The Ph.D. in Theoretical Particle Physics has always been part of the postgraduate programmes on offer at SISSA. More than a hundred students have obtained a Ph.D. qualification in Theoretical Particle Physics since SISSA started offering the course.

Every year, five students are selected to attend this 3-year programme (plus an extra year, if needed) of study and research. During the first year, students attend about 450 hours of postgraduate courses covering a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from phenomenology to the more formal aspects of theoretical particle physics. Each student has to select a subset of them and pass the relevant exams within the first year.

The main research lines are Physics at the LHC, Physics Beyond the Standard Model, Neutrino Physics, String Theory, the AdS/CFT correspondence and alternative Quantum Theories of Gravity. Students benefit from the rich environment of scientific institutions of the Trieste area, such as the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the Physics Department of the University of Trieste and the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN).

By the beginning of the second year, students undertake a research project under the supervision of a SISSA staff member or a scientist working at a partner research institution (such as ICTP and INFN). The Ph.D. degree is typically obtained 3 to 4 years after the beginning of the programme.

During their stay in Trieste, students have the opportunity to interact with about 20 other students from the same Ph.D. curriculum plus hundreds of other international students from the different SISSA groups. In addition, the international environment of the Trieste area includes the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and other international institutions, which makes a Ph.D. in Theoretical Particle Physics at SISSA an unprecedented opportunity for a highly challenging and stimulating experience.

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

  • Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
  • Princeton University, Princeton, USA
  • Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany
  • Harvard University, Cambridge, USA


Every year the TPP group hires 5/6 students to attend the Ph.D. programme. Students are selected according to a written and oral test. Application deadlines, dates, and a number of available positions 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 new students at SISSA and the beginning of classes in the Theoretical Particle Physics 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. 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, enter the School without taking the regular entrance examination but will be expected to pass a qualifying examination within the first year of study. Candidates interested in participating in this preselection should send a paper application form that can be downloaded from the official SISSA announcement web page.
Program taught in:
  • English

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This course is Campus based
Start Date
Oct 2019
3 - 4 years
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