Mission and governance
The institutional aim of the Scuola is to promote the development of culture, teaching and research in the sciences and the humanities. This particular purpose is achieved by exploring the interconnections between these two areas. This important aim is also obtained through a very high level of university and post-university education, as well as continuing and recurring training, giving priority to the relationship between education and research.
The final purpose of the Scuola is to transmit the acquired abilities to the public administration and to the world of professions.
The Scuola Normale Superiore is a public university. The Scuola offers both undergraduate and Ph.D courses.
The undergraduate course, admission to which is by call, is equivalent to the university degree course and leads to a degree certificate. Teaching is divided between the Scuola Normale, where students attend courses and seminars focussing on the rapid development of an approach to scientific research, with yearly assessments on specific research themes, and the University of Pisa. Students are required to meet the highest of standards of academic performance.
Their undergraduate career is completely free of cost: the Scuola Normale fully reimburses all university taxes and provides board and lodging to all normalisti as well as an annual study grant.
The Ph.D course is a post lauream course organised autonomously by the Normale, leading to the title of Philosophiae Doctor. Admission is by call, publications and interview; in addition to dedicated specialist teaching, it involves the development of an original research project aided in part by a network of collaboration with the most important figures of international research.
Financial compensation for Ph.D course students, including fellowship grant, mobility allowance and expense reimbursements, is one of the highest currently offered by the Italian universities.
The traditional areas of study are the Humanities (History of Art and Archaeology, Modern and Contemporary Literature, Philosophy, History and Philology) and Sciences (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology). The Ph.D course includes the study of the social and political sciences.
Collegiate life is the most significant feature of the Scuola: the students live in it; they are entitled to a single room in one of the residential colleges (in Pisa the Carducci, Timpano, Fermi and Faedo colleges, and in Florence the Capitini residence), and they can eat in a refectory shared with the professors and researchers. They have free access to the open shelf library, one of the most sizeable of its kind in Europe, and to the laboratory activities they are required to engage in right from the start of their academic career.