The dottorato di ricerca (research doctorate) is the highest Italian academic degree, the equivalent of a Ph.D.

The term dottore is frequently used in Italy to refer to any person with a university Laurea: thus, a person with a Laurea Magistrale uses the title "dottore magistrale" and a person with a Laurea uses the title of "dottore". Those unfamiliar with the Italian university system or the Italian use of titles should note that a "dottore" or "dottoressa" in an Italian context does not necessarily hold a Ph.D. Holders of the dottorato acquire the title of dottore di ricerca ("doctor of research"), also abbreviated to "Dott. Ric." or "Ph.D."

History and admission

Further information: Doctorate § Italy, and Laurea § The Laurea degree before the Bologna process

The dottorato is a relatively recent addition to the Italian academic landscape, having been instituted in 1980.

According to the Bologna Process, Italy fits the framework since the adoption, in 1999, of the so-called 3+2 system. The first degree is the Laurea that can be achieved after three years of studies. Selected students can then complete their studies in the following step: two additional years of specialization which leads to the Laurea Magistrale.

After 1999, the Laurea corresponds to a Bachelor's Degree while the "Laurea Magistrale" corresponds to a Master's Degree. Only the Laurea Magistrale grants access to third cycle programmes (Post-MA degrees, Doctorates or Specializing schools), that last 2 to 5 years (usually completing a PhD takes 3 years). However, it is now established that there is just a unique five-year degree Laurea Magistrale a ciclo unico (Single cycle master's degree) for programmes such as Law (Facoltà di Giurisprudenza), Arts (Accademia di Belle Arti), Music (Conservatorio di Musica) and a few others, and six-years degree for Medicine and Surgery (Medicina e Chirurgia) and Dentistry (Odontoiatria e Protesi Dentaria). The title for MA/MSc/MFA/MD/MJur/MEd graduate students is dottore (abbreviation in dott./dott.ssa or dr.,[1] meaning Doctor). This title is not to be confused with the PhD and Post-MA graduates, whose title is Dottore di Ricerca (Research Doctor or Philosophy Doctor).

The Italian Master's Degree should not be confused with Italian "Masters" that are one-year specialistic courses which guarantee a more practical education but do not give access to further levels of studies (they can be considered similar to Postgraduate diplomas).

Superior Graduate Schools in Italy

The first institution in Italy to create a doctoral program (PhD) was Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa in 1927 under the historic name "Diploma di Perfezionamento".[2][3] Further, the research doctorates or PhD (Italian: Dottorato di ricerca) in Italy were introduced with law and Presidential Decree in 1980 (Law of February 21, 1980, No. 28 and the Presidential Decree No. 382 of 11 July 1980), referring to the reform of academic teaching, training and experimentation in organisation and teaching methods.[4][5]

Hence, the Superior Graduate Schools in Italy (Grandes écoles)[6] (Italian: Scuola Superiore Universitaria),[7] also called Schools of Excellence (Italian: Scuole di Eccellenza)[6][8] such as Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies still keep their reputed historical "Diploma di Perfezionamento" PhD title by law[3][9] and MIUR Decree.[10][11]

The Superior Graduate Schools in Italy or Scuola superiore universitaria have “Diplomi di Perfezionamento “, which are equivalent to “Dottorati di Ricerca” (PhD).:[12][10]


  1. ^ it:Dottore#Abbreviazione
  2. ^ Student Guidebook - Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "STATUTO DELLA SCUOLA NORMALE SUPERIORE DI PISA (legge 18 giugno 1986, n. 308)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  4. ^ "Law of February 21, 1980, No. 28". Archived from the original on 4 November 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  5. ^ "Decreto Presidente Repubblica 11 luglio 1980, n. 382". Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  6. ^ a b "FARMACIA DI TURNO - Orari farmacie di turno aperte oggi". Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  7. ^ "Italy's big six form network for elite". Times Higher Education (THE). 18 February 2000. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  8. ^ "Scuole di Eccellenza". Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  9. ^ "Article 3 of the Law of 14 February 1987, No.41 | L. 14 febbraio 1987, n. 41 Istituzione della Scuola superiore di studi universitari e di perfezionamento S. Anna di Pisa" (PDF). Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  10. ^ a b "SITO IN MANUTENZIONE". Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  11. ^ Università in Italia, Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR)
  12. ^ diplomi di perfezionamento equipollenti ai dottorati di ricerca