Skip to content

Programs : Brochure

If the program location currently has a travel warning issued by the U.S. Department of State, please consult a study abroad advisor before starting your application.
  • Locations: Bologna, Italy
  • Program Terms: Academic Year, Spring
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Restrictions: Rice applicants only
Fact Sheet:
Program Description:

Bologna Duomo from AsinelliStatue at Universita di BolognaCity Street in Bologna


The University of Bologna (Italian: Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, UNIBO) is the oldest continually operating university in the world; the word 'universitas' being first used by this institution at its foundation.  The true date of its founding is uncertain, but believed by most accounts to have been 1088. Since 2000, the University's motto has been Alma mater studiorum (Latin for "fostering mother of studies").  The university received a charter from Frederick I Barbarossa in 1158, but in the 19th century, a committee of historians led by Giosuè Carducci traced the founding of the University back to 1088, making it the oldest university in the strict sense in the word.  The university is historically notable for its teaching of canon and civil law.  Until modern times, the only degree granted at that university was the doctorate.  Through the years the University developed its ancient tradition of humanistic studies. Copernicus, Dante, Petrarch and Tasso represent just some of the University's distinguished alumni.

With a student population of nearly 96,000, the University is the second largest in the country. It became a center of research and learning during the Middle Ages, attracting scholars from throughout Christendom. Its history is one of great thinkers in science and the humanities, making it an indispensable point of reference in the panorama of European culture.

In the Napoleonic era, the headquarters of the university were moved to their present location on Via Zamboni, in the north-eastern sector of the city centre. Today, the University's 23 faculties, 68 departments, and 93 libraries are spread across the city and include four subsidiary campuses.


The majority of the courses are taught in Italian. All students are required to take a course focusing on Italian language and culture.  The academic year begins in October and extends through June. 

Each semester, students should enroll in one or two regular University of Bologna courses with Italian students, or a minimum of three over the academic year.  Students may also take special courses in Italian literature, language, art history, film studies, civilization, and contemporary politics. All instruction in program courses is in Italian, and the courses are taught by the faculty of the university.

Many university courses are year-long, so choices for the spring semester may be limited.  A sample of courses offered at Università di Bolgna are as follows: 

Anthropology, Archaeology, Communications, Comparative literature, Drama, Economics, Engineering, European studies, Foreign Languages and Literature, Geography, History, International relations, Italian language, Italian studies, Latin, Law, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Physical Science, Political science, Psychology, Romance languages, Sociology, Statistical Science, Theater arts, Visual arts.

For a comprehensive list of courses and programs, please refer to:


Students are responsible for finding their own housing in Bologna. During the first week or two after arrival, program students live together in a pensione. With the assistance of the program and of the university's housing office, students then locate independent apartments in Bologna and usually live with Italian and Erasmus students.

The program provides substantial information about local housing resources and includes time in the beginning of each semester for new students to secure accommodations. While most program participants live in rented apartments with Italian students, some choose to live in Italian households. Because students are responsible for their own accommodation, there is no meal plan; however, there are a variety of restaurants to suit every budget, and the food in Bologna is among the best in all of Italy.

Student Life

Bologna offers excellent opportunities for cultural immersion and the development of cross-cultural competence through activities at the university and in the community. Because developing cross-cultural competence takes effort and time, students should be willing to devote several hours per week to community and university activities, and must be willing to speak Italian at all times.


Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy, in the Po Valley between the Po River and the Apennines. The city lies at the foot of the Apennines Mountains in the fertile plain of Emilia and is a two-hour train ride from both Venice and Milan and within an hour from Ravenna and Florence. A city of ancient origin, Bologna flourished in the Middle Ages, During the Renaissance, Bologna flourished and it was the only city in Italy to allow women to excel in any profession and even earn university degrees. Under Napoleon, Bologna was the second-most important center of the Italian Kingdom, after Milan.

A handsome legacy of porticos, churches, palaces, and towers bear witness to Bologna's rich and powerful past. With a population of about 500,000 residents, Bologna is one of the most important cities of northern Italy. It is a sophisticated and prosperous modern city, full of writers, publishers and politicians. Despite having suffered considerable bombing damage in 1944, Bologna's historic centre contains a wealth of important Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque artistic monuments. The city is often nicknamed "The Red One" due to the color of the roofs in Bologna's historic center.