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Short-cycle higher education


7.2.First-cycle programmes

7.2.2Short-cycle higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Higher technological institutes (Istituti tecnologici superiori – ITS Academies) offer short-cycle tertiary education. 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

Branches of study

Higher Technical Institutes (ITS) offer highly qualifying courses in the following 6 technological areas: energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, new technologies in life, new technologies for the 'made in Italy', innovative technologies for arts and cultural activities - tourism, ICT.

Admission requirements

Anyone (adults included) holding an upper secondary education qualification, can enter to courses offered at the Higher Technical Institutes (ITS).

ITSs organise enrolment tests to assess candidates’ basic technical and technological competences as well their knowledge of English, required to participate successfully in training activities offered. Assessment criteria are defined by each ITS.

In addition, candidates obtain a specific mark according to the final mark obtained at the end of the upper secondary school.


Courses at Higher Technical Institutes (ITS) last 4 semesters corresponding to 1 800/2 000 hours and, for specific branches, up to a maximum of 6 semesters. Courses have a modular organisation. The duration of each module varies.

Curricula foresee the acquisition of general basic competences, common to all technological areas, technical competences, common to all professional qualifications of each technological area and competences specific of each professional qualification. In particular, general basic competences refer to the following areas: languages, communications and public relations, science and technology, law and economics, organisation and management.

Courses include theoretical lessons and labs; 30% of the overall timetable should be destined to on-the-job training, (also abroad).

Teaching methods

The freedom of teaching is a principle established by the Constitution of the Italian Republic and, therefore, teachers are free to choose their own teaching methods.

In ITSs courses, 50% of teachers come from enterprises or from specific professions.

In general, ‘learning by doing’ is the most common teaching methods. It is also common the use of labs at research centres, universities and companies.

Moreover, courses foster the integration of common with technical-vocational competences, in problem solving, planning, administration and control of systems/services in the relevant area of studies. Some teachings are held in English.

Progression of students

In general, have a modular organisation. Therefore, students do not progress from one grade to the next one as they do in the school system.

The final certificate diploma di tecnico superiore (Diploma of Higher technician), delivered at the end of the whole course, upon passing the final exam, allows the access to public competitions and university courses, with the recognition of the credits obtained into CFU.


Courses at ITSs give access to professions in the following 6 technological areas: energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, new technologies in life, new technologies for the 'made in Italy', innovative technologies for arts and cultural activities - tourism, ICT.

Student assessment

Courses end up with a final examination assessing candidates’ competences. Candidates sit in front of a commission made up by representatives of the school and university world, of vocational education and of experts of the labour world.


At the end of courses, upon passing the final exam, students receive the Diploma di tecnico superiore (Diploma of higher technician). The certificate should indicate the technological area and the relevant national qualification.

Certificates are issued by the upper secondary school, either technical or vocational, which is the reference institute of the ITS foundation.

The Diploma gives access to public competitions and to university courses with the recognition of credits obtained into CFU, as well as to the labour market.

Legislative references

Decree of the Ministry of education and the Ministry of labour of 7 September 2011 (Its qualifications)

Financial law of 2007 (Higher technical education and training system)