SUPSI is an autonomous organisation established under public law in Canton Ticino, including its own departments and associated schools which are run by private institutions but are integrated into the structure and culture of SUPSI while maintaining their own administrative and financial autonomy.

Relations with Canton Ticino are governed by a performance contract which defines cantonal contributions on the basis of the number of students and the volume of acquired projects. The Swiss Confederation also contributes finances. For the rest, SUPSI administers and organises itself autonomously and pursues objectives of growth and self-financing.

Strategic direction and control are the responsibility of the SUPSI Council, composed of people not working at SUPSI and appointed by the State Council (Government) of Canton Ticino.

Operative direction is the responsibility of SUPSI Management, including directors of departments and of affiliated schools. Departments are structured by academic discipline (Institutes, Laboratories, Centres of Expertise) directly responsible for the first level modules, continuing education courses and applied research projects. All teachers, researchers and other collaborators of SUPSI report to these departments.

The faculty of SUPSI is composed in a balanced proportion, depending on individual disciplines, of internal teachers-researchers and of active external professionals. The title of professor does not distinguish a function, but is conferred as an honorific title by the SUPSI Council to collaborators who have not already obtained it elsewhere and who achieve significant goals in teaching and applied research.

Departments have the support of advisory committees.