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Course Options at the Umbra Institute

There are four study options at the Umbra Institute, which are detailed below. After reading, you may want to return to the Umbra Institute Program page, look at a list of available courses, or review course registration information.

General Studies Program
(14-18 semester hours of credit)

Umbra Institute General Studies Past Participant

The General Studies Program has two components: Italian language and culture courses and an array of elective courses taught in English. All students are required to take Italian language for four to six credits. Whether you have never taken an Italian course before or speak at an advanced level, you will have an opportunity to improve your language skills during your time in Italy.  You will also select three or four elective courses from among the extensive list of Umbra Institute offerings for three or four semester credits each. You can enroll in a total of 14 to 18 semester credits.

Within the General Studies Program, you may also choose to study in the Food Studies Program, the Honors Program, or conduct independent research.

Food Studies Program

The Food Studies Program at the Umbra Institute is a curricular concentration within the General Studies Program that applies an interdisciplinary approach to the study of food – history, sociology, cultural studies, business practices, literature, politics, science, agriculture, and sustainability – to discover how the individual, the community, and society relate to food in Italy, America, and elsewhere. The program consists of three courses in food studies, a course in Italian language, and an optional elective (15-18 credits).

Each thematic course includes a series of co- and extra-curricular activities that are an integral part of the curriculum; they include guest lectures, site visits and hands-on experience. These activities will allow students to observe directly the concepts studied in the classroom and analyze issues surrounding Italian food culture from varied approaches and perspectives with emphasis on history, culture, production, sustainability, and business and industry. Students who complete all three food program courses will receive a certificate from the Umbra Institute documenting their participation and satisfactory completion of the Food Studies Program.


Honors Program

The Umbra Honors Program welcomes students with a desire to combine high academic standards, extensive study in the subject area, community engagement, and additional contact with instructors. Honors students further enhance their learning beyond the classroom by living with international or Italian students.

Honors students conduct original research in an area of their choice, working one-on-one with a faculty advisor. The research culminates into a traditional research paper or a creative project, approved by the faculty advisor. Prior to departure, students may also select a home institution faculty member who would approve the particular research topic and correspond with the student throughout the semester.

To qualify for the Honors Program, students must present a cumulative GPA of 3.4 (on a 4.0 scale) and a letter of reference from an instructor at their current home school.

Independent Research

The Independent Research option is designed to provide students with the opportunity to complete a significant research assignment in a topic of their choice as one component of their study abroad experience. Many colleges and universities require undergraduates to culminate their studies in a research paper or senior thesis. With this option, students can engage in independent research, using the experience as a platform for their thesis project at their home institution.

To qualify for the Independent Research option, students must present a cumulative GPA of at least 3.4 (on a 4.0 scale) and a letter of reference from an instructor at their current home school.


Direct Enrollment (at local university)

Past Participant Direct Enrollment Program Umbra

Students in the Direct Enrollment will experience the Italian university as a local at the University for Foreigners (Università per Stranieri) or the University of Perugia (Università degli Studi di Perugia). The Università per Stranieri is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of Italian language instruction in Italy, while the Università di Perugia is one of the oldest universities in the world. Students accepted into the Direct Enrollment Program should exhibit exceptional maturity, responsibility, openness, and a fervent interest in a challenging academic environment.

The same Umbra services (orientation, safety, cultural activities, and more) are available to Direct Enrollment students throughout the semester. Students in this program will live in shared apartments with other Italian or international students to help with language acquisition. The program calendar differs slightly from the other Umbra program options. There is no traditional fall or spring break, but students will enjoy holidays listed in the Italian calendar; please contact your Program Manager for details.

University for Foreigners (Università per Stranieri) - 16 semester credits
The Direct Enrollment Program at the University for Foreigners offers the unique opportunity for students of all levels of language proficiency to focus exclusively on Italian language and culture. You will enroll at the Università per Stranieri di Perugia for a semester-long program, studying alongside with students from all over the world who share the goal to become fluent in Italian.

Students will take a placement exam during orientation to determine the sequence of courses they will take at the Università per Stranieri. Students will study Italian exclusively or enroll in courses covering various topics in Italian language, literature, art, history, and culture at the advanced levels. The program yields 16 semester credits and includes approximately 27 hours per week at the university coupled with weekly recitation classes with Umbra instructors. The instructors’ role is to guide, assist, and assess students through their learning experience at the local university. They set weekly assignments and assess students’ final grades in the program.

Please visit this guide to see how these courses will appear on Arcadia transcripts according to proficiency level in which the students place.

University of Perugia (Università degli Studi di Perugia)
This Direct Enrollment option offers students the unique opportunity to gain a truly immersive experience in Italian culture and in the European style of education. All students will begin the semester enrolled in an intensive Italian language course at the prestigious Università per Stranieri for one month prior to starting their two elective courses at the Università degli Studi di Perugia. This month is dedicated to improving language skills and introducing students to the European university setting. Italian language tutorials will be held weekly led by Umbra professors at the Umbra Institute. Fall students will attend the five-credit Language Review Program in September and spring students will attend in January.

Students will enroll in courses taught in the humanities division of the University for one semester or a full year.  Students should have a minimum of four semesters of Italian language courses and have achieved a B2 or higher proficiency in Italian based on the Common European Framework to apply. For an overview, please contact the Umbra Institute at