Upper Secondary Education in Italy

Upper Secondary education in Italy includes High school or second grade secondary schools, and vocational education.

Scuola Superiore (High School) or Scuola Secondaria di Secondo Grado (Second Grade Secondary School)

There are two types of Second Grade Secondary Schools in Italy: the High School (Liceo), that provides more academic-oriented studies, and an Institute (Istituto), which is basically a vocational school. For the first two years all students study the same subjects. It includes wide range of subjects, such as Italian and foreign language, math, literature, science, religion, geography, history, social studies and physical education. Specialised courses start in the third year. 

Types of High Schools in Italy are: 

  • Classical High School (Liceo Classico): The duration of this level of study is five years. It prepares the student for higher education or university level studies. Latin, Greek and Italian literature are significant component of the course of study. During the final three years, students are taught philosophy and history of artistry as well.
  • Scientific High School (Liceo Scientifico): The length of the course of study at scientific high school is of five years. The major subjects studied at scientific high school are physics, chemistry and natural sciences. Students also get to study and learn Latin and one modern language. 
  • Linguistics High School (Liceo linguistico): Such schools teach modern foreign languages. The languages usually taught are English, French, Spanish, Russian and German.
  • Fine Arts High School (Liceo Artistico): Studies at the fine arts high school last for four to five years. This school prepares students for university studies in painting, sculpture, graphics, multimedia or architecture.
  • Teacher Training School (Istituto Magistrale): Studies at teacher training school lasts for five years. It prepares students for the profession of primary level teaching. 
  • Artistic Schools (Istituto d'Arte):  The length of studies at artistic schools is three years. It prepares students for employment in an artistic field. A diploma di Maestro d'Arte is awarded after successful completion of the course.
  •  Technical Institutes (Istituti Tecnici): Studies at the technical institutes lasts for five years and prepare pupils for both university studies as well as occupation.The principal forms of technical schools are agricultural, commercial (with specialisations in business administration, commerce, foreign languages, accountancy, and computer programming), tourism, aeronautical, surveying and industrial.

Vocational Education

  • Professional Institutes (Istituti Professionali): Studies at the professional institutes lasts for three to five years and leads to a vocational qualification. This type of school includes practical-oriented studies.  They aim to train students in a variety of craft and industrial skills. After three years, students obtain a diploma in their specialist field (diploma di qualifica), after which they may go for a two-year course at the vocational school or at the technical school to gain their upper secondary school diploma.


The Second grade secondary schools end with a final examination called State exam (esame di stato ) or Maturity exam (esame di maturita). This exam is held every year between June and July and qualifies the students for enrollment at Universities. A diploma di maturita (Baccalaureate diploma) is awarded after passing the final exam. The full title of the diploma depends upon the type of school student have attended.
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