First-cycle programmes are provided by universities, by High-level arts and music education (Afam) institutes and by Higher technical institutes (ITS).
Universities and Afam institutions offer first-cycle 3-year programmes corresponding to 180 Ects credits (DM 270/2004, DPR 212/2005).
The study courses offered by universities and Afam institutes are designed to provide students with an adequate mastery of methods, a general scientific knowledge and artistic techniques, as well as the acquisition of professional competences in a specific study field.
At the end of the relevant three-year programme, university students are awarded a laurea degree, whereas Afam students are awarded a Diploma accademico di primo livello (first-level academic degree).
Higher technological institutes (Istituti tecnologici superiori – ITS Academies) offer short-cycle non-university tertiary education. Programmes have a duration of 4 semesters (1 800-2 000 hours). Programmes at ITSs have the purpose of training high level technician with strong competences in new technological sectors that are strategic for the economic development and competitiveness of the country. Programmes lead to the obtainment of a Diploma as Higher technician (Diploma di tecnico superiore). ITSs have been recently reformed (law 99/2022). According to the reform, ITSs will also organise Bachelor programmes leading to qualifications equivalent to the EQF level 6. Main changes are described in the chapter on ongoing reforms in higher education, awaiting the decrees that are to define the organisation of the courses.
All qualifications are described in the NQF. Qualifications issued by universities and Afam institutions are also described in the Italian qualification framework of Higher education (QTI).