• 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 period following Italian unification

Newly unified Italy extended the legislative system and administration of the Kingdom of Savoy to the entire nation, including the field of education. For more than sixty years Italian schools were regulated by the 1859 Casati Law, which was originally written for the Piedmont and Lombard areas. This centralized model allowed private instruction, but reserved the “right of the State to carry out university instruction” and to “oversee” all aspects of schools at every level.

The provisional Tuscan government (1859-60) nevertheless tried to safeguard the more illustrious local traditions, such as the Scuola Normale. After a long debate in the Senate and the press concerning the appropriateness of such an anomalous and unique institution, the “Scuola Normale of the Kingdom of Italy” was formally established in 1862.

Various proposals were submitted to Parliament to set up additional “normal schools for secondary instruction” (proposed by De Sanctis), or to transform and strengthen the Scuola Normale of Pisa (proposed by Matteucci). But the newly unified state was so busy providing financial assistance to public works deemed more urgent that it only approved a decree on August 17, 1862, which modified some aspects of the regulation of the Scuola Normale in order to allow it to continue functioning as the Scuola Normale of Italy.

The Matteucci Regulations of 1862 introduced the “new” Scuola Normale into the educational system. While formally maintaining the continuity of the institution under the Grand Duchy, all religious practices were eliminated, bringing it into line with the secular trend of Italian politics.

In 1863 the curriculum was defined more precisely and the years of study raised from three to four. The executive Council was divided into the two “sections” of literature/philosophy and physics/mathematics, each formed of its own instructors and headed by a “Director of Studies”. This tradition persists in the current division of the Scuola Normale into two “Classi” or Faculties.

On a policy level, the role of the “President” of the Council was defined; his duty was to oversee the moral, scholastic and financial matters of the Scuola Normale. On an organizational level, the Superintendent-Steward's role became important; he organized the various services and human and financial resources, and he had disciplinary powers over the students.

Minister Coppino made the next changes in 1877. His most notable innovations were creating equality between the academic sections by opening the boarding school to students enrolled in the sciences section and simplifying the “Regulation of Studies and Exams”.