Since 1987, Cornell in Rome has offered a transformative experience for talented undergraduate artists, architecture students, and urbanists. A world-class and specialized program, Cornell in Rome is focused on instruction in the disciplines of architecture design, history, and theory; visual arts; art history; urban studies; and Italian language, history, and culture.

Students benefit from an intimate environment and the opportunity to build interdisciplinary and lasting relationships with the faculty and each other. The maximum enrollment is 60 students each semester and faculty remain consistent for the entire semester.

Classes can generally be applied to Cornell graduation requirements and participation in the program does not necessarily require extra semesters of study or delay graduation. Interested Cornell students should speak with their college registrar to determine how classes will be applied toward degree requirements.

  • Foundations in Architecture
    Students visiting a historical site in Rome and sketching the foundations of an ancient building.

    Visits to historic sites in and around Rome are an integral part of the Foundations in Architecture semester. photo / provided

    Beginning in the fall of 2017, Cornell in Rome is offering a semester-long architecture studio program specifically designed for visiting architecture majors in non-B.Arch. programs and/or students who may be interested in pursuing a professional graduate program in architecture and related design fields. Prior studio experience is not required, and rising second-, third-, or fourth-year students are invited to apply.

    Foundations in Architecture is an intensive program that introduces students to the rich intersections of architectural, artistic, urban, and cultural practices of both historical and contemporary Rome. At the core of the program is a design studio — a class that introduces the ideas, principles, and methods of exploring architectural problems in a historically rich and culturally unique environment. A portfolio development class and electives that focus on architecture or architectural theory, visual arts, or urban studies complement the design studio.

    Classes are held in concert with AAP students, including third-year B.Arch. students whose curriculum includes a semester in Rome. Visiting students and AAP students travel together on a series of field trips throughout Italy.

    Required Classes

    The Foundations in Architecture semester centers on three required classes:

    ARCH 1120 Architecture Design Studio (4 credits)

    Through a graduated series of exercises, the design studio introduces students to methods of analysis, representation, and abstraction as they study the concepts of urban and architectural space and form. No prior studio coursework is required, but because the class assumes the expression of ideas through visual and material means, previous coursework in studio arts and art/architecture history is strongly encouraged.

    ARCH 3420 Architectural Field Studies (2 credits)

    Architectural Field Studies features approximately 18 days of customized, faculty-led field trips, both in the Roman region and throughout Italy. The course is based on the premise that the on-site analysis of the material and spatial conditions of architecture and urban spaces is fundamental to the design process and to a toolbox of architectural ideas and concepts. Itineraries are carefully composed to expose students to important historical and contemporary sites and buildings that often serve as object lessons for themes studied in the design studio.

    ARCH 3520 Architectural Portfolio Development (1 credit)

    The portfolio development class facilitates the production of a high-quality portfolio of studio work and other creative projects executed while in Rome. The goal is to instill strong graphic skills, high editorial standards, and sound documentation practices so that creative projects can be represented in a compelling and reproducible form. The course assumes no prior graphic experience or software ability.

    These three classes are complemented by electives for a total of 15–18 credits.

    Student Work From Past Semesters

    Rendering made in Photoshop and Rhino of a water garden

    View student work projects created by Foundations in Architecture students.

  • B.Arch. Studio (fall and spring semesters)
    Jeffrey Blanchard describes to students an ancient colosseum during a trip to northern Italy.

    Cornell in Rome's academic director, Jeffrey Blanchard (standing at right) leads students on a tour of a site in Northern Italy. photo / Chris Andras

    The B.Arch. Studio semester incorporates architecture design studios, augmented by a robust series of field trips, with a focus on design projects in diverse sites and conditions, while history classes and theory seminars engage students in analytical thinking and cultural interpretation. Italian and European architects and educators join Cornell faculty in teaching the studios, contributing to a rich variety of programming. Students also enroll in elective classes in art history, Italian culture and language, studio art, or urban studies. Field trips throughout Italy are an integral part of the experience.

    Students who are currently enrolled in a professional, five-year architecture degree program (B.Arch.) may apply. Applicants must have completed a comparable amount of work from their home institution, of equal rigor and quality as compared to the Cornell B.Arch. students. Applicants must demonstrate both ability and fit for the program in a portfolio of visual work.

    Required Classes

    ARCH 4101 Design VII/ARCH 2102 Design VIII  (6 credits)

    The core studio focuses on design and development of complex architectural projects situated in urban contexts and developed with regard to program, site, building, and representation.

    Studio is complemented by electives for a total of 15–17 credits.

  • Fine Arts (fall semester)
    Student in photo class pins her work to a wall prior to review.

    A visiting student pins her work in preparation for a review in a photography class. photo / Liana Miuccio

    The Fine Arts semester curriculum draws upon Rome's extensive historical and cultural resources. Students receive individual instruction flexible enough to accommodate personal artistic practices and can work in a variety of media, including painting, photography, collage, performance installation, sculpture, drawing, and book art. Prominent international artists lecture, critique, and host students at their studios, while an extensive and varied field trip program balances historic collections with modern and contemporary art. Students may also enroll in art history, architecture history, contemporary art, and Italian language classes. To the extent that internships are allowed, opportunities may be available in galleries, museums, arts organizations, or artist studios. 

    Students who are accomplished in studio art and have completed a comparable amount of work from their home institution, of equal rigor and quality as compared to Cornell B.F.A. students may apply. Applicants must demonstrate both ability and fit for the program in a portfolio of visual work.

    Required Classes

    ART 3001 Rome Studio (4 credits)

    This class will concentrate on the development, through research and material experimentation, of a studio practice informed by historical and social context. Different research and production methodologies will be encouraged to develop a practice that is critical, self-sustaining, and flexible.

    ART 3102 Contemporary Rome Seminar (4 credits)

    The seminar introduces students to contemporary art in Rome through studio visits, gallery exhibitions, and museum collections, and includes lectures by artists, critics, and others. Students trace art from idea to realization and explore the gallery and its relationship to artists and to the promotion of art, the role of the art critic and museum, and art collecting.

    These two classes are complemented by electives for a total of 15–17 credits.

  • Liberal Studies (fall and spring semesters)
    Cornell in Rome student sketching on a sidewalk during a field trip to Venice.

    Students use the city as a classroom in the liberal studies program. photo / Chris Andras (B.Arch. '18)

    Liberal studies students choose from a class selection that exposes them to a variety of disciplines within the context of nearly 3,000 years of history. Students from programs in architecture history, art history, medieval studies, government, international studies, sociology, political science, and classics are ideal candidates for the liberal studies semester. However, students in other majors may also find the liberal studies semester to be a good fit for their semester abroad and are encouraged to apply. Field trips throughout Italy are an integral part of the experience.


    There are no mandatory class requirements in the liberal studies semester — students are free to create a full-time curriculum by choosing classes in a variety of disciplines including art history, architectural history and theory, Italian language and culture, and visual arts. Students typically enroll in classes that total 12–18 credits.

  • Urban Studies (spring semester)
    Students and instructors view a 3D map of an ancient Italian city.

    Instructor Jan Gadeyne (third from right) is an expert in ancient Italian city plans and history. photo / provided

    Participants in the Urban Studies semester gain a deep understanding of urban development over time and learn about ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and modern Rome through site-based classes. Students explore public space, urban design, social housing, infrastructure services, immigrant integration, tourism, historic preservation, and economic development, and take field trips to Italy's most important artistic, economic, and political centers. They also have the opportunity to meet with professional planners, government officials, community activists, and others responsible for urban policy making. Field trips throughout Italy are an integral part of the experience. Total travel time is approximately 18 days over the course of the semester and trips include locations in northern, central, and southern Italy. Students also enroll in elective classes in art history, architectural history, photography, contemporary art, Italian culture, or politics.

    The program is open to urban studies majors and is also appropriate for students in related disciplines such as, but not limited to, political science, government, anthropology, sociology, international studies, and history. Students typically participate in their third or fourth year of study.

    Required class

    All students in the Urban Studies program enroll in the Rome Workshop, a 6-credit, 20-hour-per-week field research class that anchors the semester. See examples of previous neighborhood studies.

    CRP 4160 Rome Workshop 

    This class focuses on the city as a system through the analysis of (1) a set of neighborhoods and (2) issues affecting these neighborhoods. Students consider the relationship between these neighborhoods and issues to the functioning of the contemporary city of Rome and the wellbeing of its residents. During the first half of the semester, students work in groups to learn about a particular neighborhood through a variety of methods. For the second half of the semester, student groups select and analyze a policy issue based on their neighborhood studies. The class will consider issues relating to infrastructure, provision of services, urban design, social inclusion, economic development, and governance.   

    Urban Studies students typically enroll in three to four additional elective classes for a total of 15–18 credits.

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