Mountain Environment and Agriculture, PhD

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
  • Tuition
    Tuition (Year)
    Tuition (Year)
  • English (take IELTS)
Free University of Bozen-Bolzano ,
The Mountain Environment and Agriculture Ph.D. program is focused on the study of mountain environments and on the management of mountain ecosystems. The research topics at Free University of Bozen - Bolzano involve activities in the areas of: management biotic and abiotic resources, energetic efficiency in agro-forestry processes, climate change, renewable energies, quality of products.
  • Overview
  • Programme outline
  • Key facts
  • Admission requirements
  • Fees and funding


The Mountain Environment and Agriculture Ph.D. programme is focused on the study of mountain environments and on the management of mountain ecosystems. The research topics involve activities in the areas of: management biotic and abiotic resources, energetic efficiency in agro-forestry processes, climate change, renewable energies, quality of products.

The Ph.D. programme from Free University of Bozen - Bolzano has an interdisciplinary approach that involves several scientific fields (ecology, hydrology, fruit science, agricultural chemistry, biology,...) to give to Ph.D. students a flexible expertise in solving complex questions and issues.

The Ph.D. programme lasts three years and its official language is English. An international work placement is mandatory for a maximum period of one year. More information are available on the right side of this homepage.

Ph.D. objectives

The formalized study part of the Ph.D. programme aims at achieving a scientific training at the highest international level. Ph.D. students have to acquire all necessary competences needed to solve complex research problems of basic or applied character and to gather technical skills.

Within the Ph.D. programme and the related research work, students will:

  • obtain full insight into the state-of-the-art of a specific scientific problem;
  • contribute to research with innovative ideas within their respective scientific communities;
  • acquire the ability to plan innovative research projects;
  • learn and properly manage the scientific techniques necessary to solve relevant research questions;
  • be educated and work in international and interdisciplinary teams;
  • publish the results of their research in international peer-reviewed journals;
  • present and discuss their research findings during international conferences and workshops.
Within the Ph.D. programme, students will acquire the following competences:
  • highly developed know-how in problem-solving: ability to tackle complex problems with original proposals, ability to advance the international state-of-the-art with a deep knowledge of the scientific literature and to design novel ad-hoc tools;
  • expertise in scientific communication: ability to communicate their projects and results in the scientific communities and to the public, competence in writing scientific papers, in presenting oral lectures and in answering technical and scientific questions from reviewers and conference auditoriums;
  • organization skills: ability to organize their own research activities in an autonomous way, ability to manage their own laboratory and field works and to coordinate the scientific activities of B.Sc. and M.Sc. students who are affiliated with their Ph.D. work.
Partner Universities and Institutions
List of foreign Partner Universities and Research Institutions where the Ph.D. student may, under specific research programmes, spend her/his research period abroad:
  • University of Innsbruck, Faculty of Biology (Austria)
  • University of Tromsø (Norway)
  • University of New Hampshire (USA)
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) (Switzerland)
  • University of Göttingen (Germany)
  • State University of Santa Catarina (Santa Catarina, Brasil)
  • Federal University of Santa Maria (Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil)

National Partner Research Institutions, that under specific research programmes, may host part of the activity of the Ph.D. student:

  • The European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano (Eurac)
  • Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry Laimburg, Ora (Bz)
  • University of Milan, Faculty of Agriculture

Detailed Programme Facts

  • More details: November
  • Full-time duration 36 months
  • Study intensity Full-time
  • Credits
    180 ECTS
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus
  • Project Type Predefined
  • Educational Form Academic

Programme Structure

Study programme

The research activity of Ph.D. students will be full-time. The official language of the Ph.D. study program is English. The thesis will be written in English with extended abstracts in Italian and German. Students will benefit from the unique multi-lingual environment at the Free University of Bozen.

The program includes teaching and research activities to be carried out at the Free University of Bozen and abroad. The activity abroad can be accomplished at one of the foreign partner universities or in other recognized universities or research institutes.

The formalized study part within the Ph.D. program is comprised of the following milestones, the achievement of which requires from students to:

  • develop the concepts and schedules of their research plans within the first 6 months together with their supervisors and co-supervisors and, by the end of the 6th month, students have to defend their plans in the Course Committee (Collegio Docenti) of the faculty;

  • participate at least in one international conference during their three-year programs and present a scientific contribution either orally or as a poster;

  • spend at least one month at a scientific research institution abroad;

  • attend seminars or courses on scientific paper analysis and writing;

  • prepare and present, within the first year of activity, a seminar on the state-of-the-art in the topic of their research fields;

  • prove, before they are eligible to be admitted to the final exam, that they wrote at least one scientific paper in which they are listed as first author and which was submitted for publication to an international peer-reviewed journal.

Supervisor and co-supervisors

Within two months after the end of the selection process, the Course Committee (Collegio Docenti) shall appoint out of its members one supervisor for each Ph.D. student. Within one year from the beginning of the activity, the Committee will also appoint a second supervisor and a co-supervisor: one other member of the Course Committee and one expert on the specific research topic to be covered by the student, coming from the joint university collaboration or another university or research institute, respectively.

Phases of the Ph.D. research project

The Ph.D. research program is divided into five phases with defined milestones after 2, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months. At the end of each phase, Ph.D. students will meet the Course Committee to present their plans and/or their work. The Committee will evaluate the progress and suggest potential improvements regarding the research methodology.

  • First phase (first 2 months): the Course Committee will meet the students and indicate their future supervisor(s). Ph.D. students will meet their designated supervisor(s) to decide the topic of their research and the specific subject within the topic and start to interact with their supervisors in order to elaborate their research plans. Within this phase, students will develop their study plans to a level at which these can be approved.

  • Second phase (2nd–6th month): Ph.D. students, after a thorough literature analysis on their respective research questions, will elaborate the research program to be presented to the Course Committee for approval. In this phase, students will start attending specific courses.

  • Third phase (6th–12th month): students will start their practical Ph.D. work, including laboratory and/or field activities. Students will attend additional didactic activities while also presenting a public seminar at the Free University of Bozen. During this phase, students present to the Course Committee a proposal for their research activities during their study stages abroad and the students’ external supervisors will be accepted.

  • Fourth phase (12th–24th month): Ph.D. students will carry out their research work. It is expected that Ph.D. students attend an international conference and present their preliminary results while also starting with the preparation of manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals. This phase will likely include their study stages abroad. In addition, students may take part in other didactic activities.

  • Fifth phase (24th–36th month): Ph.D. students finalize their research activities which provide answers to the scientific questions behind their research. This phase will possibly include their study stages abroad. Students will write and submit manuscript(s) to peer-reviewed journals. They will write their Ph.D. theses and get the approval from the Course Committee for the admission to the final exam.

Other duties of Ph.D. students

Ph.D. students attend courses, seminars and other didactic activities that enable them to prepare for their research careers and to acquire academic skills. Additional credit points from other duties will be achieved by students through:

  • compulsory seminars to be attended by the end of the first year;

  • presentations at national and/or international conferences, symposia and workshops, related to the Ph.D. research;

  • study stage (work placement) in universities and research centers abroad;

  • seminars on their Ph.D. topics to be presented by the students at the Free University of Bozen or in other scientific institutions.

Study Plan

The teaching offer within the Ph.D. program includes courses which aim to deepen the theoretical, technical and methodological skills of students. These courses could be attended at the Free University of Bozen as well as at other universities/institutes/companies in Italy or abroad. The successful participation in these courses will be proved by a successful written or oral examination or by a certificate from the course organizer.

The study plan lists the subjects given above and will be presented by students to the Course Committee at the end of the second phase of their Ph.D. programs; changes in the study plan are possible after authorization by the Course Committee. Students have to insert in their study plans one course of advanced statistics, at least one course of advanced science theory and methodology and at least one course of advanced scientific English language studies.

In addition to these courses, Ph.D. students may select and propose other courses at university level in those areas that are needed to achieve and to complete their preparations for their thesis work. This could be achieved through summer schools, laboratories, courses in other universities/institutions/companies, also abroad.
Research Program

The research program describes the research topic and schedule of the Ph.D. project and will be organized as follows:

  1. title of Ph.D. project;

  2. abstract;

  3. introduction into the topic by stating the most relevant literature which reflects the state-of-the-art;

  4. aims and hypotheses (rationale of the project);

  5. general description of the experimental workflow (brief description of the materials and methods and of the investigated territories in the case of field studies);

  6. expected results and outcomes with relevance for science and/or practice;

  7. description of the results obtained by the Ph.D. student so far (only for students of the 2nd and 3rd year of the Ph.D. program);

  8. list of presentations of the Ph.D. work on conferences, workshops etc.;

  9. preliminary or final titles of papers which have been or will be submitted by a Ph.D. student to international peer-reviewed journals;

  10. reference list.

The research program should not exceed 8 pages in total. An updated program will be presented during the annual meetings with the Course Committee.

International work placement

A study period abroad as part of the Ph.D. research work is obligatory and may last between 1 and 12 months, not necessarily in succession. This placement can be at universities, and/or public or private research institutions, administrations or private-sector enterprises. The specific relevance of the placement to the Ph.D. project needs to be demonstrated. The financial support of the placement has to be organized in advance. The placement abroad has to be approved and evaluated by the Course Committee.

Admission to the Ph.D. defence

To be admitted to the final exam, students should have written at least one scientific paper in which they are listed as first author and which was submitted for publication to an international peer-reviewed journal (students should provide proof of the submission).

The thesis has to be introduced by an abstract written in English, German and Italian. The thesis will provide an introduction written in form of a scientific review, the scientific articles related to the Ph.D. topic produced by the students during their research work (published, in press or even forthcoming papers), a conclusion chapter and the list of the references. The thesis may contain also the list of all the publications, book chapters, meeting abstracts, scientific collaborations etc. related or not related to the topic of the Ph.D. project produced by the students during their scientific careers.

Academic Requirements

Every year the Free University of Bolzano decrees the institution of a new PhD cycle, and announces a public competition for the admission to the corresponding PhD reserach programmes.

The public competition is open to all, regardless of sex, age and citizenship, who possess a Master's Degree (Laurea magistrale), and Italian undergraduate degree from the old system or a foreign degree equivalent to the degrees mentioned above.

Tuition Fee Per Year

  • EUR 160 International
  • EUR 160 EU/EEA


Grants are assigned following the rank list drawn up by the Evaluation Committee. If an applicant decides to forego a grant, the next enrolled applicant on the rank list will be offered the grant.

The annual study grant amounts to € 17,000 gross.

The study grant is also subject to national insurance contributions (INPS) according to current laws. The grant is paid in monthly instalments. The grant is increased by 50% for periods spent abroad authorised by the PhD Course Committee. This increase in the grant applies to any continuous period of stay abroad, for a maximum of one year and a half.

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