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Executive PhD

Doctoral positions co-supervised by companies and external institutions

The PhD School of the Politecnico di Milano has established the opportunity to start industrial doctoral paths co-supervised by companies and external institutions (Executive PhD). It is necessary to agree in advance a research workplan with a professor from the Politecnico di Milano who will be the supervisor of the doctoral thesis. Interested companies can contact the Director of the PhD School for further information or alternatively the coordinators of the PhD programmes, or preferably contact directly the professors with whom they are likely to start a research collaboration.

Eligible candidates

  1. Employees of companies or external entities, while keeping their job and salary, can train, develop and complete research, and achieve the title of Doctor of Philosophy at the end of their path.
  2. Recent graduates who are employees of enterprises or external entities and have an apprenticeship contract for advanced education, and wish to work and study at the same time for their PhD. In this case, the duration of the apprenticeship contract corresponds with that of the study cycle. The new employees must not have reached the age of 30. 


The duration is established by mutual agreement between the Board professors involved and the company, based on the type of commitment established in the agreement. The duration of the course is usually 4 years (minimum 3).


The PhD programme contains a training part through courses offered by the PhD programme and by the PhD School, and research that can be performed both at the company and in the university department or at both entities. The training is jointly determined by the company and by the Board of Professors of the PhD programme. 


The subject of the research, and the associated development path are established jointly by the company and the Board of Professors of the PhD programme. The path is monitored by two supervisors, one from the university and one from the company. If the path agreed in co-supervision requires the commitment of resources from the Department and / or investments for the development of the research, it will be regulated through a standard research contract between the company and the group responsible for the activity of the PhD candidate. 


The executive PhD candidates are put in a position to set the doctoral path in the framework of the company's vision and connected dynamics. This fact should guarantee the training research product related to the growth of the executive PhD candidate, as well as the collaboration conditions, interaction and integration between the university research group which the candidate belongs to and the development and innovation of the company or external entity for which the candidate works. From the company's point of view, the company/external entity offers to its employee a training and growth opportunity while maintaining their job and salary.

Finally, with the apprenticeship contract for advanced education, the company has the opportunity to develop a research training programme and to recruit high quality young people. Active participation in research activities by its employees will foster innovation and lead to developments in innovative areas. 


  • The company, interested in submitting the doctoral application for its employee, must contact the coordinator of the PhD programme involved, in order to determine if the PhD training offered is suitable for both the potential PhD candidate and the company or external entity, considering the objectives of both parties.
  • "Executive" Applicants admitted to the doctoral path must enrol "without scholarship", and may start their PhD career in February, May or November.
  • Before the start of the doctoral programme, the PhD candidate and the companies involved agree on the details of the project in co-supervision, which specifies the areas of research, how the research will be carried out and the scheduled planning of the training and research path. For some PhD programmes a contribution is expected to be made to the Department which will supervise the research activity and the contribution will cover the incurred costs. A formal agreement will be signed between the Politecnico di Milano and the company.
  • In order to achieve the title of Doctor of Philosophy at the end of the PhD path, the candidate must fulfill all the training requirements required for this path.
  • For protection of confidential data and information, a proper "non disclosure" agreement will be signed. 


The fees associated with every PhD Executive agreement will be established by the Faculty Board of the PhD programme involved. The following requirements must be satisfied:

  • One or more cost ranges may be established. If more cost ranges are activated, it must be specified which are the specifications that identify the Executive PhDs of each range (involvement of more than one supervisor from Politecnico di Milano, laboratory activities which require the usage of special equipment, need for an increased research fund to cover additional costs of research travel, or to cover the acquisition of laboratory assets, etc.)
  • The cost of the minimum range must be set at 3,750.00 EUR per year, for a total cost of 15,000.00 EUR in case of a 4-year agreement. This amount is identified as being close to the maximum yearly fee for a Master's Degree at Politecnico di Milano.

The amount paid by the company or external body must be used as follows:

  • At least EUR 3,068.66 will be used to cover the expenses for the research activity in Italy and abroad of the PhD candidate, as required by the Regulations on PhD programs of the Politecnico di Milano
  • The remaining amount up to the cost approved by the PhD Board (this amount will be equal to 11,931.34 EUR if the contribution is set at the minimum amount of EUR 3,750.00 / year for a four-year period) will be used to support the teaching activities of the course that host the Executive PhD student
  • Any additional amount beyond those established by the PhD Board will be used to support the research group that will guide the PhD Thesis activity. This amount can be established in a separate research contract, or be specified in the Executive PhD agreement.

For further information, please contact the secretariat of the PhD programme (see Phd Programmes)