The University of Milan-Bicocca

The University of Milan-Bicocca, better known as Bicocca or UniMiB, is a relatively new university founded in 1998 and one of the two public universities in Milan, together with La Statale, to offer a degree course in Medicine and Surgery.

It has two main campuses:

  • one located in the Milanese district of the same name, hosting almost every faculty
  • the other in Monza, which hosts the Faculty of Dentistry, Medicine and Surgery in Italian with close links to the San Gerardo Hospital.

However, the University of Milan Bicocca has recently opened the School of Medicine & Surgery (SMS) course entirely in English in Bergamo.

School of Medicine and Surgery (SMS)

The School of Medicine and Surgery in English has been running since the 2017/2018 academic year. Since it is pretty recent, this is the first time that all academic years are active, and they follow this scheme:

Academic Years Milan Bicocca SMS

In the 2022/2023 academic year, SMS holds 42 students, of which:

  • 26 for EU citizens
  • 16 for non-EU citizens.

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

Position of the SMS

The Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo is the main lecture and clerkship venue. However, during the first two years, some labs are held at the Monza campus: just a few times in the first semester, often for laboratories, and once a week for the second semester for Microscopic Anatomy and Biochemistry labs. Then, you will go a couple more times during the second year to follow some Microbiology labs.

A facility dedicated to SMS is currently being built, about 10 minutes on foot away from the hospital.

The University of Milan Bicocca School of Medicine and Surgery (SMS)The University of Medicine and Surgery Bicocca is relatively easy to reach: the fastest way is taking the train from the central station on the Bergamo-Milano Porta Garibaldi line: by doing so, you will reach the hospital in a few minutes, getting off at the stop named “Bergamo Ospedale.”

Alternatively, you can also take many buses from line C: C2, C2H or C2A but also C1A and C1B, which pass every 15/20 minutes, getting off at the stop named “Ospedale.”

If you prefer an eco-friendly alternative, you can also bike there: it will take roughly 15/20 minutes from the city center; you can also use the Bike Sharing service of Bergamo, BiGi. For those who prefer driving, there is a parking spot: be careful since you need to pay for each hour you leave your car, and it can cost up to 5 euros per day.

If you’re looking for accommodations in Bergamo, we strongly recommend searching for an apartment around the city center; the most popular areas are “Via XXIV Maggio” or “Via Camozzi,” but anything around will do.

Educational plan 

The educational plan is organized differently from other medical courses: it follows the Anglo-Saxon method and divides the study of the six years into systems and apparatuses.

The first two years are called Horizontal Tracks: basic subjects (Biochemistry, Genetics, Anatomy) are studied very generally. Anatomy, for example, focuses on the relationship between systems and apparatuses rather than a detailed description of each organ.

From the third year, however, the Vertical Tracks begin: what was studied in the first two years is taken up by treating in detail each specific apparatus, anatomy, physiology, related pathologies and pharmacology (e.g., Locomotor in the third year, Cardiology in the fourth, Neurology in the fifth, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology in the sixth).

The English course also aims to educate future physicians to have some knowledge of the more computer and engineering aspects of medicine (e.g., how images acquired during CT scans are created, the use of the 3D printer in medicine, etc.).

In some cases, there are specific requirements to sit for an exam in the upper years. For example, to sit for “Fundamentals of Human Physiology” in the second year, it’s mandatory to have passed “Fundamentals of Human Morphology” of the first year. To undergo the Basic Pathology examination, it’s necessary to have overcome both “Fundamentals of Cell Biology and Genetics” and “Fundamentals of Human Physiology.” Lastly, to take the examinations for the vertical tracks and integrated courses from the third to sixth year, it is necessary to have passed the examinations of “Basic Pathology,” “Basic Pharmacology,” “Image Diagnostics,” and “Basic Clinical Skills.”

For non-Italian-speaking students, no level of knowledge of basic Italian is required upon entry to the first year of the course. However, since interaction in Italian in hospital wards is crucial (in second-year exams such as “Basic Clinical Skills” and “Case Based Learning and Clinical Practice”), starting from the second year, international students will be offered Italian courses. Their attendance is essential for acquiring the basic knowledge of Italian needed to interact with patients.

Mastering the Italian language is necessary not only to access both the clinical activities of the second semester of the second year but, above all, clerkships from the third year onwards; therefore, the examination for the level of Italian will be defined by the Didactic Coordination Board.

Attendance is mandatory at 70% and is strictly controlled. Students must sign an attendance sheet professors provide at the beginning of every lecture. If you miss over 30% of all lessons for a class, you will not be allowed to sit for the exam.

The first year 

Lectures for the first year usually start in the last week of October but will begin towards the end of September for the following years. Some professors are the same as those from the other Med campuses, while others are only; therefore, most are Italians teaching in English. In the first year, you will have six exams, only two of which are annual.

First semester

  • Basic Computer Science (9 CFU): It includes Computer Science, Imaging and 3D modelling. The exams are separate, but the total grade is the average of the three. The computer science part will focus on using excel, word, PowerPoint and access, with an initial 10 multiple-choice quizzes. On the other hand, the imaging and 3D modelling will comprise a variable amount of written, open questions.
  • Humanities (8 CFU): Comprises four modules: Ethics and Law, which will consist of a power-point presentation on a topic of choice; Health Economics, General Psychology I and II, which will instead make up a written exam with open questions.
  • Scientific and Medical Language (3 CFU): It focuses on learning the medical terminology necessary for your future years. During the course, you will make a medical poster (typical of American Universities) on a topic of choice, while the test will be a vocabulary quiz.

Second semester

  • Fundamentals of Cell Biology and Genetics (11 CFU): An annual exam dealing with Biology and Genetics in a single exam, consisting of an oral examination of both subjects.
  • Fundamental of Human Morphology (8 CFU): It includes a general anatomy outline divided into Histology, Microscopic Anatomy, Regional and General Anatomy. The exam comprises an oral examination divided into various sections and a slide examination at the microscope.
  • Basic Sciences (14 CFU): It’s an annual exam of Chemistry and Physics, covered as in any other medical course, with fundamentals of Biochemistry. In the first semester, you can give Chemistry, a written exam with 25 multiple-choice and 5 open questions. In the second semester, instead, you can sit for Physics, with a variable number of multiple choice questions, and Biochemistry, which is both written and oral.

Moreover, there are two further examinations, namely “Clerkship I” (4 CFU) in the first semester and “Clerkship II”  (3 CFU) in the second one. They consist of different power-point group presentations on different scientific papers; the former focuses on Biology, Chemistry and lab activities, while the latter on Biochemistry, Medical Physics and Histology.

The schedule can be burdensome: first-year classes are held daily from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Moreover, there are assignments from one lesson to the next, including several PowerPoints to prepare. For further information, the timetable for the first year can be found here.

Pros and Cons of SMS

Pros

  • It’s close to the hospital environment from the first year and clerkships in the ward start from the second semester of the second year.
  • The English language has become crucial in all medical and scientific research; therefore, studying directly in English will easily help you understand all the medical literature.
  • As there are only a few students, you are well looked after during clerkships and laboratory activities.
  • The hospital is easy to reach by bus and train (just one train stop from Bergamo Central Station).
  • Students collaborate significantly: older colleagues are very kind and helpful, and you can ask them anything!
  • There are many international students who create a cosmopolitan environment that allows you to come into contact with many different cultures and traditions.
  • The English degree is equivalent to the Italian one; it is equally recognized in Italy and the EU. Individual regulations in non-EU countries must be checked. After graduation, you can register for the Postgraduate test in Italy.
  • The secretary’s office for SMS is placed directly inside the campus, which gives you direct contact in case of issues or organizational problems without needing to head to Milan.

Cons

  • This is an experimental course, and there are still some bureaucratic problems, especially from an organizational point of view regarding class times and exam dates.
  • For now, there is no well-established tradition of “sbobine” groups, notes taken from a lesson recording, crucial for studying medicine in Italian universities. Such groups are created by students in some years, while in others, everyone takes notes for themselves.
  • Being such a small number of students, the university campus environment is lacking.
  • As already mentioned, the first semester of the first year has to do more with the technical and IT aspect of medicine: for example, the functioning of MRI and X-rays is studied in a very technical and specific way from an engineering point of view. Depending on the individual student’s interests, it can be a positive or negative feature.
  • There are only a few student initiatives in Bergamo, and to meet students of Italian counterparts, you need to go to Monza.
  • SMS is a bit isolated, so if you have a free period, you cannot shop around much.

Lunch and libraries 

Eating at the hospital canteen is possible using the hospital card provided upon enrolment. It has very reasonable prices for students: usually, you pay 1.10 euros for a complete meal. Alternatively, if you wanna try something different, there are three famous café inside the hospital, under the name of “Marianna.”

There is also a computer room that can be used for study time, although unfortunately, in the English language course, there are very few breaks in the first couple of years.

Alternatively, different libraries around Bergamo are present if you prefer to study in silence. There are a couple of main libraries where students from different faculties meet:

  • Tiraboschi Library;
  • Angelo Maj Civic Library, in the lovely “Upper City”;
  • Caversazzi Library.

There are many free public libraries in Bergamo, freely accessible by anyone: for more information, you can visit this link.

Studying abroad 

As with many other universities, the Erasmus+ program issue is, for SMS students, quite complicated as there are currently few reserved destinations. This is because the course has a very particular educational plan; therefore, there is a risk for students returning from their Erasmus period to have issues with validating exams, needing to fill in missing parts, and so on. Despite this, Erasmus+ proposals with a study program organized by students themselves are welcome.

Erasmus+ Traineeships, on the other hand, are highly recommended. They allow the student to choose the departments to gain experience, thus using the knowledge acquired over the years in different specializations.

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 joint with the University of Milan 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.

Secretary’s office 

Main office:

Address:  

Piazzetta ribassata Difesa per le donne, 20126, Milano — Building U17

Phone: 

  • 39 02 6448 6999

Email: 

[email protected]

Hours: 

it’s open:

  • Monday from 1.45 p.m. to 3.45 p.m.
  • Wednesday and Friday from 9.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m.

In-presence meetings can be booked following this link and then selecting the service “Area Medica” => “Gestione Carriere Medicina e Chirurgia.”

Phoning hours: 

  • Tuesday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

SMS Office: 

Address:  

Piazza OMS, 1, 24129 Bergamo BG, Italia — Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital

Email: 

[email protected]

For more information: Student Services.

Enrolment

If you successfully pass the IMAT, you can proceed with the enrolment. Candidates with “Assigned” and “Booked” status (opting to enroll) must:

  • Register on the online student registry Segreterie OnLine;
  • After login, click on “Admissions” and select “AMMISSIONE LAUREA MAGISTRALE IN MEDICINE AND SURGERY.” Non‐EU candidates residing abroad (visa applicants) must select “AMMISSIONE LAUREA MAGISTRALE IN MEDICINE AND SURGERY_EXTRA UE”;
  • Enroll on the course by clicking on “Immatricolazione,” making sure to select the correct type of enrolment from the list shown;
  • Pay the first installment/down payment via PagoPA by the same deadline given for enrolment.

Information on tuition fees and payments are available at this link.

Transferring 

At this link, you can find the instruction to transfer from another University to the University of Bicocca. Should you encounter problems with enrolment or transfer, we advise you to go to the Secretary’s Office and be guided through the procedure.

For the validation of previous exams from different Universities, it is necessary to contact the head of the degree course. The simplest solution is to wait until the first few days of classes: the professor responsible for the first semester will ask you to email the syllabuses of the exams you have taken for which you request validation. Then, he’ll let each student know which examinations will be validated and which parts may need to be supplemented.

Scholarships 

The University of Milan-Bicocca provides qualifying students with financial support throughout their careers. Students of any course can apply for a full or partial tuition waiver if they meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • ​​Students with recognition of disability
  • Students with recognition of Merit
  • Working Students or Students employed in the University
  • Students of the same household
  • International students who are beneficiaries of Italian Government Scholarship

Alternatively, you can also apply for the “Right for Education” scholarship. In order to be eligible for the scholarship, students must meet all the specific merit, economic and academic regularity requirements. The scholarship is paid in two installments over the academic year; housing and a canteen service are also included.

The amount varies with economic status and the public transport time required to reach the course venue and it may be increased by:

  • Disability
  • International mobility

There are no scholarships assigned solely for merit requirements or solely for financial needs. However, other scholarships are given from different associations, not from the university. For example, one aims to welcome and accompany Ukrainian students or those under international protection over time, enabling them to start or continue a university course.

For more information: Scholarships.

Accommodations 

The University of Milan-Bicocca makes its residences available to off-campus students.

Accommodations are granted under the Right for Education scholarship to students who meet the requirements in the Call for Application. There are different lodgings provided:

  • U12, in via Vizzola (Milan);
  • U112 in Via Scamozzi (Sondrio);
  • U72 in Via Ponale (close to Milan);
  • U46 in Via Martinelli, Cinisello Balsamo (Milan);
  • U92, also called Giò Ponti in Via Gustavo Modena (Milan);
  • U42 in via Gerolamo Forni (Milan).

As you can see, none of these are close to Bergamo, so you need to be careful when applying. What you can do, instead, is talk to a professor of the SMS, who is the contact person for accommodations in Bergamo. However, remember that most of the time, they will provide hostels and not actual accommodations.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Bergamo is not only an enchanting city rich in history, thanks to its famous “Upper City,” but also offers many amenities that make it the perfect place for those who want a quiet and well-located place to stay. If you love culture, you definitely won’t get bored living here!

Discover other Italian universities.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Study medicine in Italy

Are you looking for a quality medical education and an unforgettable experience?