Skip to main content

First-Year Focus

Info for First Year Students

The Italian major and minor are open to all undergraduates at Northwestern. The following information should be of help to you, but if you have more questions, please contact the Italian Department's Director of the Italian Language Program, Paola Morgavi,

The WCAS Language Requirement in Italian

To fulfill the WCAS Language Requirement in Italian, you need to take two years of Italian with a minimum grade of C-, or obtain an equivalent score on our on-line Placement Exam or on the Advanced Placement (AP) Exam in Italian.

If you have never studied Italian before, register in the Fall Quarter for Elementary Italian (IT 101-1) or Intensive Italian (IT 133-1/134-1). Note that all Intensive (133-1/134-2) and Intermediate language courses (IT 101-2) begin in the Fall Quarter! The elementary sequence (IT 101), instead, begins in fall and in winter.

Intensive Italian: We are one of the few Northwestern languages to offer a special limited-enrollment double course for beginners that covers the entire WCAS Language Requirement in one academic year. Find out more by watching the short video about Intensive Italian.

If you have some experience with Italian language but have no AP score, take the online placement test before July 31st or contact Director of the Italian Language Program Paola Morgavi,

Exam Credit

If you have taken the AP Italian language test, follow these guidelines:

If you have...
a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Italian Exam Super! You have satisfied the WCAS Language Proficiency Requirement in Italian. You are already eligible for upper-level courses in Italian. Contact the Director of the Italian Language Program, Paola Morgavi, to discuss your course options.
a score of 3 on the AP Italian Examination Bene! Welcome to the Italian Language Program. You can satifsfy the WCAS Language Proficiency Requirement in Italian by taking classes with us. Please take the Italian Placement Test. Your score on the test validated by an oral interview will determine your placement.

AP Credits

The College awards 2 credits of 200-level Italian to students who receive an AP score of 5.

The College awards 1 credit of 200-level Italian to students who receive an AP score of 4. See course descriptions.

What courses can I take?

To begin with, you can take our language courses, from absolute beginner to advanced. Specific courses are designed to facilitate the transition from language courses to advanced courses on Italian culture. Beyond that, and for those who wish to study Italian topics in English, the Italian Program has particular strength in the field of Visual Culture. Our curriculum in Italian and English centers especially on the tradition and problems of visual communication from the Renaissance to contemporary media. Courses in English allow undergraduate students to explore Dante, Michelangelo, cinema, art history, the avant garde and postmodern, and the representation of gender and sexuality from the Middle Ages to the present day. Courses in Italian offer seminar courses for advanced undergraduates on specific topics related to visual culture and representation, as well as literature and history.

Please peruse the course list and refer to our faculty pages to discover the research interests and courses of the Italian faculty:

In addition, every year the Italian Program hosts a Fulbright Scholar from an Italian university who offers two interdisciplinary courses to undergraduates. Our Fulbright scholars have taught courses in Medieval and Modern History, Cinema, Art History, and Comparative Literature.

Courses for First Year Students

These are typical schedules for First Year Students, depending on your placement.

Courses in Italian language
Fall Winter Spring
Beginning Italian 101-1 Beginning Italian 101-2 Beginning Italian 101-3
Intensive Italian 133-1/134-1 Intensive Italian 133-2/134-2 Intensive Italian 133-3/134-3
Intermediate Italian 102-1 Intermediate Italian 102-2 Intermediate Italian 102-3
201-Italian Through Media

202- Italian through Performance
204- Introducing Italian Literature
205- Reading Italian Cities
206- Business Italian
207- Conversation in Italian
304- Modern Italian Cultural Studies 306-Borders & Margins 347- Visual & Literary Culture in Italy 349 - Topics in Culture & Literature
Courses in English on Italian topics

First Year Students may take introductory (distro) courses or advanced courses, depending on your experience. Classes include: Dante's Divine Comedy Michelangelo and the Italian Renaissance Italian Cinema: Passion & Defiance Gender and Sexuality Avant Garde and Postmodern Catholic Italy 1450-1800 The Age of the Renaissance The Future of Tradition National Cinema Italy & The Southern Question The Mediterranean in the Dark Ages Further helpful links on general advising questions for First-year students

The Italian Program

At Northwestern you may take courses in Italian language from absolute beginner to advanced, or courses in English on many Italian topics, including introductory (distro) and advanced courses on subjects like literature, cinema, art, history, society and politics. We offer both a Major (13 courses) and a Minor (6 courses) and encourage all our students to study in Italy either during the summer or the academic year, on affiliated programs in Bologna, Padua, Milan, and Florence. We also offer an active series of talks, film showings, field trips, and social get-togethers that are open to the entire campus community. Even if you aren't studying Italian this quarter, follow us on Instagram: 


The Italian Department organizes many cultural activities throughout the year, from trips to the opera and art galleries to visiting lectures and film showings. A recurring event is the Caffè Italiano, wherein students of Italian gather and practice conversation over coffee. Please contact your SAB representative for more information.

To learn more about activities go to the Activities page. 

For events visit the Events page.