There has never been a better time to work in Astrophysics, a vibrant and competitive discipline in frontier research.

Applicants to the Ph.D. program in Astrophysics will first be assessed on the basis of their CV and reference letters. A number of candidates will be invited for an interview on one of the two announced dates.

The Ph.D. course consists of 3 to 4 years of study and research. First-year students are required to attend several courses spanning a period from November to May and to take exams in a selection of those courses. At the beginning of the first year, students are assigned a tutor, a SISSA staff member who will advise them on selecting exams and will provide guidance on choosing a research project for their Ph.D. thesis. After completion of the courses, students will start working on their research project under the supervision of one or more SISSA staff members.

The Astrophysics group consists of 8 staff members, 7 postdoctoral fellows, and 20 Ph.D. students. All the principal investigators have recognized expertise in the fields of analysis and interpretation of cosmic microwave background and sub-millimetre surveys, large-scale structure surveys, cluster physics, galaxy formation and evolution, dark energy, dark matter, galactic and extragalactic black holes, stellar structure and evolution, high-energy astrophysics, relativistic astrophysics, early Universe physics and gravitation theory. Students will also benefit from close contact with other SISSA groups, such as the Astroparticle Physics and the Theoretical Particle Physics groups, and form connections with the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and the Trieste Astronomical Observatory (OAT).

The main research interests are:

  • Cosmic microwave background
  • Large-scale structure
  • Dark matter and dark energy
  • Galaxy formation and evolution
  • High energy astrophysics and AGN
  • Stellar structure and evolution
  • General relativity and quantum gravity phenomenology
  • Black holes and compact stars

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

  • Keele University, UK
  • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA
  • University of California Berkeley, USA
  • Albert Einstein Institute, Germany
  • Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Potsdam, Germany
  • Yale University, New Haven, USA
  • Australia Telescope National Facility, Australia


Every year the Astrophysics Ph.D. curriculum hires 5/6 students to attend a three to four year Ph.D. program. The students are selected according to an oral test. Application deadlines, dates, and a 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 Astrophysics Curriculum will take place in the first decade of November. The normal duration of the Ph.D. program is three years. A fourth year may be allowed when suitably justified. The initial part of the Ph.D. program 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. 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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This course is Campus based
Start Date
Oct 2019
3 - 4 years
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Oct 2019
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