Graduate Studies in Italian

Graduate Italian Program

About the program

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, four of whom are native Italians. Our program is one of very few institutions that have specialists in all areas of Italian Studies including film and linguistics. Our current graduate students (29, from first-year students to dissertators) 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, civilization and linguistics:

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 Comparative Literature, 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 also cooperate with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese on an individual Ph.D. degree in Romance Philology and Linguistics.

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 through 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 three or four 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 Department and the University have some opportunities for study and research in Europe through our study-abroad programs and exchange agreements with individual universities. For example, we frequently send one of our graduate students to serve for a semester or a year as the house fellow for our study program at the Villa Corsi-Salviati near Florence. We also have exchange and cooperation arrangements with the Università di Siena, the Università di Firenze and the Universit, de Genève.

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 was recognized a few years ago (1996) when it was voted the best place to live in America by Money Magazine. With careful planning, it is possible for you to live on the stipend that you would receive, even at the 36% inexperienced TA rate.

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 resum, writing, interview techniques and strategies, and related matters. Graduates from our program are currently teaching at Charlottesville, Virginia, Massachusetts Florida State, Arizona, Indiana, Ohio State, Stanford, Florida, Santa Clara, Queens College, Brigham Young, Dartmouth, Vassar, Arizona State, Tennessee, Dominican, Hofstra, 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, 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. 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.

return to top

Application information

***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 MA or PhD in Italian must submit all application materials by the application deadline of December 20. International students may have different deadlines due to the extra processing time required for visas and I-20 or IAP-66 forms. Please refer to International Student Services for more information.

Graduate School 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 developing a Timeline for application.
  • 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. Since 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 let them know that they will be contacted directly by the Graduate School
  • Submit the on-line Graduate School Application for Admission and pay the application fee.
  • GRE (optional) institution code 1846 for UW-Madison
  • Non-native English speakers must also submit results for the TOEFL or MELAB exams. Please note that the Graduate School requires that these scores be no older than 2 years old. This is calculated from the start of the term for which you are applying, NOT the date on which we receive your application.

Materials to be sent to the Department:

  • two copies of your official transcripts (not photocopies)
  • statement of reasons for graduate study (This is not necessary for applicants who submit the Statement with the on-line application.)
  • 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, and how you would support yourself if UW was not able to offer support.
  • writing sample (essay or paper in Italian - usually between 7-12 pages in length)
  • If your referees are sending hard copies of your letters of recommendation to the department and are not electing to submit the letters electronically, you must print, fill out, and send this recommendation form to your recommender, who needs to include it with their letter.
These application materials should be sent to:

Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of French and Italian
612 Van Hise Hall
1220 Linden Drive
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706

return to top

Financial Assistance

The Department of French and Italian is very sensitive to the financial needs of its students and will do everything in its power to offer graduate students the monetary support that they need. In most cases, the department offers four-year guarantees of support (for students with no prior graduate work) and three-year guarantees of support (for students with prior graduate work) to incoming students. During this period of guaranteed support, students usually hold a fellowship or teaching assistantship. Decisions on support are made in February and offers are usually sent out in early March.

Current or most recent Teaching Assistant and Fellowship stipends are posted by the Graduate School's Office of Fellowship Administration.

The three major sources of funding for graduate students are:

Teaching Assistantships

The most common form of support in our department, Teaching Assistantships offer the pedagogical experience and training necessary to be competitive on the academic job market.

The basic Teaching Assistantship in our department is at the level of 36% time. Teaching assistants are classified as "experienced" when they have completed at least one and two-thirds semesters of teaching as defined by the collective bargaining agreement. This definition includes completion of the campus level workshops addressing diversity issues. A teaching assistant who has the required teaching experience of one and two-thirds semesters but has not completed the campus training will be given one semester during which pay can be at the experienced rate while training is completed. Teaching Assistants are classified as "senior" when they hve completed one and two-thirds semesters of teaching, and have completed all coursework and department requirements for candidacy for a Ph.D.

All teaching assistants with combined graduate assistant appointments of one-third time or more will receive a remission of out-of-state tuition as well as a remission of in-state fees. They must still pay segregated fees and special fees approved by the state legislature. A remission earned for the spring semester will also qualify the graduate student for a remission in the following summer.

Another important feature of a teaching assistantship at this level is the availability of an excellent health insurance program and sick leave benefits.

Fellowships & Departmental Awards

The Department nominates its top candidates for Academic Year University Fellowships. Advanced Opportunity Fellowships are also available to minority and disadvantaged students. Fellowship recipients also receive a full tuition waiver. Fellows who want to register for the summer receive a remission of out-of-state tuition, but pay resident tuition. These fellowships also provide eligibility for an excellent health insurance program.

The Department is sometimes able to offer a few Departmental Awards for the first year or two of graduate study. Departmental Awards will be awarded concurrently with Teaching Assistantships.

return to top


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