MA Italian Program Admission

Graduate Admissions: MA in Italian

Please review the following guidelines before beginning to craft your application materials. In them, you will find information about the application and admissions processes; what the Italian MA program offers its students; what we’re looking for in our selection process; advice on compiling your application materials; as well as our evaluation rubric.

If you have questions that are not addressed here, contact the Director of Graduate Studies in Italian, Prof. Lina Insana (insana@pitt.edu). For more general information about university-wide admissions questions, visit the website of the Office of Admissions.

Process description

The Italian Admissions committee begins its review of applications soon after the February 1 deadline for submission. The committee ranks all candidates for admission based on the application materials made available; admission and funding in the form of full Teaching Assistantships is offered to the most highly ranked candidates, depending on the number of Teaching Assistantships that have been made available to the Italian Program in that admissions cycle. In case one or more of these offers is not accepted, the offer/s will then be made to the next applicant/s on the ranked list.

What we offer

As one of a very few MA-only programs in the US, our mission is to introduce talented students of Italian—whether they be native speakers of Italian, English, or other languages—to our innovative collegiate-level L2 teaching approach, to literary criticism, and to a rigorous and dynamic environment of knowledge production in the field of italianistica. We see this as a time of exploration, during which students have the freedom to probe the boundaries of the field and develop their pedagogical skills before deciding what’s next in their journey. As such, during their two years in the program students are closely advised and mentored in their parallel development as scholars and educators; afforded opportunities for additional research, teaching, and experiential learning; and shepherded through the process of PhD applications if and when they decide to pursue that course of study.

What we’re looking for in our MA students

Our MA in Italian is a crucial part of the Italian Program ecosystem at Pitt. As Teaching Assistants in our first-year language courses, MA students are often the first face of the program for the Pitt undergraduates they teach; for this reason, we look not only for strong language proficiency in our TAs, but also a clear commitment to learning, an eagerness to collaborate with supervisors and the rest of the teaching corps, and a mature attitude toward teaching and service responsibilities. Italian MA students typically hold a BA in Italian or Italian Studies (or the equivalent in other academic traditions), or have done significant work in Italian/Italian Studies through an expanded minor, a self-designed degree focusing on Italian culture, and/or a rigorous Study Abroad program in Italy. International students from Italy are expected to have completed a significant body of coursework in either Italian literature (Lettere) or foreign languages and literatures (Lingue).

In the seminar-format courses they take within the program, graduate students are expected to extend and deepen their previous experience by engaging with their peers, with Italian faculty, and indeed the field at large with curiosity and an openness to new ideas. Our students are constantly exposed to new texts, conceptual frameworks, and methodologies during their time in the program; we value applicants who wish to actively participate in our vibrant academic community and who welcome the opportunity to become more research-oriented in their learning and thinking, as well as to learn more about the practicalities of research, its presentation, and its dissemination. Applicants should know that our program will provide them with a comprehensive scholarly preparation in their two years with us, which will require students' dedication and focus, supported by the graduate faculty and language program coordinator. As a program, we value the communal nature of learning, so we expect our MA students to actively engage in our shared intellectual life—through attendance at lectures, participation in tavola italiana sessions, contribution to our annual Italian Film Festival, and the like. Since we teach and study Italian culture in its many forms and locations, we recognize the richness of productive perspectives on Italian Studies, and therefore especially encourage applications from students who bring to the program a perspective on Italy from different global, professional, and educational positions and backgrounds.

Some advice on compiling application materials

The Italian admissions committee takes all of the following application components into consideration when making admissions decisions. Prospective applicants are encouraged to review Italian Program information, available on this page and on our website more generally, before preparing their application materials. In particular, they should keep the following best practices in mind:

  1. Statement of Intent:

The Statement of Intent is the applicant’s best opportunity to create a narrative about their preparedness for an MA program, their specific interests in the field of Italian Studies, and what they hope to accomplish during their two years in our program. The most effective statements of intent focus on relevant experience and goals that are intellectual and professional (rather than personal or familial) in nature.

b.     Transcripts:

The application should contain all undergraduate and graduate transcripts; international transcripts may be initially submitted as “unofficial” documents. Italian and other international transcripts should be translated into English for processing by the U of Pittsburgh Graduate Studies Office.

c.      Letters of recommendation:

Application recommenders should have (or have had) an academic relationship with the applicant and know their capacities well. They should be able to comment on the applicant’s past work in Italian or a related field, their work ethic, their intellectual curiosity, and their maturity in academic matters. In selecting potential recommenders, applicants should carefully consider which former professors, advisors, and mentors will be best able to craft effective letters in support of their admission to a rigorous graduate program. Nontraditional students who are no longer in contact with potential recommenders should reach out to the Italian DGS (Prof. Lina Insana, insana@pitt.edu) to discuss appropriate substitutions.

d.      Writing samples:

Applicants are required to submit two writing samples, one in English and one in Italian, uploaded together as one single document in the GATS system. These should both be examples of academic writing (i.e., written for a class assignment or as the outcome of a longer-term research project) and should not exceed 15 pages each; if you have a longer piece in mind, consider excerpting a coherent section for submission. They should represent the very best of your writing and argumentation abilities in each language. Applicants wishing to submit non-academic writing samples should contact the DGS in Italian (Prof. Lina Insana, insana@pitt.edu) for guidance.

e.      Skype or Zoom interview:

All applicants are interviewed by a committee of Italian faculty in both Italian and English. This interview has the aim of assessing language proficiency in both languages, as well as gathering any information that may have been left unaddressed in the submitted application materials. The Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh has established the following formal minimum English language proficiency requirements for admission to the University: https://www.asgraduate.pitt.edu/admissions/international-students. Students not attaining these minimum scores will not be granted admission.

f.     Resume or CV:

Applicants are welcome, but not required, to submit a resume or CV if they feel that it will support their application and complement their other materials. Applicants wishing to submit a resume or CV should include it at the end of their Statement of Intent document before uploading. For guidance on crafting a CV, see: https://www.pomona.edu/administration/career-development/how-to/write-curriculum-vitae. For guidance on resume writing, see: https://www.pomona.edu/administration/career-development/how-to/write-a-resume.

Application Evaluation

Applicants to the Italian MA program at Pitt are evaluated according to the following rubric. Applicants are invited to address, within the Statement of Intent, how their backgrounds and goals align with the criteria outlined in this rubric. The interview will provide another occasion for applicants to discuss the fit between their experiences/goals and these admissions criteria.       

In Summary: Items Required for Admission

The following at-a-glance checklist details the required items necessary for admission to the Italian MA Program:

NB: GRE scores are not required and are not considered in Italian MA admission or funding decisions.

  • Application must be submitted through GradCas
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation with the accompanying recommendation form, submitted via GradCas
  • Unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended to the present time
  • Official TOEFL exam results for international student applications. The minimum required score for admission is 90 (with at least a score of 22 in all of the four sections of speaking, listening, reading, and writing) or 7 on the Cambridge IELTS (with at least a 6.5 in each of the four sections). The official record of your TOEFL examination (test must have been taken within two years of date of application) must be sent to the University of Pittsburgh Department of French and Italian.
  • A personal statement written in English outlining your goals and reasons for pursuing graduate education in Italian
  • Two (2) additional writing samples (one in English, one in Italian)
  • A telephone or videoconference interview is required of all applicants and will be conducted after the admissions committee has reviewed all priority applications
  • A payment of $50.00 the University of Pittsburgh, either through a check or money order (drawn on a U.S. bank) or by credit card through GradCas

In an effort to reduce financial barriers to attending graduate school, the Kenneth P. Dietrich Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers application fee waivers. Please note that fee waivers are approved on a case-by-case basis and not all fee waiver requests will be granted. All requests received will be reviewed and responded to within 48 hours during normal business hours: Monday - Friday 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. EST. To be considered for a fee waiver, please complete the following fee waiver survey for review: https://pitt.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cD38CmmjcOT3Tvw.

Completed applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning on February 1, which is our priority deadline. 

Additional Information for International Students

Upon learning of your decision to our offer of admission, we will forward your information to the Office of International Services (OIS). At that point, you will be contacted by OIS directly regarding how to submit your financial documentation. More information about OIS's financial requirements can be found here. Becoming familiar with this document will expedite the visa document process once you have been admitted.

All supporting documentation should be sent to:

University of Pittsburgh
Graduate Administrator, Italian
Department of French & Italian
1328 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA  15260