M.A. Program

Areas of Study

The M.A. degree in Italian is available in two areas of specialization: Italian Literature or Italian Cultural Studies. Course requirements differ for each. Each specialization may be pursued along either the Comprehensive Exam Plan or the Thesis Plan, though the latter is exceptional (see below).

Course Requirements

Italian Literature Specialization. Ten courses are required, including Italian 205. The other courses should be distributed in three main literary periods (with at least two courses in each period): Middle Ages, Renaissance, modern. If approved by the graduate adviser, two of the 10 courses may be individual research courses (Italian 596) or upper division Italian courses. Related courses in another department, such as Art History 230, may also be approved. To receive credit for such courses, students must petition the faculty in advance through a letter addressed to the Chair of the Department.

Italian Language Specialization. Prerequisites: a general grasp of linguistics equivalent to Linguistics 20 and 110, and a broad familiarity with Italian literary and cultural history. For both the comprehensive examination and thesis plans, 10 courses are required, including Italian M222A-M222B and Linguistics 202 or equivalent. At least seven courses must be in the 200 series.

Italian Cultural Studies Specialization. This specialization offers two separate tracks: (a) medieval and early modern and (b) modern and contemporary. Nine courses are required for each, of which a minimum of five must be in the 200 series.

(a) Medieval and early modern: Medieval and early modern. Course work should be distributed as follows:  One course in medieval/early modern Italian history. Two courses in medieval/early modern Italian literature and culture. One seminar in the theory and practice of cultural studies. One course in medieval/early modern Italian architecture and/or urban design. One course in medieval/early modern Italian musicology. One course in medieval/early modern Italian thought. One course in medieval/early modern Italian political and juridical institutions. One course in the history of the Italian language.
Substitutions are allowed with approval.  Pre-approved courses include Art History 200, C215A, C215B, 217C, 222A, 230A, M230B, M230C; Architecture and Urban Design 288; History CM220A, 220B, 222A, 222B, 226A, 226B, 229A, 229B; Italian 214A, 214B, 214C, 214D, 214E, 214F, 215A, 215B, 216A, 216B, 216C, 216D, 216E, 217, 250A, 250B, 250C, 250D, 251, 252, 253A, 253B, 253C, 254, 255A, 255B; Philosophy 206, 207; Political Science 210A, 210B. 

(b) Modern and contemporary: Course work to be distributed as follows: Two courses in modern/contemporary Italian literature and culture. One course in modern/contemporary Italian history. One seminar in the theory and practice of cultural studies. One course in film and media or theater. One course in design and/or architecture and urban design or art history. One course on modern/contemporary Italian thought. One course on political/juridical institutions of modern Italy. One course in geography or economics, anthropology, or folklore.

Approved courses include: Anthropology 252P, 253, 260, M263P; Art History 200, 230A, M230B, M230C; Urban Planning 245; Economics 181B, 241; Film and Television 206A, 218, 219, 270; History M230A, M230B, 231A, 231B, 234A, 234B; Italian 218A through 230B, 256A through 298; Musicology 200A, 260D, 260E, 260F; Philosophy 216, C219, C247, 280; Political Science 220, 231, 246B; Theater 202D, 202E, 202F, 202G.

Incomplete Grades

The grade “I” (Incomplete) can be assigned when a student’s work is of passing quality but is incomplete for good cause. To remove the “I” the student must complete the work by the end of the immediately following quarter.  If not completed within that quarter, the grade “I” will lapse to “F.”

Foreign Language Requirement

A reading knowledge of one foreign language other than Italian is required of all M.A. students. The choice of language must be approved by the graduate adviser. Students may demonstrate reading knowledge through successful completion of UCLA undergraduate coursework (with a grade of B or better) in that language through at least level 3, or by means of departmental examination. This language requirement must be met at least one quarter before the M.A. comprehensive examination.

The Comprehensive Examination Plan

A comprehensive examination follows completion of course work in either M.A. specialization. It consists of (a) a written examination of five hours based on an individualized reading list, and (b) an oral examination following the written several weeks later. If a student fails either part of the examination, he or she may be reexamined once, upon recommendation of the examination committee and Chair of the department. The comprehensive exam is considered a gateway to the Ph.D, amounting in effect to Part I of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam.  In that respect it is an important watershed

Our M.A. exam is based on an individualized reading list, prepared by the student in consultation with their advisor and a departmental faculty member of their choice. The chosen faculty member will chair and help form the M.A. exam committee, composed of three members, all Italian ladder faculty or, with approval of the Chair of the department, of ladder faculty and visiting faculty. The reading list must be submitted for approval to all members of the M.A. exam committee at least one month prior to the exam. 
The individualized list will follow these guidelines: 
It must include between 15 and 25 texts, depending on length and complexity, chosen from the comprehensive list. Students can substitute texts not on that list with individual approval.
The chosen texts must be distributed among at least seven centuries and present a balance of genres. The list must be organized into three general categories on the following model: A literary genre (e.g., the lyric, the novel, epic, comedy, tragedy, autobiography, etc.)
A critical problem or interpretive question (e.g., realism and representation, symbol, myth, allegory, point of view, irony, parody, romanticism, classicism, ideology, commitment, tradition vs. innovation, the status of the signifier, the question of gender, etc.) 
A theme (e.g., passion, time and memory, silence, desire, nature, community, male-female relationships, authority, class conflict, war, the representation of the self, etc.)

A critical bibliography of important works (books or essays) pertaining to each of your chosen categories and works must also be included in consultation with your adviser (Chair) and will be part of the exam preparation. The Encyclopedia of Italian Literary Studies ed. Gaetana Marrone (available in UCLA’s YRL library and in the Royce Reading Room) is useful for compiling the initial bibliography. Please note that you are required to familiarize yourself with Italian literary history and the historical context for each of the works on your list. Several “Storie della letteratura italiana” are available in our UCLA libraries. We recommend Giulio Ferroni, Storia della letteratura italiana (Einaudi) and the multi-volume Storia della Letteratura Italiana edited by Enrico Malato (Salerno Editore), both available in the Royce Reading Room. For a concise overview in English, you may also read The Cambridge History of Italian Literature.

Thesis Plan

Every master’s degree thesis plan requires the completion of an approved thesis that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research.

This plan may be approved for research-oriented students of exceptional merit. Students who have completed the first year of graduate work with at least a 3.7 grade-point average may be nominated by one of the faculty members of the department for application to the thesis plan. If the nomination is accepted by the faculty, a three-member thesis committee is submitted to the Graduate Division for appointment. At this point the student must have completed Italian 205 and at least two other graduate courses in Italian. On acceptance, the guidance committee helps the student choose six more graduate courses in preparation for the thesis.

The thesis must be at least 50 pages long and formatted in accord with University regulations. The thesis must be submitted in the sixth quarter of graduate work. After completion of the thesis, students must take an oral examination that tests knowledge in the field of the thesis and general competence in Italian literature.

Time to Degree

The time to the master’s degree is two years or six academic quarters. Normally students should plan to complete their course requirements by the end of the fifth quarter of study.


For matters related to policies, procedures, and administrative issues, see Student Affairs Officer, Kerry Allen.