Ph.D in Italian

Thank you for your interest in the UCLA Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies graduate program in Italian. Applications are accepted for Fall quarter only and the deadline is December 15.  Admitted students are not permitted to defer their offers of admission. 

We invite you to browse our website and learn more about the range of activities and wealth of accomplishments that characterize our extraordinary students and faculty in the graduate program.


Graduate Degrees Offered 

Although the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies graduate program in Italian offers both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, we admit only those students who plan to ultimately pursue a Ph.D. We do not offer a separate master’s program. The program requires full-time attendance, and classes are held during the day.  

All applicants should apply directly to the Ph.D. program. The M.A. degree is obtained en route to the Ph.D., and the requirements for the M.A. must be successfully completed in order to obtain permission to proceed further towards the Ph.D.  

Students with an M.A. degree from an institution in Italy which this department deems to be a peer institution can advance immediately to pursue the Ph.D, but will be required to pass the M.A. Comprehensive Examination no later than the end of their third quarter of graduate study. Students entering the graduate program with a B.A., or with a university degree in a discipline other than Italian literature, will be required to pursue the entire course of the M.A. program, and in some cases additional courses if deemed necessary by the faculty, before passing the Comprehensive Examination. As with all M.A. level students, performance on the comprehensive exam will dictate whether they will be allowed to fulfill the Ph.D. requirements. 

Application Components

  • A statement of purpose – Uploaded directly into the online application system, where you will find detailed prompts. There is no minimum or maximum length, although the suggested length is 500 words. Be sure to include the reasons why you wish to pursue graduate studies, your goals, your academic interests, your preparation in the field you propose to study and anything else you think will offer an accurate picture of yourself for the Committee. Family background and personal information may be included if you think it is relevant but should not take the place of the discussion of your academic and professional goals. Care should be taken with the statement of purpose and the writing sample (below), as the quality of thought and argument these exhibit, as well as their style, weigh significantly in admissions decisions. 
  • A personal statement – Uploaded directly into the online application system, where you will find detailed prompts. The Personal Statement is an opportunity for you to provide additional information that may aid the selection committee in evaluating your preparation and aptitude for graduate study at UCLA. It will also be used to consider candidates for the Cota-Robles fellowship. The suggested length is 500 words. 
  • A writing sample – Uploaded directly into the online application system. The sample should be no more than 10 pages, in English or ItalianPlease do not submit your entire thesis. Please do not submit more than one paper. Extra papers are not considered during the faculty’s review. The writing sample must be an academic paper (or portion of an academic paper), preferably a paper written for a courseand should demonstrate the applicant’s interest, competence, and experience in the chosen field of specialization. A writing sample has become increasingly important in the evaluation process and you should choose something you are proud of and consider representative of what you can do. 
  • Applicants must submitthree (3) letters of recommendation from scholars who can address the applicant’s intellectual qualifications. Recommenders will receive an email request with instructions for submitting their letters. All letters of recommendation must be submitted online by the December 15th application deadline. No more than three letters will be considered. 
  • Transcripts – Unofficial transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work must be uploaded into the online application system. (To read more about the parameters that define an acceptable unofficial transcript for the purposes of application review, click here). Admitted students will be required to provide official, sealed transcripts directly to the department (see address below) at a later date.  
  • NOTE: Transcripts from community colleges and short-term study abroad programs are not necessary, as the coursework will be reflected on your undergraduate transcript. 
  • GRE general test scores – In order for your application to be complete, the Department must receive score reports for the GRE general test taken within the last five years. Applicants must request score reports using department code 2605 (Italian) and institution code 4837 (UCLA).  If you do not provide ETS with both a department code and institution code, your application may not be processed. There is no minimum acceptable score for the GRE. Applicants submitting their GRE score should plan to take the GRE no later than October or November. Applicants who live outside of the United States can  find test center and date information on the ETS website.  Scores are valid for five years following your test date. 

Applicants who do not hold a bachelor’s or higher degree from a university located in the United States or in another country in which English is both the primary spoken language of daily life and the medium of instruction are REQUIRED to submit valid Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores to verify their English language proficiency. 

You are encouraged to earn a minimum TOEFL score of 87 on the Internet-based test (iBT) or 560 on the paper and pencil test. Applicants who elect to take the IELTS must earn an overall band score of at least 7.0 to qualify for admission. 

The GRE institution code is 4837; the Department/Major Field code is 2605/TOEFL iBT code is 10. 

All admitted applicants are automatically considered for recruitment fellowships and teaching assistantships. These awards are usually made in mid-March. Questions about need-based aid should be directed to the Financial Aid Office at (310) 206-0400. 

Please visit the UCLA Graduate Division website at for information regarding funding, application procedures, and general graduate information. 

The mailing address for transcripts is: 
Graduate Admission 
UCLA Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies/Italian 
212 Royce Hall 
Box 951539 
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1539 

If your institution supports electronic transmission of transcripts, these should be sent directly to   

If you should have further questions about the admissions process or the status of your application, please contact Kerry Allen, Student Affairs Officer, either by e-mail or telephone, (310) 825-1147. More academic issues may be addressed to the Vice Chair of Graduate Studies. 

For the most complete and up-to-date information on application procedures, as well as program requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D., please consult the Grad Division website. 

Deadline for all applications: December 15. 

Program Requirements

The following general overview of the Ph.D. program is intended to introduce and summarize the program’s structures and degree requirements. Students consult regularly with the Vice Chair of Graduate Studies.   

During the first two years of graduate study, students must complete a minimum of ten  graduate courses (38 units).  

Italian Literature Specialization. For both the capstone plan and thesis plans, 10 courses (38 units) are required, including Italian 205 and European Languages and Transcultural Studies 200 (2 units, S/U grading). The other eight courses should be distributed in three main literary periods (with two courses in each period): Middle Ages, Renaissance, modern. If approved by the graduate adviser, two of the10 courses may be individual research courses (Italian 596) or upper division Italian courses. Related courses in another department, such as Art History 230, may also be approved. To receive credit for such courses, students must petition the faculty in advance through a letter addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies. 

Italian Cultural Studies Specialization. This specialization offers two separate tracks: (a) medieval and early modern and (b) modern and contemporary. For both the capstone and thesis plans, 10 courses (38 units) are required and a minimum of five courses (20 units) must be in the 200 series, and European Languages and Transcultural Studies 200 (2 units, S/U grading) 

Advancement to Candidacy
Students are “advanced to candidacy” and awarded the Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil.) degree upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.

Advising and Doctoral Committee
Following completion of the M.A. exam, students will be urged to select, within their first quarter and in consultation with the Department, a faculty member to serve as their adviser, who may also agree to become the chair of the student’s doctoral guidance committee. This doctoral committee must be constituted at least one quarter prior to taking Part II of the Ph.D. written qualifying examinations. This committee prepares and administers Part II of the exam once the ten-course Ph.D. requirement and other preparatory work have been completed.

Course Requirements
In addition to the courses required for the master’s degree, at least eight other quarter courses are required. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program who have not previously taken Italian 205 and IT 225 (or their equivalents) are required to take them as soon as possible. Students who wish courses taken in another department to be deemed equivalent to these must submit a detailed letter of petition addressed to the Department Chair. Two relevant courses taught in other graduate programs at UCLA may be counted toward the ten courses required for the Ph.D. in Italian provided that students receive the entire faculty’s approval, via a similar letter of petition addressed to the Department Chair.

Doctoral Dissertation
The doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the field of Italian studies.

A dissertation defense upon completion of the dissertation is not required in the Department of Italian except in extraordinary cases.

Incomplete Grades
The grade “I” (Incomplete) can be assigned when a student’s work is of passing quality but is incomplete for good cause. To remove the “I” the student must complete the work by the end of the immediately following quarter.  If not completed within that quarter, the grade “I” will lapse to “F.”

Foreign Language Requirement

A reading knowledge of two of the following foreign languages is required: Latin, French, German, or Spanish. Students will demonstrate reading knowledge of their two languages by successful completion of UCLA undergraduate language coursework through at least level 3 or by a departmental placement exam. A language used to satisfy the requirement for the M.A. degree in Italian may be applied toward fulfillment of one of the two language requirements. Language requirements must be satisfied before taking Part II of the qualifying examinations.

Giovanni Cecchetti Graduate Award

Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. R. Elizabeth Cecchetti, the Department of Italian announces the Giovanni Cecchetti Graduate Award.

Giovanni Cecchetti (1922-1998) was a distinguished professor who devoted his life to the teaching of Italian language and culture. He graduated Laureato in Lettere from the Universita di Firenze. In 1948 he began teaching at the University of California at Berkeley. He also taught at Tulane University in New Orleans and Stanford. In 1969 he came to teach at UCLA, where he taught for 29 years. Chair of the Italian Department from 1969 to 1977, Cecchetti specialized in the study of Dante as well as nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italian literature. He received the Medaglia d’oro from the Italian Government in 1978 for his contributions to Italian culture.

An annual award of $3,000 will be awarded to one graduate student studying Italian literature. It may be used to fund dissertation research or any other research that the Department of Italian deems appropriate, and may be used in the United States or abroad.

Major and Minor Fields

A Ph.D. student will generally select as a major field of study two centuries or periods of Italian literature (medieval, Renaissance/baroque, or modern/contemporary). Two other centuries of Italian literature can comprise the minor field. He or she might also choose a minor field outside of the department if it is closely tied to the major area of specialization and meets with the approval of the entire faculty (e.g., cinema, history, art history, etc.). With careful planning, majors and minors may be period based, may deal with a specific genre, movement, theme, or critical question (e.g. lyric poetry, short story, realism, modernism, feminism, allegory, the border, identity, etc.), may address a relationship between Italian literature and another medium or field (e.g. cinema, painting, music, politics, history, etc.).

Optional Certificate Programs

Students may also be eligible to enroll in the Experimental Critical Theory certificate program, or in the Gender Studies Concentration Certificate Program.

This program is open to graduate students enrolled in any Ph.D. or MFA program at UCLA, and offers the Graduate Certificate in Experimental Critical Theory.  Requirements for the certificate include the two quarter core seminar, offered winter and spring quarters.  The Program also sponsors the twice quarterly ECT Colloquium and various lectures and conferences.  More information about the program, the full requirements for the certificate, and how to apply to it is available here.  

The UCLA Department of Gender Studies offers a Concentration Certificate in Gender Studies to allow graduate students enrolled in UCLA departments, programs and professional schools to acquire expertise and a credential in Gender Studies.  The requirements for the Gender Studies Concentration are in addition to requirements in the primary department or school, and should be completed before advancing to candidacy. Upon completion of the requirements, a Certificate is issued by the Department of Gender Studies. More information about the program, the full list of requirements, and how to apply to it is available here.

Scheduling Exams

All students should take Part II of the qualifying exams by the end of their sixth quarter in residence as a Ph.D. student (or no later than six quarters after taking Part I of the qualifying exams, which is equivalent to the M.A. Comprehensive Exam).

Part II consists of 2 written examinations, followed by 1 oral examination. The written and oral exams of Part II should be taken during the same academic year, though not necessarily the same quarter. They should be administered no later than six quarters after completion of the M.A. degree. PhD students should make preparations for these exams, and receive all necessary approvals, by the end of their fifth quarter in residence. Scheduling these exams is also the responsibility of the student (assisted by the Student Affairs Officer). Part II of the qualifying exams consists of a written Minor Exam, a written Major Exam, and an Oral Examination. Half of the Oral Examination is devoted to a detailed discussion of the student’s Dissertation Prospectus (see below).

Nearing completion of their coursework, students choose, in consultation with the Department, an exam-and-dissertation director – a ladder-rank member of the faculty of the Department of Italian – to head a committee of four faculty members. This committee composes and evaluates the exams. One of the four must be an “outside member” – a professor from another department or another UC campus, ideally familiar with the student’s work. Students choose two areas of study (see above), each approved by the exam director and doctoral committee at least one month before the exams. The committee approves two suitable reading lists, one of at least 10 to 15 texts for the minor exam, and the other of 20 to 30 texts for the major. The student’s reading list should be structured with a view toward the interests of the upcoming dissertation. The reading lists must also be submitted for approval by the Department.

Minor Exam (5 hours): requires answering one comprehensive, multi-textual essay question out of a choice of three, in a single sitting.

Major Exam (6 hours): requires answering two essay questions out of a choice of six, also in a single sitting. The first question will ask for a textual analysis, or close reading of a specific passage, extrapolating information about the author’s achievement as a whole as well as broad patterns in Italian literary history. The second question asks for a multi-textual interpretation, comparative or historical in nature.

The Dissertation Prospectus: At least one month before the oral, the student must have chosen and researched a dissertation topic. This work will have resulted in a Dissertation Prospectus of no less than 15 pages, plus a substantial critical bibliography, circulated among the members of the doctoral committee. Close work with the dissertation director, and patient acts of revision, are advised. The competed prospectus must be turned in to the committee at least two weeks before the oral exam.

Oral Exam (2 hours): To be taken no later than one quarter after the two written exams. The first half of the oral examination will discuss the recent written qualifying exams; the second half will focus on the dissertation prospectus. Members of the committee will be especially interested in the cogency and originality of the proposed dissertation topic. As with all parts of the doctoral exams, a student may pass, fail, or, in the case of a less than satisfactory performance, be scheduled to repeat a variation of the same exam at another date. No exam in the graduate program can be repeated more than once. 

Written and Oral Qualifying Exams

There are two parts to the Ph.D. written exams. The M.A. Comprehensive Examination (in Italian) is Part I, and the Ph.D. written and oral examinations are part II.

Time to Degree

Completion of all coursework, examinations, and the dissertation for the Ph.D. degree should occur no later than six years from beginning of graduate status.