Study Abroad

A Semester in Urbino, Italy – Spring 2020

In the spring of 2020 Iowa State University will offer, for the third time, a spring semester in cooperation with the University of Urbino. From 2010-2015 Greenlee School Associate Professor Dennis Chamberlin led a multimedia journalism summer program in Urbino and he now takes students to this college town in central Italy for a semester-long program.

In addition to attending classes that focus on Renaissance art history, literature and political thought, you will take an intensive two-week Italian language course with additional Italian lessons throughout the semester. In the spring of 2018 you will also study photojournalism with a focus on mobile phone image making. Classes will take place in the historic city center but many class sessions will also take place outside of the traditional classroom, including trips to Florence, Siena, Rome and other towns closer to Urbino.

Download the Program Brochure

Walking around Urbino streets and afternoon light.
Walking around Urbino streets and afternoon light.

The City

Urbino, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a picturesque Renaissance city that sits on top a hill in central Italy. Approximately the same size as Ames, the city is rich with art and history that is normally only found in major cities – the painter Raffaello grew up there. Today the city, with a population of 15,000, is home to the University of Urbino which brings approximately another 15,000 inhabitants during the academic year.

Urbino’s historic center is very much alive with the daily activities of the citizens as they pick up groceries at a neighborhood shop or stroll in the evening with a gelato in hand. Living in a foreign country for an extended period of time will allow you to integrate into a community in a way that is not possible during short visits. Within weeks you will be calling out "Ciao!" to you neighbors. Unlike the larger cities of Italy that cater to foreign tourists, you will find that people in Urbino will do their best, with a friendly smile, to help you learn Italian and feel at home in their gorgeous town.

Although the municipality is spread out over an area twice the size of Ames, most of the town’s amenities are concentrated in, or just outside the city center and easily accessible by foot or city bus. Don’t forget to pack shoes that are good for climbing the hilly streets that make up the town!

Jared Gorton and Jessica Darland check their images during a night photography session on the streets of Urbino.
Jared Gorton and Jessica Darland check their images during a night photography session on the streets of Urbino.

Housing and Meals

All students will be housed in single rooms with a private bath in the Collegio del Colle at the University of Urbino. A full meal plan (21 meals a week) at the two university cafeterias is included in the program fee. One cafeteria is located at the dorm and the second one is in the historic city center.

Hannah Olson and other ISU students visit the Oratorio di San Giovanni in Urbino for an art history lesson with Dr. Luzetti.
Hannah Olson and other ISU students visit the Oratorio di San Giovanni in Urbino for an art history lesson with Dr. Luzetti.


  • Italian (3 cr.) Intensive class that takes place Monday-Friday during the first two weeks and then twice a week for the rest of the semester. Italian films will be shown during afternoon sessions.
  • Art History of the Renaissance (3 cr.) – ART H 300 (ART H 385) Meets humanities requirement.
  • Literature of the Renaissance (3 cr.) – WLC 300 Meets humanities requirement.
  • Political Thought of the Renaissance (3 cr.) – POL S 300 Meets social science requirement.
  • Fundamentals of Seeing with Mobile Photography (3 cr.) — JL MC 390B Meets Greenlee majors 300-level skills requirement. All participants must register and complete the sequence of five courses listed above.*
Streets of Urbino
Streets of Urbino

Program Prerequisites

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5.
  • Students are not required to have previous photography courses.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The semester program cost is comparable to the cost of studying in Ames for one semester. Iowa resident students will pay approximately the same as staying in Ames and living in a dormitory with a meal plan and non-resident students will note that costs are less than a semester on campus. See ISUAbroad's budget worksheet for more info.

Participants can generally apply their financial aid packages to study in Urbino and should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid for further information. Some departments, as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, offer competitive scholarships specifically for students studying abroad. Learn more about LAS study abroad scholarships and deadlines.


Contact Dennis Chamberlin, program director, or Nancy Guthrie at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Study Abroad Office.


For more information and to apply, visit the ISUAbroad website.

Student Experiences

What's it like to study abroad in Urbino? Find out from students who have completed the program.

Other Study Abroad Opportunities

LAS Study Abroad

ISU Study Abroad Center