The Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures offers individually planned programs leading to the PhD in Italian. There is no terminal MA program; graduate study of Italian at Johns Hopkins is oriented toward completion of the PhD.

The Italian PhD program emphasizes work in three complementary areas: literary history, close textual analysis, and theory of interpretation. Critical and historical fields of concentration for the PhD in Italian normally fall within one of the canonical periods (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, 19th and 20th centuries) and genres (poetry, fiction, drama, dialogue, prosa d’arte). However, specializations involving other languages, literatures, and humanistic disciplines can be arranged by Italian PhD students.

The student will normally take a minimum of five semesters of graduate courses on the Johns Hopkins campus. The student is expected to take occasional courses outside the department, especially in the areas of linguistic and literary theory, comparative literature, philosophy, history, and history of art. The final course, which may be taken in the sixth semester, but no later, will be an independent study with the student’s principal adviser, which will be focused on preparing the ABD, or prospectus for the dissertation, which must be discussed publicly before the student is admitted to candidacy for the doctorate. The student will also demonstrate a reading knowledge of two other languages besides English, one of which, for specialists in literature between 1200 and 1600, will be Latin.

At the end of the third year, the student will take a comprehensive written examination to demonstrate his or her knowledge of the major outlines of Italian literary history. Along with successful discussion of the ABD, successful completion of the comprehensive examination admits to candidacy for the PhD.


Teacher training and practice teaching are an essential part of the Italian graduate program. Supervised teaching is required of degree candidates, in every year but the fourth. Opportunities outside of language instruction for teaching include teaching the Undergraduate Survey of Italian Literature, intersession and summer courses of the student’s own design (including credit courses), and the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship. All these opportunities require departmental and/or University approval, and may be subject to competition.

Study in Italy

Italian graduate students normally devote the fourth year of study to research in Italy for their dissertations. The university provides fellowship support for this research. Students design their program of research in coordination with their dissertation advisers. Fellowships for study in Italy are also available through the department (Singleton Travel Fellowships) and through the Charles Singleton Center for the Study of Premodern Europe.