International Medical School at Sapienza University of Rome

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La Sapienza is one of Europe’s oldest and largest universities. Founded in 1303, La Sapienza enjoys hundreds of years of prestige in research and teaching. Countless internationally recognized people, from all backgrounds, have studied here, including Nobel laureates, presidents of the European parliament, the heads of several nations, notable religious figures, astronauts, and scientists.

Photos by Emmanouela Chourda



The University

Ranking ScoresLecturesLocationExamsClinical trainingItalian languageOther benefitsInternational mobility

[Disclaimer]: The minimal IMAT scores differ from year to year. Also, keep in mind that the EU and Non-EU ranking lists work entirely differently.
The following are the scores for acceptance to the academic year 2020/2021:

  • EU minimal score: 46.7 (last ranking)
  • Non-EU minimal score: 42.3 (1st ranking)

With a class size of 48 people per year (38 Eu and 10 Non-Eu), students know each other well and have a close relationship with their professors. Most professors are the head of the related department and many of them have international experience of teaching abroad.

Mandatory attendance to lectures is 67%.

Classes are usually held in the afternoon, while mornings are occupied with clinical training or left free.

La Sapienza’s campus holds all the university’s departments all in one place. Inside the campus, the University hospital “Policlinico Umberto” is also located – which is a great convenience for medical students in order to avoid an additional everyday commute to the hospital.

The campus is located right next to a metro station, also called “Policlinico”, which is only 2 metro stops away from the very center of Rome and 4 stops away from the Colosseum (the famous touristic site)

One of the potential downsides of studying in a big city is precisely the longer commute to lectures and the hospital, usually located in suburban areas. As this is not the case in Rome La Sapienza, it makes for a very tempting option when picking a med school in Italy. 


Exams are mostly oral, as some of them have written parts. Similar to other universities, the main exam sessions are in February, June/July, and September but sometimes there are more additional sessions. This makes up for 7-8 exam sessions per year which allow for students to be completely in charge of their exam schedule and take any exam without limits. Just as in other med schools, there are no lectures during exam periods.

Clinical training begins in the 2nd semester of the 2nd year. Rotations are almost entirely held in the “Policlinico Umberto”, which is located on the campus right next to the Lecture halls. 

Only a few practicals are held in another hospital – “Santa Andrea”, which is further away from the center. Their students are provided a Skills Lab, where they can practice a couple of procedures, such as catheter insertion, for example.

La Sapienza University offers free Italian language courses to first-year students. Moreover, a unique addition is a specific medical Italian course for med students, focusing on the particular terms used in the medical practice. It’s the first University I hear of that offers such a course and I find it a great advantage because there are certain phrases in a clinical language that you can’t learn from the common language you’d use in your everyday life.

Inside the campus and the hospital, there are also a lot of libraries, some of them open 24/7. While it may not seem like such a big deal, libraries and study rooms in Italy have quite traditional opening hours (the same way all restaurants close in the afternoon), most of them closing by 19:00. For a medical student, having a 24/7 library nearby is quite a great advantage.

Another benefit of La Sapienza’s big campus is having the university canteen (“mensa” in Italian) close to the lecture hall. You can apply for a mensa card by submitting your income documents. Three-course meals in the mensa cost in the range of 3-7€, depending on the deal you get based on your income.

There’s also a University associated gym close by where membership is 100-200€ cheaper annually than regular gyms.

The University also provides good online service – an online platform where lectures are uploaded and an online library to rent books and get access to various research papers.

There are plenty of opportunities to choose from, most of them funded. You could go for a regular Erasmus exchange, spending a semester or two abroad in one of the affiliated universities. Some programs don’t even require learning another language if the teaching is done in English.


Some other options are:

  • Erasmus traineeship, where you spend a minimum of 90 days doing clinical practice abroad
  • Erasmus ICM – an oversees program to Vietnam, South Africa, the US, and many others
  • Doing your Thesis abroad
  • SISM (IFMSA) student exchange




Tuition Fees and Scholarships

Fees in La Sapienza are based on your financial income (or that of your parents). You’ll need to submit the relative documents proving the income in order to get a fee reduction and apply for a scholarship or canteen card.

The maximum amount International students pay (any Eu or Non-Eu, as long as they’re not Italian), is 1156€.
From there on, you can apply for a free reduction by submitting your (or your parents’) income documents. The same documents are also used to apply for a scholarship and a canteen card.

If you score high enough in your exams and become one of the top 5 students in your class, you’ll automatically get a fee reduction. This is a great way to stimulate students to study better!

There are a couple of scholarship options:

  • Apply through DISCO Lazio, the regional scholarship which all Italian universities provide. Depends on your financial income.
  • Apply through SAAS for free housing or free tuition. Depends on your high school grades.
  • Some other options worth checking are “Don’t miss your chance” and “Wanted the best”



Other Costs

Rent: The lowest rent for a single room in a shared apartment in Rome is about 400 and it goes up to 500-550. If you’d like a studio apartment to live by yourself (“monolocale”) it will go about 700. Rent in Rome is cheaper than in Milan for example but more expensive than in any smaller city, North or South.

Groceries: Monthly groceries depend on how you spend of course, but can be about 120-200 per month.

Transportation: As mentioned, the metro line is very convenient to reach the uni, so you’ll definitely need a transportation subscription. You can pay 30€ monthly or 250€ yearly.

Eating out: Rome being such a popular touristic destination, central areas are significantly more expensive than suburbian neighborhoods. You can also get huge discounts in the student areas close to the campus – a pizza and a drink there will cost you 5€, while the cheapest pizza you’ll find in the center will start from 10€.



Job Opportunities

One of the biggest perks of studying medicine in Italy is that it’s possible to pay close to nothing especially with the fee reduction and additionally earn a scholarship. Of course, you shouldn’t rely on the scholarship alone when you do your financial planning for the 6 years ahead. Another way to be more financially independent is to work during your studies. It’s possible to work in Italy, for both Eu and Non-Eu citizens, and even more accessible in Rome being the touristic hub that it is.

One of the main difficulties of getting a job in Italy is the language barrier. Most jobs (eg in bars, shops, etc.) will require a good level of Italian. In Rome, however, there are quite a few unique opportunities you’ll hardly find in a smaller city in Italy. You can find quite a lot of jobs requiring English only, such as working as a bartender in the touristic area, tour guiding, or English teaching.

You can also apply for a University job. The cons: you will need at least some Italian. The pros: most jobs are so easy to do, that you might be able to actually study while working – if you work in a university library, in an anatomy lab, or in an international student’s office.




Elena Mitsulova (Pavia)

I am a 5th-year student in the Harvey course of Pavia. During my Italian journey and all these years spent in Pavia, I've gathered a valuable experience that I am happy to share with you.