Distinguished Major Program

Italian Studies Majors of exceptional ability and dedication are encouraged to enroll in the Distinguished Major Program (DMP). This program enables qualified students to explore at a higher level their interests in Italian literature, language, and culture.

Like other Italian Studies majors, DMP students are required to take ten courses (30 credits) as indicated by program requirements.  In addition, DMP students in Italian must take an additional 6 credits over the course of the fourth year (3 credits in the Fall and 3 credits in the Spring). These courses enhance the work that Distinguished Majors engage in researching and writing a thesis, approximately 30 pages in length.

The DMP will give you the opportunity to:

  • research a topic of interest in depth over the course of a year
  • meet with a professor on an individual basis and receive guidance on advanced research techniques, critical thinking skills, and effective writing strategies
  • share your ideas and enthusiasm with other exceptional undergraduates in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese in a monthly colloquium
  • present your research results to faculty, graduate students, and DMPs in the department at the end of your fourth year

For more information on the time frame, requirements, and evaluation of the thesis project, please see the links below.


Italian Studies Majors possessing a GPA close to a 3.4 are eligible, but GPA alone will not bring automatic admission. Interest, dedication and past record will be taken into account. The last semester of the fourth year, a 3.4 cumulative GPA in all courses is an unconditional requirement in order to graduate with any level of distinction.

When to Apply

Students should apply to the program by April 15th , in Spring semester of their third year. Admission will be granted by the DMP Coordinator in Italian Studies.

How to Apply

Students must fill out an application form, secure a written recommendation from a departmental faculty member, and present both documents to the DMP Coordinator.

Program Requirements

Please note: The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only.  The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.

DMP Thesis

After acceptance into the program in the second semester of their third year , by the end of the second semester of their third year, students will refine their thesis topic in coordination with the a member of the Italian Studies faculty serving as the student's thesis director. (Students who are studying abroad in the spring semester of the third year should select their thesis topic and secure a faculty thesis advisor before the end of the summer before their fourth year.)

Additional Coursework

In the first semester of the fourth year, students will take ITAL 4980, “Distinguished Majors Colloquium,” for three credits [credit/no credit], meeting periodically with the DMP Coordinator and other DMPs to develop research strategies and goals. Substantial work on the thesis will be completed in this semester.

During their final semester, students will take ITAL 4989, “Distinguished Major in Italian Thesis,” for three credits [grade option] and complete work on their thesis. DMPs will present their research at a departmental colloquium in the spring of their final year.

Evaluation of Thesis

Theses will be read by the thesis director, a second reader, and the DMP Coordinator, who together will decide on levels of distinction. Details about the format of the final project should be discussed with the DMP Coordinator. Near the end of the spring semester DMP students present their research results to faculty, graduate students, and invited guests. A bound copy of the thesis will remain on file in the department’s Del Greco Library.

Levels of Distinction

A departmental committee determines different levels of distinction (Distinction, High Distinction, and Highest Distinction), based on the quality of the student’s thesis, the student’s overall work in the major field of study, and the student’s overall college record (minimum GPA of 3.4). 

The departmental recommendation for Distinction, High Distinction, and Highest Distinction will be based on:

  • The quality of the student’s thesis.
  • The student’s overall work in the DMP.
  • The student’s overall work in the major field of study.
  • The student’s overall college record (minimum GPA of 3.4).

For more information, please contact the DMP Coordinator.