The Italian Program


Italian Majors


Faculty congratulate the 2013 recipients of the Josephine J. and David C. Rhea Award for Excellence in Italian and graduating Italian majors who have earned the Commencement Laurel Crown. In 2007, the Italian Program began the new commencement tradition of wearing the symbol (as old as ancient Roman times) of distinguished scholarly or artistic achievement. Graduating seniors “earn their laurels” by completing a special Italian project of their choice during their senior year.


For more information on the Italian Major.


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The Italian Minor

Students may add an Italian Minor to any bachelor major program of study (except the Italian Major), allowing them to create a sub-specialization within their respective majors.

For the Italian Minor students need a minimum of 18 credits of Italian (at least 6 of which must be at the 400 level), with grades of C or better. Click the following link to see the comprehensive list of courses that can count toward the Minor. If you need assistance from an Italian advisor in deciding whether the Minor is feasible, click here for contact information. Note that students are held to the requirements that are in effect when they officially declare the Minor. They can always take more than the minimum of 18 credits if they so desire. And there is no penalty for students who change their minds and ultimately do not complete all the Minor requirements (ie, they are not disqualified from graduating if they do not complete declared Minor requirements; they simply do not receive the Minor).

Declaring an Italian Minor is easy! Once you have declared your Major, simply go to eLion and follow the prompts to submit your declaration electronically.


For more information on the Italian Minor.

Career Directions

Rigorous training in Italian can prepare students for regarding and unique careers in any of the above areas. In addition, the federal government employs liberal arts graduates with foreign-language skills in organizations including the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Information Agency, and the Department of Labor. Other opportunities exist in business, travel, ministry, banking, and education; however, students who intend to teach in the public schools should contact the College of Education for specific teacher certification requirements. The Italian Major is also preporatory for graduate work directed to the Ph.D. degree required for teaching and research in colleges and universities. Students with degrees in the humanities are particularly successful applicants to professional schools, such as law and medicine.


New Italian Mentoring Program

This new initiative offers a rewarding opportunity for Italian majors and minors to enhance academic and professional development by working with an alumni mentor. Each mentoring relationship is unique to the interests of the protégé and expertise of the mentor. For additional information, potential mentors and mentees should contact Patrick Tunno at


Study Abroad

Italian advisers urge students wishing to study abroad in Italy to do so as soon as possible – ideally in the summer after freshman year or during the sophomore year. The reasoning is simple: Italy is a great place to finish your elementary and intermediate Italian language courses while fulfilling General Education or Bachelor degree requirements in other disciplines. Why not study art history while gazing on the actual Italian masterpieces in museums, churches, and other sites, rather than in textbooks? Why not see where Caesar crossed the Rubicon or what Roman monuments look like on site? Lots of disciplines, including archaeology, music, nutrition, and architecture offer opportunities in Italy that may not be available in central Pennsylvania. On the other hand, many programs in Italy do not offer 400-level Italian courses, so it is not a good idea to plan to complete very specialized advanced Italian coursework in the Italian major or minor during one’s senior year.


italian study abroadPenn State’s Office of Global Programs (Fourth floor of Boucke Building, is the clearinghouse for information on many study abroad programs opportunities, including all programs in Italy. Students interested in study abroad in Italy should start at the Office of Global Programs to determine which programs best correspond to their academic abilities, personal preferences, and financial situations. Some programs are offered during the academic year (for one semester or two); others are intensive programs offered during the summer. Deadlines and qualifications vary widely. Financial aid is often available.

Italian Study Abroad


Two programs in Italy are Penn State’s own: the summer programs in Todi and Reggio Calabria. Many courses are taught by Penn State faculty members and all courses offered directly correspond to Penn State’s current curriculum. Other programs are Penn State-affiliated, that is, they are offered through IES (in Milan, Rome, or Siena), the Temple University consortium (in Rome), Arcadia (in Perugia), and the Palazzo Rucellai and SACI consortia (in Florence) but have already been approved for Penn State transfer credit. Still other programs are available to Penn State students, but transferable coursework must be approved on a case-by-case basis.

IMPORTANT: Once you have visited the Office of International Programs and collected information about the program(s) that interest you most, make an appointment with an Italian advisor to discuss your choice. Italian advisors can help you to determine how courses taken abroad can fit into your academic plan and provide helpful advice for planning to study abroad.


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Extracurricular Opportunities in Italian

The Italian Student Society

The Italian Student Society offers a variety of activities at the University Park campus, including bocce matches, an Italian flim series, an annual Carnevale celebration, cultural trips, and pasta and pizza parties. Italian majors, minors, or anyone else interested in learning more about the Italian culture is welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Jason Lane, or visit the Penn State Italian Student Society's website.

Guest Lectures in Italian

Occasionally the Italian program hosts guest lecturers - typically experts in the fields of Italian literature, film, or Italian-American culture - to speak to the Penn State community and public free of charge. More information is available from any Italian faculty members.   

Other PSU and Local Outreach Resources Relevant to Italian Studies

Lots of opportunities to enrich your knowledge of Italian culture are readily available on campus and in the State College vicinity. Why not check out…


  1. The Arts and Humanities Reference area of Pattee Library. It contains Italian-English dictionaries and Italian encyclopedias. Call numbers for dictionaries are PC 1460 A 17 and following, for grammar are PC 1412.M26 and following.


  • The Music and Media Center in the Arts and Humanities Library. It has a vast collection of Italian films on VHS, DVD, and laser disk available for check out or for viewing in the library.


  1. Penn State Learning offers tutoring in Italian, either in Drop-In sessions or study groups. Click here for further info.


  1. Eisenhower Auditorium. The Eisenhower Auditorium sometimes hosts Italian-related productions, including traveling opera companies performing Italian operas. Call 863-0388 for more information. Student discounts are often available.


  1. The Palmer Museum (Curtin Road). The campus art museum has a collection of Italian Baroque paintings and modern Italian prints. Free admission.


Italian Achievements

Flad Scholarship

2012: Grace Rambo & Promoting Penn State Italian on Facebook

Recent recipient Grace Rambo worked to promote the Italian Department and its activities by collaborating with a faculty mentor to help launch, maintain and generate compelling content for the Penn State Italian Facebook Page. Join us here.

2011: Brian Tholl's Digital Scrapbook

Click here to read the digital scrapbook of Brian Tholl, the inaugural recipient of the Tom & Karen Flad Scholarship in Italian in Memory of Giovanna 'Jennie' Sanquedolce Barbera and Sarah Barbera Flad.


Penn State Students Publish in Luogo Comune Magazine

Patrick Tunno, Lecturer in Italian, partnered students in his Honors section of Italian 3 with the Puglia based Luogo Comune Magazine. The November 2011 issue of the magazine published an interview with the students regarding street art and Arts Fest in State College.

All of the writing was initiated by the students. Complimenti a Patrick e i nostri studenti!


The article can be found on pages 16-19 at the following link:


Lost in the World: The Journey of Bea

During Fall Semester 2011, one of our senior Italian majors (double major in dance), Maria Malizia, completed a capstone project to earn her commencement laurels. She created (choreographed, designed the sets/costumes, held auditions/rehearsals, etc.) an interpretive dance piece inspired by Dante (but telling the story of redemption from the female perspective, Bea's).


There were two performances (one at a medieval conference for undergraduates in Bethlehem, PA, and the other at the State Theatre downtown). It was a truly unique performance much appreciated by Maria's fellow undergraduates and the wider Penn State community. Maria certainly raised the bar for future capstone projects!


More information is available here, or you can read about the performance in Maria's own words at


Courses, Syllabi and More


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