International Programs

Italy: Academic Programs

Host Institutions
  • CSU's Florence Study Center
  • Accademia di Belle Arti de Firenze
  • Universitá degli di Firenze

In the fall and spring semesters, students pursue coursework in their area of concentration, enroll in elective courses, and take required courses in Italian language totaling at least 15 units per semester. The primary language of instruction is English, but during the spring semester, all students must take at least one of the courses offered in Italian.

At least one course is each concentration, except architecture, is offered in Italian during the spring semester. Architecture students have the option of conducting project critiques in Italian during the spring semester.

Enrollment at the University of Florence.

Only students with advanced proficiency in written and oral Italian are offered the opportunity to take a course at the Universitá degli Studi di Firenze. Study at an Italian university differs significantly from study in an American institution. Classes are less structured; there may be a reading list, but no regular homework, assignments, or progress quizzes. Students, in general, are expected to be more independent. Many courses at the Universitá degli Studi di Firenze finish late in the academic year, with exams that can extend into late June or early July. Exams at the University of Florence are generally oral (95%). Extensive paperwork is required by the Italian Consulate (SF or LA) for application to single courses (corsi singoli) prior to departure.

Preparatory Language Program (PLP)

All participants begin their studies in early September with a required Preparatory Language Program (PLP). Class attendance is mandatory. In addition to intensive instruction in the Italian language at beginning, intermediate, or advanced levels, participants are introduced through lectures to the culture of Florence and to contemporary Italian society. In addition, Studio Art students participate in intensive preparatory art advising sessions to prepare them for the Accademia entrance exams. Architecture students will also take a figure drawing class during PLP.


This program is open only to qualified students in architecture and design studies at either Cal Poly Pomona or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After the PLP, architecture students pursue advanced design studies with Italian architecture faculty. Read more »

Art History

Florence, the center of the Italian Renaissance and the modern day cultural center of Italy, provides a fascinating locale for the study of art history. Students in this concentration have access to some of the finest art collections anywhere and receive instruction from expert faculty. Courses recently offered include: Medieval Italian Art, Italian Early Renaissance Art, Italian High Renaissance Art, Italian Mannerist and Baroque Art, Modern Italian Art, Museum Life: Florence and the Uffizi Gallery and Florentine Architecture. Class site visits are an integral part of the art history courses. Fees will be required to cover the various site visits.

History and Classics

The ancient world has been of interest to students coming to Italy for many years. This new concentration will allow students to explore that world through a curriculum centered on courses in History, Classics and Archaeology. Planned courses include the Ancient City, Roman History, and Latin Literature in translation, Etruscology and Mythology and Religion.

Italian Studies

The Italian Studies option provides serious students of Italian language, literature and culture the opportunity to concentrate all of their studies on Italian for an entire academic year. Courses are offered by the CSU Study Center, Florence, and all courses will be conducted in Italian during the spring semester.


Taking a broad approach to the key forms of Italian literary communication, IP offers students of Italian language, European and comparative literature, and the humanities access to studies in Italian classical and modern literature and film.

Social Science

The social science concentration combines the perspectives of the historical, political and sociological disciplines to provide students with a view of Italy's place within the evolving European Union. Courses recently offered include: History of Italy in Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Modern Era; Italian Politics and Society, Major Political Thinkers: Machiavelli; European Political Systems; and The European Union.

Studio Art

Florence, home of some of the world's finest artists, provides an extraordinary setting for serious students of art. This program places students according to artistic talent as measured by rigorous entrance exams. During the PLP, studio art students participate in intensive preparatory art advising to prepare for these exams.

Students take the entrance exam for the Accademia di Belle Arti, one of Europe's oldest and best-known schools of art instruction. Subjects offered include: Painting, Sculpture, Set Design, or Decoration. Students also take the entrance exam for the Scuola del Nudo. Courses include: Drawing, Etching, Photography, and Art History.

Students who do not pass either of these entrance exams will take classes only at the Florence Study Center. This would include a drawing course, Italian, art history, and other electives. In some cases, independent studies can be arranged with the studio art supervisor for students who do not pass either exam.


Elective courses may be selected from any concentration except architecture. Students may elect to take an additional lecture course in their own concentration or within another concentration, depending on their interests.