The Italian university system is organised in three cycles: Laurea – Bachelor's Degree (1st cycle academic degree); Laurea Magistrale – Master's Degree (2nd cycle academic degree); Dottorato di ricerca – Ph.D. and Scuole di Specializzazione – Specialisation Courses (3rd cycle)
Bachelor's Degree courses last 3 years, and the Degree is awarded to students who have earned 180 credits; the completion of a training period and the defence of a thesis may also be required.
Master's Degree courses last 2 years, and the Degree is awarded to students who have earned 120 credits; the defence of a thesis is required. A limited number of programmes (dentistry, human medicine, pharmacy, veterinary, medicine, architecture, law), are defined One Cycle Degree Courses. Access is by the school leaving diploma or a comparable foreign qualification; admission is subject to selective entrance exams and each degree course is organised in just one-block of 5 or 6 years.