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Studying in Milan – A Guide for Postgraduate Students

Written by Hannah Slack

Considering studying in Italy? Make sure to consider Milan for your new home! With a rich culture and thriving international business scene, the city has lots to offer for PhD students looking to learn and grow.

This guide covers everything prospective students need to know about living and studying in Milan, from the top universities and cost of living to graduate career opportunities.

Why study your postgraduate degree in Milan?

As one of Italy’s leading cities, there are plenty of reasons to choose to study a PhD in Milan.

  • International community: Milan is an international hub for business which attracts many students from all over the world. Lots of courses are also offered in English to help make education more accessible.
  • Cultural centre: The city is known for more than its big businesses as it’s also home to rich architecture, design and fashion. Whether you’re interested in the humanities or the sciences, there’s always something exciting on offer.
  • Affordable: Although Milan is one of the most expensive cities in Italy, university tuition fees are much cheaper than in other parts of Europe. At a public university, postgraduate students can expect to pay around €1,630 per year.
  • Easy transportation: To help residents and tourists get around, Milan has a well-established and affordable transportation system. Buses, trains and trams run throughout the city, many continuing through the night on the weekends.

What are the top universities in Rome for postgrad study?

#1 Polytechnic University of Milan

The Polytechnic University of Milan is not only the top university in the city but, according to the QS world rankings, is the highest performing institution in Italy. QS also ranks them fifth in the world for Art & Design and the Architecture, Technology and Engineering departments are also some of the best in the country.

As a public scientific and technology based university, Polytechnic University of Milan has developed strong business links throughout the years making it an excellent place for postgraduates interested in industry. The institution is also continually building connections with other universities across Europe, opening up a range of opportunities for students.

#2 University of Milan

The second highest ranked university, and ninth overall in Italy, is the University of Milan. Also known as ‘La Statale’, the institution is one of Italy’s younger institutions, founded in 1924.

The University of Milan is the collimation of multiple older educational and research hubs set up in the city. The University absorbed the Academy of Letters and Sciences, the Schools of Advanced Studies in Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture and the Brera Astronomical Observatory, to name a few. Currently, they have over 7,000 students enrolled in postgraduate programmes and this number continues to grow each year.

#3 Catholic University of the Sacred Heart

The third highest ranked university in Milan is the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. This is a private university which focuses on producing educational opportunities and research which aligns with the Christian moral principles.

The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart has developed strong collaborations with other European universities and research centres. This opens up a greater variety of opportunities for postgraduate students. The institute also has multiple scholarships and grants on offer.

Living costs for students in Milan

Milan is known as one of the most expensive cities in Italy, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unaffordable for students. Tuition fees are cheap at public universities in Italy and many save money by living in halls or shared houses rather than renting a private apartment.


Student Cost of Living in Milan - 2023
Monthly rent (1 bedroom apartment, city centre) €1,308
Monthly rent (1 bedroom apartment, outside city centre) €900
Restaurant meal €20
Cinema ticket €10
Monthly travel pass €39
Monthly utilities €204
Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.

Your expenses will largely depend on the area you live in and your lifestyle. For instance, groceries are fairly cheap in Milan and so home cooking rather than eating out can help you stick to a tight budget. Postgraduate students may also decide to work part-time to help afford more of the luxuries.

Fees and funding in Italy

Read more about the costs associated with postgraduate education in Italy and the different types of accommodation available.

Working during your degree in Milan

Both home and international students are allowed to work throughout postgraduate study in Italy. International students are not allowed to work more than 20 hours a week, or 1,040 hours a year. This number does not include university internships. While there is no limit on the amount of hours Italian residents and EU/EEA students can work, they are recommended to follow the same guidelines.

Many PhD students take on admin, research or teaching assistant roles during their degree. Universities will typically advertise these internally and work hours will be designed to adapt around your own research schedule and commitments. As you’ll likely work within a university department, you won’t necessarily need to be proficient in Italian. However, if you decide to work outside of the university, for instance in hospitality or customer service, then you will likely need to speak a good level of the language.

Working in Italy

Read more about working during and after your studies in Milan.

Things to see in Milan

If you decide to study in Milan, make sure to take some time away from the desk and visit some of the beautiful sites on offer in the city.

Perhaps the most famous historical building in Milan is the Duomo di Milano, Italy’s largest church. This amazing sight of gothic architecture took over 600 years to build. It’s also home to the world’s second largest organ! There are many tours available to view the religious art and learn the building’s history. If it’s a clear day, make sure to go on a rooftop tour where you may be able to see as far as the Italian Alps.

For those more interested in window shopping, head to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Not only is this shopping mall visually stunning but inside you’ll find an array of bars, restaurants, cafes and designer brands.

For a cheaper alternative, slightly off the tourist trail, take a stroll down the Navigli area. Made up of two canals which once encircled the city, you’ll walk past colourful street art, historical landmarks, cafes, bistros, pubs and ice cream parlours. Once a week you’ll also find the Sinigaglia flea market.

Graduate careers in Milan

While the economy in Italy has been fairly stagnant, Milan offers some of the best opportunities for graduates looking to settle in Italy. Due to the cost of living in the city, employers pay some of the highest salaries in the country.

Milan has long been known as Italy’s economic powerhouse and business centre. In addition to housing the country’s stock exchange, Milan is the headquarters of several thousand international companies. Some of the top thriving industries include fashion, communications, tourism and design. Due to the large amount of international business, proficiency in Italian might not be necessary for employment, but it’ll always be a plus!

EU/EEA students are free to work in Milan under the same laws as international nationals. If you are an international graduate then you will need to apply for a work permit at the end of your course.

Find a PhD in Milan

Use our course search to browse the many PhD opportunities in Milan.




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Last Updated: 24 May 2023