Ranked: Italy's best universities and how they compare worldwide

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
Ranked: Italy's best universities and how they compare worldwide
Photo by Samuele Giglio on Unsplash

Italian universities featured more prominently than ever before in the latest set of prestigious international rankings. Here's a look at the country's top-rated institutions and how they stack up globally.


Good news, at last, for the Italian higher-education system.

The 2022 edition of the prestigious World University Ranking by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) included 56 Italian universities among the 1,543 most distinguished academic institutions worldwide.

This makes the bel paese the seventh most-represented country in the ranking, which is based on criteria including uses peer review, faculty/student ratio and number of citations of published research.


The top 30 places in the international table were dominated by US and UK universities, with the top three places taken by MIT, Oxford, and Stanford.

But Italian universities featured more prominently on the list than ever before, with a total of 507 Italian university courses included: 55 more than in the 2021 ranking.

READ ALSO: What you need to know before a semester abroad in Italy

In comparison to last year’s figures, 104 Italian university courses climbed up the ranking while 210 held their positions and 138 dropped down. 

Italy now boasts an average of 9.1 QS course placements per single university. That is nearly half a point above the European Union average, sitting at 8.7 programmes per university. That puts Italy joint seventh in the table of countries in terms of the number of placements in the rankings, alongside Sweden.

The top 10 Italian universities remain the same this year, with the Polytechnic University of Milan, the University of Bologna and Rome’s La Sapienza leading the pack.

The best Italian universities according to the QS ranking:

  1. Polytechnic University of Milan
  2. University of Bologna 
  3. University of Rome - La Sapienza
  4. University of Padua
  5. University of Milan
  6. Polytechnic University of Turin
  7. University of Pisa
  8. San Raffaele University
  9. University of Naples Federico II
  10. University of Trento

These historic institutions have long been at the forefront of international academic instruction. La Sapienza was ranked the best university in the world for Classics and Ancient History for the third time in its history. The Rome-based institution was also listed as the best Italian university in as many as 15 subjects (that’s seven more compared to last year) with six top-50 courses at an international level. 

La Sapienza’s rector Antonella Polimeni on Thursday praised the “incredible result", saying that it "rewards the great efforts made by our academic community in all areas of knowledge”.

A number of other Italian institutions stood out for the excellence of their programmes. 


The University of Bologna, which has been ranked the third-best university on Italian soil, boasts as many as 25 top-100 courses internationally, scoring highly in Classic and Ancient History (22nd place), Agriculture and Forestry (40th), Archaeology (44th).

Milan’s Polytechnic, which took the crown for best-ranked Italian university, retained two top-10 courses: Art and Design (5th place) and Architecture (10th). Meanwhile, Milan's Bocconi University entered the top 10 in Social Sciences and Management. 

The University of Pisa university also overtook Paris's Sorbonne in the global ranking.

Overall, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was the top-ranked institution, taking the top spot in 12 different subjects.

US universities once again got the best of British ones, snatching the top spot in 28 out of 51 subjects, while UK universities 'only' came in first in 13 areas of study, with the University of Oxford first in six of them.

Zurich’s ETH was ranked the best university in continental Europe as the institute scored first in three different subjects.

See the latest QS rankings in full here.


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