The emphasis of the Graduate Program in Italian Studies is on doctoral study, of which the M.A. degree is viewed as the initial phase. Applications are accepted only for full-time work in the Ph.D. program beginning in the fall semester. Applications for a terminal M.A. degree or part-time study are not considered. Students interested in part-time study may enroll in a non-degree program offered by the University of Pennsylvania's College of Liberal and Professional Studies. Joint doctorates with other programs and departments at Penn are possible. Italian Studies at UPenn offers competitive financial support packages through the Benjamin Franklin Fellowships, which cover health insurance, monthly stipends, full tuition and fees, and also other benefits, including free access to athletic facilities on campus. Financial support packages are guaranteed for 5 years (summers included), and Italian students in FIGS have typically been able to secure an additional sixth year of funding. In 2023/2024 students are receiving an annual stipend of $40,500, and this amount will be raised every year. Individual research abroad is encouraged and funding is available through several sources, such as the Center for Italian Studies.

Instructions, forms, and a link to the online application are located here.

Admissions Requirements

Candidates for admission to the Ph.D. program should have fluency in Italian as well as an excellent undergraduate record, strong letters of recommendation, and demonstrated skill in academic writing. Applicants should demonstrate commitment to work steadily toward long-terms goals, while showing ability to work with a wide variety of students and communities.

Following are the required components of the application, which MUST be received by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences via an online application no later than January 1

  • Copies of all undergraduate and graduate transcripts - Your application must include an UNOFFICIAL transcript from the institution(s) where you did previous academic work at the undergraduate or graduate level. The transcripts should be scanned and submitted electronically with your application. If you are admitted to the program, you will be required to confirm the information by sending an official copy of the transcript before matriculating.

  • Three letters of recommendation

  • A personal statement (1-2 pages in length) -Your personal statement is an important part of your application. The admissions committee looks not only at the general background and qualifications of the applicants, but also at the fit between your specific goals and interests, and the kind of research conducted by the members of the graduate group.

    • In the personal statement, all Ph.D. applications within the Graduate Division of Arts & Sciences should address the following:

      Please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.

  • A writing sample in Italian or English (10-15 pages in length) - A writing sample, such as a substantial term paper or thesis from previous undergraduate or graduate work, is necessary for the faculty to assess your research experience. The document should be converted to pdf format and uploaded to the CollegeNet website.

    That site limits the size of the files to 500 KB, so if necessary you may email the document to the Graduate Coordinator.

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores*- This applies to all international students who are not native speakers of English, unless they have received a post-secondary degree from an American college or university. Please arrange to take the TOEFL test (if applicable) by a date that will guarantee your scores will be forwarded to the University of Pennsylvania by the deadline. For testing dates and locations, refer to The Institution Code for the University of Pennsylvania is 2926. You do not have to include a Department/Major Field Code. 

*Certain materials (official TOEFL scores) will be accepted after the deadline, depending on the circumstances. 


The application fee is $90.00. Payments must be made by credit card, check, or international postal money order written in U.S. currency and made payable to the "Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania."

Application fee waiver inquiries and requests can be sent to


Applicants must ensure that their complete materials — including transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and supporting documents — are submitted by January 1 in order to be considered for financial aid from or through the university. Please do not telephone the Graduate Division or the Department to confirm their arrival; we will contact you if any materials are missing.


For Further Information

Laura Flippin
Graduate Coordinator
University of Pennsylvania
514 Williams Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
Telephone: (215) 898-1980
Fax: (215) 898-0933