Italian Studies Major Transnational Italian Studies Major Italian Studies Minor
Double Majors Graduate Study Placement Exams
Courses Italian for Spanish Speakers  


Why study Italian?

As our world grows increasingly interconnected, the study of foreign languages and cultures has become ever more vital for navigating and communicating across the globe. But why study Italy and Italian? One may start by noticing that Italy is a powerhouse on the global stage. A member of the G7, it boasts the tenth largest economy in the world, leading in economic sectors like automobiles, business, fashion, furniture, food and wine, pharmaceuticals, and tourism. Yet it is Italy’s contribution to the world’s cultural heritage for which it is most renowned. As the center of the Roman Empire, the seat of the Catholic Church, the cradle of the Renaissance, the destination of the Grand Tour, and the birth site of the modern idea of style, Italy has been home to the arts, architecture, music, letters, and theater, for millennia. This legacy is nowhere more evident than in the global attraction for Italian as a second language. Although spoken by only 62 million people in Italy and as a heritage language throughout Italian emigrant communities in the Americas, Australia, the Mediterranean, and northern and eastern Africa, Italian is the fourth most studied language in the world after English, Spanish, and Chinese. What makes the study of Italy and Italian unique is the fruitful interaction between what Italy and Italians have contributed to world culture and what the world has contributed to the making of Italians and Italian-ness.

Our Interdisciplinary and Transnational Programs

We offer a major in Italian Studies (B.A. in Italian Studies) and a Transnational Italian Studies major (B.A. in Italian, Transnational Emphasis), both of which respond to the demand for intercultural connection in our globalized world, and, at the same time, offer a highly personalized and flexible program of study. Many of our students choose to double major, pairing their B.A. in Italian Studies with another degree in fields like Communication, History, or Global Studies, and in so doing, acquire a regional specialization in a foreign culture that is highly desirable on the job market. 

The minor in Italian focuses exclusively on learning and perfecting Italian language skills. Students who choose this course of study will gain communicative competency in both oral and written Italian. In addition to the interdisciplinary curriculum offered on campus, all Italian majors and minors can apply to spend up to one year in Italy, either through the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) or through other approved programs. 

Our Italian majors and minors have gone on to build successful careers in many sectors including, but not limited to, international relations, economic development, education, communications, business, law, entertainment, journalism, and hospitality. We work closely to mentor our students who, similarly, have enjoyed very high rates of acceptance to graduate school programs in a variety of fields, often gaining admission to their top programs of choice. 

Italian Studies Major (B.A.)

Italian Studies is an interdisciplinary major that combines training in Italian with courses taught in English and courses chosen from a broad spectrum of fields, including history, art history, music, gender and ethnic studies, film studies, and comparative literature. It enables students to gain a high degree of proficiency in written and spoken Italian while deepening their knowledge of Italy’s history and culture, enabling them to understand Italy’s role in shaping the modern world. Students who major in Italian benefit from all the advantages of a liberal arts education at a top-ranked research university. Our program is well-known for its close-knit, supportive community and the mentoring relationships between students and faculty. We offer students personalized instruction as well as opportunities to become engaged in pioneering research in Italian Studies.

Italian Studies Major Requirement Sheet


Transnational Italian Studies Major (B.A.)

Transnational Italian Studies (TIS) is a major pioneered at UCSB in 2020 and designed for students interested in participating in an ongoing paradigm shift in the study of nations and national cultures. A first-of-its-kind in the U.S., TIS represents the cutting edge of a new field that applies a global lens to the formation of Italy and Italian culture. This major explores the tension between the “artificial” construction of Italy as a political nation-state, and the myriad peoples who have contributed to the making of Italians and Italian-ness from within and without the boundaries of the nation, including those who moved across, beyond, and through the peninsula and its islands, bringing their own cultures and languages with them. We investigate how these peoples and cultures—including artists, activists, colonists, ex-colonial subjects, emigrants, migrants, politicians, refugees, tourists, and many others—have shaped, and continue to shape and re-shape ideas of Italians and Italian-ness, rendering Italy a permanent laboratory of transnational cultural formations. With the example of Italy, the transnational major offers a new perspective on the relations and synergies between the all-too-well-defined borders of nation-states and the forces of globalization that break down borders of all sorts.

Transnational Italian Studies Major Sheet




Double Majors

Both the Italian Studies major and the Transnational Italian Studies major are also designed to be double-major friendly, by setting prerequisites or requiring courses taught in other departments. The list of complementary majors includes but is not limited to History, Global Studies, Communications, Film & Media Studies, and Education. Many of our students graduate with two majors and find that their Italian B.A. offers language skills and a regional specialization that are highly desired on the job market. Our majors are well-equipped to navigate global society, bringing with them an awareness of cultural diversity and a commitment to intercultural communication. 

Italian Minor

The Italian Studies minor focuses on building proficiency in both oral and written Italian, and therefore, the courses for the minor are conducted exclusively in Italian. This language-focused minor is designed for student who want to perfect their linguistic skills and their knowledge of a foreign language, but who may not have the time or opportunity to major or double major in Italian. In addition to the language focus, our Italian Studies minor also stands out for its emphasis on the art and practice of translation. We work closely with the Translation Studies program, integrating the latest in translation studies pedagogies into our courses. 

Italian Minor Requirement Sheet

Roma sunset

Graduate Study

Faculty in the Italian program regularly supervise graduate students working on Italian topics from various departments across the university. While there is no graduate degree program in Italian, our faculty serve on qualifying exam committees at both the MA and PhD levels as well as on dissertation committees for the PhD. We are committed to preparing graduate students for professional careers in and outside of the academy, both through rigorous academic training in Italian Studies and by fostering close mentoring relationships that support graduate students as they enter the job market and advance in their careers. Prospective graduate students with interests in Italian Studies should contact the Italian Program Director, Prof. Claudio Fogu, as well as the department most germane to their area of scholarly interest such as the Comparative Literature Program. The Graduate Center for Literary Research also provides a place for intellectual exchange between graduate students in Italian and other affiliated disciplines in the humanities, hosting distinguished visitors, conferences, workshops, and more. 

Italian Placement Exams

Students who have previously taken Italian language courses, or who speak it at home, may request a placement interview or exam, which will help to determine the best level for entering our program. For more information please contact Dr. Valentina Padula, the Italian Language Program Coordinator.


Students of Italian Studies at UCSB have a wide range of courses to choose from, and faculty work closely with our majors and minors to determine an interdisciplinary program of study tailored to one's scholarly interests. While there are several required core courses for the degree, students have flexibility in designing their own course of study. Every quarter, we offer lower-division language courses (Italian 1-6), including our popular hybrid Italian courses (Italian 1HY, 2HY, 3HY) and our pioneering "Italian for Spanish Speakers" sequence (Italian 16A & 16B).

We also regularly offer advanced reading and composition courses (Italian 101-102-103), courses on the art of translation (Italian 119A & 119B), and specialized upper-division courses on topics as varied as Dante's Divine Comedy (Italian 114X), Italian Theatre (Italian 124), Representing the South (Italian 138D), Italian Travel Literature (Italian 138T); Italian Colonialism (Italian 139CX); Gastronomic Italy (Italian 139FX); Crime Italian Style (Italian 139ZX); Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Italy (144A); Cities of Italy (148X); Italy and the European Union (Italian 161X); and Italian Cinema (180X). Independent study of special topics (Italian 199) and honors thesis research (Italian 195H) are also opportunities for our majors and minors to work closely with faculty members on specialized research topics. For a full listing of our program's courses, please see the UCSB General Catalog.

Featured Course

"Biopolitics and Medical Humanities" (Fall 2023)

This course reflects on the experience of the coronavirus in Italy through key themes of mobility, biopolitics, immunization, and resilience. It focuses attention on the transnational dimensions of the pandemic and the role of medical humanities in understanding them.


Fiat Cinquecento

Italian for Spanish Speakers 

Our program offers a two-course sequence—“Italian for Spanish Speakers” (Italian 16A and 16B) —designed for students who are heritage speakers of Spanish, or, those who have taken at least 3 years of Spanish in high school. Founded on the methodology of intercommunication, this course engages the commonalities between the two romance languages as “bridges” to advance in the learning of Italian at a fast pace. Students are expected to be fluent in Spanish as communication in the classroom occurs both in Italian and Spanish. The sequence will allow students enrolled to complete one year of Italian in two quarters, usually Winter and Spring. For any questions, please contact the Coordinator of the Italian Language Program, Dr. Valentina Padula.