BA in Italian Studies

The major in Italian Studies features a deep engagement with the language, literatures, and cultures of Italy. It provides students all the means necessary to attain three interrelated kinds of proficiency. The first is spoken and written Italian, sufficient to live and study successfully in Italy and/or to use Italian media and research tools for careers involving Italy and Italian culture. The second is the ability to read and interpret Italian literature of all periods and genres. The third is a knowledge of the social, political, economic, and cultural realities of today’s Italy.

Learning Outcomes

  • Met ACTFL goals of advanced-low level proficiency in speaking, reading, writing, the understanding of spoken Italian, and the ability to use these skills in a range of academic and everyday situations.
  • Advanced knowledge of major periods of Italian literature and other cultural texts with understanding of historical, generic, or cultural context.
  • Demonstrated capacity to read critically and closely, to interpret texts, and to evaluate arguments about literary and cultural texts and topics.
  • Ability to produce an organized, well-supported argument in writing; to write clearly and persuasively; and to observe ethical and precise citation practices.

All Italian Studies majors are encouraged to spend at least one semester of study at Boston University’s Centro Studi in Padua, where they may live with an Italian family and may enroll directly at the University of Padua, taking courses alongside local students in any academic field. An Interdisciplinary cluster is also available for the major, in which students may elect some of their 11 major courses from a field related to Italian culture such as history of art & architecture, history, European studies, philosophy, international relations, or classical studies.

An undergraduate degree in Italian Studies enables students to pursue careers in a great variety of areas: diplomacy, professional translation, design, fashion, language instruction, the arts, arts management, bilingual journalism, international business, and law. The degree also qualifies students for graduate study in education, Italian literature, and history.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Italian Studies will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic and Historical Interpretation, as well as some requirements in Communication, Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship and the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences. Eleven 4-credit courses with a grade of C or higher are required for the major. Before beginning courses to satisfy the major, students need to complete the prerequisites of first- and second-year Italian (LI 111–212) or their equivalent.

These are the requirements for the Italian major:

  1. One course in either linguistics (CAS LX) or comparative literature (CAS XL).
  2. Two advanced language courses at the 300 level: CAS LI 306E (taught in Padua), 310E (taught in Padua), 311, 312, or 313, among others.
  3. Six CAS LI courses in Italian literature, culture, or film numbered CAS LI 340 or higher.
  4. Two additional CAS LI courses, RS courses, or related courses from other departments chosen with advisor’s approval. Students may use these two courses as part of an interdisciplinary cluster within their Italian Studies major.

Study Abroad in Padua

Students have the exciting opportunity to satisfy part of the Italian major requirements by studying in Padua, Italy, in the Boston University Study Abroad program there. Students may take courses to fulfill their language requirement or courses toward their major in Padua. Additional information on this program is available in the Study Abroad and Internship Programs section of this site.

Placement Test

A placement test is required of all students whose most recent course in Italian was taken in high school or at a college other than Boston University and who wish to continue their study of Italian here. Information regarding online placement exams is available at the Department of Romance Studies or on the departmental website.