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Dickinson in Italy
Bologna, Italy (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Academic Year,
Homepage: Click to visit
Budget Sheets Academic Year,
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2016 09/21/2015 10/25/2015 02/01/2016 05/25/2016
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English
Class Eligibility:
2-Sophomore, 3-Junior, 4-Senior (fall only)
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Housing Options:
Maximum Credits Earned (per semester): 4.5 Academic Area of Study: Art & Art History, Economics, History, International Business and Management, International Studies, Internships, Italian, Law and Policy, Political Science, Security Studies
Foreign Laguage Prerequisite:
Program Description:

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Bologna, Italy

The city of Bologna, located in northern Italy, has its own distinct medieval beauty. Centered at the crossroads of Italy, this city of approximately half-a-million people is home to one of the oldest universities in the world. It is just a train ride away from the art of Florence, the fashionable streets of Milan and the historic city of Venice. Bologna, designated an official European "city of culture" in 2000, is also a major center for trade fairs, where businesses and industries showcase everything from the latest developments in technology to the newest cars, perfumes and books.

Find more details below and in the Dickinson in Italy HANDBOOK

The K. Robert Nilsson Center for European Studies and the University of Bologna

The Bologna Program was first offered in 1965 and is Dickinson's oldest education abroad program. That year eight seniors and eight juniors sailed to Italy on the S.S. Castel Felice. The program has more than 1,000 alumni.  The University of Bologna has been in operation for 900 years and has a student population exceeding 80,000 students.

Named in honor of its first director, the K. Robert Nilsson Center for European Studies in Bologna is the academic home for Dickinson in Italy.  Courses at the center are taught by Italian faculty and by the center's resident director, a member of the Dickinson faculty.  The curriculum focuses on Europe and includes courses in international relations, history, economics, political science, fine arts, Italian studies, and international business and management.  Independent study that focuses on a specific research topic is an option as well.


This Dickinson program requires students to have at a minimum:

  • a 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • a demonstrated academic interest in the core areas of the program
  • All students must have a declared major at the time of application.
  • As a part of the review process students’ conduct records and account status are also reviewed.  Students and their parents should note that the review process takes all elements of the student’s academic record into consideration and that even if a student meets the minimum requirements, he or she may not be admitted.
  • Interviews may be conducted at the discretion of the faculty coordinator and/or CGSE in order to access a candidate’s eligibility for this program.

Students who have questions about the review process or their particular candidacy for a program should come into the Center for Global Study and Engagement for advising.

Center staff will not discuss students’ applications with parents, friends or any other party without the student’s consent and presence in the conversation.

Note: This program has a maximum capacity and usually generates a competitive applicant pool.  Students are encouraged to work with their academic advisor and CGSE advisor to determine whether or not this is the best program for them.  It is possible that not all eligible students will be admitted.  In a competitive applicant pool preference may be given to students who have studied Italian.


Students engage in interdisciplinary study of the contemporary issues facing Europe and use Italy as a window through which to view Europe at large.  They can expect to come away with an understanding of European history and culture and an appreciation of Italy's role within Europe.

Students with a strong command of the Italian language may take courses through direct enrollment at the University of Bologna.  Since knowledge of Italian enriches the experience of living in Bologna, students will take an appropriate level of Italian as one of their four courses.  Students without Italian may be able to direct enroll in business and economics courses taught in English at the University of Bologna.

Upon arrival, students will take part in orientation. All students are required to take an Italian language course at their appropriate level, which will count as one of their four courses taken during the semester. Italian 101 will be taught at the Center while students in intermediate Italian will go to SAIS-Hopkins and students with advanced Italian will go to the University of Bologna for their language courses. Students typically enroll in four courses each semester. Semester-only students will receive a total of four credits. Academic year students will enroll in another four courses during the spring semester, and receive a total of eight credits. 

During the spring semester, academic-year students may conduct internships, and a small number of exceptionally well-qualified students may be granted the opportunity to enroll in graduate-level courses at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on a space-available basis.

Courses scheduled to be offered at the Dickinson Center 2015-2016 include (courses vary from year to year and are subject to change):

Fall 2015

  • Italian 101- Elementary Italian- 2 sections
  • Art History 205- Reading Bologna: Art and Culture in Bologna from 1200-1500
  • History 314/Econ 314/INBM 300- European Economic History
  • POSC 290/INST290/Security Studies Certificate- Transatlantic Relations
  • POSC 271/INST 271/Security Studies Certificate- Ethics & Int.'l Security
  • History 213/Italian 323- History of Italian Migration

+various levels of language classes at SAIS
*courses at UniBo for qualified students

Spring 2016

  • POSC 290/INST 290/SS certificate: The Politics of Migration in Europe
  • POSC 270/INST 270: The European Union
  • Hist 213/ITAL 323 w/FLIC: History of the Italian Mafia
  • ARTH 205: Reading Bologna: From the Renaissance to the Baroque
  • 300 level ECON/INBM course TBA
  • Italian 101 at Dickinson Center
+various levels of language classes at SAIS-Johns Hopkins
+courses in Italian at UniBo for advanced language students
+advanced, intensive courses in Econ & Business at UniBo (taught in English)

How is instruction different?

Teaching methods combine the best of the Italian and American educational systems. Due to the diversity of the faculty, there are various ways in which they teach (some straight lecture) and in the way they grade and evaluate student work. This is all part of the cultural and academic learning experience that students will encounter here in Bologna. Students in the program are expected to carry a full course load, which in Bologna means 4 credits (courses) each semester to be taken while classes are in session, and to regularly attend those classes for which credit is sought. If special circumstances warrant an absence for reasons other than illness, students should notify the Resident Director and/or the professor of the circumstances.

What classes are available?

The following section lists tentative courses for the 2014-2015 academic year. Please keep in mind that there may be some changes to the course offerings. Students will choose their courses upon arrival in Bologna.

Fall 2015

  • Italian 101- Elementary Italian- 2 sections
  • Art History 205- Reading Bologna: Art and Culture in Bologna from 1200-1500
  • History 314/Econ 314/INBM 300- European Economic History
  • POSC 290/INST290/Security Studies Certificate- Transatlantic Relations
  • POSC 271/INST 271/Security Studies Certificate- Ethics & Int.'l Security
  • History 213/Italian 323- History of Italian Migration

+various levels of language classes at SAIS
*courses at UniBo for qualified students

Spring 2016

  • POSC 290/INST 290/SS certificate: The Politics of Migration in Europe
  • POSC 270/INST 270: The European Union
  • Hist 213/ITAL 323 w/FLIC: History of the Italian Mafia
  • ARTH 205: Reading Bologna: From the Renaissance to the Baroque
  • 300 level ECON/INBM course TBA
  • Italian 101 at Dickinson Center

+various levels of language classes at SAIS-Johns Hopkins
+courses in Italian at UniBo for advanced language students
+advanced, intensive courses in Econ & Business at UniBo (taught in English)

Qualified students may take additional courses at the University of Bologna and Johns Hopkins University Graduate Center. Most of the courses offered at the University of Bologna are taught in the Italian language although there are courses in English, especially in the Economics and Business Departments. Please find more information in the sections below.

Independent studies will be limited to one per year per student depending on students’ needs and availability of instructors.

Internship placement is restricted to full year students. Please note that due to the competitiveness for internship placements, there is no guarantee that everyone will be able to participate in an internship (as part of the Intercultural Seminar). These will be based on the student’s command of Italian, academic performance, and a personal interview.

Dickinson Italian Studies majors planning to take courses at the University of Bologna should read the Bologna Handbook carefully, especially “FAQ about Courses toward the Italian Studies Major in Bologna.”

Courses at the Johns Hopkins School:
A list of courses at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) will be available in Bologna during registration for the second semester. Enrollment will be competitive and is open only to academic year students. There are only four student openings, and acceptances will depend on academic performance and an interview. We cannot promise admission into any Johns Hopkins program course in advance.

Courses at the University of Bologna:
Italian Studies majors or students with advanced Italian language fluency may take courses in Italian at the University of Bologna at

Taking a course at the University of Bologna requires a serious commitment. The UniBo calendar differs from that of the Dickinson program, and classes may be in session while the Dickinson program is on break or over U.S. holidays, such as Thanksgiving. Students are expected to attend all UniBo classes during these times. Students may also have to stay longer into June to complete exams or other course requirements. Most classes at UniBo are three times a week for two hours, which can create scheduling conflicts with classes offered at the Dickinson Center. It can be difficult to find a UniBo class that fits a student’s interest and schedule, so students should not assume that they will definitely attend one while in Bologna.

That said, taking a UniBo course is highly recommended for students with adequate Italian fluency.

When will I register for classes?

Students will choose their courses upon arrival in Bologna.

Will the courses count towards my major?

Check with your major advisor before choosing courses.

Will they count in my GPA?

Dickinson Center: The courses offered at the Dickinson Center are listed on a student’s transcript with titles and grades and will be calculated in the Dickinson GPA. If a course is cross-listed, it is up to the student to decide what credit it will count for on their transcript.

John Hopkins: Courses taken at Johns Hopkins (SAIS) will be listed on the Dickinson transcript with titles and grades. The grade, however, will not be used in calculating the GPA.

University of Bologna: Courses taken at the University of Bologna are also listed on the Dickinson transcript with titles and grades, but will not be calculated into a student’s GPA. For full details and the official grade conversion scale in effect for University of Bologna courses, see Appendix II at the end of the handbook. Course work taken in cooperating institutions abroad is transferable provided grades equivalent to a Dickinson “C” (2.00 on a 4.00 scale) or better have been earned. To find out more information about the University of Bologna, please visit

What is a full course load and How will my courses transfer?

Students must take a normal full load as defined by their program. Students may not under-enroll under any circumstances. If a student registers for more than the maximum courses allowed without permission from the Resident Director, their academic advisor at Dickinson, and the Center for Global Study and Engagement, the course credit will not transfer. Students will also be responsible for any additional fees for doing this.

Each Dickinson course in Bologna earns one course credit (equal to four (4) semester hours). The normal course load during each semester is four (4) courses, for a total of eight (8) courses for the year.

Only liberal arts classes will qualify for transfer credit.

Generally speaking, courses must have an equivalent at Dickinson. Exceptions include classes that focus on the culture and/or history of the country in which the student is studying.

Transfer credit will not be awarded for coursework that duplicates what a student has already completed at Dickinson.

Transfer credit is awarded only for classes in which a student earns a grade of “C” or better. However, all courses and grades will appear on the transcript, along with the corresponding grades.

Is there a language requirement?

There is no requirement to speak Italian to participate in the program, but all students enrolled in the program will take one class in the Italian language at their appropriate level.  With the exception of courses taught in English, every aspect of the program is designed to facilitate the interaction of formal study with the knowledge of Italian society and language, which comes through cultural immersion. You will find that formal classroom activities are supplemented and reinforced by immersion in Italian life and culture, which enhances understanding of the values, beliefs, and attitudes of Italian culture.

Academic Excursions

Does this program include any group travel once I’m in country?

Participants in this program typically take part in day excursions to numerous historic and cultural sites around Bologna as components of orientation and some Center courses. There are two overnight group trips taken each semester to different locations in Italy.  Each trip lasts for two days and one night, and the trip destinations vary from year to year.

What expenses are covered during excursions?

Students’ lodging costs will be covered during overnight excursions, and at least one group meal is also included.   Group transportation to and from the excursion site, as well as group travel and entrance tickets for all group activities will be covered.  Students will not be reimbursed for personal travel and personal activities during an academic excursion.

When will I find out where and when we’re travelling?

Specific dates and locations for the multi-day excursions will be announced at the beginning of the each semester. Site visits in and around Bologna will be organized and announced by the professor during throughout the semester.

Can a friend or family member who is not on the program also travel with us?

No, unfortunately, for logistical and academic reasons non program participants are not able to join the program for excursions

Are excursions optional?

Some of these excursions are linked to your academic program and, therefore, could be mandatory.  In some cases, content delivered through the excursion will be relevant to a student’s studies and assessment.  All students should plan to participate in all excursions.  If a student misses an excursion or a planned departure for a trip, these arrangements and costs will not be made up for the student.  It is each student’s responsibility to be where they need to be in order to participate fully in each academic excursion.

Dates and Flights

When is orientation?

Bologna 2In addition to the full day mandatory pre-departure orientation on campus, there will be an on-site orientation for this program.  In Bologna, students’ on-site orientation occurs from the moment you arrive in the city: staff meet you at the airport and arrange for your transfer to your housing.  Orientation meetings continue for the first week in Bologna.

During the orientation you will meet and work with the on-site directors, Professor Russell Bova and Professor Clarissa Pagni, as well as our program associate and Bologna program alumna, Ellen Laird.  Orientation events include a tours of the K. Robert Nilsson Center and city, an overview of Bologna’s public transportation system, course registration meetings, and an overview of your health and safety while studying in Italy.  Intensive Italian language instruction also begins.

What are the program dates?

Dickinson in Italy ACADEMIC CALENDAR

Students on this program are given an arrival window when they are asked to arrive in Bologna (BLQ).  A group flight option is frequently offered.

Is there a group flight?

Yes.  Dickinson typically asks a travel agent to organize a group flight for this program.  Once available, Advantage Travel (1-800-788-1980) will contact you with the group flight itinerary and fare.  Note that this is a contract between you and the travel agent, so students should direct their questions to the agent and not the CGSE.  Some students may choose not to take advantage of the group flight; however they still must arrive on the designated arrival date and time.  Even if you are taking the group flight, we ask that you communicate your arrival plans with the on-site directors and the CGSE.  To notify the CGSE, you should enter the flight information in your on line application.

What if my family wants to visit me?

If you have family or friends who are planning to visit you, please do not make travel plans until you arrive at the program and become familiar with your class schedule and program excursions.  It is not acceptable to skip class for personal travel

When will I have time to travel?

You will travel in and around Bologna and parts of northern Italy on academic excursions.  Exact dates for the excursions will be announced once the semester begins.  Many students also travel on their own during breaks and major Italian holidays when classes are not in session.

Can I arrive early or stay after the program ends?

Students may not arrive early or stay late without the written approval of the on-site directors.  Please note that if you choose to arrive early or stay late, you will not be able to stay in your apartment.  You should also consider your visa validity when you make the decision of whether or not you may arrive early or stay late.  No student may arrive late for the start of the program.


How do I access health care in Bologna?

Good medical care is available in Bologna.  An English-speaking physician is available for program students and program staff will help you with arranging initial appointments.  You will be responsible for paying the office fee and submitting receipts to your insurance company for reimbursement.

How much will it cost to go the doctor?

Approximately €25 per visit.

Please visit our Health and Insurance Abroad page for more information. 


How much does the program cost?

The program budget sheet can be found at the top of this page to the left of the Apply Not button. 

What is included in the program fee?

The fee includes tuition, room, board, academic excursions and emergency insurance.  Airfare and visa fees are not included.  The budget sheet also lists additional fees students should anticipate.

Is my flight included?

The flight is not included but the cost is taken into consideration when your financial aid need is calculated for your semester abroad.

How much extra money do I need to bring?Euros

This depends on you.  We encourage students to not travel every weekend, but to really engage their host city in meaningful ways during their semester abroad.  An estimate of personal expenses is included on the budget sheet, but it really depends on you and your spending habits.

Will I receive a stipend?

Periodically (normally every two weeks), the Resident Director will distribute the food stipend through the Banca Popolare dell'Emilia Romagna.  You will be able to pick up this money directly from the bank.  You will also have the opportunity to open up a bank account at the Banca Popolare dell’ Emilia Romagna if you wish to do so. In this case, your food stipend money would be deposited directly into your account. You are responsible for budgeting food money.  The central food market is where many students shop for fresh fruit, cheese, meat, and bread.  While shopping here is fun, it is cheaper to buy larger groceries at a supermarket.

How will I access my money in Bologna?

ATMs connected to international networks such as Cirrus and Plus allow you to retrieve cash in the local currency directly from your bank account in the United States.  Inquire at your bank to be sure that your ATM card will allow cash withdrawals abroad.  ATMs overseas will accept only cards that access checking accounts in your name.  Some students also choose to open a bank account with the Banca Popolare dell’Emilia-Romagna.

Can I work part time?

College Work Study positions entailing 4-8 hours a work each week are available in Bologna.  You must indicate that you would like to be considered for CWS employment in Bologna; the Financial Aid Office will notify you if CWS will be part of your financial aid package.  CWS payments are made monthly; earnings will be deposited directly into each student’s designated U.S. bank account.


Where will I live?

Students live in apartments scattered across the historic center of Bologna.  Distance to the Dickinson Center will vary, but is typically no more than a 20-25 minute walk and often much less.

Who will I live with?

The Dickinson Center staff determines apartment assignments. Student roommate preferences are solicited and are taken into account, but requests cannot be guaranteed. Depending on size, apartments will typically house 3-5 students.

How are the apartments configured?

Apartments configurations vary, but all include a kitchen, a bath, and a sleeping and study space.  There are no laundry facilities in the apartments.  

Is there a meal plan?

No, students in Bologan do their own cooking.  A variety of options for food shopping are found throughout the historic center of the city. They include all-purpose markets, fruit and vegetable stands, speciality shops for buying things like bread and cheese, and small convenience stores. Part of the fun of living in Bologna is in discovering your favorite shops and cooking your own food.

What if I don’t get along with my roommates?

Your Resident Director and program staff are on-site to help you with any housing concerns.

Will I have internet access in my apartment?

Yes, all apartments are equipped with wireless internet. Keep in mind that Italy does not have the same network infrastructure as the U.S. and internet service will not be as fast or reliable as the internet you are used to (ie. streaming music, videos, etc.). Wireless internet is also available at the Nilsson Center during Center hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday).


Are internships available?

Qualified students may complete internships in Bologna. Internship placements are not guaranteed and students with strong Italian language skills will have a greater chance of being placed at an internship site.  Students have gained valuable experience in a variety of organizations including museums, a bookstore, elementary and middle schools, and a local community center.

Can I earn credit for an internship?

Students who wish to complete an internship for academic credit must be academic year students and enroll in the Intercultural Seminar.  Semester students can earn a transcript notation on their Dickinson transcript through the Career Center. Please visit the Internship Notation Program page for more information. 

Can I conduct research while abroad?

Students can conduct research abroad under the guidance of a Dickinson advisor. The Student International Research Fund (SIRF) was established to help students with extra travel costs associated with independent research projects. Students are encouraged to present their research at the International Research Symposium when they return to campus. For more information, please visit our Scholarships for Global Study page. 


What is a visa?

A visa is a document, normally affixed within your passport, which allows you to enter the country and stay for the duration of your program. The requirements for the visa and visa process are controlled by the government of the country you are entering, are non-negotiable, and can change regularly.  If you arrive without the proper visa, you will be sent home by immigration officers at your own expense.

Do I need a visa?

Dickinson in Italy VISA GUIDELINES

A student visa is required to participate in the Bologna program.  If you do not hold a US passport, you should consult with the Italian embassy in your country of citizenship for the student visa requirements. Obtaining a student visa is the student’s responsibility. We will review the guidelines for obtaining a student visa at the Pre-departure Orientation.

We have produced visa guidelines to provide you with an overview of what you will need to do to obtain a student visa.  Please note: this is only a tool to help you get started!  It is not a substitute for consulting with the Italian consulate that has jurisdiction over your state of home residence.  Make sure you are familiar with the most up-to-date regulations by visiting their website frequently.

Also, you need to ensure that your passport is valid for 6 months after the program end date.

How do I get a visa?

You will need to make an appointment at the Italian consulate in order to submit previously-gathered documents that are required for the visa.  Please consult the Visa Guidelines for your country of study.

Do I have to go to the consulate/embassy?

Yes, you will need to make a visa appointment at the Italian consulate in Philadelphia or the Italian consulate that presides over your home state jurisdiction in order to submit your student visa application.

How much does a visa cost?

Currently, there is no visa fee for an Italian study visa; however this is subject to change.  Be sure to check the consulate’s website for any fee change before you submit your visa paperwork.

How long does it take to receive my visa?

At the Philadelphia consulate, it can take over 4 weeks to obtain a student visa. You will need to forfeit your passport to the consulate in order to obtain your visa; do not make plans to travel internationally during this time.

If I’m not a U.S. passport holder, are there any additional requirements?

Yes, you will need to do your own research on visa requirements for citizens of your home country to study in Italy. The CGSE may be able to help you with the required documents.  Also, you will need to inform International Student Services that you will be studying outside of the United States and discuss how you will remain in valid F-1 status during your studies abroad.

May I use a visa service to get a visa?

Yes, there may be visa services that can assist you in obtaining the student visa.  You will need to research these providers and their fees and timetables.

Will the Center help me with the visa?

Yes, we provide you with visa guidelines, as well as various required documents needed for the visa process.

Student Perspective

Global Ambassadors are returning study abroad students who serve as peer advisors for their program. Please feel free to contact them for a student perspective

Moyra Schauffler

Moyra Schauffler Italy
Arriving in Italy, my most important personal goal was to be as engaged with Italians and Italian culture as possible.  I achieved this goal by choosing to have a host family, babysitting for an Italian family, interning with my host mother to teach English in a middle school, and working at the Dickinson Center.  All of these experiences pushed me to use Italian every day to make connections with Italian people and culture.
My most rewarding academic experience during my year abroad was completing a novel in Italian.   Beginning the program in August, I had one semester of Italian and was uncomfortable reading and writing.  I became more comfortable using the language for everyday life—getting my cell phone fixed, ordering fabulous food in restaurants, and using the public transportation system.  By the spring, I was so excited by my ability to read a complex story and write about it.
The year in Bologna gave me confidence in myself as someone who can be successful living and working in an international setting.  As an International Studies major, I am sure that Bologna was the first of many international living and working experiences for me.


Program Advisors (Please call for an appointment)

Center for Global Study and Engagement
Dickinson College

On-Site Administration

Prof. Russell Bova, Resident Director
Department of Political Science and International Studies
K. Robert Nilsson Center for European Studies
Via Marsala 2
40126 Bologna

The resident director plans and leads the academic program, advises students and teaches at the Nilsson Center. The director is assisted by Associate Director Clarissa Pagni, who has worked for the Nilsson Center for more than 20 years, and the Bologna Program Associate and Dickinson alum, Ellen Laird.

On-Campus Contact

Professor David Commins
Department of History
Dickinson College
P.O. Box 1773
Carlisle, PA 17013-2896