So you brave heart have decided to study in Italy! Good for you, and Welcome!
I will try to help you with this Survival Guide for the Sapienza University of Rome.
As an International Student from Sapienza University I was also lost. I couldn’t understand the dynamics and organization of the Institution. I didn’t know who could help me.
Sapienza University is the second biggest University in the country and also internationally recognized. So my congrats on being admitted into this huge Institution. If you haven’t been admitted yet this post will give you an overview of what is it like to be an International Student in Rome, and in Sapienza.
The number of International Students in Italy is increasing every year. The Academic offer is wide and the available Degrees in English are getting good reputation, for this reason the Universities are expanding.
Not speaking Italian can represent a new level of complication for international students. Fluent Italian can be helpful when it comes to dealing with the University Staff, even though they also speak (limited) English. After two semesters at Sapienza I am here to help you.
I kindly put together this Survival Guide for the brave of heart as you and I, who decided to growth and expand our knowledge in the Italian Education System. I hope this humble guide will help you to get a general idea of the organization at Sapienza, life in Rome and also Student life in general.
I hope it serves you well, and of course I am available to answer questions to the limit of my capacities. Or at least to help you find the right person to answer them.
Disclaimer: I created this guide myself, the University did not participated, nor asked me to do it. I did this to help other International Students to succeed in the process of enrollment and admission at Sapienza University of Rome. You should always direct to the University Website for the Official Information. I wrote about my own experience. I obtained all of the information from the University Website and Official Student Guide.
There are 25 Universities in Italy, the top ranked one is the University of Bologna, which is also one of the oldest Universities in the World (Established in 1088). There are in Italy more than 80,000 International Students from all over the world. Italian Universities have several agreements with other parts of Europe and Universities in different continents as Asia, Africa.
In the last few years more and more English programs were added to the academic offer in Europe. At Sapienza there are several master degrees in English
The Academic year goes from September to June/July (First Semester September to December, Second Semester: February to June).
Tuition Fees are some of the lowest in Europe, but depends on your home country (there is a difference in the tuition for Students from Developing or Developed Countries. The fee would also be different if you have EU Citizenship).
Understanding the Italian Education System
To study in Italy is challenging, the system pushes you to be independent. As in all aspects of Italy, nothing is given. You have to work for it. And this can either disappoint you, or motivate you. At the end your degree will be worthy even more.
The bibliography is extensive and the professors have a professional and hierarchical relationship with the students. But most of them are available to help you with throughout the semester.
The University promotes the independence of its students, you won’t find babysitting treatment in the Italian Public Education. The modernity in the organization is not at the highest level but most of the information is online.
Italy incorporated the Bologna Process System in 1999 to be approved to the European Higher Education System. The new system allows for easy credit transfer between Countries in Europe.
This divide the Higher Education in three cycles:
First cycle: Laurea Triennale (Three years of study, comparable to the Bachelor’s Degree)
Second Cycle: Laurea Magistrale (two years of study, comparable to a Master’s Degree)
Third Cycle: Dottorato di Ricerca (Research Doctorates or PhD)
Before you arrive to Italy
Contact the admission office of your faculty
They will most likely send you the admission process documents and the directions in completing the requirements.
They will send you the Student Guide with all the information you need to read. However some points are hard to understand or there is some info missing (That is why I decided to start this user-friendly guide for you).
*At Sapienza we have two semesters per year: September – December and February- May. You can start at either one of the semesters. If you are a conditionally admitted student you may have to take some extra exams before entering the Master’s Program (As it was my case), and if you have to take the admission exams during the first Semester you can enroll for the second semester (Starting in February).
You need to apply at the University website where a commission will examine your application and prior education and determine if you are ready to keep on going with the process. This is the first step of your application, the commission will inform you if you will be admitted or conditionally admitted. The official assessment will be carrying on in July when you present your documents in person in Rome.
Deadlines (This are the dates for academic year 2016/2017 you should double check the dates for the following years at the University Website)
Opening: November 1, 2015
Deadline for non-EU students: April 30, 2016
Deadline for EU Students: September 1, 2016
At this point you should apply for your student visa at your corresponding Italian Consulate (If you are a non-EU Student)
Obtain Student Visa at Italian Embassy in your local country (contact by email to the students office at the embassy by email) Remember there is always a deadline that the University sets for foreigner students to enroll.
Preparing your Documents (All Students with Foreign Degrees)
- High school Diploma and Transcripts (Accompanied by Declaration of Value obtained at Italian Consulte – Explained below)
- University Diploma and Transcripts (Accompanied by Declaration of Value obtained at Italian Consulte – Explained below)
- University Study Plan
- Passport or ID
- Resident Permit and Visa (For non-EU Students)
1- Translate your Documents (Diplomas and Transcripts) to Italian by public translator (the consulate will send you a list of official translators who do this by email),
2- Certify your University Transcripts by a notary: In order for your Transcripts and Diploma to be accepted at the corresponding Italian Consulate for the Declaration of Value, these must be certified by a notary. The Italian Consulate that correspond to your location will send you a sample letter to be signed by the University and the Notary.
3- Attached to an Apostille by secretary of the state (of the state/ Province where the degree was obtained at -i.e I obtained mine in University of New Orleans, in Louisiana, I went to Baton Rouge Capital of the state of obtain the Apostille). The Apostille is a official gov. document that certifies that your degree is legal and official, it is just one page).
4- The Declaration of Value: You need to request an appointment with the Italian Consulate to obtain the Declaration of Value. This is a document issued at the Italian Consulate/Embassy declaring that your degree is accurate and valid to be recognized in Italy.
*After completed all prior steps with your Documents, you must bring them to the Italian Consulate corresponding to your area of residency on your home country, or (if you moved) to the Consulate in the Country where you obtained your degree. For example, I had to do this process at two different Italian Consulates in two different Countries: In the USA (where I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree) and in Buenos Aires, Argentina (where I completed my high school studies).
5- Enroll on the University’s Student Site: Infostud
Sapienza has the Infostud portal. There you can complete your application, information and you will use it during your career to pay tuition fees or enroll to exams (more about exams below).
6- Official Assessment
When you are in Rome, and after having all the gelato and pasta you can eat, you must go to the Student Office of your Faculty (Political Science, Law, Etc.) with your original documents for the Official Assessment.
You need to bring copies of everything to the Student Office of your Faculty. They will proceed with the Assessment and email you when the commission confirms your status (which they previously informed you during the “pre-selection”.
7- International Students Office
Then you can proceed to the International Students Office with your originals (they will corroborate that these are accurate and faithful and keep them until your graduation)
*Attention: The Foreign Students Office claims that the University must hold the originals (degrees and transcripts) to prevent International students from enrolling to other universities while studying at Sapienza. These documents are still yours of course and you can request them if ever needed to make photocopies for example, but they must be returned to the Secretary of your Faculty or you will be prevented from taking exams*
International Student Office Contact and what to expect
This is the office who is in charge to register you and control your international degrees are correct and accurate.
International Student’s Office located at:
- Location: Building Servizi Generali
Piazzale Aldo Moro, 5
Stairway C – 2nd floor
Entering from Viale Regina Margherita you will find one of the main entrence to Sapienza (by the postal service -Poste Italiana-). Turn to your left right away and follow the path passing the Posta Italiana and Unicredit Bank Branch until you see Stairway C sign on your right and go up to the second floor.
- Office Hours:
8:30 am – 12 am
2:30 – 4.30 pm
Once you leave your originals there they will print out the “bolletino” to pay your first installment (prima Rata) and you can do this online or at the Unicredit location inside the University (by the entrance).
You can find the explanation of the fees (in Italian) at the Official University website here
These are the deadlines to pay your University Fees:
First installment: October 21st.
Second installment: December 21st.
Third installment: March 22nd.
*To respect these deadlines is highly important, if you miss them you will have to pay an extra fee for late payment. Usually there is no alert nor reminder that the deadline is coming soon from the University.
Once you pay your installment you will be officially enrolled and can enroll to take exams.
Congratulations!!!! You made it 🙂
Once you are an Official Sapienza Student
Courses and Exams
Lessons and Class information
Coris website: Here you will find the listing of courses corresponding to your career, it is divided in Laurea Triennale and Magistrale. You can access to the class information and details, professor website (where they usually upload important info of the course, their curriculum, etc)
Infostud: The online students’ portal. Where you can manage your program, enroll to exams, visualize schedules and pay your installments. Over Infostud you must also put together your program (Percorso formativo).
You don’t need to “enroll” to the courses you will be attending the current semester. The courses open and the University will post the schedules so you can attend to the lessons. If you completed your enrollment in correct manner then you don’t need to take any further steps and you will be able to enroll to exams. Some professor take attendance very seriously and even make different exams for attending and non-attending students.
*Note about the Lesson’s Schedule* You will see the weekly schedule posted online and you have different hours of lesson for one course (example: Monday 9-11, Thursday 15-17, Friday 9-11), you have to attend to all three days of lessons. I clarify this because at the beginning I thought I could pick one day of the lessons and just go to that class. The schedules are not made for working students, you can work around it but if you have classes in the morning and evening you would probably end up missing some of the lessons if you work. Keep this in mind if you plan on being a working student!
You can check the course schedule (usually posted a week before the beginning of classes) and show up for the class. The schedule of the course depends on the credit value of it, some courses are held three times a week (2 hours lesson each), others are held twice a week with lessons of 3 hours each, other courses or laboratories lessons (practical lessons with group projects) are held once or twice a week.
How are the exams? Most of the exams are oral exams, but this can vary depending on the professor’s methodology.
When the University confirm the dates of the final exams these will be posted on the course page on the Coris Website. Your Professor will also give you this information. You can enroll to the exam on your Infostud site. You must print the exam enrollment confimation and present it to your Professor with a valid ID the day of the exam. Once you finish your exam the Professor will sign the sheet with your note once.
Extraordinary exam sessions
(reserved to students repeating exams, out-of course students and all those who have completed all the attendance requisites):
Map of Sapienza Campus
Living in Rome
Goethe once said that “Rome is not a city, Rome is a world”. The Italian Capital is not known for being a relaxed and quiet place. This is a hectic Capital, full of life, treasured Roman Ruins everywhere you look, tons of tourists (also everywhere you look), and amazing food. Still, all that cannot express what Rome is. Because it is a different thing for each and every one of us. Rome is unique. Rome has the capacity of creating a personal relation with those who come to live in her. There are no grays when it comes to Rome, you can love her with all your heart or become overwhelmed by her. She is not neutral, and doesn’t provoke neutral feelings.
I assure you, Rome will make an impact on you. And I dare to say that you will not forget her. I am not certain you will love her or not, but I can tell you this much: You must experience her greatness.
I wrote a lot about my beloved city. You can read about Rome here.
Because Rome is the birthplace of the most important Empire in history. One that left behind not only uncountable ruins but also knowledge and rules for life and politics that we still use today. Rome is chaotic, Rome is exciting and exhausting, Rome is a giant full of charming corners that will make you fall in love with her. Not for nothing Rome was the center of the ancient world.
Do you need to know Italian?
Why wouldn’t you come to Italy and don’t want to study the most beautiful language men have known? You will love to understand your surroundings. Italians don’t have English as a second language like in other European countries. Most of the people can speak few words in English, specially in touristic areas. But for every day life you need to know at least the basics. Which is not a negative thing, because like I just mentioned, Italian is one of the most beautiful languages. And I am sure that one of the reasons you want to study in Italy is because you are attracted to it already.
Sapienza offers language courses in campus. The Erasmus students have a different offer and they should contact the Erasmus Office directly to obtain all the information about it. For all other International Students, you can contact the Language School of Sapienza here.
You can also find different Language Schools around Rome. The most famous one is Dante Alighieri Society, which I personally recommend. The courses there are divided by level (A1 – A2 – B1 – B2 – C1 – C2). You take one level a month and you have full time or part time schedules from which you can choose. Check their website for current prices.
Work and study?
The full time schedules are not made for working students. In one semester you can have classes morning and evenings, sometimes in the same day. You could find a part time job, but make sure they agree with your School Schedule and can accommodate to it. There are also job opportunities within the University. They will post positions available once a year (Usually before the beginning of the academic year) and you can apply to them directly. Check their careers web site.
Where to find housing?
Find housing situation while you still at your home country. You need to know where you are arriving, if you havent concrete nothing yet (and I recommend to go in person to check the place once you are in Rome) book a hostel, airbnb or hotel for a week until you decide on a place. Consider that the best times to find a place to live is before the end of the semester (June/July), when all the last year’s students leave the city and their homes. There are several facebook pages, or other websites like easystanza.it/ subito.it to find housing. Make sure you are well connected to your University, Public transportation is not absolutely reliable in Rome and you don’t want to be crossing the whole city of Rome to arrive to class every day. Believe me. I recommend to find a place near the University if possible. Viale Ippocrate and Piazza Bologna is a pretty popular area for students. In Rome strikes are common and you don’t want to run around town to arrive to class.
Welcome to Rome. Welcome to Sapienza University. I wish you all the success you can possibly imagine!
**To read my post on How to get your Codice Fiscale, Residency and other Italian Documents’ Processes click here**
Useful Sapienza Links
Coris : Communication and Social Research Department
Infostud : Students’ Portal
Featured Image and Map: Sapienza University of Rome.