Collegio Superiore di Bologna
|Collegio Superiore di Bologna|
The Collegio Superiore is the University of Bologna’s honors program, committed to providing selected students with an interdisciplinary formation alongside their main course of study. Founded with the name Collegio d’Eccellenza in 1998, during Fabio Roversi Monaco’s term as head of the University, the program forms the Istituto di Studi Superiori (ISS) of the University of Bologna together with the Istituto di Studi Avanzati (ISA). 
The Collegio offers those students who are registered for a degree program at the University and who pass a rigorous entrance exam the means to complete a parallel, advanced curriculum, one that enriches their main course of study with approaches and findings from other disciplines. Membership in the Collegio includes not only exemption from the University’s regular attendance tax, but also an annual stipend, free lodging at the program’s seat and the special guidance of both an academic advisor and other University faculty. Maintenance of this membership requires high marks both in one’s main course of study and in one’s Collegio-specific work.
Luca Ciotti, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Bologna, has been the Collegio’s director since 2012.
Goals of the Collegio
The Collegio aims above all to
• attract high-caliber students to the University of Bologna, encouraging their commitment to scholarship and rewarding their merit;
• act as a laboratory for innovative courses that may later be offered more widely at the University;
• enhance the University’s image in Italy and abroad;
• strengthen relations with analogous institutions in Italy and abroad through exchange programs, offering its students the opportunity to spend periods of study in other stimulating environments;
• draw the attention of private and public donors interested in high-quality educational and broader cultural investment.
Equal numbers of students are admitted yearly to the Collegio’s two broad field areas:
• Humanities and Economics, including Economics, Education Science, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Law, Letters and Philosophy (with Archaeology, Classics and History), Political Science, Psychology, Statistics and Visual Arts
• Technical Sciences, including Agricultural Science, Biology, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Cultural Heritage Preservation, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine and Surgery, Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators, Pharmaceutical Science, Physics, Sport and Exercise Medicine and Veterinary Science
Admission to the Collegio is merit-based. Two competitions meant to evaluate candidates’ academic strength and personal motivation are held yearly for either field area.
The First-Level Competition is for those students who intend for the first time to register for a Laurea Triennale (three-year generalist’s) degree program or for a single-cycle Laurea Magistrale (five- or six-year) degree program at the University of Bologna. Students who already possess any Laurea or mean to transfer from other Italian universities are not eligible. Both Italian and non-Italian citizens may otherwise participate, regardless of their financial situation or high-school marks.
The competition consists in two exams, one written and the other oral. Since the 2014-15 academic year, the written exam has three field-area-specific parts that candidates complete in a single session, while the oral exam is a later interview designed to gage candidates’ general intellectual maturity. Only those candidates who achieve sufficient marks on the written exam are eligible for the oral one, which determines final admissions decisions.
The Second-Level Competition is designed for those students who intend for the first time to register for a Laurea Magistrale (two-year specialist’s) degree program or for the fourth year of a single-cycle Laurea Magistrale (five- or six-year) degree program at the University of Bologna. Students who mean to transfer from other Italian or non-Italian universities are eligible, but just like those students previously registered in Bologna, they must demonstrate to have completed the prerequisite coursework—the Laurea Triennale, the first three years of the single-cycle Laurea Magistrale or the equivalents thereof—with sufficient marks. For Italian coursework, this means an average mark of at least 28/30 and no mark under 24/30. As in the First-Level Competition, both Italian and non-Italian citizens may participate, regardless of their financial situation.
The competition consists in a pre-selection based on candidates’ résumés and a final oral exam, an interview designed to better gage not only candidates’ general intellectual maturity, but also their English-language skills and their specific profit from their last course of study.
Benefits of Collegio membership
Every Collegio member receives
• an interdisciplinary formation largely through courses and seminars taught by University faculty at the program’s seat, now the Residence Terzo Millennio in the Bologna city district of Borgo Panigale;
• exemption from University fees, including the annual attendance tax but excluding insurance and official mail service;
• an annual stipend toward food and other study-related expenses;
• free lodging in the form of a single- or double-occupancy studio apartment at the program’s seat;
• free use of the program seat’s spaces, including classrooms, study halls and recreational areas;
• the special guidance of an academic advisor from among the University faculty in one’s field area, if not one’s specific degree program;
• privileged opportunities for study in other university-level honors programs in Italy and abroad.
Responsibilities of Collegio membership
The right to remain in the Collegio is contingent upon
• the successful completion of one’s main course of study at the University of Bologna, including an average mark of at least 27/30 in the first year of the Laurea Triennale and single-cycle Laurea Magistrale degree programs, an average mark of at least 28/30 in all other years of study and no mark ever under 24/30;
• the successful completion of Collegio-specific courses and seminars, particularly of their exams and research projects;
• participation and involvement in the Collegio’s institutional events and initiatives, including any required ISA lectures.
The Collegio has reached privileged agreements for student exchange with other university-level honors programs in Italy and abroad, including the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, the Scuola Galileiana di Studi Superiori in Padua, the Collegio Ghisilieri of the Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori (IUSS) in Pavia, the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in France (Paris, Lyon and Cachan seats) and Eotvos College in Budapest, Hungary.
Six of the more prominent university-level honors programs in Italy, including the Collegio, formed an association in 2000.   With the leadership of Collegio members, students from several Italian honors programs also formed a network for scholarly exchange, the Rete Italiana degli Allievi delle Scuole e degli Istituti di Studi Superiori Universitari, in 2010. 
Selected institutional events
A special role of the Istituto di Studi Avanzati is the organization, in collaboration with the Collegio, of semi-public lectures by internationally reputed scholars. These lectures take place throughout the school year and figure among many Collegio members' academic requirements.
The Collegio Meets…
The Collegio Meets… is series of public conferences organized by the honors program and featuring renowned figures in research, business, finance and public service. These conferences take place throughout the academic year and are designed to encourage productive exchange among Collegio members, leading minds and the wider community.
Inauguration of the academic year
The honors program’s official inaugural ceremony for the school year is held in February and features speeches by the director of the University, the director of the Collegio, a representative of the Collegio’s current members and a representative of the Collegio’s alumni.
The ceremony culminates in a lectio magistralis by a high-profile professor from the University, in many cases one who also serves as academic advisor to the Collegio’s students.
Students who successfully complete their studies in the honors program receive the Certificate of the Collegio Superiore di Bologna at an official ceremony held in May. The director of the University presides, and the event features presentations by alumni on their academic and professional lives after certification.
“Discover the Collegio”
Every July, the Collegio holds an orientation day for students who are finishing their high-school or early university career and are interested in admission to the honors program. The event gives them a unique chance not only to meet the director, academic advisors and current members of the Collegio, but also to better understand the program’s entrance process and structure.
The Alumni Association of the Collegio Superiore was founded in 2003 to strengthen relationships both among former Collegio members and between former and current ones. Association members, many of them prominent in their professional communities, frequently offer seminars at the honors program's seat, as well as lectures under the Collegio's aegis.