The Colosseum in Rome

The Italian program offers the master of arts and PhD degrees. In most academic years, a wide array of courses and seminars is offered each semester to provide an even distribution across various literary periods. Courses typically meet two or three times a week and are broad in focus, generally exploring well-defined periods or genres. Seminars are held once a week for two hours and take up narrower topics in greater depth. Typical course offerings over a two- to three-year period cover all centuries of Italian literature and a wide variety of topics, including Italian culture, cinema, civilization, and linguistics. Strong emphasis is placed on the practice of the language; Italian is the usual language of instruction in graduate courses and seminars.

Graduate students gain a solid foundation not only in scholarship and criticism, but also in teaching. All admitted students receive guarantees of support. The standard offer to an incoming teaching assistant provides a guarantee of four or five years of support, depending on whether the student has already done graduate work elsewhere.

The department offers regular workshops designed to give students an overview of the job market and how to best prepare for it, making its placement record outstanding. As one of the largest Italian programs in North America, the department offers an unparalleled opportunity to study Italian literature, linguistics, and culture.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline December 20
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy:
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Graduate School Application

Refer to the following links:


Upload the following to the online application:

  • Three letters of recommendation. Recommenders should be in faculty or permanent academic staff positions. Since the Graduate School will contact your recommenders directly via e-mail once you have completed your online application, you should be sure to contact each recommender at least a month prior to when the letter of recommendation is needed to let them know that they will be contacted directly by the Graduate School. If your referees are unable to upload your letter of recommendation to the online application, the letters should be sent to the Graduate Coordinator (email listed in contact information box).
  • Statement of purpose, preferably written in English
  • CV
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Submit the online Graduate School Application for Admission and pay the application fee.
  • GRE (not required) institution code 1846 for UW–Madison
  • International degree-seeking applicants will need to provide English proficiency. See the Graduate School requirements for specific information.

Supplemental Materials

  • TA/Fellowship Application: To be considered for teaching assistantship or fellowship support, you must submit to the department a document listing all relevant experience since you began studying Italian. There is no specific application form—it is a document, much like a CV, that you put together yourself. Include travel, study, or residence abroad. For teaching experience, be specific about subject, level, actual classroom hours/week, and age of students. Also indicate undergraduate and graduate honors, and how you would support yourself if UW was not able to offer support.
  • Writing sample (essay or paper in Italian—usually between 7 and 12 pages in length)


Contact Graduate Coordinator (email listed in contact information box).


Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

The Department of French & Italian is committed to providing full funding to all graduate students. Students who accept our offer of admission therefore receive fellowships or assistantships that cover tuition and provide eligibility to enroll in excellent comprehensive health insurance and other benefits. Funding is guaranteed for a minimum of five years of study for students entering with a BA, and a minimum of four years for those entering with an MA. Moreover, it has been our departmental practice to continue to offer funding beyond guarantee as possible for students in good academic standing.

Teaching assistantships, the most common form of support in our department, offer the pedagogical experience and training necessary to be competitive on the academic job market. The teaching assignment is usually one course per semester, but double sections (two sections of the same course) can also be requested for an increased stipend, when available. While the guarantee of support means students in good standing will receive funding, the exact assignments are based on need, merit, and experience. Generally, a graduate student will, over the course of study, hold a variety of positions from Italian 101-204, which are available every semester.  Students may also have the opportunity to teach more advanced courses, such as ITALIAN 312 and ITALIAN 322, and LITTRANS 360 depending on departmental need. For more information about our teaching assistantships, please visit our website.

There are also fellowships available from several sources on campus each year, including the Chancellor’s fellowship, which starts at around $11,000 per semester. Advanced Opportunity Fellowships are also available to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the graduate student population, as well as support economically disadvantaged and first generation college students. The department also offers a number of monetary awards every year, for academic performance and for teaching. 

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy:
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.30 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements No other grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations Qualifying exam (if MA is from another institution); preliminary examinations; dissertation proposal; oral examination; dissertation; dissertation defense.
Language Requirements Reading proficiency in two languages other than English and Italian.
Graduate School Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate. Refer to the Graduate School: Breadth Requirement in Doctoral Training policy:

Required Courses

Students choose courses in consultation with their advisor.

Students without an MA degree in Italian from UW–Madison are expected to have a background in the subject areas indicated by the MA reading list. Students in this category are required to pass the qualifying examination by the end of the second semester in the PhD program. It may be taken only once.

Students must take a seminar (ITALIAN 951 and/or ITALIAN 952) in an area of Italian studies each semester until they have passed the preliminary examinations. In any given semester, this request may be waived upon approval by the associate chair for Italian. It is expected that students will complete the bulk of the coursework for their breadth and foreign language reading requirements after taking their first set of preliminary examinations. Students are encouraged to plan ahead for a timeline to take these courses, and if a student wishes to take a course for their breadth or foreign language requirement as part of their full-time load of 9 credits prior to that time, they may do so with approval from their advisor.

It is very rare that requests to take breadth or foreign language classes during the first year of study would be granted. Advisors reserve the right to deny a student permission to take these classes (prior to the time of passing the first set of prelims) if doing so would directly conflict with a course offering in Italian which was important to the student’s area of research.

At any time, students may take a course for their breadth or foreign language reading requirement as a fourth course, in addition to the 9-credit requirement in Italian, without needing approval from their advisor.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer no more than 6 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

No credits from an undergraduate degree are allowed to transfer toward the degree.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer no more than 6 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


Refer to the Graduate School: Probation policy.

Advisor / Committee

All students are required to conduct a yearly progress report meeting with their advisor.

Credits Per Term Allowed

15 credits

Time Limits

Refer to the Graduate School: Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.


In most cases, the department offers five-year guarantees of support (for students with no prior graduate work) and four-year guarantees of support (for students with prior graduate work) to incoming students. During this period of guaranteed support, students usually hold a fellowship or teaching assistantship. Decisions on support are made in February and offers are usually sent out in early March.

Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program Resources

The Department of French and Italian hosts several professional development workshops for our students each semester. Workshops focus on academic and non-academic professional development. Previous workshop materials are available to all students in the department.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate thorough knowledge and critical understanding of their area of specialization.
  2. Synthesize and define a field of inquiry in a persuasive, coherent, and original way.
  3. Make effective use of research sources, tools, and strategies in the field of Italian literature and culture.
  4. Demonstrate, in the writing of their Ph.D. dissertation, an originality of thinking and insight that reaches beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the field of study.
  5. Articulate awareness of various questions, problems, and limitations implied by their framing of their topic.
  6. Contribute substantially to their area of specialization, and engage in a dialogue with other experts in that area.
  7. Fosters ethical and professional conduct.
  8. Communicate and defend complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner, in both Italian and English.
  9. Show reading knowledge of a second foreign language pertinent to their research specialty.
  10. Be prepared to be effective teachers of Italian culture, and language at the college and university levels.


Italian Faculty and Academic Staff

Professors: Stefania Buccini, Ernesto Livorni and Patrick Rumble

Associate Professors: Grazia Menechella (chair), Kristin Phillips-Court and Jelena Todorovic

Teaching Faculty II: Director of the Italian Language Program, Dr. Loren Eadie