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Frequently Asked Questions

See below for the most for the questions that our department is asked most frequently regarding studying abroad.  The Global Experiences Office is a great resource for more general study abroad FAQs.

France - Studying Abroad

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Italy - Studying Abroad

Is there an ideal time to go abroad?

While there is no ideal time, the Italian Program recommends that students study at least two semesters, if not more, of college-level Italian before going abroad.
Students should also make sure that they can go at a time that allows them to maximize their experience, and try to choose a program that can respond to individual planning needs in the areas of major, minor, and General Education Requirements.

When should I begin planning for my studies abroad?

Since foreign languages often demand highly sequenced programs of study, students are asked to contact the Study Abroad Advisor, Prof. Lorraine Denman as soon as they begin to consider studying abroad, ideally one year before the semester or year in question. At that time, Prof. Denman can provide students with the appropriate resources and suggestions they need to begin the selection process and ensure that students’ planning takes all relevant factors into account. In this way, students can guarantee themselves the kind of careful planning necessary to a successful and satisfying study abroad experience.

How much language should I study in Italy?

To take fullest advantage of their time abroad, Italian majors should plan on taking 3-6 credits of language instruction in Italy, in addition to any content-based instruction in Italian (Italian Culture, Literature, Cinema, History, etc.) as their level of Italian proficiency will allow. Students should plan on choosing specific courses in consultation with Prof. Denman.

What are the main steps in planning my time abroad?

Make an appointment with the Italian Program Study Abroad Advisor, Prof. Lorraine Denman. She will provide you with research materials and tools and go over your remaining requirements in order to help you decide which program is best for you.

  • Visit the Global Experiences Office (formerly Study Abroad Office) website to learn about their processes and program. All Dietrich School students will go through the GEO while preparing for their program abroad. Stop by their office in 802 William Pitt Union (Monday-Friday, 9:30 AM – 5 PM), call their office at 412-648-7413, or via email at
  • Email Prof. Lorraine Denman ( to schedule an appointment to talk about study abroad options. with your Financial Aid Officer to discuss what funds will apply to your semester abroad. 
  • You may need to ask your current or most recent Italian language instructor for a letter of recommendation (required by many programs). You may also be asked to provide other academic letters of recommendation. Please allow for at least 3-4 weeks lead time when you ask for a letter of recommendation.   
  • After selecting the program(s) that you would like to consider, submit your application. NB: as a general rule, most Fall programs have an April 1-15 deadline, most Spring programs have an October 1-15 deadline, and most year-long programs have a March 1-15 deadline. 
  • Once you have been accepted into a program, bring a copy of your notification (letter, email) to the Global Experiences Office (802 WPU), where you will then make an appointment for a contract meeting. (The GEO will let you know if this step applies to you.)
  • Follow the guidelines on the Study Abroad Contract and select possible courses, meet with and get signatures from your academic advisor(s), the Financial Aid office, and the Dean’s office. 
  • Start packing and buon viaggio!  

Can I spend my last semester or year abroad?

Yes, but it requires special permission from the Dean’s office. If this is your situation, you should make an appointment with a Dean’s office representative (first floor, Thackeray Hall) as early as possible in the process.

Isn’t study abroad expensive?

The costs relating to your time abroad will vary greatly according to several factors: the program you pick, outside scholarships/financial aid, lifestyle decisions (extent of personal travel during your semester; personal purchases; living with a family v. in an apartment; eating in v. doing a great deal of eating out, etc.). If financial considerations are a big factor in your decisions, you should meet with a financial aid officer and begin investigating scholarship information as early as possible in the process.

A number of Pitt-specific scholarships are available, including the Nationality Rooms Scholarship programs and Italian Program scholarships. Please find the form to apply to departmental scholarships here. The deadline to apply is mid-February.  

Does Pitt’s Department of French and Italian have a semester-long program in Italy?

Yes, starting in the spring of 2013 (2134) we are pleased to offer a semester-long program in Florence, Italy and there are also non-Pitt external providers that offer semester-long study as well. We also offer summer programs in both Florence and Sicily whereby students may earn 6 Pitt-equivalent credits and, in many cases, accelerate their progress toward completing the minor or major. No matter what kind of experience you'd like to have in Italy (summer, semester, or year-long), there is a wide spectrum of programs from which to choose, covering a large range of language levels, disciplinary focuses, geographic areas, and financial costs.

Will my credits transfer?

The best way to make sure your credits transfer is to choose (in consultation with the Italian Program) an accredited program, and to have your courses pre-approved by all relevant university units— the Dietrich School Dean’s Office, major program(s), minor/certificate program(s)—before your plans are finalized. In addition, the Italian Study Abroad advisor will prepare an informal contract before you leave, outlining exactly what you will need to do in order for your credits to count toward the major in Italian. You should be meticulous in documenting your studies abroad; this includes keeping all syllabi, exams, papers (including drafts and corrections), notebooks, and books involved in your coursework.

Will my grades be averaged into my Pitt GPA?

It depends on the kind of program you select. If you attend a Panther Program or one of our summer programs, your courses and grades will appear as any on-campus course does. If you select a program outside of the University of Pittsburgh, the credits you earn abroad will most likely be considered as transfer credits, which are entered into the system as a credit block (usually 12-15 cr.), are not itemized, and are not assigned any grade value. Your grades will be considered, however, in evaluating the acceptability of individual courses for satisfaction on major, minor, certificate, and General Education Requirements.