Italian Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The graduate program offers in-depth training in the field of Italian Studies, leading to the PhD degree. The program begins with a strong foundation in the critical analysis and historical understanding of Italian literature and encourages exploration of a wide range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas. These include (but are not limited to) film studies; comparative literature; literary, rhetorical, and cultural theory; gender studies; history; anthropology; history of art and music; architecture; classics; political science; medieval and early modern studies; and Romance languages and literature.

The Department of Italian Studies offers an integrated MA/PhD program, in which the MA constitutes the first phase in a trajectory leading to the PhD. Applications are not accepted for the MA degree alone. Students holding a master’s degree or the equivalent in Italian Studies and related fields from other institutions may be admitted directly to the second phase of the program.

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

We select our graduate students on the basis of their record of academic achievement in the past, and their promise of future success in scholarship and teaching. A bachelor's degree in Italian is preferred but not absolutely required for admission; however, applicants with degrees in other fields must have already undertaken significant coursework in Italian studies.

We accept applications from students holding a bachelor’s degree from Berkeley or elsewhere, and from those who hold a master’s degree or Italian Laurea.  Applicants from Italy should also be aware of the significant differences between the PhD degree and the dottorato di ricerca. 

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Total Normative Time

Total normative time is six years.


ITALIAN 205Proseminar I: Italian Literary Studies2,4
Graduate Colloquium in Italian Studies
and Graduate Colloquium in Italian Studies
Select three ITALIAN graduate courses from the following historical periods:
13th-14th Centuries
15th-16th Centuries
17th-18th Centuries
19th-20th Centuries
ITALIAN 282Prospectus Tutorial4
ITALIAN 302Practicum in College Teaching of Italian2-4
ITALIAN 303Practicum in the Teaching of Italian Literature, History, and Culture2-4
ITALIAN 375Seminar in Language Pedagogy4


Italian Studies

Faculty and Instructors


Mia Fuller, Associate Professor. Anthropology, Italy, fascism, urban design, architecture, Italian colonialism.
Research Profile

Henrike Lange, Assistant Professor. Medieval art.

Diego Pirillo, Associate Professor. Renaissance Europe, History of Books and Reading, history of political thought, History of Historiography.
Research Profile

Barbara Spackman, Professor. Feminist theory, psychoanalysis, culture, fascism, gender studies, comparative literature, Italian studies, narrative, European decadence, travel writing.
Research Profile

Rhiannon Welch, Associate Professor.


* Anna M. Bellezza, Continuing Lecturer.

Giuliana Perco, Continuing Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Albert Russell Ascoli, Professor Emeritus. Italy, national identity, literature and history, Dante, authorship and authority, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Petrarch, Boccaccio, epic and romance, Renaissance, early modern, Middle Ages.
Research Profile

Gavriel Moses, Professor Emeritus. Violence, body, comparative literature, Italian studies, film studies, English literatures, philology, film making, Italian cinema history and genres, auteur effects in Antonioni Kieslowski and Rohmer, cultural objects in cinema, novels on film, love.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Italian Studies

6303 Dwinelle Hall

Berkeley, CA 94720-2620

Phone: 510-642-2979

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Department Chair

Mia Fuller

6315 Dwinelle

Graduate Admission

Seth Arnopole

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Seth Arnopole

6313 Dwinelle

Head Graduate Advisor

Rhiannon Noel Welch

6317 Dwinelle

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