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“Bologna is an intoxicating mix of delicious food, beautiful people and unending cultural riches, all set against the backdrop of a medieval architecture and mood that is, nonetheless, very much in touch with the modern world and the global economy.”

- John Ransom

associate professor of political science, former Bologna resident director

Dickinson in Italy


Bologna, Italy

The city of Bologna, located in northern Italy, has its own distinct medieval beauty.  Centered at the crossroads of Italy, this city of approximately half-a-million people is home to one of the oldest universities in the world.  It is just a train ride away from the art of Florence, the fashionable streets of Milan and the historic city of Venice.

Bologna, designated an official European "city of culture" in 2000, is also a major center for trade fairs, where businesses and industries showcase everything from the latest developments in technology to the newest cars, perfumes and books.  While providing many varied opportunities for internships, Bologna's current contributions to the modern capitalist economy contrast with the city's historically socialist identity.

The Bologna Program was first offered in 1965 and is Dickinson's oldest program.  Eight seniors and eight juniors studied in the first program and sailed to Italy on the S.S. Castel Felice.  As of 2008, the program had more than 1,000 alumni.

The K. Robert Nilsson Center for European Studies and the University of Bologna

Named in honor of its first director, the K. Robert Nilsson Center for European Studies in Bologna was established in 1965 and, over the years, has attracted students from many universities around the United States who want to undertake serious study of Europe.  The University of Bologna has been in operation for 900 years and has a student population exceeding 80,000 students.

Courses at the center are taught by faculty from Bologna and by the center's resident director, a member of the Dickinson faculty.  The curriculum focuses on Europe and includes courses in international relations, history, economics, sociology, political science, fine arts and Italian studies.  Independent study that focuses on a specific research topic is also a possibility.

All participants must have taken at least Italian 101 before leaving the United States.  Although all Nilsson Center courses are taught in English, knowledge of Italian assists students in participating in the daily life of Italy, so they continue to study the language during their time in Bologna.  Students engage in interdisciplinary study of the contemporary issues facing Europe and use Italy as a window through which to view Europe at large.  They can expect to come away with an understanding of European history and culture and an appreciation of Italy's role within Europe.

Upon arrival, all program participants complete a four-week intensive language course appropriate to their individual level of fluency.  After this month-long course, students enroll in four fall semester courses, followed by another four in the spring.

Some academic-year students may conduct internships in the spring semester, and a small number of exceptionally well-qualified students may be granted the opportunity to enroll in graduate-level courses at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on a space-available basis.  Students with advanced Italian language abilities may enroll directly in a course or courses at the University of Bologna or at the Accademia di Belle Arti.

Most students who successfully complete the academic year in Bologna earn nine course credits, depending upon the courses selected.

Courses typically offered at the Dickinson Center include:

The Arts of Italy

Modern Italy

The European Union

Elementary Italian

Intermediate Italian

Intensive Italian Expression

Italian in a Cultural Context

Comparative Western Systems

Contemporary Eastern Europe

Italian Politics

European Economic History

U.S. Foreign Policy


Please note that courses are subject to change from year to year.

Qualified students may complete internships in Bologna.  Students have gained valuable experience in a variety of organizations including an art gallery, a bookstore, a consulting firm and a middle school.


The academic program is enhanced by a number of excursions to areas of cultural, political and historical interest.  In the past, faculty members have taken students to Rome, Florence, Assisi, Urbino, Naples and other important areas.

On-Site Administration

A Dickinson College professor serves as the resident director of the Bologna Program.  The resident director plans and leads the academic program, advises students and teaches at the Nilsson Center.  The director is assisted by Associate Director Clarissa Pagni, who has worked for the Nilsson Center for more than 20 years.

Program participants live in apartments carefully chosen by the director and staff.  Participants receive a food allowance and may eat in local trattorie or at the University of Bologna's cafeteria, but mostly they shop in the city's open-air markets and try cooking in one of the world's culinary capitals.

Quick Facts
  Dates Program Fee* Application Deadline
Academic Year late Aug. to early June $49,860 Feb. 15

* This is the program fee for 2009-2010; the program fee for 2010-2011 will correspond to on-campus tuition and fees and will be determined during spring 2010.

Program Fee Includes
• tuition and fees
• room and board
• pre-departure and on-site orientations
• academic excursions

The program fee does not include primary health insurance, airfare, passport, visa, immunizations, optional travel, personal expenses, meals and housing during vacations, books or supplies.

Special Requirements
2.8 GPA
Students must complete at least Italian 101 before studying abroad


Bologna Handbook

Bologna Student Budget Sheet

Photos for the Bologna Program

University of Bologna

For more information, contact
Prof. Sylvie Davidson, On-Campus Coordinator                                                                     Department of French and Italian                                                                                              The Office of Global Education
Dickinson College
P.O. Box 1773
Carlisle, PA 17013-2896
Phone: (717) 245-1598

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