ITALY HIGHER EDUCATION

Math classes, on the other hand, progress at what we might consider a breakneck speed. Anyone who has been to the Old World on a high school exchange program will be the first to admit that European teens are well ahead of their North American peers in mathematics. This is hardly surprising when you consider just how prepared scientific students need to be to enter their first university course. Degrees in Italy are highly specialized. Students in medicine, for example, graduate directly with an MD. European university degrees are essentially considered master’s degrees.

First, though, we need to take a step back and define what constitutes an Italian diploma. Incidentally, the word diploma in Italian refers to the thing you receive when you complete high school. After graduating from university, you receive a laurea, and there are now two different kinds: a three-year degree, known familiarly as the laurea breve, or the full-fledged, specialized degree, or laurea specialistica which requires five or more years. Some students drag out the process well into their thirties.

Those who complete either can at last call themselves dottore or dottoressa, but recipients of the laurea breve”now a decade after the reforms that introduced this two-tier system”are realizing that they really need to have the specialized degree in order to find a job.

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