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International Students

PhD programmes


The doctoral programmes include architecture, engineering, law, political sciences, humanities, sciences, economics, management and languages.

The high-quality academic programmes provide students with a unique educational opportunity, through their international teaching board, a range of advanced services for both Italian and foreign students, scholarships and other incentives to sustain research activities, and lastly, access to our libraries and university facilities.


Educational Aims

The PhD Degree – in Italian: 'Dottorato di ricerca' – is the highest form of educational degree in the Italian Academic System (Third cycle).
The PhD Degree provides the necessary skills for taking part in world-class quality research within private and public institutions as well as within freelancing, as such contributing to the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area (Ministerial Decree 45/2013).

The educational course consists of planning and developing a research project, both through advanced learning programmes and individual work, with the possibility of cultural exchange. The course requires the completion of a thesis using a scientifically based approach.

How long is a PhD Degree?

Minimum 3 years

Admission Requirements

Masters degree or other study qualification which is recognised as being equivalent.  For certain PhD Programmes additional requirements may be called for – a degree qualification with a specific focus, for example; it is therefore necessary to read the application carefully.

English knowledge at B2 level mimimun is also required.

How to be admitted?

The PhD Degree is open to a limited number of students. The requirement is to pass a public selection process entailing the evaluation of academic qualifications, as well as of oral and/or written exams.

Final Exam and Academic Qualification

The training course ends with the completion of a doctoral thesis conducted with scientific method. By passing the final exam, which consists of the discussion of the thesis, it is awarded the Ph.D. title (in Italian: 'Dottore di ricerca')


Before applying

  • Read carefully the Call for applications and the information about the PhD Programme for which you want to apply (Annex "A");
  • Check the admission requirements (art. 3) listed in the Call and in Annex "A";
  • If you have obtained a degree abroad, please refer to art. 4 of this Call or to the webpage concerning the admission requirements;
  • Make sure that you have the documents to be submitted online in the allowed format (PDF).

The PhD Office has prepared a list of F.A.Q. to respond quickly to the frequent questions.

Application Guide

Call for application


The PhD Office has prepared a collection of the most common questions and answers related to the PhD and to the call for application. This is the ideal way to quickly get an answer to your question.


 What do I do to participate in the PhD programme?

To be admitted to the PhD programme you must pass the selection process, which include the evaluation of your qualifications and the examination (written and or oral test depending on the PhD programme).

What does the Doctoral programme involve? Will I have to take exams and attend courses?

The requirement varies for each programme, however, the first year of the programme is normally dedicated to study with the objective of mastering the issues surrounding your research project. Students are also required to attend courses. The years following the first are prevalently dedicated to research activities.  Please refer to the PhD Administration Office of your course (Segreteria Didattica) for information regarding course content. Usually the last year is  dedicated to writing the PhD thesis. Seminars will be held during the PhD Programme in which students are required to participate as speakers. The PhD student is neither employed nor works in any way and thus is not subject to fixed working hours. Issues regarding holidays or illness do not concern the programme even if a student may request a period of suspension from studies for health reasons. The PhD student is expected to write a report at the end of each year indicating their activities in detail. The Teacher’s Board will decide students’ admittance to or exclusion from the following year of studies.
The Teaching Board establishes the mandatory educational activities for PhD students and the PhD Coordinator and the Teaching Board must authorize all employment activities.

Can I be enrolled in a Bachelor or Master’s Degree and a PhD at the same time?

Enrolment in other PhD programmes, Master’s or Bachelor Degrees is not allowed while on the PhD programme.

What are the PhD entry requirements?

In order to apply for a place in the PhD programmes, students must have an Italian second-level degree (Master’s Degree, other post-graduate degree, a single- cycle degree prior to Ministerial Decree 509/1999, a four-year degree, AFAM).  An Italian Master (post-graduate diploma) does not allow admittance to the selection process.

I have a foreign academic qualification. Do I need to provide any particular documentation?

Foreign academic qualifications (Master’s degree) must be comparable to the Italian second-level degree (Master’s Degree, other post-graduate degree, a single- cycle degree prior to a four-year degree prior to Ministerial Decree 509/1999) in terms of length, level and disciplinary field, and must be recognized as suitable by the Examining Board, pertaining to the selection process.  

I have a foreign academic qualification or am about to complete one. Can I know beforehand if the qualification is valid in order to apply for the PhD programme?

No, you cannot. The suitability of your qualification will be appraised by the Examining Board in compliance with the regulations in force in Italy, in the country where the qualification was issued and in compliance with the international treaties or agreements regarding the conferment of qualifications for the continuation of studies.  

May I apply for a second PhD?

Yes, you may as there are no limitations. However, the scholarship may be awarded only once in a lifetime (that is, if it has been received even for only a brief period of time you may not be awarded another).
The Call for applications

Where can I find the call, how do I access PhD courses?

The call for applications is generally published in the month of March of every year in the Gazzetta Ufficiale (Official Journal of Italy), on the Euraxess website and indicate deadlines, application procedures, the number of places and the number of available scholarships for each PhD.

What are Scholarships bound to specific bounds topics?

These are places that can be applied for, for which the scholarship award is bound by a particular research theme and which the students must during their PhD.

May I apply for a specific placement (with or without a scholarship)?

No, applications are made for all the places available in the Call.

I am a foreign candidate. May I apply for all the places in the Call including those offering scholarship grants?

Yes, you may.

I have a Single Cycle Degree gained in Italy prior to Ministerial Decree 509/1999, for which validation as a current Master’s or four year degree has not, yet, been achieved. What can I do to obtain the validation?

Candidates must request validation from the University that conferred the degree in accordance to Ministerial Decree 9 July, 2009.

My degree qualification was issued a number of years ago. May I apply for admission to the PhD programme?

If the PhD Programme you wish to apply for has posed an access limit (such as 5 or 10 years) from the date of publication of the call (see annex A of the Call for applications).

I am a graduand. May I submit an application to the Phd call?

Yes, you may apply as long as you gain your degree within the stated time (usually July 31). Should you win a place on the programme, you will obtain provisional admittance until you achieve your degree. What is meant by a minimum “certified B2 level of English language”? To enrol in the Ca’ Foscari PhD Programme you must hold a minimum B2 proficiency level of English. PhD students need to obtain the necessary certification within the deadline set by the University or will be excluded from the Doctoral programme.

I gained my B2 certification some time ago. Is there an expiry date or is it still valid?

Your certification does not expire but will be accepted as valid when submitted.

Is it possible to gain B2 English Language certification at this University?

Yes, the CLA (Centro Linguistico di Ateneo – University Language Centre) can certify your level of English language as well as organise courses with the aim of reaching the B2 level.

Are specific qualifications needed to apply to the PhD School?

Yes, there are a number of qualifications and/or documents needed without which your application will not be accepted. The complete list is indicated on the Call.

What is meant by “self-certifying” your academic qualifications?

A self-certification is a declaration signed by the student in lieu of the academic certificate.

What are the differences in the self-certification forms on the website?

If you need to self-certify your degree with the list of exams held, that is the form to be used.Should you wish to self-certify other qualifications, please use the general form.

Do I sign the self-certification?

Yes, it must be signed otherwise the self-certification is not valid.

I already have a certificate listing the exams included in my degree. Can I submit this in place of the self-certification?

No, you cannot. Government offices can only accept self-certifications of qualifications issued by other Government Offices.

Amongst the documents to be provided is an abstract. What is it?

The abstract is the summary of the thesis prepared for your application to the PhD programme (Master’s Degree, single- cycle degree, four-year degree, AFAM).

What do you mean by page?

A typewritten page (in Word or other word-processing program).

Can I present other educational qualifications other than those requested?

Yes, you may attach those documents you believe helpful to your application. Attachment A lists the optional qualifications foreseen by each PhD Course.

In which languages may I present the required documentation?

All documentation must be preferable in either Italian or English, or translated into Italian or into English.  It is your responsibility to provide the translated documentation.

I am employed. Can I apply for the PhD?

Yes, you may. Please keep in mind that admission to the Doctoral programme involves an exclusive, full-time commitment. The Teacher’s Board for each course will evaluate any possible incompatibilities with curricular or training activities.

I am a public servant. Should I be admitted, can I take time off work?

In accordance with the law and consistent with the needs of the public administration, the public servant admitted to doctoral Courses is placed on special unpaid leave for study purposes for the duration of the course and may take advantage of the scholarship if conditions are met. In case of admission to a PhD without a scholarship, or should the scholarship be relinquished, the person on leave keeps the social security and retirement plan established by their government office. If, after having obtained a doctorate, their work contract with the Government ceases at the request of the employee within two years, amounts paid pursuant to the second period will be recovered.
The public servant who has already received their PhD or has enrolled in Doctoral Courses for at least one year, having taken advantage of the leave, is not entitled to special leave, either paid or unpaid.
The period of special leave is useful for career purposes, for end of work pay-outs and for the pension plan. For more details please refer to the public administration belonged to.

I am employed by a firm. Can I do the PhD?

Following agreements reached with individual firms, placements may be reserved for employees involved in highly qualified activities (Industrial PhD) after they pass the selection process. The agreements entered into to activate this type of cooperation and determine the type of research activity carried out at the firm, overall employee commitment and the duration of the PhD programme.

How do I submit my application to the Call?

Applications and any attachments must be submitted within the deadline and via the online procedure indicated by the Call.

Is there an admission fee?

No, our University does charge applicants to the PhD Call.

What do I need to apply online?

You must hold a tax code. If you do not have one (e.g. foreign citizens), the procedure allows you to access a site which allows you to create a provisional code in order to apply.

I am a foreign student. What is a Tax Code?

It is a personalized alphanumeric code of 16 characters used for tax purposes.

Do I need an email address to apply for a programme?

Yes, it is mandatory to have an email address, as all information regarding the Call will take place via email.

I am a foreign student. How do I register?

Enter your personal details in the appropriate fields. It is very important that your Name and Surname (Family name) are entered exactly as per your attached identity card.

What is the code assigned to the application I received via email for?

The code is used to identify you during the various selection phases (results of evaluation of qualifications and tests). The results of the evaluation of qualifications and tests will not be published with your name and surname, but with your application code.

Can I apply for more than one PhD course?

Yes, you can.

Does this mean I will have to send in more than one online application?

Yes, you will need to submit more than one application, attaching all the necessary documentation to each. You may only apply to one curriculum for those courses divided into separate curricula.

I made a mistake when attaching one or more files. Can I make changes or additions to the application?

Yes, modifications may be made at any time provided they are done within the deadline (time and day) established by the Call. Simply click on the link provided in the email using your tax code and your application code. Each time a change is saved you will receive a confirmation email.

In what format should I attach files?

All files must be in PDF format.

What is there maximum size?

10 MB each.

I have some files in another format. How do I convert them into PDF?

Online you will find sites that, free of charge, convert to PDF and compress the files if they are greater than 10 MB.

How many files can I attach?

You can attach a maximum of 6 separate files in addition to the B2 English language certification should you have it.

If I have more than 6 files, what do I do?

You can compress (WINZIP/WINRAR) multiple files together, while maintaining the maximum size of 10 MB.

I hold an Italian qualification. What do I fill in on the STUDIES (studies) page?

Only fill in information regarding your second-level qualification giving access to the selection process (Master’s Degree, single- cycle degree, four-year degree, AFAM). You must also indicate when you will gain your Master’s Degree, if you still have to complete it. In the field “Duration in years” you must indicate the duration of the title, not how many years did it take to graduate.

I hold or am about to gain a foreign qualification. What do I fill in on the STUDIES (studies) page?

You must complete both the fields relating to qualifications giving access to the competition (Master's Degree) and those related to your previous title (Bachelor's Degree). You must also indicate when you will earn your Master's Degree, if you are a student. In the field “Duration in years” you must indicate the legal duration of the title, not how many years did it take to graduate.

I hold or am about to gain a foreign qualification. Do I have to attach the relevant Declaration of Value?

No. You will be required to at the time of registration, if at all.

What do “Languages of choice for the admission process” mean on the VIDEOCONFERENCE page?

The PhD program in “Ancient Heritage Studies”, "Languages, Cultures and Modern Societies and Linguistics" and " on Asia and Africa Studies" require, in addition to knowledge of English, knowledge of additional foreign languages that will be evaluated during the oral examination. Up to a maximum of 4 languages should be listed, in your order of preference.

I am in my final year. How do I fill in the self-certification of my qualification with exams?

Fill in all the fields to the best of your knowledge, including the date of graduation. However, do no fill in the final exam field or final mark field, as you still do not know them.

How do I attach qualifications that I cannot convert into electronic format to my application?

You can attach qualifications only through online application.

How does the presentation of letters of reference (REFERENCES) work?

The online procedure asks you to enter the names of two selected professors (and respective email addresses) as referees. As soon as your application has been saved, they will receive an email notification with instructions to proceed with the upload of the letter of reference. The letter of reference must be uploaded within the admission deadline.

Am I informed when the referee has uploaded their letter of reference?

Yes, you will receive an email as soon as the letter has been uploaded.

One of the referees I have nominated has not received the notification email. What do I do?

The email is sent from a “No Reply” address. Ask the professor to check their SPAM mail and if there is no email, you can send a Reminder to the professor by accessing your saved application again. Alternatively, you can ask the professor to provide a different email address, modify it on the application and, once saved, a notification will be sent to the new address.

If I do not receive notifications, does that mean the professor has never uploaded the reference?

Yes, that’s right.

In this case, what is best I do?

Contact the professor to remind them to upload their letter or change referee, modifying your online application.

I already have the letters of reference. Can I upload them myself?

No, because of their significance, references can only be uploaded by the chosen referees and not by the candidate.

When is the best time to apply?

We recommend that you do not complete the application on the last day to avoid problems with your internet connection or oversights that may prevent you from completing this procedure. This will also allow time for your referee to receive their email alert and upload their references within the specified deadline.

What happens if I don’t have all the documents ready?

You can fill in the application enclosing empty (white) PDF files in place of those that are not ready. This allows you to save your application and your referees will receive the email alert to upload their references.

Can I cancel my application?

No, once submitted it cannot be cancelled.

How do I know if my application is in order?

The notification email with e personal application code certifies the regular submission of the application. Validity will be accessed by PhD office staff only after the application deadline.


How are candidates selected?

There may be an evaluation of qualifications as well as a written and/or oral exam. The exams are listed for each PhD in Attachment A to the Call.

Is it possible to view the exams from previous PhD selections?

No, they are not available.

When are exams held?

Exams are held according to the calendar that is published after the Call deadline found on the UNIPA PhD Office website.

Is it possible to take the exams via video conferencing?

Yes, it is but only if explicit request has been made during the application phase of the Call.

How are exams evaluated?

The Commissions of each PhD programme set out the assessment criteria and the scores attributed to qualifications and exams before the exams end, if not specified by the calendars in Attachment A.

How long do the exams last?

If not specified in Attachment A, the length of each exam is at the discretion of the Commission. You will be notified on the day of the exam itself.

Can I bring a dictionary with me on the day of the written exams?

Explicit request must be made to the Commission before the examination session starts, if you wish to use a dictionary.
What ID do I need to bring to the exams?
Accepted forms of ID are an Identity Card, Passport, Driver’s Licence or a valid Residence Permit (if you are a foreigner). The ID must contain a passport photo.

I work. Can I get a statement declaring I have taken the exam for my employer?

Yes, ask the Commission to provide one on the day of the exam.

How will I be notified of the exam results?

Exclusively online. The selection calendar indicated the days the scores will be made available. You will find the results of the individual exams and final rankings for each Doctoral Programme. Candidates who have gained a placement will not be notified personally. The results of the evaluation of qualifications and tests will be published without the name and surname of the candidates but with the only unique application code assigned, in accordance with current legislation on the protection of personal data.

How are the final rankings structured?

The rankings establish the order of student admission up to the number of placements available for each PhD course. All rankings will be published without candidates' first and last names but only with the unique application code assigned.

What does it mean to be eligible?

It means that your final score makes you suitable for admission to the Doctoral Programme but that you have not gained a placement.

How are PhD scholarships assigned?

PhD scholarships are assigned in the same order as student ranking.

I have attained the same score as another candidate. What does this mean?

In situations where students are equally ranked, the scholarship is assigned to the candidate on the basis of their family economic situation in accordance with current legislation on the right to study.

I have been admitted. Do I have to pay enrolment fees?

All admitted students shall pay stamp duty and Regional tax for each year of study.

I have been assigned a specific topic scholarship. What does this mean?

This means you are obliged to develop that research theme during your PhD. It is not possible for the winner of these specific scholarships to opt, regardless of their ranking, for a free-topic scholarship.

How are placements without scholarships assigned?

Places not covered by scholarships are awarded to candidates until all placements have been filled. In the event of equal ranking, priority is given to the disabled candidate (equal to or above 66% disability) and then to the youngest candidate.

If I have applied and have been admitted to more than one PhD courses, what do I do?

If you are placed in more than one ranking, you will have to choose one PhD program.

What happens if someone cedes their placement on a programme?

If a candidate withdraws before the course begins or because they have not paid their enrolment fees, the first candidate eligible on the ranking will take their place. Should any scholarships become available due to a candidate’s withdrawal, these will be reassigned to eligible candidates according to the order of the ranking.

What is access to records?

It is the request to view and/or receive a copy (photocopy) of the documents that regard you personally.


How do I enrol in the Doctoral Programme?

If you are usefully placed in the final ranking you must enrol in the first year of the PhD program, under penalty of forfeiture within the deadline indicated in the Call. Indications are given in the Call on how to enrol.

How much are the Doctoral enrolment fees?

Payment of stamp duty and regional tax for the right to study is required, the amount of which is determined annually by the Sicily Region

May I choose my supervisor?

No, you will be assigned a Supervisor by Teaching’s Board.


Can the PhD student work?

Yes, consistent with the activity planned by your Faculty and with the permission of the College itself.

What happens for Doctoral students who are public servants?

The government employee admitted to PhD courses is placed on special leave for study purposes at their own request from the outset and for the duration of the course (art. 2 of Law no. 476 of August 13, 1984 and art. 52 c. 57 of Law no. 448, December 28, 2001).
The period of special leave is useful for career progression and treatment of abeyance and retirement planning. Leave is not mandatory and is by employee request. Article 52, paragraph 57 and the subsequent ministerial note of Law No. 448 of December 28, 2001 (budget 2002) provide that the student public servant admitted to a doctorate without scholarship keep their salary, as long as they return to work for the government body at the end of the course.

Can I hold teaching posts at the University?

Doctoral students, as an integral part of the training project, will be required to carry out supplementary teaching activities or teaching assistance, In particular, the PhD students' individual training and research plan includes an annual number of hours, normally equal to 40, of supplementary teaching activities or teaching assistance, to be intended as dedicated to: exercises, seminars, workshops to integrate curricular courses, support in drafting the final paper, assistance with exams, correction of written papers, and online tutoring. The hours of didactic-integrative activity of each PhD student are established by the Teachin Board. Doctoral students may carry out tutoring activities to students of Bachelor, Master’s and PhD Degrees, upon Faculty authorization. In any case, this may occur within the maximum limit set by the regulations regarding supplementary teaching activities.