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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,

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 Clint Eastwood spoke Italian. Colin Firth, Shakira, and Alessia Cara still do. Shouldn’t you?


Learn Italian

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!

Go to Rome for Italian language and culture

Get immersed in Bologna

Go on an Internship in Italy 

Get to know our active student group, Italianissimo

Major Requirements

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.

Italian Major Requirements

Italian Major Worksheet (PDF)

Italian Honors Major

Using AP/IB Credit for Italian Major

Minor Requirements

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 Minor Requirements

Italian Minor Worksheet (PDF)

Using AP/IB Credit for Italian Minor

Course Information

Course Offerings

For a list of the Italian courses offered in recent semesters, visit the LSA Undergraduate Course Catalog. For information on currently offered Italian courses, visit the LSA Course Guide.


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. At least one course at either the 300- or 400-level, taught in Italian, must be taken in RLL at the Ann Arbor campus, for the Italian major or minor.  

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

Courses Which Satisfy the Pre-1900 Requirement for the Italian Major

  • 311    Making Difference in Italy
  • 312    Genius Geography
  • 313    Italian Families
  • 317    The Renaissance
  • 333    Dante's Divine Comedy
  • 350    The Historical Novel
  • 387    Italian Renaissance Studies
  • 390    Medieval Italian Studies
  • 415    Topics in Italian Studies (varies by topic whether it satisfies this requirement. Italian 415: Italy and the Muslim World (Fall 2019) satisfies this requirement)
  • 425    Italian Romanticism
  • 450    Special Topics in Medieval & Renaissance Italian Studies
  • 461    Italian Through Opera
  • 471    Italian Theater
  • 475    Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio
  • 481    Boccaccio, Bandello, and the Novella
  • 483    Ariosto and Tasso
  • 486    Petrarch's Canzoniere

Independent Studies


RLL course information and highlighted courses

DEI Relevant Courses

Non-UM Study Abroad and Domestic Transfer Credit

Review and follow this PDF 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. 

Teacher Certification

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 Educator Preparation Program website. To review the specific courses that are required for the various teaching majors, please see the Teaching Major and Minor Requirements.


Student Activities


La Nostra Voce Newsletter

For UM students of Italian, written and produced by students of Italian

Current Issue, December 2019: La Nostra Voce Vol. XIX


La Nostra Voce Vol. XIX

La Nostra Voce Vol. XVIII

La Nostra Voce Vol. XVII

La Nostra Voce Vol. XVI

La Nostra Voce Vol. XV

La Nostra Voce Vol. XIV

La Nostra Voce Vol. XIII

La Nostra Voce Vol. XII

La Nostra Voce Vol. XI

La Nostra Voce Vol. X

La Nostra Voce Vol. IX

La Nostra Voce Vol. VIII

La Nostra Voce Vol. VII

La Nostra Voce Vol. VI

La Nostra Voce Vol. V

La Nostra Voce Vol. IV

Editorial Staff:

Giovanna Fortuna

Mario Pallazola

Interested in writing for La Nostra? Contact Amaryllis Rodriguez,