The Italian PhD program at Johns Hopkins University emphasizes work in three complementary areas: literary history, close textual analysis, and theory of interpretation, with a focus on the study of evolving cultures of literacy—from manuscripts and the material history of the book to performance, film, and emerging digital cultures. Specializations involving other languages, literatures, and humanistic disciplines can also be arranged by our PhD students.

How to Apply

Find application dates, materials, and key information on the Admissions page.


Along with seminars in Italian studies, students are expected to take occasional courses outside their field of specialization, especially in the areas of linguistic and literary theory, comparative literature, philosophy, history, art history, film and, media studies. Students will also demonstrate a reading knowledge of at least two other languages besides English. Training in research and methods includes a variety of activities held at the Special Collections of the University Library.


Teacher training and teaching practice are an essential part of the Italian graduate program. Supervised teaching is required of degree candidates, in every year but the first and the fourth. Opportunities outside of language instruction for teaching include teaching the undergraduate survey Italian Journeys, intersession and summer courses of the student’s own design (including credit courses), and the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship.

Study Abroad

Graduate students normally devote the fourth year of study to research in Italy for their dissertations. Travel grants are available through the department (Singleton Travel Fellowships) and through the Charles Singleton Center for the Study of Pre-Modern Europe. Furthermore, our students benefit from a variety of graduate exchange programs with prestigious institutions such as the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Università di Venezia, the University of Oxford, the University of Warwick.


Recent graduates of the PhD program in Italian have tenured or tenure-track appointments at Pace University, Fordham University, Georgetown University, Southeastern Louisiana University, Syracuse University, the University of Delaware, Villanova University, Ghent University, and Trinity College, Dublin. A number of Hopkins graduates in Italian Studies have also secured post-doctoral positions such as the prestigious and competitive Marie Curie Fellowships.


Along with curricular activities, the Italian program runs a series of invited talks, the Lector(es) in Fabula reading group of literary theory and criticism, as well as film screenings and panel discussions with authors and film directors. Our students are also active in the organization of graduate conferences. Recent conferences include The Many Forms of the Decameron: Interpretations, Translations and Adaptations (2015), and Versus: Antagonism, Self-Criticism, and Hostility in Literature and Art (2016). Finally, our advanced graduate students have the opportunity to collaborate to the editing of the Italian issue of the journal Modern Language Notes.

Related Programs

The Graduate Certificate Program in Film and Media is offered by the Center for Advanced Media Studies.

It educates doctoral candidates of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences in the theory, aesthetics, and history of film, video, and other audio-visual media, including emergent objects of the digital age.