1st year … even sometimes at the end of it!
So, the 1st Eu ranking score is way higher than the final minimal score for acceptance. Down below you’ll find last year’s ranking progression to get an idea:
Eu ranking scores progression:
|Eu rankings 2020||1st ranking|
|Rome Tor Vergata||52.9||45||43.6||42.1|
|Napoli Federico II||56.4||44.7||43.5||42|
|Napoli SUN/ Campania LV||51.9||43.2||42.1||40.3|
|Eu ranking 2019||1st ranking|
|Rome Tor Vergata||48.4||40.3||39.9|
|Napoli Federico II||48.9||40.2||39.3|
|Napoli SUN/ Campania LV||46.8||38.7||38.2|
Furthermore, you should not base your choice entirely on how easy it is to get in. There are several other variables involved, and we’re here to guide you through the process of deciding which are the best medical schools in Italy – for you!
Scroll down to take a look at the different cities where you might be studying soon.
If everything we’ve said so far made you think that IMAT can be really competitive and you wish to expand your choices, perhaps you’d like to take a look at the private international medical schools in Italy, like UniCamillus, Humanitas, the Cattolica, or San Raffaele!
Italian medical schools – the cities
Choosing a university is not only about which are the best international medical schools in Italy. You’re choosing a city where you’ll live for the next six years of your life, so you need to think about the kind of place that suits you best. Luckily for you, we at MEDschool.it are always here to give you every small bit of information there is.
First of all, what are the options?
Two words: Italy, beautiful Italy. This country is characterized by huge differences between the north and the south, the plains and the seaside, the mainland and the islands; and you can find an international medical school in each of these sites!
Our next table gives you an overview of the different cities where the Italian medical schools are located. Now think of your ideal destination, and we’ll take you there.
Do you see yourself in a small, student-friendly city? Then Pavia might be your thing, with a population of 70,000, of whom almost one-third are students; this university was the first to open an English-language medical school.
Perhaps you’d rather live in a big, metropolitan city: the International Medical School in Milan is in the pulsating heart of the Italian economy, Lombardy. It’s one of the richest cities in Italy. If on the other hand, you want more old architecture, there are two public universities (La Sapienza and Tor Vergata) in Rome, the Italian capital and most populous city, with its beautiful monuments and history.
Say you want to live in a large city, with museums and plenty of sightseeing spots… but on the seaside! Impossible, right?
Wrong! Moving south, there are two med schools in the Naples area (Federico II and Campania Luigi Vanvitelli); you may want to consider these if you’re more accustomed to warmer climates, and going to the beach on weekends.
You’ll find similar landscapes, but in smaller, more accessible cities, if you send your application to other universities such as Messina and Bari. Among the cities hosting new medicine in English courses, you can find also Turin, Bergamo, Bologna, and Padova. Turin is known for its Baroque architecture and spacious squares, while Bologna offers an impressive balance between thriving student life, gastronomic heaven, and a delightful outlook. Padova is the last city to have offered an English medical program but intriguingly was the one to open the first-oldest medical university in Italy, all the way back in 1222!
As a final note, if your goal is to study dentistry in Italy in English, the only course available so far is in Siena, a small, medieval city surrounded by the picturesque hills of Tuscany.
The best international medical schools in Italy are also the ones where you can live a happy and rewarding life. Take some time and explore the alternatives and make sure you also know something about the city you will move to. If you wish to have some inside information, you may also wish to check our students’ blogs to read about personal experiences from different universities.
Or just keep reading here! We still have a lot of exploring to do.
|Approximate city population||Region of Italy||GDP per capita (2018)||European Regional Human Development Index Ranking 2012|
|Pavia Harvey||70,000||Lombardy (north)||€24,000||146|
|IMS Milan||1,350,000||Lombardy (north)||€50,000||146|
|Rome La Sapienza||2,850,000||Lazio (middle)||€34,500||184|
|Rome Tor Vergata||2,850,000||Lazio (middle)||€34,500||184|
|Naples Federico II||960,000 (Naples)||Campania (southwest)||€18,000||255|
|Naples SUN||75,000 (Caserta)||Campania (southwest)||€15,000||255|
|Bergamo (Bicocca)||120,000||Lombardy (north)||€30,500||146|
|Siena (dentistry)||55,000||Tuscany (center-north)||€30,500||156|
Tuition fees, costs of living, and financing
If you’re still wondering whether you should apply to medical school in Italy, our next table may help you settle the matter. Compared with other universities offering English-language medical courses, studying in Italy’s public med schools is ridiculously cheap.
On one hand, not only are tuition fees at most of a few thousand euros per year (Rome Tor Vergata and the Pavia being the highest, at 5,200 and 4,500 respectively) but what you actually pay is almost always lower than the maximum, because tuition is adjusted on the basis of your family’s income and net worth.
The minimum fee, on the other hand, is less than 200 euros for most of the universities. These actually are not tuition fees, but a regional tax that everyone has to pay.
And check this out:
Some of the universities offer different tax regimens to Italian and foreign students, with the foreign students’ taxation being generally lower than for Italian students. Furthermore, you will most likely have even greater chances of winning a scholarship and paying next to no fees! Everything is based on an indicator named ISEE; you can find more information on this page by IMS-Milan.
You can find the maximum amount of fees in our table just below. The actual data are quite hard to find so they might not be 100% correct – but they shouldn’t be too far from the truth either!
Is this all?
No, it’s not! Because if you read through our table you will notice another great perk of studying medicine in Italy. Forget London, Dublin, New York: accommodation in Italy is not at all expensive when compared to other countries.
Prices are of course variable depending on your needs, but if you were to rent a student room in a shared apartment (the most common type of accommodation for students) in Rome, you end up spending on average less than 500 euros per month!
Furthermore, smaller cities like Pavia or Bari offer rooms for 200-250 euros. In Siena, where you can study dentistry in English, the cost for a room per month is around 300 euros. This is something we like very much about Italian universities, because it makes studying medicine accessible to a large slice of the population, regardless of their economic situation.
Education is not free, but very few countries with English-language medical courses are less expensive than this.
One little heads up: in Bologna, currently there are very few rooms available in the city, and the students are having a hard time finding one. Our advice is to look for accommodation as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might have to spend several weeks waiting for a room to become free.
A lot of international students were afraid of how would COVID-19 affects the rent prices but as of now, no significant changes have taken place. We’ve even noticed that apartment owners have shown great understanding, especially to foreigners, allowing students to leave their accommodation without the usual 3-months notice if need be.
Finally, another nice feature about this system, which offers a reduction in tuition fees on the basis of the family economic status (you can find more info here), is that it includes meals at the university canteen – or, as they’re called in Italian, mensa.
Prices and details vary between the different universities, but for a few euros (4-5 in most of the cases), you can have a full meal every day. And if you have obtained a scholarship, the meal is often free.
Take some time to consider also the cost of living and the fees when deciding which the best medical schools in Italy are, in your opinion. You can also find more information about financing your studies in one of our pages. However, if you’re all about rankings, the next section might be the right one for you.
Note: the “average expenses” per month indicates how much you’re going to spend for living, rent included.
|Tuition fee minimum (€/year)||Tuition fee maximum (€/year) - Italians||Tuition fee maximum (€/year) - Foreigners||Rent of a room (singola) (€/month)||Average expenses (€/month)||Mensa full meal (€/meal)||Buses etc (€/year)||Beer in Bar (€/0.5L)||Unemployment (%) 2017||Regional poverty (%)|
|Pavia Harvey||156||4460||4656||260||700||3-7 (income-based)||15||4||6.8||5.5|
|IMS Milan||156||3735||1456||400||800||3.3||200 if <26y|
300 if >26y
|Rome Sapienza||400||2925||1156||450||800||2.20-7.70 (income-based)||250 (income-based)||5||9.5||8.2|
|Rome T.V.||156||5250||5250||450||800||2.20-7.70 (income-based)||250 (income-based)||5||9.5||8.2|
|Napoli Federico II||510||2600||356?||300||650||2-3 (income-based)||180 (income-based)||4.5||23.9||24.4|
|Napoli SUN||137||2710||2710||350||650||2-3 (income-based)||180 (income-based||4.5||23.9||24.4|
|Turin||196||2805||2805||300||750||2.50-5.60 (income-based)||158-258 (income-based)||5||9.4||6.8|
|Bergamo (Bicocca)||156||3520||756||300||700||1.05 (hospital canteen)||200||4.5||4.2||5.5|
|Siena (dentistry)||156||2690||variable||300||500||2.80-4.50 (income-based)||200-250 (income-based)||3||9.4||5.9|
Italian medical schools rankings
This next section takes into account a number of domestic and international rankings updated to 2019. We at MEDschool.it advise you against making your choice solely on the basis of one of these rankings because, as you can see, the results and the methodologies differ vastly for every institute. Furthermore, you should choose a school for the city and the educational program, rather than just by its rankings
If you wish, you can read more regarding this in one of our posts.
According to domestic (Censis) rankings, Milan-Bicocca (Bergamo) medical school is the best in Italy, whereas QS World University Rankings puts the IMS Milan in the first position. Some universities, like Bologna, tend to be near the top on all lists.
We believe that you’d be better off making a choice according to other parameters, but we’re here to give you all the information you might need and guide you through this process step by step.
So, the next section will take you inside the practical aspects of teaching in the various medical schools in English in Italy.
Scroll down to learn more about the Italian curricular design, in practice.
|Pavia||2 in Italy||2 in Italy||13 in Italy, 273 worldwide||301 worldwide||296 worldwide||401-500 worldwide|
|Milan||3 in Italy||4 in Italy||5 in Italy, 164 worldwide||83 worldwide||74 worldwide||151-200 worldwide|
|Rome - La Sapienza||18 in Italy||17 in Italy||2 in Italy, 114 worldwide||135 worldwide||130 worldwide||151-200 worldwide|
|Rome - Tor Vergata||16 in Italy||15 in Italy||12 in Italy, 243 worldwide||315 worldwide||279 worldwide||501-600 worldwide|
|Naples - Federico II||33 in Italy||30 in Italy||7 in Italy, 192 worldwide||227 worldwide||216 worldwide||301-400 worldwide|
|Campania Luigi Vanvitelli||29 in Italy||31 in Italy||53 in Italy, 1056 worldwide||not ranked||not ranked||701-800 worldwide|
|Bari||31 in Italy||33 in Italy||22 in Italy, 378 worldwide||389 worldwide||401-500 worldwide||401-500 worldwide|
|Turin||17 in Italy||16 in Italy||8 in Italy, 217 worldwide||180 worldwide||177 worldwide||601-700 worldwide|
|Bologna||3 in Italy||3 in Italy||1 in Italy, 112 worldwide||94 worldwide||96 worldwide||201-300 worldwide|
|Milan-Bicocca (Bergamo)||1 in Italy||1 in Italy||15 in Italy, 281 worldwide||348 worldwide||360 worldwide||301-400 worldwide|
|Messina||27 in Italy||26 in Italy||43 in Italy, 750 worldwide||not ranked||not ranked||801-900 worldwide|
|Padua||5 in Italy||5 in Italy||2 in Italy, 114 worldwide||114 worldwide||112 worldwide||201-300 Padua|
|Siena (dentistry)||not ranked||not ranked||21 in Italy, 367 worldwide||not ranked||451-500 worldwide||601-700 worldwide|
Medical Education in Italy
Let’s say now that you decided which cities you would like to live in, you made sure that you can afford to study there for six years, and then in September you take the IMAT and you pass.
Wow, congratulations! Now what?
Many students, with good reason, focus only on the IMAT. They wonder what the exam dates are, they want to look at past papers, and they want to know how the scrolling works; in the end, they know so much about the exam that even we don’t really know how to tell them something new.
And that’s fair because you need to pass the IMAT to get into med school in Italy. However, just so you can make a more informed decision, we present you with this last table, trying to describe how medical education in Italy works.
We interviewed students from several med schools and we managed to answer some of the questions which might influence your choice, such as:
- …what is the class size?
- …do students take oral or written exams?
- …is attendance in lectures mandatory?
- …do students have the possibility for cadaver work?
- …has the school announced it is applying for California accreditation, to facilitate US residencies after graduation?
One thing you might want to know is that, unlike many other countries, Italian professors like to assess the knowledge of students via oral examinations rather than written ones. The universities with fewer oral exams, if you do not like that sort of testing method, appear to be Pavia, Milan, and Bicocca.
Most European universities outside Italy provide a maximum number of attempts at an exam. If you fail all these exams, you have to repeat the year. This is generally not true in Italy, where often you can repeat an exam as many times as you wish. Only in Pavia is there an actual limit of three attempts per examination.
Attendance in class is in most cases compulsory, with on average 70% of presence required, so take this into account when you plan your future studies in Italy. Truth be told, not all professors apply this rule, so it’s a case-by-case situation.
Now things get interesting:
On a regular basis, we are asked if there is the possibility of studying anatomy on cadavers in Italy, with the wildest hypotheses being made about why it is prohibited and why it isn’t. That’s why we went and interviewed medical students from all universities with respect to this topic.
What’s the real deal?
It depends. Some Italian universities, such as IMS Milan and the University of Bologna, do in fact integrate anatomic studies into their curriculum. As opposed to these, Campania Luigi Vanvitelli or Milan-Bicocca (Bergamo) make no mention of it throughout the course (at least so far).
Most other faculties allow students to participate in dissections, made for legal or other purposes, in their forensic medicine departments.
|Class size||Oral or written exams?||How many chances at tests?||Mandatory attendance at lectures?||Possibility for cadaver||Which hospitals for clinical rotations?||Foreign research affiliations|
|Naples Fed. II||about 40||Mixed||unlimited||Yes; 75%||Policlinico Federico II|
|Padova||about 60||Mostly written, some oral||5||Yes, 70%||Policlinico Universitario,|
|Siena (dentistry)||about 30||Mixed||3||Yes, 75%||None||Most likely in Hospital Le Scotte||Coimbra and several others|
|Rome-Tor Vergata||about 35||Mostly oral with few written||unlimited||Yes; 66%||Autopsy observation only, independent of academic program||Policlinico of Tor Vergata, Bambin Gesù hospital, and others||Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe|
|Naples, Campania Vanvitelli||about 80||Mostly oral with few written||unlimited||Often; 75%||None||Policlinico Vecchio,|
Caserta Civil Hospital
|Bari||about 50||Mixed||unlimited||Yes; 66%||Some demonstrations as part of Anatomy||Mostly Policlinico Giovanni XXIII||Only Erasmus+|
|Turin||about 100||Mixed||?||Yes, 75%||None, but there's a simulation lab||?||?|
|Bologna||about 90||Mixed||unlimited||Yes, 66%||Extensive and ntegrated in course (Year 2)||Not yet available||Coimbra and several others|
|Bergamo-Bicocca||about 30||Mostly written, some oral||unlimited||Yes, 70%||Nothing so far||Clinica San Francesco and hospital Papa Giovanni XXIII||University of Surrey|
|Messina||about 75||Mostly oral, some written||unlimited||Yes, 75%||There is a Skills Lab||So far, Policlinico G. Martino||Only Erasmus+|
|Harvey-Pavia||about 110||Mostly oral with few written||3||Yes; 75%||Autopsy observation only, independent of academic program||Mostly at 1 hospital (San Matteo) with a few rotations at 2 other hospitals in Pavia||Coimbra Group|
|IMS-Rome-La Sapienza||about 50||Mostly oral with some written||unlimited||Yes; 66%||Some demonstrations as part of Anatomy||Mostly at Umberto I with some rotations at St. Andrea||Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe|
|IMS-Milan||about 60||Mostly written and oral||unlimited||Yes; 66%||Yes (Year 1) - didactical post-mortem, integrated into academic program||Spread around about 9 hospitals, mostly at Policlinico||League of European Research Universities|
We just presented you with a whole lot of information about IMAT and living in Italy, but what is the take-home message?
To wrap everything up, we want to show you a few graphs putting together some data regarding the most important points of this page, notably “What are the entry cutoffs for medicine in Italy in English?” and “What is the cost of living in Italy?” Take a look.
That was it, everyone! We hope you managed to find all the information you needed to find the best international medical schools in Italy for you. If you liked this page remember to subscribe to our newsletter in order to receive IMAT updates directly in your email, and take one step further towards passing the IMAT.
Did we miss something? Do you have any request? Come to our Facebook page and ask us or the rest of the community. And if you know something we don’t, make sure to contact us through the link just below.
Study well, and good luck!
- 2019 IMAT – Make Sure You are Prepared for the BIG Change Just Announced - May 11, 2019
- IMAT 2019 exam date [official news!] - March 9, 2019
- Returning home, sixth year and other monsters - February 3, 2018