Italian Undergraduate Program

The undergraduate program in Italian is designed for students whose curiosity about Italy embraces language, literature, culture, and intellectual history. In our courses, we think about how forms such as literature, art, and film reflect and shape language, lives, and social, political, and economic realities both in Italy and beyond its borders. Students in our program acquire various perspectives. For instance, students will be able to read and quote Dante and Machiavelli in the original text, converse with some of the nearly 85 million Italian-speaking people across five continents, grasp the legacy of the Italian Renaissance, and situate the intellectual roots of decisive philosophical and political theories. Through literary history courses, they acquire linguistic and cultural competence and skills in research, critical thinking, and textual analysis. In studying the modern era, students will reflect on broader questions about the world and the human condition through the lens of the Italian people including renowned film director, Federico Fellini, and member of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” author Elena Ferrante. Students will hone the ability to communicate and present in Italian, develop compelling and nuanced lines of interpretation and sophistication of literary-historical-cultural argument, and become critical and global thinkers prepared for business, social service, and government careers, or graduate study in Italian.


The major requires students to enroll in core literature and culture courses taught in Italian, to follow a series of three (or two accelerated) intermediate-level Italian language courses, and to complete electives in the department. In their senior year, students will complete a Capstone project under the supervision of a faculty member and participate in an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) through the language center to assess their speaking ability in Italian. The Proficiency Notation appears on the official Stanford transcript and provides evidence of both oral and written advanced-level language proficiency. In addition, successful students will also receive an official certificate from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). More information can be found here.

Italian and Philosophy Subplan

Students may also enroll in the Philosophy and Literature subplan (65 units) and complete, under the supervision of a faculty member from the Department of French and Italian, one of the following (a) take one of the officially-designated Philosophy and Literature capstone seminars listed above; (b) write an honors thesis (see “Honors Program” for instructions); or (c) write a 5,000-word paper on a topic of their choosing, serving as the culmination of their work in the field. To make time to write the paper, students must enroll in a 3-unit, letter-grade independent study with a faculty member (or affiliate) in the Philosophy and Literature Focal Group. The paper must involve both philosophy and literature, and the topic must be approved by the faculty member by the add/drop deadline.

Honors Program

The department’s honors option offers motivated Italian majors the opportunity to write a senior honors thesis. For more information, please read a description of the program.


The minor represents an abbreviated version of the major. It is designed for students who are unable to pursue the major but seek an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Italian literature and culture. Courses taken through Stanford in Florence, in the Digital Humanities, as part of Stanford’s Education as Self-Fashioning or Structured Liberal Education programs, or in other departments may be counted toward the minor pending approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

While the department’s core courses are taught in Italian, students may choose from an array of literature, culture, and intellectual history courses in English for their electives. Courses taught in English offer those in the process of acquiring the language the opportunity to study Italian masterworks and historical and cultural moments in translation. They frequently also provide the possibility for students who wish to read and discuss texts in Italian to meet in separate sections to do so.


Declaring involves a few steps. First, complete the declaration worksheet for your major or minor. Remember that this form is simply a way to begin the conversation with your advisor and that you will not be bound to any electives that you initially choose. Next, meet with your advisor, discuss, and agree on a potential plan. When the declaration worksheet is complete, you can then declare on Axess. Finally, you must submit the approved declaration worksheet to the Undergraduate Student Services Officer for the DLCL.


Collections in the Green Research Library are strong in the medieval, Renaissance, and contemporary periods; the Italian section is one of the larger constituents of the western European collection at the Hoover Institution; and the Music Library has excellent holdings in Italian opera.

The Bing Overseas Studies Program in Florence affords undergraduates with the opportunity to take advantage of the unique intellectual and visual resources of the city and to focus on two areas: Renaissance history and art, and contemporary Italian and European studies. The program is structured to help integrate students into Italian culture through homestays, Florence University courses, the Language Partners Program, research, internship, and public service opportunities, and by conducting some of the program's classes in Italian. Many courses offered in Florence may count toward the fulfillment of requirements for the Italian major or minor. Students are encouraged to consult with the Italian undergraduate advisor before and after a sojourn in Florence. Detailed information, including program requirements and curricular offerings, may be obtained from the Bing Stanford in Florence website, or at the Overseas Studies office in Sweet Hall. Students who wish to study abroad may apply to the Italy Sister-County Study Abroad Scholarship.

The At Home Abroad House, 574 Governor’s Avenue, is an undergraduate residence for upper-class students devoted to developing an awareness and understanding of global languages and cultures, including Slavic. It hosts visiting representatives of Slavic intellectual, artistic, and political life, and offers a language table that gives residents an opportunity to practice their Slavic skills outside of class in a casual setting. Activities of the At Home Abroad House include dinners and conversations with faculty, artists, and scholars from around the world, seminars on timely, international issues featuring special guest speakers, cooking classes, screenings of films and documentaries, resident-led events and activities that promote language and cultural exchange, and off-campus excursions to museums, historic sites, arts and culture events, restaurants, and more. The assignment is made through the regular undergraduate housing draw.