Program Category: PhD Programs
Chair: Jo Ann Cavallo
Director of Graduate Studies: Pier Mattia Tommasino
Email Address: italian [at]
Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA, MPhil, PhD

Drawing on a distinguished history initiated in 1825 by Lorenzo Da Ponte, celebrated librettist of Mozart's operas and first teacher of Italian at Columbia University, the department is known for providing broad coverage of Italian literature and boasts a faculty that represents a diverse spectrum of interests and critical approaches. In addition, students are able to take advantage of the rich cultural and scholarly programs sponsored by the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America. The Paterno collection, housed in Butler Library, is a unique resource for the study of Italian literature. 

In the MA year, students take ten courses. Students proceeding to the MPhil/PhD program take eight more courses, which can include courses in other departments and programs. Latin, as well as German, or a Romance language other than Italian, is required of all PhD candidates in Italian.

Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of graduate students. Thus, graduate fellowships include some teaching and research apprenticeship.

Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) awards a certificate in Comparative Literature and Society. For more information, see the ICLS website.

Special Admissions Requirements: 

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a writing sample (a course paper, term paper in either English or Italian, etc.), and three letters of recommendation from academic sources.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to our Admissions Information and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

Deadline for Fall Admission: Thursday, January 2, 2020
Resume Requirement: Yes
Writing Sample: Yes
Writing Sample Number of Pages: 10-15
GRE General: Yes
Degree Programs: Full Time
Letters of Recommendation: 3


A high degree of proficiency in reading, writing and speaking English and Italian is required. Although an undergraduate major in Italian is not a prerequisite, the student must have a general knowledge of Italian literature. Prior study of Latin, German, or a Romance language other than Italian is recommended. The general GRE exam is required.