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Programs and Deadlines
About Penn Abroad
Bocconi University (BMI)
Milan, Italy (Exchange Program) (Fall Spring Academic Year Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Fall,
Budget Sheets Fall,
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
English, Italian
Language Prerequisite:
See Program Description
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0
Credit Available For:
College, Huntsman, Wharton
Other Eligibility Requirements: See Program Description
Type of Program:
Direct Enrollment
Application Deadline:
Fall/Year: February 15, Spring: October 1
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

(click on links highlighted in blue below to learn more)
The Academic Program
  • Direct Enrollment through Bocconi University
  • Fall Semester: late August - mid-December
  • Spring Semester: late January - late May
  • GPA requirement: 3.0
  • Wharton students and College Economics majors ONLY
    • Priority will be given to juniors and first semester seniors.
  • College Students: Successful completion of MATH 104 & 114, ECON 001, 002, & 101.
  • English Program: Successful completion of one semester of Italian language (Italian 110 or 112) by the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure.
    • Upon consultation with academic advisors, Wharton students may be permitted to take Italian 110 or 112 Pass/Fail.  
    • College students are required to take Italian 110 or 112 for a grade.
  • Italian Program: Successful completion of four semesters of college-level Italian or equivalent prior to departure.
  • University dorms
The City of Milan
  • Milan is the second largest city in Italy with a population of 1.3 million people, with an additional 3 million making up the greater metropolitan area.
  • Known as the economic and production capital of Italy, the city is also the leading Italian hub for services, finance, and industry.
  • This cosmopolitan, modern and forward-looking city is world-renowned as a European capital of fashion, design, architecture, publishing, modern art and music.
  • For more information on the city of Milan, see the Milan City Guide
Special Features
The Application Process
Financial Matters
Penn Resources

This program requires an advising session with a Program Manager prior to opening an application. To view the schedule for upcoming group advising sessions, or to schedule an individual appointment, select the ‘Schedule an Advising Appointment’ button on the Penn Abroad homepage.  

The Academic Program

Università Bocconi

The Università Bocconi is a private university located near the city center of Milan. It was the first university in Italy to grant a degree in economics, and today is recognized as one of Europe's leading institutions in business and economics education. The Business School was ranked 8th according to the Financial Times European Business School Rankings 2014; the MSc in International Management was ranked 12th worldwide according to the Financial Times Masters in Management Rankings 2014 and the MSc in Finance was ranked 8th worldwide according to the Financial Times Masters in Finance Pre-experience 2014. The full-time MBA was ranked 31st worldwide and 11th in Europe according to the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2014.

The Bocconi campus is small but all of its buildings are within a short walking distance from one another as well from Porta Ticinese, the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio and the Torre Velasca skyscraper. The first building in Via Sarfatti was designed in 1936 by the famous architect Giuseppe Pagano and is an epitome of modernism in Italian architecture. It hosts many classrooms, IT rooms, an aula magna, a coffee bar, and a restaurant. The university has a student body of approximately 9,000 undergraduates and 4,500 graduate students, of whom approximately 1,300 are exchange students studying at Bocconi for a semester or academic year from 230 partner schools across the globe.


A full range of courses is offered in Italian in Business Administration and Economics as well as in related business subjects. Bocconi also offers over 100 courses taught in English per semester and three undergraduate programs entirely taught in English: International Economics and Management, International Economics and Finance, and International Politics and Governance. 

It is important to note that because Bocconi focuses primarily on business and economics, there are very few, if any, humanities courses offered. Penn students enrolled in the Italian track may take a maximum of one course in English; the remaining courses must be in Italian. 1 Bocconi credit corresponds to a 25 hour workload (of which 8 are lecture hours).

The course load for the Bocconi program is four classes per semester. Penn Abroad participants must maintain a full course load for their period of study abroad and can only select undergraduate courses.

Final Exams: According to the Italian university system, fall examinations are usually held in January and early February, however, a special examination session is offered for exchange students in December so that they can take their exams before then. Spring examinations are held during the month of May. A second exam session takes place from early June through early July, but exchange students are allowed to take all of their exams during the May session and leave Bocconi by the end of May. Exams must be sat on the official examination sessions and only at Bocconi. Students must officially enroll for exams on the official dates in order to allow the grade registration. Exams may be either oral or written. Students taking classes in Italian might be permitted to take exams in English with the professor's approval. Some courses may require written work during the semester (paper or midterm). This also may be presented in Italian or English, subject to the professor's approval.

Italian Language Crash Course
This is an optional course organized by the International Student Desk (ISD) for students who participate in the Exchange Program. This intensive course (40 hours) aims at helping all exchange students familiarize themselves with Italian as a foreign language in the very first period from their arrival in Italy. It lasts for 2 weeks and it is offered each semester before the beginning of Bocconi courses. This course is open to students of all language backgrounds and levels range from Beginner to Advanced. Attendance is mandatory for those students who participate in the program and, upon successful completion of the course, students will receive a course participation certificate. For more information on this program, click here.

The ISD has also instituted a semester-long Italian Language Follow-Up course (30 hours) for those students who took and passed the Crash Course and want to continue their study of Italian while in Milan.

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.

Italian university grades are awarded on a thirty point scale (i.e., 18 is considered passing, optimal grades are in the upper 20s). The scale is not based on an equal distribution of points nor on a percentage. In the Italian system, a perfect exam or paper may not always be awarded a grade of 30 depending on individual professors' practices. Students are frequently assessed solely on the results of a final exam. Grades are reported to Penn on the Italian scale, and then converted to Penn grades according to standard Italian - U.S. grade equivalencies:

29-30 = A
28 = A-
27 = B+
26 = B
25 = C+
24 = C
22-23 = D+
18-21 = D
17 and below = F

Learn More About Bocconi

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Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students. Exchange students can apply to live in residence halls with other international students as well as Italian students. There are several residences available ranging in set-up, proximity to campus, and number of international students versus local Italians. All rooms for exchange students are single with a bathroom to be shared with another student. Students who do not wish to live in one of the residence halls may find an apartment on their own but should keep in mind that the process of finding an apartment or a room can often be difficult, especially without a basic grasp of the language. It is recommended that students looking for their own accommodation arrive in Milan at least two weeks before the start of the semester and book temporary accommodation during their search. For information regarding the residences, can be found here.

There is no formal meal plan at Bocconi but there is a self-service cafeteria located on campus in the Residenza Bocconi dormitory where exchange students can receive discounts on their meals: further info about discounted rates for incoming students will be provided upon arrival.

Students also have access to numerous cafes and shops located on and nearby campus where they can purchase reasonable meals. There are also grocery stores and markets that provide cheap alternatives for those students who wish to cook for themselves.

Special Features

Several student associations are active on campus, the complete list can be found here.
Information about extra curricular, sports and social activities organized during the semester will be provided by the International Student Desk upon arrival during Orientation.
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Financial Matters

Students are charged Penn tuition and student fee (called study abroad fee the semester abroad) for all Penn programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, meals, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheet to determine other costs. The Welcome Guide is also a valuable resource for students, which provides academic, financial, and practical advice on life in Milan. The Welcome Guide can be downloaded here (right menu, blue box).

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.

Penn Resources

Students who study abroad are encouraged to take advantage of Penn's many resources for students, even if you haven't used them before going abroad.  There is an extensive list of resources on the Penn Abroad website that can help you to explore issues that might pertain to you and to help you prepare for a term abroad. 

In addition to these resources, we encourage you to reach out to a past program participant or ambassador to learn more about the program from a student perspective.
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