Astroparticle Physics represents one of the preeminent interests of SISSA and has been singled out as one of the areas that SISSA will further strengthen in the near future. It is a young and interdisciplinary field, at the frontier among Astrophysics, Cosmology, and Particle Physics, addressing some of the most pressing and fundamental questions in Science today, such as understanding the nature of gravity, explaining the origin and evolution of the Universe and identifying the nature of its constituents, including dark matter and dark energy.

In recent years the field has witnessed a rapid growth, also in connection to the wealth of new data and the rich experimental programmes in progress. The focus at SISSA is to connect the new insights offered by these exciting phenomenological developments to the forefront of the theoretical research in the field.

A Ph.D. programme entirely devoted to Astroparticle Physics was established in 2004 as a joint initiative of the Astrophysics and Particle Physics groups and has now developed in an independent research and teaching curriculum. So far the program has awarded 13 Ph.D. degrees and all graduates have obtained a postdoctoral fellowship in internationally renowned institutions at the end of their studies.

The curriculum consists of 3-4 years of study and research. During the first year, students are offered a number of courses covering a wide spectrum of topics including quantum field theory, the standard model of particle physics and its extensions, cosmology and gravitation theory, particle and high energy astrophysics, and then undergo examination on a selection of them. By the beginning of the second year, they undertake a research project under the supervision of one (or more) among the Astroparticle Physics SISSA staff members as well as the scientists at the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and the Trieste Astronomical Observatory (OAT) participating to the initiative.

Students in the programme will be part a rather broad scientific community. The Astroparticle Physics group, which currently consists of 16 graduate students, 4 postdoctoral fellows and 10 staff members, promotes its activities in close contact with the local extensive expertise in Astrophysics and Particle Physics present in SISSA and the other important institutions in the Trieste area like ICTP, the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) and OAT. Such a stimulating environment makes a Ph.D. in Astroparticle Physics at SISSA a very special opportunity for people seeking the possibility to be endowed with an uncommonly broad knowledge and to apply it to the forefront of the most daunting questions in modern physics.

The main research lines include:

  • Classical and Quantum gravity
  • Particle Astrophysics
  • The Dark Universe
  • Theoretical Cosmology

The most recent placements after Ph.D. at SISSA:

  • Albert Einstein Insitute (Germany),
  • New York University (New York, USA),
  • Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (Germany),
  • CENTRA/IST (Portugal),
  • University of Mainz (Mainz, Germany)


Every year the Astroparticle curriculum hires 5 students to attend a three year Ph.D. programme. The students are selected according to a written and oral test. Application deadlines, dates, and the number of available positions of the entrance examinations are periodically posted on the Ph.D. announcements webpage, where you can also download the application forms. SISSA makes a contribution towards the travel expenses for attending the exam. Enrollment of all the new students at SISSA and the beginning of classes in the Elementary Particles Curriculum will take place in the first decade of October. The normal duration of the Ph.D. programme is three years. A fourth year may be allowed when suitable justified. The initial part of the Ph.D. programme is based on coursework which is considered to be an integral and necessary part of the research training.

Application procedure for EU and non-EU citizens

Candidates must apply to be admitted to the standard entrance examination. There is one examination session each year usually in July. Examinations consist of a written test and an oral interview. The list of problems of past entrance examinations can be found in the Entrance exams section. The outcome is usually known on the same day. Candidates must send a paper application form that can be downloaded from the official SISSA announcement web page (see announcement). Candidates who are not citizens of European Union have two possibilities to be admitted to SISSA as a Ph.D. Student:

  • to pass the regular entrance examination in Trieste (in this case, the application procedure is the one described above for European citizens).
  • to pass a Spring preselection based on academic and scientific qualifications. Students selected in this way will, therefore, be invited by the School to take the regular entrance examination. The School will take care of the expenses of their trip and their permanence in Trieste of two weeks when also the regular entrance examination will take place. Candidates interested in participating in this preselection should send a paper application form that can be downloaded from the official SISSA announcement web page (SISSA announcement).
Program taught in:
  • English

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Oct 2019
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