IMAT: What’s It Like Studying in Italy?

IMAT Preparation Specialists

If you’re considering applying to an Italian university to study Medicine, you’ll no doubt have lots of questions about what it’s actually like to study Medicine in Italy. Here, we look at some of the major areas and consider the Italian student experience.


When you think of Italy, you’ll no doubt think of its beautiful landscapes, famous cities and immense history and culture. However, it’s also a leader in Medicine, with its healthcare system being considered one of the best in the world, and with 29 of its universities ranked for Medicine in the QS World University Rankings. Additionally, students in Italy will benefit from comparatively cheap tuition – ranging from just 500 Euros to around 5000 Euros per year for public universities. Living expenses are low too, with around 800 Euros a month being realistic, including rent. Lastly, the entrance process is simple – you only have to take one exam, the IMAT, and this is used in place of grades, references, or an interview.

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What’s it like to move to Italy as a student?

Foreign students often move to Italy with some existing appreciation of its culture, climate and way of life. Of course, where you move in Italy will have an impact, with different parts of the country and different cities like to impart a relatively different experience. However, students universally comment that they find the energy and warmth of the people to be appealing. They typically find their classes to be diverse, and this can be a source of comfort when first arriving in a new, foreign place. New students might therefore find it easier to fit in with the rest of their class – a multicultural, multinational group – and then work to assimilate into Italian culture to the extent that they wish to as their degree progresses.

Do You Need to Know Italian?

The short answer is no, you don’t. If your course is taught in English, then of course you are not expected to understand Italian. Indeed, there are 16 different medical programs in Italy that allow you to take the course in English, the majority of which are public universities. All of your lectures, tutorials and textbooks will be in English. However, it’s unrealistic to think that you can become a doctor in Italy without understanding Italian – how will you communicate with patients? Therefore, you should expect to combine your Medicine classes with some Italian language classes which will allow you to quickly pick up the language. By the time you get to your clinical years, you’ll already have two or three years of learning the language under your belt, and likely be fluent. You might therefore consider this a bonus – you become a doctor, and you learn a second language fluently in the process!

What Happens After I Graduate?

One of the most important considerations is where you’ll be able to practise after you graduate. As Italy is in the EU, the Italian Medicine degree is valid across the entire European Union, as well as multiple other  countries. However, you may need to pass a licensing exam to practise in certain other countries. That said, the prospect of practising in Italy after you graduate could also be an enticing one, as by this point you will be used to the language and culture.

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Can I Go on Exchanges?

If you want to, you’ll be able to do an exchange program and spend a semester or even a year abroad. That could be across Europe (through the Erasmus program) or even in the USA. This will give you a great insight into other healthcare systems and ways of learning Medicine. It could also give you the chance to compare the Italian medical system with that of your home country, or another country that you’re interested in living in.

What Should I Expect from my Program?

This will vary from school to school, of course. However, as a rule of thumb you might find the first three years to be focused on theoretical knowledge, and the second part of the degree to be more hands-on; an assessed internship in which you learn how to become a doctor through practice. You should expect small class sizes that encourage you to engage with your lecturers and what you’re learning.

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