• 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 four academic structures: the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Sciences, placed in Pisa; the Department of political and social sciences and the Ciampi Institute, located 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  Sciences, and the Department of Political 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 Department of Political 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 foundation - The Napoleonic Period

The Scuola Normale of Pisa was formally founded on the 18th of October, 1810, by a Napoleonic decree which dealt with “places of public instruction” in Tuscany, a province of the French empire since 1807. The three regions of the Arno, Ombrone and Mediterraneo formed one of the Academies of the Imperial University housed in Pisa, and together opened an “academic residence” for university students. Twenty-five places, publicly funded, were reserved for students in the humanities and sciences to form a subsidiary of Paris' École Normale Supérieure. The new institution was closely linked to its parent institution in Paris. The shared name “normale” refers to the mission of the school, which was to train middle and high school teachers able to convey “norms” in a context where training teachers was still strongly connected to “forming” citizens loyal to the laws and the emperor.

On February 22, 1811, the first competition for 25 new students was announced. Although they were selected on September 4 of that year, it was not until 1813 that the Scuola Normale in Pisa truly started its activities. The first students, housed in the Convent of San Silvestro, were enrolled and a set of Disciplinary Regulations for the academic residence was established.

With the French model as a basis, the “Grand Master” appointed a “Director”, “Assistant Director” and “Secretary”, who took care of the administrative functions of the school. Two “Inspectors” kept a careful eye on academics and student discipline. A “Chaplain”, two “Caretakers” and other “Servants” were at the disposal of the boarding school student, whose daily life was regulated by rigid laws similar to those in a convent or a military order.

The best secondary school students, between 17 and 24 years old, were selected by competition and admitted to the Scuola Normale. During their subsequent two years of study at the Scuola Normale , these students attended the regular courses at the Imperial University in Pisa as well as completing special assignments and attending additional courses. They were aided by four “Tutors”, chosen by the director from amongst their peers, who reviewed the university lessons on a daily basis and arranged conferences. After completing this “qualifying internship”, the student, who had pledged to teach for at least ten years in a secondary school, would receive his degree.

The brief lifespan of the Napoleonic Scuola Normale – the only academic year was 1813/14, during which the physicist Ranieri Gerbi was its director – was tied to the fate of its founder; on April 6, 1814 Napoleon signed his abdication.