Romance Languages Major, B.A.–Italian

UNC–Chapel Hill has a rich tradition of Italian studies, including courses that develop linguistic proficiency and many others dedicated to studies of literature, film, food, environmental humanities, politics, history, philosophy, and theater. Many students study abroad and increasingly seek opportunities for research and internship projects with an Italian focus.  

This concentration is a popular choice for those interested in global studies or careers in journalism, diplomacy, international business or education, or for those seeking a well-rounded education in preparation for medical or law school. Many students who graduate from this program will also pursue graduate school in this or a related field.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will acquire competence in the practice and analysis of Romance languages together with a critical knowledge of the written, oral, and visual traditions of their origin and diaspora. Our faculty promotes interdisciplinary connections and incorporates the study of literature, culture, theory, and history across the curriculum. Through coursework that emphasizes language acquisition, rhetoric, composition, and written and oral expression, our majors receive sustained personalized training in critical thinking and close reading. Upon completion of the program in Romance languages, students should be able to:

  • Participate in conversations on concrete, social, academic, and professional topics
  • Speak in detail about experiences and events in a variety of time frames and moods
  • Represent points of view in discussions, both oral and written
  • Deliver well-organized presentations on concrete, academic and professional topics
  • Write on a wide variety of general interest, professional, and academic topics
  • Follow narrative, informational, and descriptive speech on concrete, academic and professional topics
  • Understand and discuss texts representing a variety of topics and genres


In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • earn a minimum final cumulative GPA of 2.000
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major core requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 in the major core requirements. Some programs may require higher standards for major or specific courses.

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

A prerequisite for entering the program is knowledge of the Italian language, demonstrated by successfully completing ITAL 204 or ITAL 402 or the equivalent. 

Core Requirements
ITAL 300IDEAs in Action General Education logo Communicating in Italian: Media, Culture, and Society3
Seven additional ITAL courses numbered between ITAL 300 and ITAL 699, excluding ITAL 308, ITAL 401, ITAL 402, and ITAL 692H.21
Total Hours24

With the approval of the undergraduate advisor in Italian, three of the seven elective courses may be substituted with courses at the 200-level or courses in such allied fields as art history, classics, history, geography, music, political science, or global studies. 

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch 3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Major Courses
ITAL 101 Elementary Italian I 3
ITAL 102 Elementary Italian II 3
Hours 17
Sophomore Year
ITAL 203 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Intermediate Italian I 3
ITAL 204 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Intermediate Italian II 3
Hours 6
Junior Year
ITAL 300 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Communicating in Italian: Media, Culture, and Society 3
ITAL ---Italian elective course #1 3
ITAL ---Italian elective course #2 3
ITAL ---Italian elective course #3 3
Hours 12
Senior Year
ITAL ---Italian elective course #4 3
ITAL ---Italian elective course #5 3
ITAL ---Italian elective course #6 3
ITAL ---Italian elective course #7 3
Hours 12
Total Hours 47

Special Opportunities in Romance Studies

Undergraduate Research

The Department of Romance Studies offers a gateway for research in the humanities, including the various fields that make up Romance studies. Research activities include the honors thesis, summer research fellowships, or engaging in mentoring projects with professors which lead to opportunities to present papers at conferences or for publication in the University's undergraduate research journal. 

Annual Research Opportunities:


The departmental honors program is open to any qualified major with a cumulative grade point average of 3.3 or higher and 3.5 or higher in their major courses. Eligible honors candidates will formulate a topic and select an appropriate faculty member to supervise the writing of an honors thesis. Specific coursework for the major with honors consists of enrollment in the honors thesis courses in the language of the major emphasis.

IDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Thesis in French
and IDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Thesis in French
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Thesis
and IDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Thesis in Italian
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Thesis
and IDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Thesis in Portuguese
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Thesis
and IDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Thesis in Spanish

691H is taken in the fall semester of the senior year and 692H is taken in the spring semester. FREN 390, ITAL 398, PORT 398, SPAN 397 and SPAN 398 may be substituted for the 691H research course if the subject of the seminar is central to the research project chosen. In the 692H course, the thesis will be completed and the student will participate in an oral defense with the thesis director and two additional readers, to be agreed upon by the student and director. The thesis director, in consultation with the readers, will recommend that the student who has defended the thesis graduate with honors, highest honors, or with course credit. FREN 390, FREN 691H, ITAL 398, ITAL 691H, PORT 398, SPAN 397 and SPAN 398 may count toward the eight courses for the major, but FREN 692H, ITAL 692H, PORT 692H, and SPAN 692H may not. Students who intend to graduate in December should adjust the scheduling of these courses in order to allow for completion of the honors project in December. Students meeting the required grade point averages should contact the undergraduate advisor for their language. For detailed information on the B.A. with honors, visit the department's website.

Collaborative Online International Learning

The department works in partnership with the COIL program and offers select courses that involve shared learning between students in a course at UNC–Chapel Hill and peer students at a global partner university. Faculty members at both institutions design collaborative activities for their students, such as completing small group projects, engaging in dialogue drawing on their different societal or disciplinary perspectives, or exchanging scholarly or creative work.

Out-of-Class Language Experience

The department offers credit-bearing internship opportunities through ROML 293 and service-learning opportunities through ROML 194. Both courses satisfy the High-Impact General Education requirement (in the IDEAs in Action curriculum) and the experiential education (EE) General Education requirement (in the Making Connections curriculum). While ROML 293 is a standalone course, ROML 194 is always connected to a specific course. 

Students may enrich their cultural and language experience by applying to the Spanish House, a section of Craige North residence hall. Equipped with a lounge and a kitchen, the house has space for eight male and 16 female students. Students make an effort to speak only Spanish while in residence.

Students also find opportunities to speak Spanish and meet native Spanish speakers in an informal weekly tertulia (gathering). Additional activities involving Spanish include attending lectures, receptions, and films organized by the department and student organizations such as CHispA (Carolina Hispanic Association); and serving the community through a variety of volunteer opportunities.

For further opportunities to speak French, students are encouraged to participate in the weekly meeting of the Table Française and become members of the French club, les Francophiles. Departmental lectures and film series are also offered.

Students interested in Italian language and culture may attend film series, guest lectures, and a series of other extracurricular events including games and conversation hours. They may also wish to join the undergraduate Italian Club.

Students who wish to practice Portuguese can meet weekly for the bate-papo (chat). Students of Portuguese also engage in editorial work and publish in the student journal Revistinha.

Study Abroad

The Study Abroad Office sponsors many year-long, semester-long, and summer programs appropriate for students of the Romance languages and has special arrangements with the Department of Romance Studies for the UNC in Montpellier, UNC in Seville, and Florence programs. Students from UNC–Chapel Hill and from other institutions may earn up to 30 semester hours of undergraduate credit in these programs, which are open to qualified undergraduates regardless of academic major. While, in general, students may satisfy up to 50 percent of major or minor coursework abroad, courses that are taught by Romance studies faculty may count differently. For example, students completing the Spanish minor for the professions in health and business may complete all or most of the minor in faculty-led programs abroad.

Students who participate in Study Abroad during the semester have the opportunity to work as course correspondents for a course in Romance studies. Course correspondents report back to the class they serve throughout the semester via online tools and may receive one hour of credit for their informative work.

General inquiries concerning any of these programs should be addressed to the Study Abroad Office, CB# 3130, FedEx Global Education Center, (919) 962-7002.

Undergraduate Awards


Students have the opportunity to be inducted into Pi Delta Phi, the national French honor society. Those with outstanding records in French are recommended as candidates for the Jacques Hardré Award, which is given to the best graduating senior in French; it includes a cash award.


Students are nominated for membership in Gamma Kappa Alpha, the Italian honor society, by undergraduate instructors. The society recognizes “outstanding scholastic performance in the fields of Italian language and literature” and encourages students “to acquire a greater interest in, and a deeper understanding of, Italian culture.” The Kimberly Kyser Award for Excellence in Italian is awarded to the most outstanding student in Italian and includes a cash prize.


Each year the department awards the Camões Prize to the outstanding student in Portuguese during that year. The prize carries a monetary award made possible by a donation from the Gulbenkian Foundation.


Students have the opportunity to be inducted into Sigma Delta Pi, the national Spanish honor society. Those with outstanding performance in the Hispanic literatures and cultures or the Hispanic linguistics majors are eligible for several prizes including the Chancellor’s Award, given to the top graduating senior, the Stoudemire Awards, and the Larry D. King Fellowship. 

Department of Romance Studies

Visit Program Website

238 Dey Hall, CB# 3170

(919) 962-2062

Undergraduate Advisor and Director of Italian Language Instruction

Amy Chambless


Ellen Welch

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Amy Chambless