Published January 25, 2011 by Tony


Country you  go, custom you find or, in this case, education you find!

Although many countries try to standardize their educational system, following the example of the most advanced nations, today we still find many differences in the world and who is interested about Italy, I’ll will say now something about our school system. I will refer to the current school system after the last reform in 2007 so divided:


The cycle begins with the educational preschool for children aged 2.5 to 6 years that is not mandatory and can freely last three years.

After this, it starts the compulsory education that includes: primary and secondary education (level I and II).

Currently, the duration of primary school (once called elementary school) is 5 years for children aged 6-7 years. Till the last year the education was planned through a didactic form with some teachers interchanging in the 3 or 4 classrooms while with the new reform of Elementary School we can find one teacher per class too, and with no final examination (leaving certificate) to pass in the secondary school.


The secondary school last long 8 years so subdivided:

3 years in the first degree and 5 years in the second.

The first degree corresponds to the old “Middle School”

Typically school time ranges from 29 to 33 hours for week and the subjects usually are: Italian, History, Geography, Mathematics, Science, Technology, English language, Art, Music, Physical education and Catholic Religion (optional).  Besides, students optionally can add 4 hours for laboratory according to the school resources. At the end of the three years the students need a school leaving certificate to attend the second degree.


Five are the years in the second degree (usually from 14-15 to 18-19 years) and the first two years are mandatory or at least until the sixteenth year of the student. From primary school to second year of secondary school or ,from 6 to 16 years, the mandatory is governed by a special law and local institutions (welfare office or local police) must intervene towards parents to know the reason of the truancy and compel them to let the compulsory education to be completed.

The second degree of the secondary school is divided in four  educational typology, according to the education the students want to attend:

Lyceum (high school), Polytechnic school, Tertiary or arts school.

In the Tertiary school (professional education)  after the first two years the students must do a final qualifying examination that let them to stop the education (getting a professional certificate) or go on till the high school leaving (complete) qualifications getting a Diploma as happens with the students in Lyceum or Technical school.

In the Lyceum colleges the education has the purpose to form the students for the academic field and differently from the Technical or Tertiary schools students get no specific professionally.


At last, students can attend University whose cycle study is so articulated:

  1. A sort of Bachelor’s degree lasting long 3 years (we call it short Degree)
  2. For a Master’s Degree it needs others 2 years
  3. For Ph. D. or post-graduate studies others 2-5 years according to the subject.

Both Bachelor and Master’s degree end with the graduation thesis.

The Italian education system is regulated by Ministry of education and according to the legal form we have state schools or public schools, private schools and officially recognized schools while the professional education is regulated by the Regions.

In the state schools or public schools there are tuition fees to pay every year usually lower than private schools aside from the public preschools and primary schools where the admission fees are very low. On the contrary, academic fees are quite onerous specially for private universities.

Overall, in the regions of the northern Italy the education level in the primary and secondary public schools is slightly higher than southern possibly because a better school attendance and a rigid observance of the syllabus.


  • Interesting! Thank you very much for this very good information! My italian is very poor, so it’s difficult to find information about the italian educational policy. I’m interested in italian culture, and studied a little bit of the langauage, but can’t read any scietifit articuls in italian.
    I have to finish a seminar work about italian educational policy from the framework of multicultural aspects. If you have any good advice, it would be highly appreciated!

  • Hello, very interesting information about education system in Italy. I am from Greece, we have almost the same system exept from the primary level that lasts 6 years and the second degree of secondary level that lasts only 3 years. All the other are the same. I work at ministry of culture and we make some educational programmes for children of primary school level. We gather information about educational systems in the rest European countries. Congradulations for your blog.

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