Major/Minor Requirements

Italian Studies Major

Why Language Study at Wellesley? Click Here to see why!

Goals for the Italian Studies Major

Students who major or minor in Italian Studies:
  • Will speak and understand Italian at the advanced level, as detailed in the ACTFEL proficiency guidelines (students who study only the language will speak and understand Italian at the intermediate level, as per ACTFEL proficiency guidelines).
  • Will acquire analytical and critical skills in both speaking and writing through exposure to Italian literature, film, history, social and political movements, and legal questions.
  • Will develop advanced knowledge of the major authors and works from a variety of genres - poetry, prose, theatre, cinema - that form, but also contest, Italy’s literary tradition and cultural heritage.
  • Will be aware of the crucial moments and events of Italian history and culture, starting in the Middle Ages and going on to the present.
  • Will acquire the critical thinking skills and the methodological and theoretical grounding that will serve them well should they opt to pursue their interest in Italian Studies or other areas at the graduate school level, such as how to conduct archival and bibliographical research, quote sources, and write scholarly essays.

Requirements for the Italian Studies Major

The major in Italian Culture offers students the opportunity to acquire fluency in the language and to deepen their knowledge in Italy through the study of its literature, art, history, music, and thought. The program for each student will be planned individually with the director. At least 4 units in Italian above the 100-level, one of which must be at Grade III level, must be included in the program; in addition, the major in Italian Studies offers students the opportunity to acquire fluency in the language and knowledge of the culture of Italy in a historical perspective. Students are strongly urged to begin Italian in their first year. Italian 101-102 count toward the degree, but not the major.

Students majoring in Italian are required to take nine (9) units above the 100 level. One of such courses may be taken at Wellesley College but outside the Department, on a related topic to be decided by the student and her major advisor. In addition, two of the nine courses must be at the Grade III level and must be taken in the Department. The requirement to take two courses at the Grade III level may not be met by taking ITAL 350 (Research or Individual Study), ITAL 360 (Senior Thesis Research) or ITAL 370 (Senior Thesis). No more than two (2) courses taken credit/noncredit at Wellesley College may be applied to the major. Students are encouraged to consult with the chair about the sequence of courses they will take. Courses given in translation count toward the major. Qualified students are encouraged to spend their junior year abroad in Italy on the Eastern Consortium program in Bologna (of which the Italian department is a participant) or on another approved program.


Minor in Italian Culture

The Italian Studies minor requires five (5) units above the 100 level. Courses offered in translation count towards the minor. One (1) unit at the 300-level is required. No more than one (1) course taken credit/noncredit at Wellesley College may be applied to the minor.


The only route to honors in the major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100-level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. See Academic Distinctions.


Independent Study

Students may propose an Independent Study to explore content outside the current curriculum. Independent Studies require students to complete an application form (found here) and a written project proposal (guidelines for the written project proposal can be found in the application form). Students should submit these materials to the Department Chair in the semester prior to the semester of their intended project.


Advanced Placement Policies and Language Requirement

A. Students may fulfill the language requirement by completing two units of language study at the second-year college level as defined by the language department or program; or

B. Students who demonstrate adequate preparation for advanced work in language through a placement exam, through an AP score of 5, or through an IB Higher Level Score of 5 or above, may complete the language requirement by completion of one unit of work taught in that language in an advanced course identified by the department or program, or by completing two semesters of introductory work in a different language; or

C. Students may fulfill the language requirement with course work done at another institution, subject to approval by the appropriate department or program (this requirement may not be met by independent work); approval will typically include a placement test, and may include a requirement that the student take an additional course in the language at Wellesley; or

D. Students who are native speakers or very advanced learners of languages other than English may fulfill the language requirement by permission of the appropriate department or program (in cases of speakers of languages not taught at Wellesley, by presenting documentation to the Academic Review Board of proficiency in that language).