• About SNS

    The Scuola Normale Superiore is a public institute for higher education that in its two centuries of life has earned itself a special place, both in Italy and abroad, a place characterised by merit, talent and scientific rigour.  Two types of course are available: the undergraduate course and the PhD course.The teaching activity is distributed among three academic structures: the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, placed in Pisa, and the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, located in Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. 

  • Admission

    The evaluation for entrance to the first year of the undergraduate course does not include the high school leaving certificate, and the bachelor's degree is not taken into consideration in the entrance examination for the fourth year course. For each PhD course, candidates’ level of competence, talent, motivations and aptitudes to scientific research will be assessed on the basis of their qualifications and research project and an interview.

  • Academics

    The Scuola Normale Superiore offers two types of course: the undergraduate course, leading to first and second level university degrees, and the PhD course, the international equivalent of the Italian Dottorato di ricerca.The teaching and research activity is distributed among three academic structures: the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, and the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences.The first two academic structures, housed at the Pisa site, organize courses for both the  undergraduate course and the PhD course. The Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, situated in Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, deals only with the PhD course.

  • Research

    A highly qualifying feature of the Normale way is the strong link between teaching and research that is a characteristic of both the undergraduate and the graduate programmes of the Scuola. The research structures of the two Faculties welcome students with a relevant study interest, enabling them to collaborate in a mature way with the activities of the researchers.

  • International

    The Scuola Normale is an institute of a decidedly international nature. Examinations for admission to the undergraduate degree course and for the PhD course are open to all citizens worldwide. A certain number of places on the PhD course are reserved for students from other countries. During the pre laurea and  post lauream teaching courses, study and research programmes are made available at overseas universities and research centres with which the Scuola forms an intense network of collaboration.  The doctorate course in particular is taught in a veritable graduate school in line with the highest international standards. 

The Fascist era

The tradition of the Scuola Normale did not change in any significant way until the twentieth century, when, with the new Regulations of 1927, its diploma ceased to be an automatic qualification to teach in secondary schools. The Scuola Normale maintained its mandate to “prepare students to teach in secondary schools and for the exams which qualify them to do so” and to promote graduate studies. Graduate studies thus became independent and open to all university graduates of Italy.

During this period, nationalistic propaganda and the control by the regime also affected institutions in Pisa. The first act of overt repression came in 1928, when three students of the Scuola Normale were arrested for anti-fascist activities.

To counteract the disturbances caused by the political reality and the decadence at the Scuola Normale – demonstrated by the decrease in the number of students – Giovanni Gentile, an ex-alumnus, philosopher and ideologue of the regime's educational policy, was appointed superintendent and, in 1936, director of the school. He organized a complete reform in order to give the institution a structure more appropriate to its national importance.
Among other things, he expanded the seat of the school, Palazzo dei Cavalieri, and significantly increased the number of students and the school's internal activities. His authority and support from the regime gave him access to the funds necessary to realize his projects. In the meantime, the relationship between Church and State brought about by the Lateran Pacts eased negotiations with the Archbishopric to obtain the Puteano building, which together with the Timpano building would house the students of the Scuola Normale while renovations of the Carovana building proceeded.

The Scuola Normale under Giovanni Gentile was inaugurated on December 10, 1932. It had a new charter, which made it an institute of higher education linked to, but autonomous from, the University of Pisa. It thus acquired legal, administrative, didactic and disciplinary autonomy. The two goals defined for the new institution were to prepare students for secondary school teaching and for the exams required for teacher certification, and to promote – through its course of graduate studies –higher scientific and literary culture. In reality, however, the Scuola Normale, thanks to its uniqueness in the educational system, educated an increasingly select cultural élite.