Graduate Programs in Italian

Welcome to the University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate program in Italian!  Our program is one of very few institutions that have specialists in all areas of Italian Studies including film and linguistics.  We believe that, as one of the largest programs in the North America, we offer an unparalleled opportunity to study Italian literature, linguistics, and culture.  Our program is varied, active, and successful.  And the most important ingredient in its success has been the quality and general excellence of the students we have been able to attract.  For a detailed M.A. reading list, please refer to the Italian M.A. Reading List. For more information regarding our M.A./Ph.D. program in Italian, please refer to the Graduate Guidelines for the Italian MA/Ph.D.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

Thank you for your interest in our Department. We hope you will consider applying to our graduate program in Italian, which offers an exceptional educational and professional experience. Surveys on the status of Italian studies in North America have recognized that our Department, in addition to being one of the largest, has a well balanced and strong program in all areas.

The Italian faculty consists of six full-time members, three of whom are native Italians. Our program is one of very few institutions that have specialists in all areas of Italian Studies including film. Our current graduate students come both from Italy and from colleges and universities across North America. This diversity of personnel is essential to the breadth and vitality of our program, which may also be measured in its course offerings, cultural activities (e.g., lectures, films, Circolo Italiano), scholarly events (symposia and conferences), and teaching opportunities. The Department is also the editorial home of three well-respected journals: Dante Studies (published by the Dante Society of America), the Modern Language Journal, and L’Anello che non tiene.

Typical course offerings over a two- to three-year period cover all centuries of Italian literature and a wide variety of topics, including Italian culture, cinema and civilization.

In recent years we have been able to sponsor special lecture series and symposia on a variety of Italian topics . e.g., Eugenio Montale, Giacomo Leopardi, Giuseppe Parini, Vottorio Alfieri and Italian Feminism. In conjunction with other university departments, our program sponsors lectures and proseminars by distinguished visitors. This sort of interdepartmental cooperation also permits students to do pertinent work in other languages and disciplines, such as Linguistics, Film Studies, Art History, English, French, Spanish, History, and Medieval Studies, thus broadening their background and potential expertise in a variety of areas.

We are proud that during their tenure with us our graduate students gain a solid foundation not only in scholarship and criticism, but also in teaching. All graduates are required to have at least one year of experience as a Teaching Assistant (TA), and most students teach more than that. These assistantships are an integral part of our educational program and may be complemented by a special course on teaching methods offered in conjunction with French. Although teaching assistants work closely with experienced faculty who chair the elementary and intermediate language courses, they have responsibility for grading and presentation of course material in their sections.

Our standard offer to an incoming teaching assistant provides a guarantee of four or five years of support, depending on whether the individual is a new graduate student or has already done graduate work elsewhere. Our practice has always been to continue to support those students beyond the terms of the guarantee, provided they are making satisfactory progress toward the degree. Other opportunities for support include yearly competitive fellowships and travel awards at the university level.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the top public research institutions in the United States, and the collection of more than six million volumes in Memorial Library has a very rich and strong Italian component.

With a population of around 200,000, Madison is the capital of the state of Wisconsin. It is built on and around four lakes, and has many amenities, not least of which is a vibrant cultural life both on and off campus. Although the winters in Madison are cold, the other three seasons are generally very pleasant. The excellent “quality of life” that is enjoyed by Madison residents is frequently recognized, as the city is regularly voted one of the best places to live.

When choosing a graduate program, you should carefully consider all the aspects of a program. Although future trends are difficult to predict, our Department has had an outstanding placement record over the past thirty years. The Department regularly sponsors workshops to prepare students for the job market; these focus on effective resume writing, interview techniques and strategies, and related matters. Graduates from our program are currently teaching at Virginia, Indiana, Duke, Ohio State, Florida State, Southern Methodist, Dartmouth, Syracuse, Clemson, Alabama, Lawrence, Arkansas, California-Riverside, William & Mary, UW-Madison and other institutions. They attribute their success in obtaining employment to a number of factors: their solid preparation in all areas of Italian literature, linguistics, and culture, their training in research methods and criticism, and, perhaps most important of all, the richness of their teaching experience in our Department.

In short, we believe that, as one of the largest programs in the North America, we offer an unparalleled opportunity to study Italian literature and culture. Our program is varied, active, and successful. And the most important ingredient in its success has been the quality and general excellence of the students we have been able to attract. We hope soon to count you among them. Please contact us with any questions you may have concerning our program. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Please Note: If you have received only a Bachelor’s degree and intend to go on to a PhD after completing your MA, please apply directly to the PhD program.

We hope you will consider applying to our program. We offer an M.A. and Ph.D. in Italian.

Applicants for the M.A. or Ph.D. in Italian must submit all application materials by the application deadline of December 20 for the following Fall semester.

Graduate School Electronic Application
Please refer to the following links:

  • Consult the Graduate School website for complete information about graduate education opportunities at UW-Madison. This site is especially helpful in understanding Admissions Requirements and developing a Timeline for application.

All materials must be submitted via the online Graduate School application. Please do not send materials to the Department.

Required Graduate School Application Materials:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Up-to-date CV
  • Unofficial or Official Transcripts from each listed institution previously attended. Transcripts not written in English will also require a certified English translation of the document.
  • You will need to list 3 people who will write letters of recommendation for you. They should be in faculty or permanent academic staff positions. The Graduate School will contact your recommenders directly via e-mail once you have completed your online application. You should be sure to contact each recommender at least a month prior to when the letter of recommendation is needed to provide them enough time to submit the letter. You should also let them know that they will be contacted directly by the Graduate School via email.
  • Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. TOEFL scores must be submitted electronically via ETS. IELTS scores can be submitted electronically or by paper. Send to: UW-Madison Graduate School, Office of Admissions, 232 Bascom Hall, 500 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706. Your score will not be accepted if it is more than two years old from the start of your admission term. Country of citizenship does not exempt applicants from this requirement. Language of instruction at the college or university level and how recent the language instruction was taken are the determining factors in meeting this requirement. Institution code for UW-Madison is 1846.
  • The GRE is optional. Institution code for UW-Madison is 1846

Required Italian Program Application Materials:

  • TA/Fellowship Application: To be considered for Teaching Assistantship or Fellowship support, you must submit to the department a document listing all relevant experience since you began studying Italian. There is no specific application form – it is a document, much like a CV, that you put together yourself. Include travel, study, or residence abroad. For teaching experience, be specific about subject, level, actual classroom hours/week, and age of students. Also indicate undergraduate and graduate honors. A separate TA/Fellowship application is not required if the above listed information is included in your CV submitted as part of the Graduate School application.
  • Writing Sample (essay or paper in Italian – usually between 7-12 pages in length)

Submit the on-line Graduate School Application for Admission and pay the $75 application fee. (Non-U.S. citizens must also pay a $6 international document processing fee in addition to the application fee.)


Admissions decisions by the Department are announced in early February via email and are final. Additional materials are required by the Graduate School after recommendation by our Department for admission to the Graduate School at UW-Madison. These materials will be requested by and must be sent directly to the Graduate School as requested in their direct communication with you. These materials include:

  • Official transcript from your bachelor’s degree granting institution. International applicant’s transcripts or academic documents must include an official English translation done by the bachelor’s degree granting institution OR an official translator.
  • International applicants are required to have adequate financial resources to cover expenses for the duration of their studies at UW–Madison. Do not send any financial statements to the program. The Graduate School will request the documents through your online status check page. You must certify that you have a minimum amount of financial resources available for the first year of attendance at the time of admission. This amount was $43,265 (U.S. dollars) for Fall 2023 and will be greater if you bring dependents. Stipends and tuition remission expected to be received from teaching assistantships and fellowships during the first year are counted toward the minimum dollar amount.

The UW-Madison Graduate School subscribes to the resolution of the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States, which does not require a decision from you until April 15. Of course, if you know your response before that date we hope you will let us know as soon as possible. We ask you to accept or decline admission through the Online Status Check of your online application if recommended for admission to the Graduate School by the Department of French and Italian. If you decline, there are a few simple questions to answer. A written decision to our Graduate Program Manager via email is also acceptable.

Questions about the application? Please contact Graduate Program Manager Shawn Ramer.

Questions regarding the Ph.D. in Italian that are not addressed here on the website? Please e-mail the Italian Admissions & Fellowships Committee.

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The Department of French & Italian is committed to providing full funding to all graduate students. Students who accept our offer of admission therefore receive fellowships or assistantships that cover tuition and provide eligibility to enroll in excellent comprehensive health insurance and other benefits. Funding for Fall 2023 and beyond is projected to be guaranteed for a minimum of 5 years of study for students entering with a B.A., and a minimum of 4 years for those entering with an M.A. Moreover, it has been our departmental practice to continue to offer funding beyond guarantee as possible for students in good academic standing.

Teaching assistantships, the most common form of support in our department, offer the pedagogical experience and training necessary to be competitive on the academic job market. Students with teaching assistantships in our department are earning a minimum of $23,227 during academic year 2023-2024. The teaching assignment is usually one course per semester, but double sections (two sections of the same course) can also be requested by domestic students for an increased stipend, when available. While the guarantee of support means students in good standing will receive funding, the exact assignments are based on need, merit, and experience. Generally, a graduate student will, over the course of study, hold a variety of the following positions, which are available every semester:

Fall and Spring Teaching Assignments Stipend per semester (2023-24)
Italian 101, 102, 203 or 204                                         (50% appointment) $11,613.50
Head TA                                                                           (50% appointment) $11,613.50
Italian 101, 102, 203 or 204 – Two sections             (75% appointment) $17,420.25
Head TA – Two sections                                               (75% appointment) $17,420.25
Summer Teaching Assignments Stipend for Summer 2023
Italian 201 (8-week session)                                     (37.5% appointment) $3,519

Students may also have the opportunity to teach more advanced courses, such as Italian 322, depending on departmental need. Note that all stipend amounts described here are as of Fall 2023 and that they typically increase each year. It should also be noted that international students are not eligible to teach double sections at this time due to visa restrictions; they are, however, eligible for all other teaching assignments listed above.

There are also fellowships available from several sources on campus each year, including the Chancellor’s fellowship, which starts at around $12,270 per semester. Advanced Opportunity Fellowships are also available to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the graduate student population, as well as support economically disadvantaged and first-generation college students. The department also offers a number of monetary awards every year, for academic performance and for teaching.

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Our program offers training for teaching and research in all areas of Italian literature and literary history, in critical theory, film, and foreign language pedagogy.

PhD Reading Lists