• 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 Grand Duchy period

Ferdinand III's reclaiming of the throne of Tuscany in 1814 coincides with the closure of the Scuola Normale, although various attempts were made to save it and its mission despite its Napoleonic foundation.

This cessation of activity, though, was only temporary. As early as December 22, 1817, in the premise of the decree which re-established the Order of the Knights of Santo Stefano, consideration was given to creating different duties for the Order. In 1843 the Order proposed establishing a “boarding school for young noblemen” in the Palazzo della Carovana, attached to the Scuola Normale. It was to be paid for by the patrimony and profits of the Order. But the Palazzo was already functioning as a “residence for nobility” even before this, as novices of the Knights were often students at the University of Pisa.

To study the feasibility of the new project, Leopold III named a commission, which included two members of the Order. It concluded its investigation on June 5, 1846, and issued a detailed report, which re-established the function of the Scuola Normale Superiore to prepare secondary school teachers.

On November 28, 1846 a grand-ducal muto proprio established the “ Scuola Normale Toscana”, also called the “ Scuola Normale of the Imperial Reign” – as it was then connected to the “Theoretical and Practical” Austro-Hungarian system – designed “to train teachers and masters for secondary schools”. The new structure included a boarding school and an endowment to which the Order and possibly the Treasury of the Reign would contribute. It was presided over by a “Director of Studies”, who was assisted by two “Tutors”. Students were chosen through a competition at the age of 18 for a course of study lasting three years; each year ten full scholarships were available (preference was given to members of the Order).

Although students of mathematics and the physical sciences were admitted to the Scuola Normale, only students of Philosophy and Philology lived in the boarding school. All students were required to follow the teacher training courses of the Scuola Normale and complete an apprenticeship in secondary schools; this professional orientation was subsequently abandoned.

On November 15, 1847, the Scuola Normale was inaugurated in the Palazzo della Carovana, donated by the Order of the Knights, which maintained honorary patronage and the right to present to the “Royal Grand Master” a number of applicants equal to half of the places available. During the Grand Duchy period the Scuola Normale was affected by the political climate of its time, and enthusiasm for the Risorgimento was answered by reactionary attitudes for fear of subversive movements and riots. These attitudes were decried by the students themselves, including the famous writer Giosuè Carducci, who was a student from 1853-56.