In 1987 a territorial diffusion process of the university began, the Politecnico Network, which led to the opening of the regional campuses of Como (1987) and Lecco (1989), and regional facilities in Cremona (1991), Mantova (1994) and Piacenza (1997), with the aim of establishing a more direct relationship with the students and interacting with the community's local businesses.
In the Bovisa area of Milan, where various disused warehouses and old gas tanks were found, starting in 1989 a university campus emerged with the new Schools of Civil Architecture, Design, and Industrial Engineering and some of the most advanced and innovative laboratories in Europe: the Wind Tunnel, for the development of research in the field of fluid dynamics, the Transportation Security Laboratory, where spectacular crash tests are performed, in addition to the Design Laboratories.
Also the Departments of Energy, of Mechanical Engineering and of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering have been transferred to Bovisa Campus.
The Politecnico was one of the first Italian universities to implement the reform of the university system, which led to the "three plus two" education structure with Bachelor of Science and Master of Science programmes.
Beginning with the academic year 2000-2001 bachelor's programmes were grouped into schools, based on their areas of interest. Each year the Politecnico offers numerous Master Degrees (first and second level) and PhD research courses on a wide range of subject areas and disciplines in the fields of Engineering, Architecture and Design.
Since the academic year 2000-2001 the institution has also set up a bachelor's programme in Computer Engineering online, the first of its kind in Italy.
The Politecnico currently offers a number of international mobility programs. The Time programme is devoted to engineering students who, after attending classes for two years in a foreign university, can achieve a double degree. From 1988 (the year of its inception) to 2004, Time has enabled 240 students of the Politecnico di Milano to obtain a double degree. The Unitech project on the other hand is dedicated to training top managers. In addition to the Politecnico, it is supported by seven other European technical universities and receives financial support from international industries, permitting a limited number of engineering students at the Politecnico di Milano to carry out their final year of studies at one of the partner universities and to perform an internship at one of the companies involved in the project.
ASP, the Alta Scuola Politecnica, was founded in 2005 through a project of the Politecnico of Milan and Turin that offers 150 students per year, selected among the talents registered in the first year of the Master of Science programme, in one of the two Politecnico institutes, a double degree and ASP diploma. Of these 150 students, 50% must originate from outside of the regions of Lombardy and Piedmont and 25% from abroad. The Alta Scuola offers an additional training programme: courses on the themes of innovation with international professors, multidisciplinary projects tied to businesses and institutions to be developed through a team, with the aid of a tutor, with periods of study abroad and internships with companies.
Even after graduation the relationship with the Politecnico does not end, it only sets new goals, seeking to assist graduates through the process of entering the world of work. Through the Graduate Association, the Politecnico offers placement services from a pool of thousands of companies to virtually all graduates. It also provides direct logistical and administrative assistance and supports graduates to establish spinoff companies, business incubators in which "new entrepreneurs" develop their ideas and turn them into innovative, high-quality products or services ready to face the marketplace.
The tradition of honorary degrees is dear to the Politecnico. The initiative, authorised with a law of 1926, was applied immediately yet with reserve by the Politecnico that awarded the first honorary degree to Piero Puricelli in 1927, then to Natale Ratti (1930), to Giorgio Enrico Falck (1933) and others, to a total of approximately twenty recipients up until the early 1960's. Twelve of these degrees were awarded in 1964 in the presence of the President of the Republic, Antonio Segni, as part of the celebrations to honour the institution's one-hundred year anniversary.
The tradition, which was suspended for a few decades, resumed in 2001 with the awarding of an honorary degree in Mechanical Engineering to Emilio Riva. In the same year, honorary degrees in design were awarded to great architects and graduates of the Politecnico such as Achille Castiglioni and Marco Zanuso.
Some of the most recent honorary degrees were awarded to Bob Noorda, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Alessandro Mendini and Giorgio Armani, also in the field of design.