The Master of Arts in Italian trains students at the highest level to pursue careers teaching Italian language, literature, culture, and cinema studies. Students may also use their acquired skills to pursue careers in publishing, translation, or to work in cultural institutions in the US, in Italy, and abroad.

Requirements and Procedures for the completion of the M.A. in Italian

The M.A. program is open to candidates with academic records of distinction and other evidence of scholarly accomplishments. 

The candidates must satisfactorily complete 10 term courses (30 credits) and take a comprehensive examination based on a reading list.


The number of course credits required is 30. All graduate students who teach must also take the Methodology of Teaching course.

M.A. Examination

The examination consists of two four-hour written exams to be taken in two consecutive days in the department. It is based on a reading list available on Sakai (site name “Graduate Students Info”). This is an open-book exam, for which the students will be able to consult the texts assigned in the reading list, in PDF format, on a department computer (no WiFi connection). 

EXAM DAY 1. Candidates will be given a choice of three questions and must answer two on texts from the 13th-16th centuries.

EXAM DAY 2: Candidates will be given a choice of three questions and must answer two on the texts (including cinema) from the 17th-20th centuries. 

On each day, the choice of three questions will be structured as follows:

  • Students will perform a close reading of a particular passage.
  • Students will address the historical and aesthetic contexts of a text.
  • Students will answer a transhistorical question that addresses changes in trends, themes, and/or forms over time.

The answers should demonstrate a) a knowledge of major canonical works of Italian literature across centuries, through post-WWII period;  b) the ability to analyze a given literary text by placing it within the proper historical, cultural, ideological and aesthetic contexts; and c) the ability to identify major trends and themes in terms both of content and of style, and to draw connections between texts and periods. Two questions must be answered in Italian and two in English. 

The exam as a whole must address at least four centuries of literary production. In addition, the exam as a whole should answer one of each type of question (see the list of three types of questions above). 

Candidates are expected to have completed at least 30 credits before taking the examinations and to take the exams within one year of ending their coursework.

In case of failure, the exam must be taken again within the next semester and may not be retaken more than once.

Exam Sessions

The calendar of exams will be coordinated in agreement with the Graduate Program Director


The grades assigned are High Pass, Pass, Terminal Pass, and Fail.

M.A. Learning Goals

Learning Goal 1 for Students: Achieve mastery in reading and analyzing critically and creatively literary, cultural, and cinematic texts of the Italian tradition. 

Assessment of student achievement of Goal 1: • Grades in graduate courses • M.A. examination assessing the depth and breadth of knowledge •Assessment of exam by committee of graduate faculty members • Review by faculty of student progress 

Role of the program in helping students to achieve Goal 1: • Close advising to ensure that students are being prepared in a coherent and academically rigorous fashion • Effective monitoring of student progress • Evaluation of teaching effectiveness of instructors in graduate courses • Periodic review of curricular offerings, degree requirements and assessment tools by program faculty, with input from a graduate student curriculum committee, and in consultation with the office of the dean of the graduate school and/or the unit dean

Learning Goal 2 for Students: Prepare to be professionals in the field of Italian language, literature, and culture 

Assessment of graduate student achievement of Goal 2: Grades in graduate coursework and comprehensive examination • Collection of placement data in professional placement and continuation of graduate studies • Survey alumni/ae 

Role of the program in helping students to achieve Goal 2: • Encourage participation in professional development programs in such areas as literature instruction, language pedagogy, library use, course management software • Host professional development and career exploration workshops • Teach students how to do assessment in their future professional capacities • Acquaint students with nonacademic career opportunities.

The graduate faculty, with input from a graduate student curriculum committee, will regularly review the structure and content of the program and the feedback received from assessment and surveys.

These reviews will be used to provide the best possible education to students in order to meet the needs for highly trained individuals in the field of Italian language, literature, and culture.