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What is Italian?

Italian is the voice of one of the formative cultural traditions of the Western world. The study of Italy and its language offers a rigorous, interdisciplinary exploration of the continuing vitality of modern Italian and Italian American culture though literature, cinema, translation studies, the arts, Roman thought, fashion, tourism, Mediterranean cuisine, and much more.

Italian, in its humanistic breadth and depth, offers students access to a wide variety of professional pathways through an emphasis on global communicative understanding and cultural sensitivity. Italian is increasingly important in business; six of the 100 biggest companies are headquartered in Italy, and Italy is the world’s fifth largest industrial producer of goods. Learning a foreign language also improves oral and written skills in English interactions. Penn State's Italian program is small, and prides itself on its capacity to provide individual attention and mentoring to each of its majors and minors.

Why Study Italian?

You might like this program if:

  • You enjoy learning languages and communicating with people from a particularly rich cultural civilization.
  • You dream of studying abroad. More Penn State students currently study in Italy than in any other nation of the world, and you will enjoy more memorable experiences with a deeper preparation through advanced coursework in Italian.
  • You wish to learn more about the roots of your family heritage and traditions.

Introduction to Careers and Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Because the study of Italian comprises advanced-level language proficiency and the development of cultural understanding, critical thinking, and communicative capacities, successful Penn State students have gone on to pursue many professions. In the Italian program, majors and minors have access to:

  • Individualized advising aimed at integrating complementary majors/minors, study abroad, and internship opportunities.
  • Italian-specific fellowships, prizes, and capstone project opportunities to ready them for future goals.
  • Mentorship that connects Italian students with alumni who have applied successfully to graduate schools, participated in Fulbright/Peace Corps/Teach for America/etc., or are making contributions in the career path of particular interest.

Potential Careers

As a humanistic program in the liberal arts, Italian is not designed to be directly vocational. Italian prepares students to access a wide array of rewarding and unique careers, including those related to international business, travel, journalism, ministry, diplomacy, banking, science fields, the arts, and education. The federal government employs graduates with advanced foreign-language skills in organizations including the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Information Agency, and the Department of Labor. Students with degrees in the humanities are also particularly successful applicants to graduate and professional schools, such as law, business, and medicine.

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Any of the three baccalaureate degree options in Italian (the Bachelor of Arts in Italian Language and Literature, the Bachelor of Arts in Italian Studies, or the Bachelor of Science in Applied Italian) can serve as the foundation for graduate studies in Italian, as well as other humanistic, social science, and STEM disciplines. Italian can also lead to advanced professional degrees in business, educational administration, law, and medicine.