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Italian is the fourth most studied language in the world and Italy’s cultural importance spans from antiquity through the present, from the Roman empire to the Renaissance to the worlds of fashion, design, and culinary arts. The natural and artistic beauties of Italy are alone sufficient to fill a lifetime of exploration. In any context, having studied Italian language, literature, and culture gives you a solid vantage point on the history of Western culture, the origins of the modern world, and the position of Europe in a global world.
What are your reasons for studying Italian?
The goal of the Italian major is to develop educated speakers and readers of Italian with significant cultural competence in Italy’s present and past.
Why an Italian major?
Learning Italian is not just about being able to communicate in a foreign language; it is about being conversant with the story of civilization. And that is always something that will make you stand out. Graduates with a degree in Italian have gone on to work in any number of fields such as art and design, fashion, business and finance, health, education, telecommunication, tourism and government.
Italy has the fourth largest economy in the EU. An estimated 7,500 American companies do business with Italy and more than 1,000 U.S. firms have offices there, such as Adobe Systems, American Express, Apple Computer, AT&T, Avon Cosmetics, Bank of America, Bausch & Lomb, Berlitz Language Centers, Bristol-Myers, Estée Lauder, Federal Express, General Motors, Honeywell, Proctor & Gamble, Sheraton, Tiffany & Co, Twentieth Century Fox, and Xerox. Right here around the corner from U of M, in the Metro Detroit area, there are also numerous Italian companies. Think about the fact that Fiat of Turin now owns the Chrysler corporation.
When trying to choose a career path for their degree, students are encouraged to take advantage of the academic and career co-advising appointments that are available throughout the year. Students unable to take advantage of co-advising are encouraged to contact the University of Michigan Career Center, email@example.com.
See the Career Guide for a list of possible career options for students
Why Study Italian?
All roads lead to Rome! Not just Rome – also Venezia, Firenze, Napoli, Siena, Lucca, Milano, Agrigento, Palermo, Bari and Bologna. Italy is at the heart of Europe and the Mediterranean, the crossroads of divergent civilizations. Italy has more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country, from the Cinque Terre to Pompeii. Everybody knows the Italian designers, Dolce e Gabbana, Gucci, Armani, Valentino, Fendi, Ferragamo, Versace, and Zegna; the thinkers, Galileo, Marconi, Fermi, Montessori, and Machiavelli; the artists, Giotto, Leonardo, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi.
Italian is one of the most admired languages of culture in the world. And Italian literature is Italian language at its best. Learn what it’s like to read Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Elena Ferrante, Italo Calvino, and Nobel-laureates Luigi Pirandello, Grazia Deledda and Dario Fo in the original, understand without subtitles films by great directors such as Fellini, Antonioni, Bertolucci, Rossellini, Visconti, Argento, Leone, Sorrentino, Benigni, and know what they are saying in operas by composers such as Donizetti, Rossini, and Verdi.
Italian is not just for Italians. Mozart wrote operas in Italian and John Milton wrote poetry in it. Pulitzer prize winning novelist Jhumpa Lahiri, daughter of Bengali immigrants to America, moved to Italy in order to become a writer of Italian. Audrey Hepburn and James Joyce spoke Italian. Kobe Bryant, Colin Firth and Sting still do. Shouldn’t you?
Do it in Michigan. Take our language courses at the Ann Arbor campus (ITALIAN 101-102, 231-232).
Do it faster. If you are good at languages and/or already have one romance language, you might find the accelerated track (103-233) to be just your speed.
Do it in Italy. Start with ITALIAN 101-102 – or 103 -- in Ann Arbor and finish your language study in beautiful Ferrara!
Get immersed in Bologna
Go on an Internship in Italy
Get to know our active student group, Italianissimo
The Italian major is flexible. It can accommodate study abroad. It can have a strong emphasis on language-learning throughout the curriculum, or it can be more of an Italian Studies major with an array of courses taught in English, including one course in another related discipline.
Like the Italian major, the Italian minor is flexible. It can consist of six courses all taught in the target language, or it can include three courses taught in English that can be taken concurrently from the very start of language learning.
Italian Culture (without language prerequisite)
You can study Italian culture even before you finish the language track. These courses are taught by our faculty in English, are open without prerequisite, and can count toward the Italian major or minor.
- 240 Italian Mafia
- 250 Undergraduate Seminar in Italian Studies
- 310 Italian Cities
- 311 Making Difference in Italy
- 312 Genius and Geography
- 313 Italian Families
- 314/HISTORY 326 Modern Italy: 1815-Present
- 315 Italian Cinema and Society Since 1945
- 316/SAC 316 Screening Italian-Americans
- 317 The Renaissance
- 333/MEMS 333 Dante’s Divine Comedy
- 358 Italian Cinema
- 359 Italian Culture and History
- 415 Topics in Italian Studies
- 422 Politics and Literature
- 450 Special Topics in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Studies
- 467 Screening Italian Fascism
- 468 New Italian Media
Once you finish the elementary language track, all upper-division courses taught in Italian are open to you. 235, 236, 270, 271, and 275 help you learn to use the language in increasingly complex situations. All upper division courses strengthen your speaking and writing skills and teach you about the literature, history, politics, society, cinema, music and popular culture of Italy. Courses may be taken in any order. Minors must complete at least one, and majors at least two, 400-level courses on the Ann Arbor campus.
Intermediate-Advanced Classes (after 232 or equivalent)
- 235 Advanced Practice in Italian I
- 236 Advanced Practice in Italian II
- 270 Language in Action I
- 271 Language in Action II
- 275 Multimedia Language and Culture, I
- 276 Multimedia Language and Culture, II
- 300 Advanced Composition and Conversation
- 305 Introduction to Italian Studies
- 320 Modern Italian Studies
- 325 Italian Novels and Films
- 340 Contemporary Italian Culture
- 345 Intermediate Business Italian
- 346 Italian Internship
- 350 The Historical Novel
- 361 Advanced Comprehension
- 374 Topics in Italian Studies
- 387 Italian Renaissance Studies
- 390 Medieval Italian Studies
- 425 Italian Romanticism
- 430 Twentieth Century Italy
- 461 Italian Through Opera
- 464 Modern Italian Poetry
- 467 Screening Italian Fascism
- 470 Advanced Topics in Italian Studies
- 471 Italian Theater
- 475 Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio
- 481 Boccaccio, Bandello, and the Novella
- 483 Ariosto and Tasso
- 486 Petrarch's Canzoniere
Non-UM Study Abroad and Domestic Transfer Credit
Review and follow this checklist which outlines the approval process for non-UM study abroad and domestic transfer credit.
Please note: students are required to have coursework pre-evaluated by an RLL faculty advisor prior to enrolling or going abroad; syllabi and specific course descriptions are needed. A final evaluation of coursework is required upon completion of the course or upon return from abroad. Specific courses and credits must appear on the transcript; syllabi and completed coursework are needed.
For information regarding earning credit for UM/CGIS study abroad programs, please reference the RLL Study Abroad page page.
Students who are interested in learning more about pursuing Teacher Education should contact Dr. Maria Coolican. For further information about teacher certification options in the School of Education, please review the Teacher Certification Options. To review the specific courses that are required for the various teaching majors, please see the Teaching Major and Minor Requirements.
La Nostra Voce Newsletter
For UM students of Italian, written and produced by students of Italian
Current Issue, December 2018: La Nostra Voce Vol. XVII
Katerina Polemis (Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering, Italian)
Interested in writing for La Nostra? Contact Amaryllis Rodriguez, firstname.lastname@example.org.