At Boston College students will find a wide range of opportunities to develop and practice their Italian and enjoy the beauty and diversity of Italian culture. The Italian Language Program offers courses and supplementary practica for students at all levels of proficiency. Each semester between 250 and 300 students—including Italian Studies majors and minors and students in other disciplines—enroll in our program's language courses, which are taught by dedicated professors and graduate-level instructors.

Composed of six semesters of language instruction over three years, our curriculum has been carefully designed to foster progressive acquisition of proficiency in Italian. From the first day of class, students are exposed to the Italian language and trained to practice the essential skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) while expanding their vocabulary and learning new grammar points and structures in context. All courses incorporate the study of Italian culture. Students build their language skills while learning to understand relevant sociocultural and historical aspects of Italy and appreciate and celebrate the differences between its culture and our own.

Why Study Italian?

Italy is one of the G8, and many employers are seeking people who speak both Italian and English. An estimated 7,500 American companies do business with Italy and more than 1,000 U.S. firms have offices in Italy including IBM, Citibank, Motorola, General Electric, Exxon, Fiat and Chrysler, PricewaterhouseCoopers, etc. Many Italian firms have offices in the U.S.

Knowing Italian is greatly beneficial in several career fields. If you are interested in a career in the culinary arts, music, opera, interior design, fashion, graphic design, furniture design, robotics and small manufacturing, shipbuilding, and many other fields, Italian is the language for you.

Italian is spoken by nearly 1,000,000 people and is the fifth most studied language in the U.S. It is also spoken in Switzerland, parts of Africa, Malta, and throughout all of Europe, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Brazil.

Italy has one of the richest cultural heritages of Western civilization and has been a world leader in literature, architecture, painting, sculpture and music. The first University in Europe was founded in Bologna in 1088 and its school of law was the first in history. Knowledge of the Italian language opens up a new understanding of an astoundingly rich cultural tradition.

Italy is justifiably a top travel destination. Knowledge of the Italian language can turn a week long visit or a semester abroad into a rewarding and unforgettable experience.

Many agree that Italian is the most pleasurable and satisfying foreign language to learn. Its sound-spelling correspondence is easy to master, its structures tend to be logical and fairly regular, and its pronunciation is great fun. Becoming familiar with the Italian language and culture is cited by many students as one of the highlights of their BC career.

Program Details


The Italian language curriculum offers six semesters of language instruction over three years—a total of approximately 240 contact hours. As our courses have been designed to develop students’ language skills progressively, students are required to take them in sequence:

  • Elementary Italian I (ITAL 1003)
  • Elementary Italian II (ITAL 1004)
  • Intermediate Italian I (ITAL 1113)
  • Intermediate Italian II (ITAL 1114)
  • *Conversation, Composition and Reading I (CCR1) (ITAL 2213)
  • *Conversation, Composition and Reading II (CCR2) (ITAL 2214)

*Conversation, Composition and Reading I and II (ITAL 2213 and 2214) are approved language courses for the major and minor in Italian Studies.

Elementary Italian I (ITAL 1003), Intermediate Italian I (ITAL 1113) and Conversation, Composition and Reading I (ITAL 2213) are offered only in the Fall semester.

Elementary Italian II (ITAL 1004), Intermediate Italian II (ITAL 1114) and Conversation, Composition and Reading II (ITAL 2214) are offered only in the Spring semester.

In addition to these courses, we offer practica in Elementary (Elementary Italian Practicum I ITAL 1021 and Elementary Italian Practicum II ITAL 1022) and Intermediate (Intermediate Italian Practicum I ITAL 1111 and Intermediate Italian Practicum II ITAL 1112). These optional, one-hour supplementary courses give students of the Elementary and Intermediate courses the extra practice they need to hone their Italian skills.

Language Courses for the Major and Minor 

Students begin the program at the level most appropriate for their linguistic proficiency. For advisement about elementary and intermediate level placement, contact Prof. Brian O’Connor (oconnobc@bc.du).  For advisement at the post-intermediate level, contact Prof. Mattia Acetoso (

Italian Studies majors and minors may begin their program with Conversation, Composition and Reading I (ITAL 2213) or II (ITAL 2214).

Language Proficiency Requirement

All students in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences must, before graduation, demonstrate proficiency at the intermediate level in a modern foreign language or in a classical language. The Carroll School of Management, Lynch School of Education and the Connell School of Nursing do not have a language requirement.

In the Morrisey College of Arts and Sciences students may demonstrate proficiency in Italian in the following ways:

  • By successful completion of the course work for second semester intermediate level (Intermediate Italian II), or one course beyond the intermediate level (Italian Conversation, Composition and Reading I, or above).
  • By achieving a score of three or above on the Italian AP test or a score of 550 or better on the Italian SAT subject test.
  • By being a native speaker of Italian. The student should provide documentation of this native proficiency or be tested by the appropriate department.

Studying Abroad

One major reason to learn Italian is to take advantage of the many study abroad opportunities Boston College offers in Italian-speaking countries. Many of our majors and minors as well as students in our language courses study at the following institutions in Italy:

Boston College Programs

  • Bocconi University, Milan
  • Istituto Dante Alighieri, Parma
  • University of Parma, Parma
  • Venice International University, Venice

Approved External Programs

  • Arcadia University, Rome
  • John Felice Rome Center, Loyola University, Rome
  • American University of Rome
  • The Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies, Rome
  • Syracuse University, Florence

Summer Study in Italy

BC faculty offer three and six credit courses in Italian language and culture on a regular basis. Please contact the OIP for current offerings.


Language Proficiency Requirement

How many Italian classes do I need to take to fulfill the BC language proficiency requirement? 
All students in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences must demonstrate intermediate-level proficiency in a foreign language before graduation. The required competency is equivalent to four semesters of study of a single foreign language up to and including Intermediate Italian II (ITAL1114). The Carroll School of Management, Lynch School of Education and the Connell School of Nursing do not have a language requirement.

Does the AP Italian Language Exam fulfill the BC language proficiency requirement?
Yes. If you scored a three or above on the AP Italian Language Exam you have already fulfilled the BC language proficiency requirement.

Does the Italian SAT II Subject Test fulfill the BC language proficiency requirement? 

Yes. If you scored 550 or above on the SAT II Italian Language Exam you have already fulfilled the BC language proficiency requirement.

Am I allowed to take a course on a pass/fail basis to fulfill the University's language proficiency requirement?
No. Students may not take foreign language courses on a pass/fail basis until they have completed the University’s language proficiency requirement.

Do I have to take a language course at BC if I have already fulfilled the language proficiency requirement? 
No, but we certainly encourage you to continue studying Italian if you would like to improve your language skills. We also offer upper level courses for students who want to become highly proficient in Italian.

Questions about Placement

Is there an online placement test for Italian? 
We do not use an online placement test for Italian at BC. If you have any doubts about correct placement, you can take an informal digital Italian placement test. Please contact Prof. Brian O’Connor to do so.

How do I know what Italian language class I should register for?
If you have had no Italian or one year of high school Italian, register for Elementary Italian I (ITAL1003). If you have had two years of High school Italian or one semester of college Italian register for Elementary Italian II (ITAL1004). If you have had three or four years of high school Italian or one year of college Italian, register for Intermediate Italian I (ITAL1113). If you have had five or more years of high school Italian, please contact Prof. Brian O’Connor.

What do I do if I feel like the course in which I was placed is not the right fit?
If you feel that the course in which you were placed is not appropriate for you, talk to your instructor or the course Coordinator. Please stop by during the special placement office hours offered during the first week of classes to see the Coordinator, Prof. Brian O’Connor.

Major and Minor in Italian Studies

Which language courses count towards the major or minor in Italian Studies?
Conversation, Composition and Reading I and II (ITAL2213 and ITAL2214) may be credited toward the Major or Minor in Italian Studies.

Can I take upper level Italian courses without having taken any Italian language courses at BC?
In order to prepare for upper level courses in Italian literature and culture, you need to take at least Italian CCR (ITAL2213) or other language courses depending on your level of proficiency. Mastering the language is essential to understanding complex literary texts in Italian and to be able to write academic papers in the target language.

Course Procedures

What if the language course I need to take is full?

You need to try to register in another section. If you are unable to register for a section you need, please contact the Coordinator, Prof. Brian O’Connor. After the add/drop period ends, you will not be able to add a language course.

Can I start studying Italian in the Spring semester? 
If you have studied Italian before, it may be suitable to start your study of Italian language in the Spring semester. However, Elementary, Intermediate and CCR are conceived of as two-semester continuing courses. If you are considering registering for Elementary Italian II, Intermediate Italian II or CCR2 without having taken the previous semester, please consult the Coordinator, Prof. Brian O’Connor.

What if I want to take an incomplete in my current Italian language class and finish it later?

A final course grade of I (Incomplete) is rarely assigned in Italian language courses and may only be considered an option in cases where an unexpected, extreme situation –such as a personal or medical emergency– prevents a student from completing the final major assignment(s) of the course. A student must be passing in order to be considered for an incomplete and the request must be made after the automatic “W” deadline has passed. A petition for an incomplete must be accompanied by appropriate and verifiable documentation. Incompletes are not issued due to chronic missed work or absences over the course of the semester. A withdrawal is more appropriate for such students.

Academic Support

What can I do if I am experiencing academic challenges in my current course?

Your instructor holds office hours each week. Make a list of your questions and/or concerns before attending your instructor’s office hours. If these hours conflict with your class schedule, speak with him/her about arranging an alternate time to meet. Most instructors are flexible and will be willing to meet with you to discuss ways to improve your performance in the class and how to strengthen your skills.

Another resource is the Connors Family Learning Center (CFLC), which offers free tutoring services in Italian for students who wish to improve their understanding or further challenge themselves. Please contact the Center to get more information about language tutoring services.

What should I do if I have a disability and would like to request accommodations for my course?
Students should contact either Kathy Duggan, the Associate Director, Academic Support Services, of the Connors Family Learning Center (learning disabilities and ADHD) or the Disiblity Sercvices Office in the Office of the Dean of Students to make accommodations at least seven days prior for coursework, tests, assessments, support, etc. Students should submit documentation to them at the beginning of the term.

Study Abroad

Do I have to take Italian courses at BC in order to study abroad in a Italian speaking country?
Regardless of their level of proficiency, we recommend that students take at least one language course at BC before studying abroad. Each study abroad program has different language requirements. Please contact the Office of Global Education to learn more about specific language requirements for study abroad and make your academic plans accordingly.

Can I take language and literature courses after my study abroad?
Of course. The Italian Section offers a variety of language and upper-level courses in literature and culture that can be chosen as electives. We strongly encourage students to continue studying Italian after studying abroad in order to maintain and improve their proficiency. After studying abroad you may also want to consider the possibility of declaring a major or minor in Italian Studies.