The International Medical School (IMS) of Milan

The University of Milan, commonly known as “La Statale,” is one of the largest universities in Europe, hosting 130 different degree programs.

It is also Milan’s oldest higher education institution, founded in 1923, and the only Italian member of LERU (League of European Research Universities), an association of research-intensive universities. 

The main building in the city center is called “la Cà Granda” (the Big House), in Via Festa del Perdono. Unfortunately, it does not host the Faculty of Medicine (IMS), which is located on three different campuses in Milan for the Italian program 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 has happened recently, this number may also increase in the following years. 

Position of the International Medical School of Milan

IMS’s headquarters for pre-clinical years are currently at LITA, in Segrate (MI), where students can attend lectures. Just outside 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 reach it on foot in 15 to 20 minutes.

headquarters of milan university La Statale

Alternatively, if you prefer driving, International Medical School has a 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.

From the third year, clerkships and clinical years will begin, and while some lessons will still be held at LITA, the leading campus site for both these activities will be at Niguarda, the reference hospital of the course. However, some clerkships are still maintained in highly prestigious hospital wards, such as:

Contrary to other Italian medical courses, lectures, and clerkships do not occur in the same period. The first half of each semester focuses on acquiring 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 of the International Medical School

The educational plan differs 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. For example, when 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, International Medical School is much more focused on activities from the beginning of the course. Practicals are numerous from the first semester, and professors look after you during hands-on lessons; this is fundamental for acquiring better learning abilities. 

In the second year, you focus on scientific papers and their structure and analysis, promoting engaging student debates. Second-year examinations can only be taken after passing all the previous year’s exams. To enroll in the third year and begin the clinical part of the degree, you must overcome the first-year “Fundamentals of Biomedical Imaging” and the second-year “Functions I and II (FNC I- FNC II)” exams. An additional requirement for all international students is a B2 or higher level in Italian. However, don’t be alarmed; the university offers free SLAM Italian courses integrated into the first- and second-year timetables. To enter the fourth year, you must pass Mechanisms of Diseases (MOD), another second-year exam. 

The main change in this course will happen at the end of the 5th year. Here, students will choose the last exam (called Track)  among ten different options according to the personal preferences developed over the previous years; this is designed to provide students with an in-depth study of the most relevant health topics. Once you have chosen your “final track,” you can end your journey with IMS and write your thesis not only in hospitals in Milan but also — and mainly — abroad, thanks to the partnership with 4EU+ Universities. 

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 at IMS

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 four exams, only one of which is annual. 

First semester: 

  • Cells, Molecules, and Genes 1 or CMG1 (6 CFU): It is a written multiple-choice exam 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 (7 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 assignments are posted online; you will not take the oral part if you score at least 60% on all. Furthermore, you will have up to five bonus points, adding to the total score if you achieve a higher percentage. 
  • Histology (7 CFU): this is the first new examination that has been introduced; we’re not sure yet if it will be similar to the previous years, but it will probably comprise both a written (with a slide examination at the microscope) and oral part.

Second semester: 

  • Anatomy (12 CFU): This is the most revolutionized exam. It comprises mainly the subjects of embryology, microanatomy, regional anatomy, and some neuroanatomy. It is usually one of the most challenging exams for all first years of medicine, so it should not be underestimated.
  • Biochemistry (6 CFU): It is written and oral and deals with basic biochemistry concepts. You must pass the written to access the oral. You can only sit for this exam once those of the first semester have all passed.
  • Fundamentals of biomedical Imaging (3 CFU): This is another new entry you will encounter in your first year at IMS, which aims to provide a basic knowledge of some radiology machinery with notions of physics, too.

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 12.30 am or 3.30 pm. For further information, the timetable for all years is available here.

Pros and cons of the International Medical School (IMS)

Pros: 

  • Usually, Italians make up less than 50% of the whole class; therefore, you can interact with many international students. Generally speaking, a cosmopolitan environment 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 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, always available for questions, and even encouraging peers to email them privately if needed. 
  • There is a high collaboration between students from the same and different years. At the beginning of each semester, there is an event called “IMS survival,” in which next-year students directly explain subjects and exams and give tricks and tips on overcoming them better.
  • Being in the same place (except for clerkships) from the beginning to the end of your degree allows you to meet and interact with older pupils, who 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, the 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 located directly inside LITA, which gives you direct contact in case of issues or organizational problems, without booking 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 recognized in Italy and 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, design, food, music, theatre, and history. It is a vibrant city, with many different places to hang out and try the famous ‘American’!

Cons: 

  • 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 there is not much to shop around if you have a free period. 
  • Medical terminology in Italian and English is similar but not identical: this implies that once in the ward during clerkships, it’s also essential to learn the medical expressions in Italian to communicate better with patients and doctors.

Lunch and Libraries

LITA has a public library where you can study if you need to. Pupils can access all UniMI libraries, but some hold specific books for Medicine, usually located in hospitals. For more information, you can find all the libraries and study halls of La Statale here. 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.  

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

International Medical School also hosts a canteen where students can eat relatively cheaply for a first and second course. Alternatively, there are two microwaves on the ground floor and one on the first floor, so you can bring your 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-minute 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. 

International Medical School students can choose different Erasmus program locations, such as the Italian Medicine degree. From four to ten months, they usually center on universities in Portugal, Spain, Poland, Finland, France, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. 

Another remarkable initiative is the  4EU+ Alliance, which includes 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 programs with innovative teaching methods, allowing students to follow online classes in other institutions.

A specific program is on the program for IMS students: the Free Movers program. Program, you can attend part of the clinical clerkships planned in your Medical curriculum abroad in many different universities worldwide. This project allows a much more international experience in the medical field and is a highly enriching activity. 

Lastly, suppose you’re more interested in biomedical or experimental research. In that case, the Virgilio Program might be just for you: this is a pre-graduate training track joined with the University of Bicocca and Humanitas University, which aims at building the skills and knowledge to pursue a biomedical research pathway or to help in deciding a career as a physician-scientist.

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, and International students can write to [email protected].

  • 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

[email protected]

  • Hours

From Monday through Friday from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.

Enrollment at International Medical School

You can register at IMS after being assigned according to the ranking list. Then, you can click on this link, follow the instructions, 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 is equal for all students. The second one depends on your ISEE for Italian students, while it’s diversified depending on your home country for international ones. 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 English-only programs. You cannot move from Italian medicine to IMS without having passed IMAT. Transferring also depends on the number of places available, which varies according to the number of withdrawals 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 by the University of Milan, and the topics that need to be similar, but it depends on the professor. 

For further information: Transferring to Milan University. 

Scholarships at the University of Milan

The University of Milan provides qualifying students with financial support throughout their careers. 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 enroll. Using your temporary SIFA certifications and applying even before receiving the acceptance letter is acceptable.

In addition to monetary aid, scholarship recipients 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 Lombardy government sponsors the DSU Regional Scholarship, 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 students who unexpectedly face severe financial, family, or medical issues.

Accommodations through IMS

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 enroll) 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, and not being in debt. Students awarded places in the final ranking list are also invited to renew their applications for subsequent years. They are given priority, provided they meet all requirements and are up-to-date with accommodation payments.

Conclusion

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

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