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Programs : Brochure

Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: Italian Language Prerequisite: 4 semesters of college level language for fall or full-year program; 5 for spring (or equivalent)
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0 Credit Available For: College
Other Eligibility Requirements: Grades of B or better in Italian, See Program Description Type of Program: Semester/Year Study Abroad
Housing Options: Apartment/Off-Campus, Arranged by Student Application Deadline: Fall/Year: February 15, Spring: September 10
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

Live with Italians.  Make Friends with Italians.  Study with Italians.  All in Italian!
BBO Logo
The University of Bologna/Bologna Consortial Studies Program

Established at the end of the eleventh century, the University of Bologna (UniBo) is the oldest institution of higher learning in Europe and is regarded as the first university in the West World.  With a student population of nearly 90,000, UniBo is the most popular university in Italy and welcomes close to 3,000 international exchange students each academic year.  Administered through Indiana University, the Bologna Consortial Studies Program provides Penn undergrads with the opportunity to take courses at this prestigious Italian university while living in Bologna alongside local degree-seeking students.
For additional information, visit the Bologna Consortial Studies Program website
The City of Bologna

Bologna is known as la dotta (the learned one), for the prestige and importance of the university, la rossa (the red one), for both its predominant coloration and the long-standing communist government, and la grassa (the fat one), because of the superior quality of its cuisine and the wealth of its population. With about 370,000 inhabitants, Bologna is just the right size: small enough to project a friendly and intimate character and large enough to support a rich cultural life of music and art. The city has never become a tourist center and, consequently, maintains a distinctively Italian character.  Bologna lies at the foot of the Apennines Mountains and is a two-hour train ride from both Venice and Milan and within an hour from both Ravenna and Florence.

For more information on Bologna, visit the city’s official tourism website.

Did you know…?

Bologna’s famous medieval towers were built by influential Bolognesi families to serve important military and defensive functions.  However, the daunting height of each tower was also meant to represent the prestige of the noble family that built it – in fact, some towers were insultingly shortened when their families fell out of social favor.  Today, there are under 20 towers left standing, the most prominent of which are le due Torri (the Two Towers), built by the families Garisenda and Asinelli.
Bologna’s some 20+ miles of porticoes were established about 1,000 years ago due partially to the emergence of the University itself.  The influx of students from all over Europe led to a housing crisis and porticoes popped up to provide extra accommodation space without detracting from the streets themselves.  Some of the original 13th century wooden porticoes can still be seen around the city and have been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



The Bologna Consortial Studies Program is for College credit only

Minimum GPA Requirement
: 3.0

Language Prerequisite for the Fall and Academic Year Program: Successful completion of Italian 140, or the equivalent, by the end of the spring semester prior to departure.  Grades of B or better in all Italian classes.

Language Prerequisite for the Spring Program: Successful completion of Italian 202, or the equivalent, by the end of the fall semester prior to departure.  Grades of B or better in all Italian classes.

Additional Course Pre-requisite(s): Italian 202 is a pre-requisite for upper level Italian credit and hence for Italian majors.

Other Requirements: Completion of at least two full years of undergraduate study by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure is required.


Language of Instruction



A full course load on the BCSP program consists of 15 credits (typically 5 courses) per semester.  With guidance from the Program’s Resident Director, students will choose a combination of BCSP Italian language courses, BCSP content courses and University of Bologna courses. Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.

For a partial list of UniBo direct-enroll courses that students have taken in the past, view this document.

BCSP Academic Information
BCSP Course Syllabi

Grading Scale

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.  The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. For more information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.

Italian universities award grades on a thirty point scale (i.e., 18 is considered passing, optimal grades are in the upper 20s).  Students are frequently assessed solely on the results of a final exam (written or oral).  Grades are reported to Penn on the Italian scale and then converted to Penn grades according to standard Italian – U.S. grade equivalencies:
BCSP/UniBo Grade Penn Grade
29-30 A
28 A-
27 B+
26 B
25 B-
24 C+
23 C
22 C-
21 D+
20 D
18-19 D-
17 and below F

Special Features

BBO Special FeaturesOrientation Activities

All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by the Bologna Consortial Studies Program prior to the start of each semester.  More information on BCSP’s orientation activities can be found here.

Internship Opportunities

BCSP helps students find internships and volunteer opportunities (non-credit) in Bologna in order to enrich their study abroad experience beyond the classroom. More information on BCSP organized internship opportunities can be found here.

Group ExcursionsBBO Special Features 2

BCSP organizes dinners, excursions and events to promote interaction between students and provide opportunities to be immersed in Italian culture.  More information on these activities can be found here.

Student Associations

Penn students studying at the University of Bologna have access to a wide range of student activities and associations. 


Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.BBO Campus

Students are responsible for finding their own housing in Bologna.  With the assistance of on-site staff in Bologna, students locate independent apartments in the city while being housed in program arranged hotels during the initial two week orientation period. Students are strongly encouraged to live with local Italians as it provides the best opportunity for cultural and linguistic immersion.

Information regarding accommodation can be found here.

Cost and Finance

Penn Abroad Financial Policies

Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheets below for more information.  For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.

Financial Aid and Study Abroad

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.

Budget Sheets

Academic Year

Scholarship Opportunities

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Competition for awards for study abroad, for US citizen students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university. 

Next Steps

For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.

To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.

For a student perspective on life and academics in Bologna, contact a Penn Abroad Past-Participant or Exchange Student.