Polytechnic University of Milan

Politecnico di Milano
Type State-supported Technical University
Established 29 November 1863
Rector Giovanni Azzone
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 40,670[2]
Location Milan, Como, Lecco, Mantua, Cremona, and Piacenza, Italy
Campus urban
Website www.polimi.it/en

The Politecnico di Milano (English: Polytechnic University of Milan) is the largest technical university in Italy, with about 40,000 students.[2] It offers undergraduate, graduate and higher education courses in engineering, architecture and design. Founded in 1863, it is the oldest university in Milan.

The Politecnico has two main campuses in Milan city, where the majority of the research and teaching activity are located, and other satellite campuses in five other cities across Lombardy and Emilia Romagna. The central offices and headquarters are located in the historical campus of Città Studi in Milan, which is also the largest, active since 1927.

The university was ranked the best for Engineering and among the top big universities in Italy in the CENSIS-Repubblica Italian University rankings for 2014-2015[3] and is ranked as the 20th best technical university in the world according to the QS World University Rankings.[4]

The university is ranked 11th for Design, 24th for Engineering and 14th for Architecture in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings.[5][6]

Its notable alumni include Giulio Natta, Nobel laureate in chemistry in 1963.


Francesco Brioschi (1824-1897), founder and first rector of the Politecnico.
Città Studi buildings in 1930
List of Rectors of the Politecnico di Milano[7]
Francesco Brioschi (1824—1897)1863—1897
Giuseppe Colombo (1836—1921)1897—1921
Cesare Saldini (1848—1922)1921—1922
Luigi Zunini (1856—1938)1922—1926
Gaudenzio Fantoli (1867—1940)1926—1940
Carlo Isnardo Azimonti (1876—1943)1940—1943
Gino Cassinis (1885—1964)1944—1960
Gino Bozza (1899—1967)1960—1967
Bruno Finzi (1899—1974)1967—1969
Francesco Carassa (1922—2006)1969—1972
Luigi Dadda (1923—2012)1972—1984
Arrigo Vallatta (1930—2001)1984—1987
Emilio Massa (1926—1998)1987—1994
Adriano De Maio (b. 1941)1994—2002
Giulio Ballio (b. 1940) 2002—2010
Giovanni Azzone (b. 1962)2010—2016
Ferruccio Resta (b. 1968)2017—2022

The Politecnico was founded on 29 November 1863 by Francesco Brioschi, secretary of the Ministry of Education and rector of the University of Pavia. It is the oldest university in Milan. Its original name was Istituto Tecnico Superiore ("Higher Technical Institute") and only Civil and Industrial Engineering were taught. Architecture, the second main line of study at Politecnico, was introduced in 1865 in cooperation with the Brera Academy.[8]

There were only 30 students admitted in the first year. Over the decades, most of students were men: the first female graduate from the university was in 1913.[8]

In 1927 the Politecnico moved to piazza Leonardo da Vinci, in the district now known as Città studi (City of Studies), where Politecnico's main facilities are still today. At the time, it was named Regio Politecnico ("Royal Polytechnic"). The word Regio was removed as Italy was proclaimed a republic at the end of World War II. The historical building still in use today was designed and built by engineers and architects all graduated in the Politecnico itself.[9]

The present logo, based on a detail of the preparatory sketch of Raphael's School of Athens, was adopted in 1942. Until then, there was no official logo for the institution.[10]

In 1954, the first European centre of electronic computation was opened in Politecnico by Gino Cassinis and Ercole Bottani. In 1963 Giulio Natta received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research on crystalline polymers, polypropylene in particular. In 1977, the satellite Sirio, jointly developed by Politecnico and other companies, was launched.

Since the end of the 1980s, the Politecnico has begun a process of territorial expansion that would have resulted in the opening of its satellite campuses in Lombardy and Emilia Romagna. A university programme in industrial design was started in 1993. In 2000, the politecnico's faculty of design was created with new courses in undergraduate and postgraduate programs of graphic & visual, fashion and interior design along with the already existent industrial design.

In April 2012, the university announced that, beginning in 2014, all graduate courses would be taught only in English.[11]


Entrance to the Design area of the Bovisa campus (Durando)

The University is spread over seven campuses: two main campuses in Milan and another five satellite campuses across Lombardy and Emilia Romagna.[12]

Milan Leonardo

Milan Leonardo is the oldest of the Politecnico campuses still in use. The first buildings on Piazza Leonardo da Vinci were inaugurated in 1927. Over the years, the complex has been expanded and is now generally referred to as "Città Studi", City of Studies, which also refers to some faculties of the University of Milan in the same area. The campus extends over several streets: Leonardo, Bonardi, Clericetti, Mancinelli, Gran Sasso and Colombo.

The Leonardo Campus is the main campus of the university, and comprises the central administration offices, the rectorate, and most of the research departments.

Milan Bovisa

The Milan Bovisa campus is located in the Bovisa district of Milan and became active in 1989; campus Bovisa is today composed of campus Durando, opened in 1994, and campus La Masa, inaugurated in 1997. The first is the seat of the School of Design, while the second is dedicated to Industrial, Mechanical, Aerospace, and Energy Engineering faculties. Bovisa also houses the related research facilities, including the wind tunnel.[13]

Other campuses

The first satellite campuses opened in 1987 in Como and in 1989 in Lecco. During the 1990s other three branches opened in Cremona (1991), Mantua (1994), and Piacenza (1997).[14]


Politecnico di Milano offers several three-year undergraduate courses, two-year graduate courses, one-year master courses and PhD programs in the fields of engineering, architecture and design. The Politecnico offers 32 first level (Bachelor) degree programmes. Among these, there is an on-line course in Computer Engineering,[15] the first on-line academic course in Italy. This wide range of different curricula is tailored to the needs of its territory (the Lombardy region), which is one of the most developed industrial areas in Europe.

The academic year is divided into two terms, or semesters, the first from mid-September to late January and the second from March to late June. There are 3 exam sessions: those at the end of each semester (in February and July) and one more in September. Students need to achieve 60 "university credits" (CFU or Crediti Formativi Universitari) per year during their Bachelor and master's degrees. Therefore, the 3-years Bachelor requires 180 credits while the 2-years Master 120. Politecnico, as most universities in Italy, is organized to comply with the framework of the Bologna Process.

Politecnico maintains several relations with foreign universities and offers a wide range of international projects for student exchange,[16] The university encourages the enrollment of foreign students by providing several courses in English, German and Spanish.[17] It participates in the ENTREE network for student exchange among Electrical Engineering colleges in Europe and it is a member of Top Industrial Managers for Europe (TIME) network.[18]

The Alta Scuola Politecnica is a joint institution of Politecnico di Milano and Politecnico di Torino addressed to young talents who want to develop their interdisciplinary capabilities for leading and promoting innovation, and runs in parallel to the two-year programmes of laurea magistrale (graduate courses).

International opportunities

PoliMi offers several opportunities for students that want to integrate their studies with an experience outside Italy.[19]

Some of them are:

PhD students may also take advantage of "Progetto Rocca MIT-PoliMi Programme", an international programme that allows them to spend a visit period working at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[20]


As of September 2016
University rankings
ARWU[21] 201-300
Times[22] 201-250
QS[23] 183
Times[24] =100

As for Italian national rankings, Politecnico was ranked the best university for Engineering and among the top big universities in Italy in the CENSIS-Repubblica Italian University rankings for academic year 2011-2012.[3] In 2009 an Italian research ranked it as the best in Italy over indicators such as scientific production, attraction of foreign students, and others.[25]

As of 2015, the Politecnico di Milano is ranked as the 24th best engineering and technology university in the world in the QS World University Rankings.[26] In 2013, it was ranked as the 18th best university in the world regarding civil and structural engineering topics.[27]

The university is ranked 11th for Design, 14th for Architecture, 24th for Engineering in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings.[5][6]



The admission in the undergraduate programme in Engineering in the Politecnico is bound to an admission test, aimed to verify the starting preparation of every student. The main goal of this test is to point out the lacks of the aspiring students and, in case, to assign them an extra course. Only some programmes have a strictly limited number of places, even if the Academic Senate fixes an approximate maximum number of students for every programme. The admission test for any Engineering school, except Construction Engineering, is divided in four parts, each about one of the following general subject: English Language; Logic, Mathematics and Statistics; Verbal Comprehension; Physics.[28]

Architecture, Design and Construction Engineering

Architecture, Design and Construction Engineering schools have a limited number of students admitted every year and the selection is based on a national test administered by the Ministry of Education. The test is divided into five parts, each about one of the following general subject: Logic and General Knowledge; History; Drawing and Representation; Mathematics and Physics.[28]

Graduate Programmes

Admission to the graduate programmes in the Politecnico requires an undergraduate degree and a set of requirements specific for each school, such as the time spent in obtaining the undergraduate degree or the grade point average scored during the undergraduate programme.[28]

The Politecnico also offers courses of study for the title of Dottore di Ricerca (Ph.D.), MBA courses, and other postgraduate courses. MIP Business School is one of the most prominent management school in Italy and was ranked as 96th best business school in the world by Financial Times in 2011.[29]


Politecnico di Milano is organized in 12 departments:[30]

Library System and publishing

The library system of the Politecnico counts more than 470.000 records distributed all over the libraries in the campuses.[31] The system is made up of four Central Libraries (amongst which the 'Central Engineering Library' and the 'Central Architecture Library') and Teaching Libraries (department libraries), set up to help students preparing their exams. The titles registered in the library system can be searched through an OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue).[32]

Since autumn 2004, the Politecnico owns a publishing trademark, Polipress,[33] created mainly to publish researches by the Politecnico community. Polipress publishes also the free Politecnico periodical.[34]

Scientific research

The Politecnico di Milano participates in European and international networks of scientific research. In year 2004 alone, about 60 large scale, multi-year international research projects have been initiated or participated by the Politecnico, just in the context of the European Research framework.[35] As of 2012, Politecnico takes part in over 132 current FP7 research projects. The University raised almost 80% of its research funds from external sources in 2008,[36] from participation in national and international calls for proposals by its researchers and from research contracts stipulated with companies.

Politecnico has a long history of research. Many scientists working in the university have received awards and recognition by the scientific community: among them, the most famous is Giulio Natta, the only Italian Nobel laureate for Chemistry, in 1963, who was the head of the Department of Industrial Chemistry. The University also operated the first research nuclear reactor in Italy, the 50 kW LM54, from 1959 to 1979 in the "Enrico Fermi Nuclear Research Institute"[37] and now operates several important laboratories such as one of the biggest wind tunnels in Europe.[38]

As of 2005, a number of professors at Politecnico are ACM or IEEE fellows. The Politecnico participates in associations and consortia for applied research, has offices to assist technological transfers and continuing education for professionals. The university supports the establishment of research spin-offs (20 spin-offs from 2000 to today), and also of high-tech companies during their start-up phase, with a structure named Acceleratore d'Impresa (Start-up Incubator).[39]

According to the SIR 2013 World Report about the quality of scientific research produced, the Politecnico has a normalized impact factor of 1.42, and 16.62% of the articles produced fall within the 10% most cited in the international bibliography.[40]


The Rector, the Academic Senate and the Board of Directors (Consiglio di Amministrazione) are the governing bodies of the Politecnico. Internal Financial Auditors (Collegio dei revisori dei conti) controls the management and finance of the University. There are several other consulting bodies, among them the Students' Council, which is directly elected by students and serves in an advisory role.

The Rector represents the University and coordinates the Academic and Research activity. The tenure of the Rector is six years, and can serve only one term.[41]

Student life

Exterior of the architecture building, Bovisa campus

Student fees at the Politecnico depend on the income of the family of the student. They range between about 150 /year and 3000 €/year. Students with good grades are granted partial or full rebates, in addition to various kinds of scholarships.[42] There are many scholarships for international students as part of its recent internationalization program.

Most Italian universities do not offer accommodation for their students on campus. Politecnico has a limited number of approximately 2000 beds available for students. Most students from outside the city are either commuters or renting. It is customary for students to share flats in small groups of 3 or 4 people, as rent rates are very expensive in the city.

The campuses Leonardo and Bovisa are covered by a Wi-Fi network, connected and interoperable with the Eduroam service. Most public areas of the campuses are covered by wi-fi.[43]


An interesting part of student life are "copy centers". During the 1970s, two copy centers were born: CLUP and CUSL (the former from left-wing student groups, the latter with a Catholic, conservative student base), as an effort from students to solve their own problems (such as the cost of books and sharing of lecture notes). They have been the only copy centres within Politecnico's premises for a long time. They are important just for historical and political reasons, as nowadays there are plenty of alternative facilities.

A well known structure is the ISU[44] (a generic term which in Italian university describes additional student facilities such as open libraries, lending of portable PCs, cafeterias and study spaces), dedicated to Luigi Divieti. A legend talks of the "Pianist of ISU", a man who is supposed to be living there since he was born some 50 years ago, and to be a hopelessly old student of the university.

Inside the Leonardo campus students can find the seat of the Educafe.[45] Educafe has been conceived as a space where students can meet up or freely surf the net. It is also a meeting center, where cultural events are organized regularly.

Among the student organizations:

Professional opportunities and statistics

The 2007 graduate survey shows that 80% of graduates of the Politecnico di Milano find a job within three months from graduation, and almost 95% within six months.[54] The figures are similar for the bachelor and the masters level graduates. A specialized "Career Service" facilitates contacts between graduates and the industry, it invites companies for presentations and prepares statistics about graduated students. It posts several stage and job offers every day both for students and graduates.[55]

Approximately 55% of undergraduate students complete their studies on time, and approximately 80% of them graduate within an additional year. Similar figures apply to graduate students.[54]

Student politics

Students at Politecnico elect representatives in the Academic Senate, the Board of Directors and in the Boards of schools.[56] Currently, the three main political groups in student's elections are:

There are also other smaller groups. However, participation in student elections is generally low, typically below 15%, as a result of low interest in issues and the low influence of elected students on the academy's decisions.[59]

Notable alumni

Giulio Natta

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Politecnico di Milano.

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 "I Numeri". Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  2. 1 2 "Politecnico di Milano". Anagrafe Nazionale Studenti. Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
  3. 1 2 "LE CLASSIFICHE DI CENSIS E REPUBBLICA 2011-2012 DELLE UNIVERSITÀ ITALIANE". universita.net. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  4. "QS World University Rankings by Faculty 2013 - Engineering and Technology". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  5. 1 2 "QS World University Rankings". QS Top Universities. QS. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  6. 1 2 http://www.topuniversities.com/
  7. "I rettori nella storia". Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  8. 1 2 "Le origini". La storia. Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  9. "Le sedi storiche". La storia. Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  10. "The logo and its history". Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  11. Michael Day, "Italian university switches to English" The Independent April 14, 2012
  12. "Poli territoriali". Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  13. "Overview of Milano Bovisa campus". Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  14. "Towards the present". History. Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  15. "Corso di Laurea in Ingegneria Informatica Online". Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  16. "Fai un'esperienza all'estero". Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  17. "Politecnico di Milano: English version". Polimi.it. 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
  18. "List of members". time-association.org. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  19. PoliMi - Mobility projects
  20. Progetto Rocca webpage
  21. "Academic Ranking of World Universities: Global". Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  22. "World University Rankings 2016-2017". Times Higher Education. 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  23. "QS World University Rankings 2016/17". Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  24. "Best universities in Europe 2017". The Times Higher Education. 2016. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  25. "Università - La nuova classifica di Vision" (PDF). Vision. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  26. "QS World University Rankings by Faculty 2015 - Engineering and Technology". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  27. "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2013 - Civil and Structural Engineering". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  28. 1 2 3 "Come si accede". PoliOrientaMi. Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  29. "Global MBA Rankings 2011". Financial Times. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  30. "Departments". Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  31. "Using the Politecnico Libraries" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-03-21.
  32. "OPAC - Online Catalogue". Opac.biblio.polimi.it. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
  33. "PoliPress Editore". Polipresseditore.polimi.it. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
  34. "Politecnico - Rivista del Politecnico di Milano". Rivistapolitecnico.polimi.it. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
  35. http://www.cri.polimi.it/IRO/index.html Archived March 11, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  36. "Financing Research". Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  37. "Batte il cuore atomico del Politecnico | Milano la Repubblica.it". Milano.repubblica.it. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
  38. "Galleria del Vento - CIRIVE - Boundary Layer and Aeronautical Wind Tunnel" (PDF). Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  39. Acceleratore d'impresa - Politecnico incubator
  40. SIR-Scimago Institution Rankings-http://www.scimagoir.com/pdf/SIR%20Global%202013%20O.pdf
  41. Statuto del Politecnico di Milano - Titolo II
  42. "Politecnico di Milano: English version". Polimi.it. 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
  43. "Wi-Fi Polimi". Politecnico di Milano. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  44. http://www.isu.polimi.it/
  45. http://www.polimi.it/studenti/accedi-ai-servizi/educafe/
  46. BEST Milano - official website
  47. ESN - official website
  48. Euroavia - official website
  49. Associazione Ingegneri Ambiente e Territorio - official website
  50. Teatro delle Biglie - official website
  51. Poul - official website
  52. Poli.Radio - official website
  53. IEEE Student Branch
  54. 1 2 "Indagine occupazionale dei laureati e laureati specialistici del Politecnico di Milano usciti nell'anno 2007" [survey on occupational levels for alumni of Politecnico di Milano graduated in 2007] (PDF). Politecnico di Milano.
  55. www.careerservice.polimi.it - Politecnico di Milano - Career Service
  56. Carta degli Studenti, VI, 33 p. 4
  57. www.ternasinistrorsa.it - official website
  58. www.svoltastudenti.it - official website
  59. Results of the last elections are available on-line at

Coordinates: 45°28′41″N 9°13′38″E / 45.47803°N 9.22732°E / 45.47803; 9.22732

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