REVEALED: These are Italy’s best universities in 2024

Jessica Lionnel
Jessica Lionnel - [email protected]
REVEALED: These are Italy’s best universities in 2024
Students at a university library. Italian universities fared relatively well once again in 2024's prestigious QS ranking. (Photo by Brandon Bell / Getty Images via AFP)

Italian universities are once again near the top of the international leaderboard for 2024, but the country’s highest-rated institutions vary by subject area.


As many as 42 Italian universities were included in the esteemed 2024 list from Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) making Italy the seventh highest-ranked country in the world and second in the European Union behind Germany.

Milan’s Polytechnic, Sapienza University, University of Bologna, University of Padua, and Turin’s Polytechnic all came in as the country’s top five tertiary education institutes. 

Sapienza University (La Sapienza) reigns supreme for its fourth year in classics - the Rome-based university beat out the prestigious University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford as being the best in the world for the subject.

Italian universities were awarded 99 positions (three more than in 2023’s edition) for subjects in the five major areas of study including arts and humanities, engineering and technology, life sciences, natural sciences, and social sciences and management.

Arts and humanities

Sapienza University and the University of Bologna both came in 44 and 50 respectively worldwide. Both universities had an overall score of around 80 out of 100.

The other three universities in Italy’s top five for arts and humanities are Milan’s Polytechnic (60), the University of Padua (139), and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (160).

Engineering and technology

Milan’s Polytechnic (23), Turin’s Polytechnic (52), Sapienza University (95) and University of Bologna (100) all ranked in the world’s top 100 for engineering and technology.

Of the four in the top 100, Milan’s Polytechnic leads the way in micro engineering subjects. It comes in at 12th place worldwide for petroleum engineering, 27th for chemical engineering, and 9th for mechanical engineering.

The University of Padua (166) is Italy’s fifth-best university for the subject.


Life sciences

Admittedly, life sciences did not rank as highly as arts and humanities or engineering and technology, though the results are still better than average.

The University of Milan (97), the University of Padua (105), the University of Bologna (110), Sapienza University (128) and the University of Turin (155) were Italy’s top five. 

The University of Milan was ranked as the 80th best university for medicine in the world (the best in Italy), followed by the ever-present University of Bologna which came in at 87. To add, The University of Padua was placed as the 108th in the world for biology.

Natural sciences

Once again, as was the case for arts and humanities, Sapienza University was the star of the class in natural sciences in 61st position globally. 

It was a close call between the University of Bologna and the University of Padua, with Bologna just scraping past its historic rival by one position at 96th place.

Social sciences and management

Private Milan-based university Bocconi led the way in Italy at 16th place overall. Its nearest Italian competitor, University of Bologna, trailed behind at 64th place. Another private university, Luiss University based in Rome, was in 90th position.


Milan’s Polytechnic and Sapienza University were 100th and 128th respectively.

Rest of the world

Aside from classics, mechanical engineering, petroleum engineering, and social sciences and management, Italian universities failed to fall under the top 20 in a fair few subjects.

Compared with the United States, which currently leads in 32 individual subjects with Harvard claiming 19 of them, Italy still has quite a long way to go to get to the top of QS’ rankings.

Nevertheless, coming in second place within the European Union and seventh overall in the world is still a huge success. 

The QS World University Ranking assesses the performance of universities around the world based on recruiters’ feedback, academic peer review, faculty/student ratio and number of published research citations. The full methodology is available here.


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