The Programme

The CHEI Doctoral Programme focuses exclusively on the Internationalisation of Higher Education and has developed a distinctive identity within the framework of national regulations that govern doctoral studies in Italy. Within Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, the programme is located in the Doctoral Schools in the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Modern Languages. The programme has been conceived for professionals in the field of international higher education who continue their careers whilst undertaking their research. It is offered in English with teaching and supervision provided both by the wide international network that the Centre has built up over the years and academic staff at Università Cattolica.

You will join an international and diverse cohort and participate in the in-person seminars that are run twice a year in Italy, and in the online programme that takes place in between the seminars. In the interim periods, you will study independently with regular on-line supervision and participate in peer learning groups. The programme aims to develop “the reflective professional” by providing you with deeper knowledge, understanding and awareness of what it means to be a practitioner and researcher in international higher education settings and by enabling you to undertake relevant research and create new knowledge that makes an original contribution to the field.

The Italian PhD is a full-time three-year programme and in order to make it possible for you to undertake your studies while working, CHEI has developed its own pathway programme that enables you to extend the period of time to undertake your studies. Nevertheless, undertaking doctoral studies on a part-time basis while working requires careful preparation and strong commitment. For this reason, we encourage you to seek the support of your employer when applying for a doctoral programme in order to facilitate your studies.


At the end of the CHEI PhD programme, you are expected to have reached the learning outcomes for doctoral studies as set out in the European Qualifications Framework. This implies that:

  1. you will have demonstrated a systematic understanding of internationalisation of higher education and mastery of the skills and methods of research within that field;
  2. you will have demonstrated the ability to conceive, design, implement and adapt a substantial process of research with scholarly integrity;
  3. you will have made a contribution through original research that extends the frontier of knowledge by developing a substantial body of work, some of which merits national or international refereed publication;
  4. you will be capable of critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas;
  5. you will be able to communicate with their peers, the larger scholarly community and with society in general about their areas of expertise;
  6. you will be able to promote, within academic and professional contexts, technological,social or cultural advancement in a knowledge-based society.

The programme is delivered via the in-person seminars that take place in autumn and spring, the online programme, peer learning and supervision. The in-person and online seminars are an integral part of the learning experience and offer a broad range of issues in internationalisation of higher education by leading scholars in the field, research methodology workshops, small group discussions, academic skill building and personal tutorials. During the rest of the year, you engage in individual study and independent research and meet on online with your supervisors according to an agreed schedule. Your supervisory team is made up of two academics with expertise in your research area.

You are also encouraged to set up peer learning groups for mutual support and exchange. Demonstration of your progress is made via your written work, the presentations you deliver at each seminar and your level of engagement in the different sessions and workshops. During the course of your studies you will submit regular written work to your supervisory team and receive feedback. You are also required to submit progress reports at the end of each year.

Each student will develop their academic enquiry in discussion with their supervisory team but the CHEI programme sets out year-by-year objectives.

Download the 2022 Prospective Student guide

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