I am an early career scientist that want to pursue an academic career in Italy.

I am familiar with the usual track of an academic in Italy: Phd, "assegno di ricerca", "RTDA", "RTDB", "Professore Associato", "Professore Ordinario". I know that open calls for such positions are published by university website and on the webpage of the Ministry of Education, University and Research.

From several conversations with researchers and professors across different fields I have been told repeatedly that the majority of such calls are not open calls but most of the times are calls explicitly designed for an internal member of the department. So unless extraordinary circumstances happens no applicants from an external institution will be awarded the promoted position (they are in fact just published because the law requires so). Furthermore I also have been told from some of these professors that mobility between universities is rare because it it more convenient financially to promote an internal member of the department rather than hire somebody external. Being myself currently not associated with an Italian University I have no way to make the department open a position for me.

My question is then: Which is the best way to purse an academic career in Italy if you are not currently affiliated with an Italian University? More specifically, is what I have been told generally true? If yes, how is better to approach a department in order to try pursue a career there (I already have a Phd)? How can I select a university that might have sufficient funds in the future to sustain a career (assuming that mobility is as hard as I have been told)? Are other ways possible?

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    I don't have first-hand knowledge, but my understanding is that you have to network - get to know senior academics in your field in Italian universities. If they like you and your work, they might write a call for you. Sep 13, 2021 at 18:09
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    Do you know fuga dei cervelli? It is actually that cervelli are forced not only to do the fuga, but never return.
    – Alchimista
    Sep 14, 2021 at 10:26
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    I work at an Italian university and am German. My personal impression is that what you write is half true, maybe it's more like this than in other European countries. But for sure there are positions on which they are happy to get somebody good from outside, and there are commissions interested in having a fair competition where the person who wins is really the best. I know Italians who have changed university (after for some time complaining that this is impossible, they're now proof it isn't). Being a foreigner myself, it's hard to estimate how hard it is, but it's possible for sure. Feb 4, 2022 at 17:23

1 Answer 1


A lot depends on the specific research field (some are more dynamic than others, and some are trying to grow more than other), but the difficulties you mention are real.

I may suggest that the first step is to invest to get known in your research field. As you already have a PhD, you probably have some publications, went to conferences, and know the names of the professors or research groups that could be of interest to you.

You may try to contact the professors/researchers working there, by mentioning your previous work and your skills/interests. Maybe they have an open position in a project. Or you may check the open calls for Erasmus "visiting scholars" or similar positions.

The first step is nearly always to find a temporary position (assegno di ricerca or similar position) and to prove your worth to the department. If successful, it will be a several-years process. Otherwise, you should look at other countries.

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