UniGuide: International Medical School of Milan

The University of Milan, commonly known as “La Statale”, is one of the largest universities in Europe, hosting 130 different degree programmes. It is also the oldest higher education institution in Milan, founded in 1923 and the only Italian member of LERU (League of European Research Universities), an association of research-intensive universities. 

The main building is in the city centre and is called “la Cà Granda” (the Big House), in Via Festa del Perdono. Unfortunately, it does not host the Faculty of Medicine, located on three different campuses in Milan for the Italian programme and in Segrate for the English one. 

International Medical School 

Since 2010, UniMi has also hosted the International Medical School (IMS), a degree in Medicine and Surgery entirely taught in English. Initially, it was based at Humanitas University in Rozzano (MI), but since 2014 it has been relocated. 

In the 2021/2022 academic year, IMS will hold 70 students, of which:

  • 45 for EU citizens 
  • 25 for NON-EU citizens 

As happened recently, this number may also increase in the following years. 

Position

IMS’s headquarters are currently at LITA, in Segrate (MI), where students from the first to the sixth year can attend lectures. Just outside the city of Milan, it can be reached by the M2 line of the metro, stopping at “Udine” and then taking Bus 925 (be careful since it passes every 20 minutes). If you don’t mind walking, you can get off the subway at a later stop, called “Cascina Gobba”, and you can reach it on foot in 15 to 20 minutes.

Alternatively, if you prefer driving, IMS has free car and motorbike parking for all its pupils; this makes it relatively easier to reach. If you are looking for accommodations in Milan, we strongly recommend those next to the M2 line. The most popular for students are ‘Lambrate’ or ‘Città Studi’, which are also well-connected to the city centre.

Clerkships start from the third year, and the majority take place at Niguarda, the reference hospital of the course. However, some others are in highly prestigious hospital wards, such as: 

Lectures and clerkships do not occur in the same period, contrary to other Italian medical courses. The first half of each semester focuses on the acquisition of theoretical knowledge via didactic lessons. In the second half, students apply their expertise in the hospital. There will be a continuous follow-up of the student’s clinical experience by professors of each course.

Educational Plan

The educational plan is different from other Italian UniMi medicine plans, particularly in the pre-clinical first two years. Instead of having separate exams, you end up with fewer but bigger examinations comprising multiple subjects altogether. For example, when we’re studying the eye, we first have an anatomy lesson, then a biochemistry one for the eye’s receptors and a physiology one; all these three subjects make up one exam. It’s challenging at first, but it’s overall beneficial because, once it’s over, you have an overview of everything. 

Also, IMS is much more focused on activities from the beginning of the course. Practicals are numerous from the first semester, and professors highly look after you during hands-on lessons; this is fundamental for acquiring better learning abilities. 

In the second year, you start focusing on scientific papers, on their structure and analysis, which promotes engaging debates between students.

Second-year examinations can only be taken after passing all the previous year’s exams. To enrol in the third year and begin the clinical part of the degree, you must also pass the second-year Functions (FNC) exam. For all international students, there is an additional requirement: a B2 or higher level in Italian. However, don’t be alarmed as the university offers free SLAM Italian courses integrated into the first and second-year timetable. You need to pass Mechanisms of Diseases (MOD), another second-year exam, to enter the fourth year. 

Attendance is mandatory at 66% and is strictly controlled. Students must sign an attendance sheet that professors provide at the beginning of every lecture. If you miss over 34% of all lessons for a class, you will not be allowed to sit for the exam.

The first year 

Lectures usually start in the last week of September. Professors are often the same as those from the other Med campuses; therefore, they are Italians teaching in English. In the first year, you will have a total of four exams, only one of which is annual. 

First semester: 

  • Cells, Molecules and Genes 1 or CMG1 (7 CFU): It is a written exam divided into two parts. The first one focuses on cytology, with ten ‘true or false’ blocks. On the other hand, the second part is a multiple-choice test dealing with biology and molecular biology. Students can choose to take an oral exam if, in the end, they want to try and change their final score (be careful, though: it may not always be better). 
  • Fundamentals of Basic Science or FBS (10 CFU): It is a written online exam made of two parts taken simultaneously; one is chemistry, and the other one is medical physics. We highly suggest taking and passing the graded assignments the professors will give you during the semester. These are assignments posted on an online platform; if you score at least 60% on all, you will not take the oral part. Furthermore, if you score higher, you will have up to five bonus points, adding to the total score. 

Second semester: 

  • Human Body or HB (19 CFU): This is the first annual exam you will encounter in IMS. In the first semester, there is an intermediate test dealing with embryology, microanatomy and histology. Most importantly, we advise focusing on the slide examination. It consists of two slides, one for histology and the other for microanatomy, that need to be described after a microscope observation. If you pass the intermediate test in the first semester, you can take the second intermediate in the next one; here, the main subjects are neuroanatomy and regional anatomy. Otherwise, there is a general exam. Only once all these are passed you can finally take the oral part, which comprises everything. It is a very challenging exam that you should not underestimate. 
  • Cells, Molecules and Genes 2 or CMG2 (11 CFU): It is both written and oral, and it deals with biochemistry, medical and human genetics. You must pass the written to access the oral. You can only attend this exam once those of the first semester are all passed.

Please note that some exam structures may change because of COVID. 

The schedule can highly vary. It is not rare to have days from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, with an hour lunch break, but there are also less challenging days, going from 8.30 to either 1.30 or 3.30 pm. For further information, the timetable for all years is available here

Pros and cons

Pros: 

  • Usually, Italians make up less than 50% of the whole class; therefore, you can interact with many international students. Generally speaking, there is a cosmopolitan environment that allows you to come into contact with many different cultures and traditions. 
  • The English language has become central in all medical and scientific research, and it is now considered a requirement. So, why not study directly in English?
  • Classes are relatively small – much smaller than Italian ones, enabling you to better interact with professors, which are always available for questions and even encourage peers to email them privately if needed. 
  • There is a high collaboration between students, both from the same and from different years. At the beginning of each semester, there is an event called “IMS survival”, in which next-year students directly explain subjects, exams and give tricks and tips on how to overcome them better.
  • Being in the same place (except for clerkships) from the beginning to the end of your degree gives you the possibility to meet and interact with older pupils, which are free and more than willing to appease every doubt you might have.
  • Blending and meetings with students of different years are also encouraged by the many activities held at IMS. Examples are the LITA party, white coat ceremony during the third year, conferences followed by a small buffet and LITA sports day, with various sports tournaments. It is also arranged thanks to a vast green area surrounding the building. 
  • The secretary’s office for IMS is placed directly inside LITA, which gives you direct contact in case of issues or organisational problems, without having to book an appointment, waiting excessively or going to the other side of town. 
  • Both professors and the head of the program highly encourage communication with students. 
  • The English degree is equivalent to the Italian one; they are equally recognised both in Italy and in the EU. For non-EU countries, it is necessary to check individual regulations. After graduation, you can register for the Postgraduate test in Italy. 
  • Milan is the most dynamic and multi-cultural town in Italy. It is known for fashion and design, food, music, theatre, and history. It is a vibrant city, with many different places to hang out and try the famous ‘apericena’!

Cons: 

  • Since the splitting between Humanitas University and IMS, there have been some organisational problems that are recently getting better thanks to frequent communications with professors. 
  • Despite being highly-qualified and helpful, professors are still Italian. Consequently, their pronunciation is not always perfect, and their English is not that British.
  • IMS is in Segrate, so public transportation isn’t always efficient, and it generally takes a while to get to it. Furthermore, it’s isolated, so if you have a free period, there is not much to shop around. 

Lunch and Libraries

At LITA, there is a public library where you can study if you need to. Pupils can access all libraries of UniMI, but there are some holding specific books for Medicine, 

usually located in hospitals. For more information, here you can find all libraries and study halls of La Statale. There are four main medical libraries: 

  • Alberto Malliani Library at the Sacco Hospital, via Giovanni Battista Grassi 74; 
  • Biomedical Library in the Città Studi area, Via Valvassori Peroni 21;
  • Policlinico Hospital Library, Via Francesco Sforza 35; 
  • San Paolo Library, via Antonio di Rudinì 8.  

The city of Milan also has many public libraries, freely accessible by anyone. You can find a detailed map here and visit their website for more information. 

IMS also hosts a canteen where students can eat both a first and second course for a relatively low price. Alternatively, there are two microwaves on the ground floor and one on the first floor, so you can bring your own packed lunch (or ‘schiscetta’ as we say in Milan),  heat it and have your meal in a designated area. Quick reminder: if you’re starving, the nearest McDonald’s is only a 6-minutes drive. 

Studying abroad

The University of Milan offers many possibilities to study abroad, mainly Erasmus, Exchange programs or Study periods in Switzerland. For more information: Study Abroad. 

IMS students can choose different Erasmus program locations, which are the same as those of the Italian Medicine degree. They usually centre on universities in Portugal, Spain, Poland, Finland, France, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, for periods going from four to ten months. 

Another remarkable initiative is the  4EU+ Alliance, with five other European schools, such as Sorbonne University, Warsaw University, Charles University, University of Copenhagen and Heidelberg University. The project engages in integrated training paths through study and mobility programmes with innovative teaching methods, giving students the chance to follow online classes in other institutions.

There is also a specific programme that is only available for IMS students: the Free Movers programme. Thanks to this, you have the chance to attend part of the clinical clerkships planned in your Medical curriculum abroad, in many different universities all over the world. This project allows a much more international experience in the medical field and is a highly enriching activity. 

Bureaucracy and Secretary’s office

Main office: 

Address

Via Santa Sofia 9, 20122 Milano (MI)

Phone

+39 02 5032 5032

Email

Italian students can contact the Help Desk 

International students can write at international.students@unimi.it.

Hours

You can book an appointment both on-site and online through the Help Desk.

Phoning Hours

From Monday through Friday from 8 am to 7 pm

 

IMS office: 

Address

Via Fratelli Cervi 93, 20090 Segrate (MI)

Phone

+39 02 5033 0316

Email

ims@unimi.it

Hours

From Monday through Friday from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.

Enrollment

You can register at IMS right after you are assigned according to the ranking list. Then, you can click on this link, follow the instruction and proceed to the enrollment. There is an additional procedure for international students, which must personally deliver different documents, depending on their diploma, to the International Students Office. For further information: International students enrolling in single courses.  

There is a fee to pay in two different deadlines and amounts; the first one is equal for all students. The second one depends on your ISEE for Italian students, while for international ones, it’s diversified depending on your home country. You can also apply for a tuition waiver, usually due to merit, income, disabilities or other specific requirements. 

Transferring

Transferring can happen from Italian or foreign universities, but only for programmes taught in English. You cannot move from Italian medicine to IMS without having passed IMAT. Transfering also depends on the number of places available, which vary according to the number of withdrawal from studies (and therefore are usually few). 

There is also a discreet chance to obtain an exam validation even from Italian Universities; the main requirements are the number of CFUs, which cannot be less than the one given from IMS, and the topics that need to be similar, but it depends on the professor. 

For further information: Transferring to Milan University. 

Scholarships

The University of Milan provides qualifying students with financial support throughout their career. Students of any course can apply for scholarships if they meet one or more of the following criteria: 

  • Financial Need
  • Merit
  • Exceptional Talent
  • Disability

You must apply through SIFA Services; applications open in July and generally close in August. Due to the date of the IMAT, incoming first-year students will not know yet whether or not they can enrol. Using your temporary SIFA certifications, it is acceptable to apply even before receiving the acceptance letter.

In addition to monetary aid, scholarship recipients also receive discounted or free meals at university cafeterias and independent restaurants that have concluded agreements with the university.

There are several types of scholarships, mainly classified by the source of the funds. For example, the DSU Regional Scholarship is sponsored by the Lombardy government, while the university supports the Boost Your Talent and merit scholarships. They may vary yearly, so click here for more details. 

UniMi also awards special grants to unexpectedly faced students with severe financial, family, or medical issues.

Accommodations

The University provides an accommodation service offering enrolled students approximately 400 beds, often close to university buildings. There are apartments, lofts, and four residences (Ripamonti, Plinio, Bassini, and Santa Sofia) in different city areas. The accommodation is available for 11 months, from 1st September to 31st July. 

To qualify, students must meet academic merit and financial need criteria. Other minimal requirements include enrollment (or the declaration of intent to enrol) to the University of Milan, being resident in a municipality more than ninety minutes by public transport from the student’s campus, not being a full-time employee not being in debt. Students awarded places in the final ranking list are also invited to renew their application for subsequent years and are given priority, provided they meet all requirements and are up-to-date with accommodation payments. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, studying in Milan is a fascinating experience; it allows you to engage in so many different activities, both fun and educational, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we do. We hope this article helped you in your choice and wish you good luck with what’s coming!