The Italian Program at Dickinson offers a variety of courses in Italian language, literature, and culture. The study of the Italian language is preparatory for the upper-level courses in literature and culture. Our program offers a major in Italian Studies and a minor in Italian. The following advising guide is meant for First Year Students, Prospective Students, Italian Studies Majors, Italian Minors, International Business and Management Majors (pursuing Italian), and International Studies Majors (pursuing Italian).

All students planning to study in Italy during their Junior Year are encouraged to fulfill their language requirement in Italian. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact your advisor or a professor of Italian.


Advanced Placement Scores:

A student who has received a grade of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Exam will be granted college credit and will be placed in the appropriate Italian course as determined by their scores on the online placement exam.

Online Placement Exam:

For incoming students who have already studied Italian or speak it at home, the Italian placement exam is available online through the Dickinson Gateway. Students should take the exam online by July 1.  The exam will determine the student’s level of proficiency in Italian and the student will be informed of the appropriate course to select. If you wish to use the placement exam only to waive your language requirement, you will have to take the exam on campus under supervision. Students who cannot take the exam during the summer will be able to take it on campus during the Orientation period.  If you need to take the exam during Orientation, you must contact Professor Luca Lanzilotta before the first day of Orientation. For more information, visit Placement Exam Information on the Dickinson Orientation website.

  •  International Business and Management Majors and International Studies Majors:  Please see the section SUGGESTED CURRICULAR FLOW FOR MINOR AND MAJOR

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

Students who wish to begin studying Italian should select ITAL 101, Elementary Italian. They will then take ITAL 102, Elementary Italian II, and ITAL 201, Intermediate Italian. These three courses will fulfill the language requirement. 

Students who are already fluent in another Romance Language such as Spanish, French, or Portuguese may benefit by beginning their Italian studies with ITAL 103, an accelerated beginner Italian course that counts as two semesters of Italian (ITAL 101 and ITAL 102). If you have any questions, be sure to contact any Italian professor. 

Students who want to pursue an Italian Minor or Italian Studies Major will then be able to proceed to the upper-division courses (see the Suggested Curricular Flow for Minor and Major for details).

Incoming students who have already studied Italian or speak it at home can take the Italian placement exam to assess their competence and then enroll in one of the upper-level courses at Dickinson (see the Introduction for details).

Students who are willing to minor in Italian or major in Italian Studies will be able to continue taking Italian language courses during their junior year at the K. Robert Nilsson Center for European Studies in Bologna, Italy. Beginning in the Fall of 2018, the Italian Department will be offering a new Italian Studies program in Bologna that has been created specifically for our Italian students studying abroad. Consult your advisor for more information. 

For more information, see the section Suggested Curricular Flow for Minor and Major below.

Courses that fulfill distribution requirements

Language requirement:
Completion of the intermediate level, ITAL 201

Humanities (Division I.b.):
ITAL 231, 232, 320 topics courses (321, 322, 323, 324), 331, 332, 341 

Arts (Division I.c.):
ITAL 324 and any ITAL 320-level cross-listed with Film Studies

Writing in the Discipline (WID):
ITAL 231

ITAL 201
ITAL 321 or Ital 323 (Only Topics Courses concerning Food Studies or History of Food).

Suggested curricular flow through the major

Minor in Italian (5 courses beyond ITAL 201):

Sophomore Year
ITAL 231 (Spring)

Junior Year
ITAL 232 (Fall)
ITAL 331 or 332 (Spring)
ITAL 320-level topics course (with Italian discussion session, any semester)

Senior Year
ITAL 341 (Fall)
ITAL 320-level topics course (with Italian discussion session, any semester)

Major in Italian Studies (10 courses beyond ITAL 201) 

First Year
ITAL 101 (Fall)
or ITAL 103 (accelerated beginner course for speakers of Spanish, French, or Portuguese that counts as two semesters of Italian: ITAL 101 and ITAL 102) (Fall)
ITAL 102 (Spring)

Sophomore Year
ITAL 201 (Fall)
ITAL 231 (Spring)
ITAL 320-level topics course (Spring, Italian discussion session is optional during sophomore year. If discussion session is not taken, the course only counts as a 'core requirement' of the major. See Italian Studies major requirements.)

Junior Year
ITAL 232 (fall)
ITAL 320-level topics course (with Italian discusson session, one in Fall and one in Spring)
ITAL 331 or 332 (spring)

Students planning to pursue honors should contact their advisors in the Fall semester.

Senior Year
ITAL 341 (Fall)
ITAL 320-level topics course (with Italian discussion session, one in Fall and one in Spring)
ITAL 400 (Spring)

Students majoring in Italian Studies will often take three to four 320-topics courses. However, some courses taken outside the Italian program that focus on Italian culture may also count to fulfill the major’s core requirements and/or area of emphasis. These outside courses must be approved by the Chair of the Italian Department in order for them to count toward the major. For a list of some of these courses, visit Curriculum and Courses on the Dickinson Italian Studies website. IMPORTANT: If you have taken a course related to Italy and/or Italian which is not listed on our website and you think that it should count toward the major, do not hesitate to contact your Italian Studies advisor for approval. 


INBM students pursuing Italian are advised to take ITAL 231 (an intensive writing course with advanced grammar) and ITAL 232 (a course focused on speaking and oral production). If students are interested in a topics course where English is the primary language used in class, they should take one of the four possible 320-topics courses: 321, 322, 323 or 324 (with Italian discussion session). For more information, visit the INBM Majors FAQ on the Prospective Students page of the Dickinson Italian Studies website.


IS students pursuing Italian are advised to take ITAL 231 (an intensive writing course with advanced grammar) and ITAL 232 (a course focused on speaking and oral production). Alternatively, students can opt to take ITAL 231 and one of the four possible 320-topics courses: 321, 322, 323 or 324 (with Italian discussion session). For more information, visit the IS Majors FAQ on the Prospective Students page of the Dickinson Italian Studies website.


All senior students majoring in Italian Studies must complete the Senior Seminar (ITST 400). Students who wish to be considered for honors in Italian Studies must have an overall GPA of at least 3.40 and must complete an Independent Research Project (550) in addition to the Senior Seminar.  The students must identify a faculty member who is willing to serve as their Independent Research Project advisor, must submit a proposal, and must write a thesis, which will be evaluated by the Italian Studies faculty.  The final projects of the Independent Research Project and the Senior Seminar are separate and the students cannot work on the same topic for both courses.

Normally, honors projects are completed in the spring semester of a student’s senior year and are approved for one academic credit. Honors is a separate designation that appears on the transcript and diploma. In the event that the final project is not deemed worthy of honors, the student will still receive academic credit for their Independent Research Project (550).

Honors Timeline

1. The proposal must be submitted no later than two (2) weeks prior to the end of the fall semester of classes (the exact date will be designated by the Italian Studies Department) submit the proposal (5-7 pages). The proposal should provide a detailed description of the research project, as well as explain the questions to be addressed, the current state of scholarship on this issue, the project’s contribution to current scholarship, and a tentative answer to the research question (i.e. a “thesis statement”). A proposed outline of the thesis chapters (1 page), in Italian, should also be included. There should also be a fairly extensive bibliography (1-2 pages) that lists primary and secondary sources under separate headings. In the bibliography, the student will indicate which studies and documents s/he has already consulted as well as the materials s/he plans to review. The proposal must be written entirely in Italian.

2. Before the last day of classes in the fall semester, the Italian Studies Chair will inform the prospective honors students and their advisors whether the proposal has been approved, and if so, will provide some suggestions and concerns from the Italian Studies faculty.  Also, at that time, the coordinator will appoint a secondary advisor for the project.

3. By the end of the 2nd week of the spring semester, a revised proposal is due.

4. Four (4) weeks before the end of classes, a thesis, in Italian, of approximately 30 pages (excluding bibliography), should be submitted, at which time the project advisor will choose one (or two, if available) additional Italian Studies faculty members who will read and critique the paper.

5. During the week of final examinations, the student will meet with the entire committee of three members to present, discuss, and defend his/her work.

6. On the Friday of the week before graduation, the student will submit a revised version of the thesis, based on feedback offered during the discussion. 

7. If a student fails to meet the deadlines, to make the required revisions, or to fulfill any of the requirements s/he will forfeit the opportunity to receive Honors. The grade for the Independent Research Project (550) will be posted to the transcript, even if the student does not earn honors.


Internships may be available for interested students. In the past, students have completed internships in diverse places such as the Feminist Bookstore, the Bologna daily newspaper Il Resto del Carlino, the local chapter of Slowfood, a children's hospital and a middle school. The department chair or the coordinator in Bologna should be consulted for information.

Summer Immersion Program in Italy

The department will periodically offer to students an immersion program in Italy during the summer. This program is of special interest to those who cannot go abroad during the academic year.

Co-curricular activities/programs

The Italian Studies Program sponsors many campus events and activities to help students enhance their knowledge of Italian language and culture. Students can apply to live at the Romance Language House where a native Italian student from the University of Bologna resides with other students who study Italian. Students are encouraged to participate in the weekly Tavola Italiana (Italian Table), where they dine in Italian alongside Italian faculty and language assistants. The Circolo Italiano (Italian Club) organizes a variety of social and cultural events during the academic year. Also offered is an Italian Film Series that features classic and contemporary Italian movies. 

For more information, visit Italian Outside the Classroom on the Dickinson Italian Studies website.

Opportunities for off-campus study

Junior Year
Students pursuing an Italian minor will be able to continue taking Italian language courses at the K. Robert Nilsson Center and other courses that may fulfill the minor, as well as other courses that may fulfill the minor requirements. In situations where high proficiency in Italian has been attained, students may also take courses at the University of Bologna.

The curriculum for students pursuing an Italian Studies major is comprised of three elements:

  1. K. Robert Nilsson Center courses which serve well the interdisciplinary character of the Italian Studies major. Students are encouraged to conduct research and to write their papers for these courses in Italian.
  2. Independent Studies, in Italian, involving specialized projects and using resources available only in Italian. Directed by on-site Italian faculty from the K. Robert Nilsson Center, the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, or the University of Bologna, one-credit independent studies will be grouped in small seminars.
  3. Courses at the University of Bologna chosen from a wide variety of university courses appropriate to the major. The coordinator of Italian Studies should be contacted for information.

Additional Remarks

Careers: Our students have gone on to work in diverse fields such as law, education, finance, international business, marketing and advertising. Some have used their knowledge of Italian language and culture to open their own businesses, while others have returned to Italy by receiving a prestigious Fulbright Grant. To read their stories, visit Alumni in Action on the Dickinson Italian Studies website.

Further Information: Faculty members of the Dickinson Italian Department welcome inquiries from students at all levels and from academic advisors or guidance counselors who may wish additional information. Please contact Maria Whalen, the Academic Department Coordinator at 717-245-1819 (or

Flowchart for Placement Information

Flowchart for Those Retaking Placement Exam