Students of Italian benefit from the small classes and close interaction with faculty which are at the core of Vassar’s pedagogy. Consistent use of Italian in class and during the many extra-curricular activities organized by the department, such as trips to the opera, film screenings, card nights, coffee hours, and cooking classes, mimics as close as possible a full immersion experience. Students of all levels meet in the Italian Lounge to work on group projects, have conversation with the Language Fellow or the Academic Intern, or simply do their homework in an Italian-speaking environment.

Major Requirements

Requirements for Concentration:

10 units including ITAL 220, ITAL 222, or equivalent, ITAL 301. (One course, such as ANTH 150, or ITAL 250/ITAL 255, may be counted in the required 10 units.)

Senior-Year Requirements:

ITAL 301 and 2 units of 300-level courses. Students who wish to be considered for departmental honors must also complete a Senior Project (ITAL 302-ITAL 303).


The department strongly recommends that students interested in the Junior Year in Italy begin the study of Italian in their freshman year. Majors in their junior year are encouraged to participate in Italy in the Eastern College Consortium in Bologna (ECCO).

Employment opportunities

The department offers student employment opportunities for Research Assistants, who assist faculty with their research projects and course preparation, and Language Assistants, who conduct language drills for first-year students. Each year one student with advanced language skills is selected as Academic Intern, to tutor first- and second-year students in grammar and conversation and help coordinate extra-curricular activities.

Student Projects

Senior projects, which students present in order to be considered for Departmental Honors, include literary translations from Italian to English, theses on Italian literature and culture, creative projects. See a sample of recent senior projects. [link to Student Projects section, forthcoming]

Study Away

JYA in Bologna constitutes an integral part of studying Italian at Vassar.  Through the E.C.Co program students have access to a wide range of courses in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences taught in Italian, either at the Program center or at the University of Bologna.  They live in university dormitories and participate in the life of the city by singing in the university chorale, playing soccer, or volunteering in local schools and community centers. Visit the program website for more detailed information.

After Vassar

Vassar graduates are often among the recipients of the competitive Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships in Italy. For application information please contact the Office for Fellowships and Pre-Health Advising

Paid internships in Italy are also offered through SITE (Study, Intercultural Training and Experience) allowing recent graduates to develop their understanding of Italian language and culture while assisting English teachers in the schools of Lombardy. Every year the department selects two candidates for this internship (a winner and an alternate) based on their academic and language skills, teaching experience, and suitability of the proposed project. Please contact the Chair of the Department if you are interested in applying. 

Many Italian graduates pursue higher education in Italian, Comparative Literature, History, Library Science, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Music, and Translation Studies. Read some of our alumni’s stories.