PhD students train to become researchers in the field of Italian Studies, Mediterranean Studies and a variety of related fields. After two years of coursework to complete and refine their research projects, doctoral students conduct original research and prepare for a professional life in the academic or in fields that require specialized and developed research skills (NGOs, Think tanks, government agencies, etcetera).

For Italy, globalization as a modern process is neither the beginning nor the end of the story. Italy has always been situated in a complex space, often best understood transnationally, post-nationally, and in a variety of cosmopolitan contexts, from Europe to the Mediterranean.

The graduate program in Italian Studies is committed to the interdisciplinary study of Italian literature and culture. Our faculty work on areas ranging from literature and cinema to medieval and early modern culture to history and critical theory. Recent and current graduate students working in Italian have written on topics ranging from the literature of extracomunitari in Italy, Dante's body in the context of pilgrimage texts, the acquisition of verb morphology, to postmodernism and detective fiction. Prospective graduate students should know that they will receive a training appropriate for an ever-more interdisciplinary profession, and that they will have the resources of a major university, ranging from the European Union Center to the largest public university library in the world, containing world-famous Dante, Tasso, and Italian Renaissance Plays collections. 

In order to encourage innovative work that crosses disciplinary boundaries, the graduate program in Italian Studies requires students to pass exams on not only their dissertation topic and period, as well as a contiguous period, but also an outside field or chronological period. As a result, we strongly encourage students, while acquiring a solid foundation in Italian culture, to work outside the program during their stay here, particularly in those programs that offer graduate minors and certificates, such as the Unit for Criticism & Interpretive Theory, the Unit for Cinema Studies,  the Medieval Studies Program and the program in Gender & Women’s Studies. Italian at Illinois also has a strong connection with the Program in Comparative Literature, and the department of French and Italian encourages all graduate students to explore the many opportunities of collaboration within the Francophone and Italophone areas. Doctoral students in Italian are eligible to pursue a Certificate in Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education (SLATE).

We recognize that financial support is a crucial aspect of a graduate career, and we are committed to providing our continuing students with fellowships and teaching opportunities. All of our graduate students in Italian have received Graduate Teaching Assistantships, which include tuition and partial fee waivers. Before completing their degrees, our students have the opportunity to teach in their content area, in addition to language courses.