Area Studies and Culture

Summer ~ Semester ~ Academic Year

The Lexia in Rome Area Studies and Culture program introduces students to the history, politics, economics, art, archeology, and architecture of Italy. Coursework, language training, excursions, and field research exercises and projects help students to grasp the connections of Rome’s past to its future and provide comparative analysis of Rome’s role in the Mediterranean region and international scene.

No prior knowledge of Italian is required. However, intensive language training is provided, thereby helping students to develop the skills and confidence to live, study, and conduct research in a foreign country. In addition to the language training students will also be encouraged to partake in several scheduled activities in Italian. Social encounters with Italian nationals, as well as organized field trips, all contribute to a greater understanding of Italy.


"I had such an amazing experience! I am very glad I chose Lexia and Rome to study in."


Program Options

Students on the Lexia Rome Area Studies and Culture program can choose whether to study abroad for a five-week summer term, a semester, or the academic year. When deciding how long to study abroad, students should consult their academic advisor, financial aid counselor, study abroad office and their family. Lexia staff can assist students with this decision. A list of courses and course descriptions can be found below:


Summer Program

Students on the Lexia Rome Area Studies and Culture summer program take two courses for a total of 8 semester credits or 12 quarter credits. 

  • Italian Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • Italian Language Course


Semester Program

Students on the Lexia Rome Area Studies and Culture semester program take four courses for a total of 16 semester credits or 24 quarter credits. 

  • Italian Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • Italian Language Course
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Field Research Project 


Academic Year

Students on the Lexia Rome Area Studies and Culture academic year program take eight courses during two semesters for a total of 32 semester credits or 48 quarter credits. 

Students on academic year programs complete the regular semester program described above during the first semester. In the second semester, students continue language training and their Field Research Project and choose two Elective Courses to complete their academic program. Key to a second semester in Rome is designing a program of study that immerses the student in the local culture via language study, internship or volunteer experiences, course work, and independent study and projects. Students are also encouraged to consider spending the spring semester at a different Lexia site, conducting a comparative or complementary Field Research Project. 

Semester 1

  • Italian Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • Italian Language Course
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Field Research Project

Semester 2

  • Field Research Project
  • Italian Language Course
  • Elective Course 1
  • Elective Course 2



Italian Area Studies and Culture Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

The Italian Area Studies and Culture Seminar is designed to introduce students to a variety of topics in Italian history, art, architecture, politics, society, and economics.  Class format ranges from lectures and discussions to the close reading of documents and art works, and incorporates several excursions within the city of Rome. Grades are determined on the basis of class discussion, participation in the excursions, and written work, including a midterm and a final examination consisting of extended essay questions. Classroom time totals approximately 60 hours, including instruction during excursions.


Italian Language Course (Four semester/six quarter credits)

Italian language courses are taught at the elementary, intermediate, or advanced levels at the Istituto Italiano with other international students.


Research Methods Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

This seminar teaches a range of methods for engaging in sustained, original inquiry in the field and sets the framework for developing rigorous, individual projects. By exposing the students to the diverse environments of Rome and Italy, this course encourages students to examine and revise their ideas of Italian culture. By extension, students begin to question their own sense of self and to explore the culturally embedded nature of identities in general.

The course introduces a variety of research skills, methodologies and techniques including reading, listening, observing, choosing, questioning, summarizing, organizing, writing, presenting, and reflecting. A variety of techniques for collecting and analyzing data will also be examined.

Rome offers students a myriad of visual and cultural encounters, from architecture to the collections of images housed in museums, to the fascinating, often fleeting exchanges on every street corner and subway ride. Through a series of visual and writing exercises, students explore language ability, visual skills, ethical issues, theorizing about experience, and how to synthesize field knowledge into original work and/or formal academic writing.


Field Research Project (Four semester/six quarter credits)

The Field Research Project offers students the opportunity to pursue an independent, self-designed project in a specialized field of interest. A faculty member, professional, artist, architect, or other mentor serves as advisor for the project, meeting periodically with the student to provide necessary supervision and support. For academic year students, one topic may be explored in-depth throughout the academic year or different topics may be chosen each semester. Students are encouraged to use their language skills and knowledge of the local culture and subject matter to investigate their selected topic(s).

The range of potential projects is wide – from public culture and fine arts to urban life and business. The final product can take a variety of forms, but must express a rigorous, sustained inquiry into the chosen topic and demonstrate the student’s ability to engage with the resources available in Rome. Projects might range from a 20-25 page paper or summary of laboratory work to a collection of short stories or personal essays, dance performance, photo essay, or other project.

Students spend a minimum of 60 hours per semester conducting research for their project, meeting for a minimum of eight hours with their advisor and/or the Resident Director. A week at the end of each semester is planned for the synthesis of the students’ findings, writing, or other work, followed by the presentation and discussion of the projects in the group.

Grades for the Field Research Project are based on the required paper or project, meetings with the advisor and the final presentation. The faculty advisor and the Resident Director make final grade assessments. The final project must be submitted before departure from Rome. Late projects are not accepted.

Past projects have included:

  • The Planned City: Comparing Rome to Washington, D.C.
  • Influences of Islamic Styles in Roman Architecture
  • Health Care in Rome and Italy
  • Working in the Italian School System


Dates & Deadlines

Coming soon!


Apartments: Students live in shared apartments within commuting distance of the teaching facilities.  Apartments are equipped with the essentials, including cooking utensils and linens.

Homestays: Students live in family homestays within commuting distance of the teaching facilities. Students should be aware that the "traditional" family (two parents, children under 18) is a rarity in Rome; they may be placed with an older couple, single person, or in other family configurations. Whether in single or double rooms, students share clean, safe accommodations.


The program fee covers all Lexia excursions, which are designed to help students discover areas and aspects of culture that are typically less easily accessible to tourists and give a broad representation of the breadth of Italian culture and its people. Excursions outside of Rome may include some of the following:

Florence: Capital of Tuscany and birthplace of the Renaissance; Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David in the Accademia Gallery

Venice: St. Mark’s Cathedral; Peggy Guggenheim Collection; Murano glass on the island of Murano

Verona: Pink marble Roman Arena; Romeo’s Juliet’s House; wine tasting

Cinque Terre: Five fishing villages on the Italian Riviera

Orvieto: Hilltop town in southern Tuscany; Orvieto Cathedral; Orvieto Underground caves

Padua: Italy’s second oldest university; Padua Cathedral


Integrated into some of the courses, excursions in and around Rome are an essential part of the Lexia program. These field trips can include:

  • The Vatican and Vatican Museum
  • The Coliseum
  • San Giovanni in Laterano
  • Roman Forum
  • St. Paul Outside the Walls
  • The Catacombs of San Callisto
  • Santa Constanza
  • Villa Giulia
  • Museo Borghese

In addition, Lexia Rome students participate in joint visits and seminars with other Lexia program sites. Students visit one or more of the other sites for several days, meet other Lexia students in seminars and excursions to places such as Venice and compare their experiences as a way to further explore Italian culture and the role of European identity.

The Lexia staff assists students in adjusting to and interacting with the local culture.  Students are encouraged to attend extracurricular events and to become involved in volunteer activities during the program. Students with particular extracurricular interests should alert the Resident Director once abroad, so that they may help the student become involved. The program staff may also inform students of additional cultural events and independent travel opportunities available.



Semester: $16,950
Tuition: $13,150
Housing: $3,800

Academic Year: $31,550
Tuition: $23,950
Housing: $7,600

Summer: $6,495
Tuition: $4,595
Housing: $1,900


Program Fees Include:

  • On-Site Orientation (2-4 days)
  • All Tuition and Fees
  • All Scheduled Program Excursions
  • Housing Costs
  • Services of Lexia Resident Director and Program Staff
  • Comprehensive Medical Insurance Policy
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
  • Official Transcript from Elizabethtown College



Not included in the Program Fee are the following estimated expenses based past students' experiences during the semester-long program:

  • Airfare Ranges from $800–$1200
  • Meals not Covered $1,850
  • Books & Supplies $115
  • Personal Expenses $1,725

Estimated Total Additional Expenses: $4,490 – $4,890

Students should also remember to budget for independent travel during the one-week break within the semester.  If desired, students may choose to remain in their Lexia accommodation in Rome during the break at no additional cost.


Instructors & Institutions

The Lexia in Rome program is affiliated with the Istituto Italiano, a university-level institute specializing in the instruction of Italian language and culture to foreigners. Lexia students have access to the libraries of the British Consul, the National Library of Italy, the Santa Suzanna American Library and the Lexia program library. Music students utilize the facilities of the Academia di Santa Cecilia. The Lexia program also cooperates with Communita di Sant'Elgidio, UNESCO, UNICEF, Caritas, Legambiente, and other Italian and international organizations in Rome.  Students attend lectures at various educational institutions in addition to program lectures. The Istituto Italiano makes available its extensive collection of classic and contemporary Italian films on video. One of the recognized strengths of the Lexia in Rome program is the strongly supportive faculty and staff who can tailor and adapt special studies to individual student needs. Courses are taught by the Resident Director, Italian professors, and speakers from industry and the government sector.



The typical course load is four courses per semester. Students who successfully complete Lexia’s program requirements are able to earn the equivalent of one full semester or academic year of college/university level credit, pending approval from their home institution.

It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the credit transfer policies at his/her home institution and department, including advising appointments, paperwork and pre-departure or re-entry activities. We strongly suggest that students contact their study abroad or other appropriate office early in the planning stage to ensure that they complete all requirements.


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