Academic Programs at Umbra


The Umbra Institute offers a variety of distinctive academic programs designed to serve the needs of a diverse range of students who want to study abroad in Italy.


The General Studies program provides students from any discipline or major the opportunity to choose liberally from a selection of courses taught by Umbra faculty, during the regular semesters or our summer session. For those students eager to pursue deeper integration within the local community, academic internships, independent research, and honors courses are available to challenge even the most academically ambitious. Our Food & Sustainability Studies Program explores the past, present, and future of food with an emphasis on sustainability and new technology.


And finally, for the culturally ambitious, we offer the Direct Enrollment Italian Language & Culture Program at the Università per Stranieri di Perugia (University for Foreigners), or at the Direct Enrollment at the local Università degli Studi di Perugia (University of Perugia). Our Direct Enrollment programs are reminiscent of “study abroad as it used to be”—when students came to Italy to study at a host-country university with local students in Italian, and participate fully in Italian life, culture, and scholarship.


As the Umbra Institute is also recognized as a provider of credit-bearing courses for the Università degli Studi di Perugia and other local academic institutions, a number of Italian students join us each semester, providing further opportunities for cultural exchange and enrichment. The Umbra Institute not only brings students to Perugia, Italy, but also Perugia and Italy to the students with a focus on community engagement both in and out of the classroom. Umbra programs are characterized by:



Immersion through Language Study
The main vehicle through which people approach and begin to understand a different culture is the language. This is why all Umbra students are required to study Italian. As they hone their linguistic skills, students are able to communicate and feel more at home, ensuring a successful immersion experience. Our Tandem language exchange accelerates Italian acquisition by learning from Italian student peers in a relaxed, conversational environment. The desired outcome of language study at the Umbra Institute is to increase students’ motivation and enthusiasm for Italian, as well as heighten their curiosity about the city and its local culture. 


Using Perugia as a Classroom
Perugia is a mid-sized town with a strong tradition of hosting students from around the world who come to study the Italian language. Each semester begins with a week-long program of immersion: afternoons are dedicated to “getting around town” and include outside-the-classroom exercises and excursions, all conducted in Italian. 


Focus on Community Engagement

The Umbra Institute has integrated community engagement opportunities throughout the various academic programs and the extra- and co-curricular activities. These intercultural initiatives are designed to deepen the overall cultural experience. Umbra strives to create a transformative, student-centered learning environment through experiential learning and personal reflection.




Choose Your Path

When you study with the Umbra Institute, you decide what kind of academic experience best suits your individual needs. The main programs are briefly summarized below, but you can mix-and-match courses to fit your curricular needs. Our academic staff will assist you in designing the program that is right for you. For detailed information on each, please visit the details links:


  • General Studies Program
    The General Studies Program is the most flexible option for students studying for a semester at the Umbra Institute. Students may choose freely from the varied list of courses offerings each semester, selecting the ones that interest them or fit their curricular concentrations. All General Studies students must take an Italian language course or a course(s) in Italian as part of their curriculum and enroll in full-time study (minimum of 12 credits). This program encourages curricular concentration as an option by allowing students to work on one larger project satisfying the requirements for two or more courses with the permission and guidance of your instructors. Our academic advisers will be pleased to assist you in designing the most rewarding program for you.
  • Direct Enrollment at the Universita’ per Stranieri (University for Foreigners) 
    This program is exclusively dedicated to the study of the Italian language and culture. Students who select this program are directly enrolled at the Università per Stranieri di Perugia in one of six language levels. The University for Foreigners Direct Enrollment option is conducted entirely in Italian and is open to all students. The program yields 16 semester credits in the Italian language and culture. The levels of instruction at this university are based on The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Level A1, for example, is designed for beginners and assumes no prior study of the Italian language. Levels C1 and C2, on the other hand, are designed for linguistically advanced students and offer elective courses covering a variety of subjects related to Italian studies. 


  • Direct Enrollment at the Universita’ degli Studi di Perugia (University of Perugia)
    This program is available to students with high intermediate and advanced proficiency in Italian language. The Umbra Institute facilitates direct enrollment at the Universita’ degli Studi di Perugia for full-time study in the fall semester, spring semester, or for an entire academic year. Students studying at the Universita’ degli Studi di  Perugia will regularly meet with academic tutors and faculty advisers at the Umbra Institute who will guide them through their program of study at the Italian university and help with academic and bureaucratic concerns.

  • The Food & Sustainability Studies Program
    The Food & Sustainability Studies Program is a curricular concentration that applies an interdisciplinary approach to the study of food – history, sociology, cultural studies, business practices, literature, politics, science, agriculture, and sustainability – to discover how the individual, the community, and society relate to food in Italy, America, and internationally. The program consists of three courses in food studies, Italian language, and an optional elective (for a total of at least 15 credits). There are also opportunities for internships in local wineries.

  • Independent Research & Honors Program
    This program is designed for students who wish to work on a thesis or senior project while studying abroad in Italy. Students are required to take a 4 or 6-credit Italian language course, a 2-credit Research Methods course, and a 4-credit Field-Study Research course. This program course consists of regular one-on-one consultations with a pre-assigned Umbra instructor, who assists and guides the student through their thesis. Students may also choose to work with instructors from their home institution if approved. Additionally, students can choose one or two additional courses for a minimum of 15 semester credits. Honors courses may be taken by students who qualify. This program is open to all students.

  • Summer Programs
    The Umbra Institute offers four distinct summer programs- the 5 1/2 week Summer General Studies program in which students choose one or two courses from a variety of offerings taught in English and the 7-week Intensive Italian through Culture Program focused exclusively on language acquisition and Italian cultural studies. No prior study in Italian is required to participate in either program. There is also a 5 1/2 week Food & Sustainability Studies Program, as well as an Archaeology Field School.