Florence Overview

academic Objective

The Program’s academic objective is ambitious. It strives to turn the students into academic travelers (not passing tourists) who will leave the city having mastered first-hand a culture (the Renaissance) at the core of the historical and artistic development of the Western world, and having developed a deep fluency on Italy, the European Union and the Mediterranean today.

Academic Prerequisites

Please see the Language Prerequisite page for more detailed information.

Related On-Campus Courses

ARTHIST 105A: Islamic Art around the Mediterranean
FILMSTUD 130: Italian Cinema
HISTORY 31: Science, Technology, and Art: The Worlds of Leonardo
ITALGEN 247: Petrarch and Boccaccio
ITALLIT 127: Inventing Italian Literature: Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarcha
ITALLIT 128: The Italian Renaissance and the Path to Modernity
ITALLIT 129: Modern Italian History and Literature
MUSIC 2C: Men, Women, and Opera

Directed Readings

Directed readings are advanced one-on-one academic research projects for students who have prior relevant preparation in a given field of their interest. Conducted in English or in Italian, directed readings are very rewarding academic experiences which many students in the past have turned into the core of their honors thesis.

  • Directed readings must be on topics that are site-relevant to Italy and the EU, must be taken in addition to 12 units of Stanford credit and are typically available only for second quarter students (exceptions are made on a case by case basis).
  • Directed reading mentors are usually Stanford faculty members or are selected among local scholars.
  • In developing their directed reading proposals, students should work closely with their academic advisor and the Florence Program Director or with the Stanford faculty who will supervise their work.
  • A Directed Reading Proposal (PDF) must be submitted to the Overseas Studies office and to the Program Director at least one month prior to the quarter of intended study.

Course Credit

All courses at the Florence Program grant credit toward Stanford graduation. Most classes also count toward an undergraduate major and fulfill a particular GER. Students must enroll in a minimum of twelve units from the courses offered through the program (local university courses, directed readings and internships are not included and must be taken above 12 units of Stanford credit). For a list of all BOSP courses offered in the current academic year and planned for the next, and for information on which courses earn departmental credit or fulfill General Education Requirements, please refer to the BOSP course database. For information on courses scheduled for the current academic year and for enrollment, please refer to Axess.

Local University Coursework

Students who spend two or three quarters in Florence and have a good command of the Italian language may opt to take classes at the local university, the Università degli Studi di Firenze. A challenging academic experience, it is also an excellent opportunity to gain exposure to a different university environment, and to improve language skills and culture literacy.

If you are planning to take a course at the University of Florence, please contact the Program Advisor and the Stanford in Florence staff as soon as possible.

Studio Art Program

Florence is the ideal location for art students. In each quarter, the Program offers at least one course in Studio Art and two in Art History for which Stanford's Department of Art and Art History awards credit. Approved coursework taken at the Accademia delle Belle Arti (the Florence Academy of Fine Arts) will also receive Art Department credit. 

If you choose to take one of the studio art classes at the Center, you should budget an extra $300.

Cultural Events and Trips

Interaction with local culture through group events, on-site classes, and field trips is central to the academic program in Florence. Our classes have traditionally included field trips to the Italian Parliament, to the Italian film studies in Rome (Cinecittà), and to important cities such as Venice, Rome and Siena. Art History classes often meet on-site in churches, museums or even on top of Brunelleschi’s dome; our history of science course has its weekly meetings inside the Galileo Museum, and our studio art class enables students to sketch on-site at Florence's most important monuments. In every quarter, we host a lecture series, Incontri a Palazzo, that features talks by local experts on a number of topics of interest to our students and to the general public. We also organize activities such as tastings, concerts, workshops, cooking classes and film screenings. All of these activities aim to give students a deeper understanding of Italy's extraordinarily rich cultural heritage.

Bing Cultural Enrichment Program

The Bing Cultural Enrichment Program offers a special set of extracurricular activities to all students in Florence. Although they can vary from year to year, some of our past activities have included: weekends in Venice and the Cinque Terre, a private tour of the Sistine Chapel, a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, a trip to Sicily with a performance at the Greek theater in Siracusa, and a trip to the Amalfi coast and Pompeii. We send our calendar of Bing events via email to students well in advance so that they are free to easily plan all of their other activities around our scheduled events.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities - Public service activities are very rewarding experiences; they are also a great way to gain entry into Florentine life and to give something back to the community and to the city that has hosted our Program for over fifty years. There are a number of volunteer opportunities and formats from which to choose depending on your interests, experience, and skills. In any given quarter, you can opt to work with children, immigrants, those in need, and organizations dedicated to international cooperation, the environment, healthcare, women, and sports. In addition to quarter-long volunteer opportunities, you have the option to participate in one of our “Public Service Day” events and give your time and expertise to different causes while supporting local organizations. For more information on getting involved in public service while at the Program please send us an e-mail.