Master in Italian Language, Literature and Civilization


Program Description

The Master's program proposed by the Institute of Italian Studies gathers around a strong idea of training that aims not only to prepare students for a professional future, but also to allow the acquisition of a mature cultural identity, really necessary today , in a moment in which we find ourselves exposed on the one hand to homologation and on the other to a sterile solipsism. The study of literature, integrated in the context of a civilization that also dialogues with its artistic and musical components, has all the characteristics to carry out this formative process in its entirety, precisely because it is based on a communicative medium, the word, which allows, in a much more meaningful way than the visual language, a real experience.

As stated by the German philosopher Ernst Bloch, men always need an education in hope precisely in order to be able to face experiences that "actively throw them into the new that is affirming themselves and to which they themselves belong": the word Erfahrung ("experience") indicates precisely a "journey" that generates knowledge. There is in this a strong design component that does not satisfy the contingency and the status quo but aspires to change; does not dream of fanciful hypotheses in an indeterminate future but challenges the present by urging it to reveal what is not yet visible, its possible utopia, beyond the background noise of current events.

In literature, in art, in music, all this acquires the unmistakable imprint of human desire, immediately giving rise to a recognition and a profound sense of belonging. The Russian poet Osip Mandelštam wrote: «On the glass of eternity my breath, my warmth, has spread out. // A drawing / ultimately indecipherable has been imprinted on it. // Let the sediment of the moment drip off / the dear design cannot be erased "(translation by Gianfranco Lauretano); and Mario Luzi: «Fly high, word, grow in depth, / [...] / but don't separate yourself / from me, don't get, / I beg you, to that celestial appointment / alone, without the heat of me / [ ...]. " Really understanding tradition means taking this endiadi of eternity and revelation of the moment, contemplation of the universal and sharing of individual feeling, of the warm embrace of humanitas.

The Master's course proposed by the Institute of Italian Studies presents a peculiarity that is totally unique with respect to the educational offer of the other Universities, because it is based on a study plan consisting of courses that, every year, are gathered around a specific theme: thematic unit that becomes a stimulus and a concrete opportunity for interdisciplinarity. It intends to offer its students the acquisition of a mature right of citizenship in the domain of the word, which will allow them to question the present, to consciously set out towards the future and, above all, to recognize their own uniqueness of persons.

Structure and contents

The full-time study program includes 120 ECTS for a usual duration of 2 years. It corresponds to the '2' in the Bologna system and is equivalent to the Master's Degree. An agreement signed on April 4, 2011 also establishes the equivalence between the Master of Arts in "Italian Language, Literature and Civilization" of the USI and the Master's Degree in "Modern Philology. Literature, Theater and Cinema Sciences" of the University of Pavia and therefore allows graduates of the USI master to enter Italian public competitions.

The Master is divided into three main thematic areas: Italian Language / Italian and Comparative Literature / Arts, History and Civilization, in an integrated training course that favors the meeting of knowledge generally professed in different fields, separated by disciplinary boundaries. Italian literature, a central theme, is thus proposed in constant comparison with the context of the civilization within which it is produced and studied. The teaching staff includes internationally renowned specialists of renowned prestige in research. Learning is favored by the Italian-speaking environment, open to plurilingualism, and by the ideal study conditions of the University of Italian Switzerland.


During the Master, students can choose to include an internship in an institution or a company (6 ECTS) among the curricular activities included in the III semester course plan. Work experience in organizations operating in the cultural or educational field is a valuable opportunity to complete their training and guide future choices.

The ISI Directorate evaluates and approves internship projects taking into consideration the study path of the individual student and the research work defined for the Master's thesis. Generally, a commitment of at least three months is required full-time, so as to guarantee a prolonged collaboration and the acquisition of solid skills.

The students of the MLCI have so far carried out internships in the following areas:

  • Teaching: USI University of Italian Switzerland, Middle and high schools, Educational support institutions;
  • Museums and Archives: Mendrisio Art Museum, Lugano Cantonal Art Museum, RSI - Archive, MASILugano - LAC, Lugano University Library;
  • Theater: LuganoInScena;
  • Editing and cultural journalism: RSI - Treccani Institute, Youth Department and Lugano Events - Sotell Association, Corriere del Ticino, ACTG, RSI - Rete Tre.

Anyone intending to validate a work activity at a Swiss or foreign institution as an internship must first submit, by sending it to the ISI secretariat ( @ USI .ch), an internship project to be approved by the Institute's management.

This project will include a brief description of the tasks assigned, a presentation of the institution where the internship will take place, a precise indication of the hours worked and a brief letter of motivation designed to present the internship in terms of its consistency with the course formative of the Master.

Once approval is obtained from the ISI management, the student will have to follow the registration procedure with the USI Career Service: at the end of the internship the student will have to deliver a report and a certificate signed by the institution where it took place the stage. Before depositing these documents at the Career service it is necessary to present them to the Secretariat of the Institute to obtain the validation of the management.

Professional outlets

In addition to the eventual opportunity to continue with a research doctorate, the master's course has several professional opportunities: the teaching of Italian, of its language and civilization, in schools; work in libraries and archives; publishing and media; finally, in the case of a historical-artistic specialization, the management of the Museums and the legacy of the "collective memory".

Study to teach Italian in compulsory schools in Italian-speaking Switzerland

The Master in Italian Language, Literature and Civilization provides the disciplinary training necessary to teach Italian as in middle and high schools.

Teaching training is provided by the Department of Training and Learning (DFA) of the University of Applied Sciences of Switzerland (SUPSI) based in Locarno.

USI Convention - University of Pavia

From April 4, 2011 the Master of Arts in " USI Italian Language, Literature and Civilization" and the Master's Degree in "Modern Philology. Literature, Theater and Cinema Sciences" of the University of Pavia are equivalent. The agreement will allow USI master's graduates to gain full access to Italian public competitions, with particular reference to those in the field of teaching.


Are allowed:

  1. Students who have obtained a Bachelor's degree in the Humanities area with an adequate number of credits in the various disciplines of Italian studies (at least 60 out of 180). Those who discuss the final Bachelor's degree test by the end of this year may be admitted to the Master.
  2. Students who have obtained a four-year degree in the humanities area, subject to evaluation of previous studies and possible interview with the Director of the Master. They will be able to obtain the Master with 60 study credits plus complement of the thesis.

The Master's management reserves the right to integrate the study plan with some fundamental courses if they are not present in the candidate's university curriculum.

Signing up

To register, candidates are invited to follow the instructions for completing the online form at USI .ch /.

Paper registration

Registration for the program also takes place by sending the registration form and the required documentation in paper format (registrations by e-mail or fax are not accepted) to the following address:

University of Italian Switzerland, USI
Deanery of the Faculty of Communication Sciences
Via Giuseppe Buffi 13
CH-6900 Lugano


  • Registration form;
  • Photocopy of qualifications (bachelor's, license, degree, high school diploma);
  • Bachelor / degree exam certificate (transcript);
  • Certified translation of diplomas not written in Italian, German, French, English or Spanish;
  • Curriculum vitae;
  • Motivation letter written by the candidate (maximum one page);
  • Certificate certifying the knowledge of the Italian language (for non-Italian speakers);
  • Photocopy of an identity document;
  • Photocopy of the residence permit for foreign candidates already residing in Switzerland.

Late registrations

Late applications can be accepted subject to availability of places.

Registration fee

The Lisbon Convention regulates the recognition of academic titles among signatory countries and allows a considerable simplification of administrative practices related to admissions. For this reason, candidates who have completed their previous university studies in a country that is not a signatory to the Convention (see list below), are asked to pay a registration fee of CHF 100.- to cover higher administrative costs related to the treatment of their application file. If the admission request is successful, the fee will be deducted from the first semester fee. In case of a negative outcome or if the candidate does not show up, the fee is not refundable.

Registration deadline

  • Registration for the Autumn Semester will open in mid-November .
  • Applicants are invited to submit their application by 31 August .
  • The registration deadline for students who require a visa is set for May 31st .
  • Applications sent after the deadline can be accepted if the program is not yet complete.


The six-monthly fee is CHF 4,000.-. For students with legal domicile in Switzerland or Liechtenstein at the time of graduation, the fee is CHF 2,000.

Payment of the fee must be made at the beginning of each semester, within the terms indicated on the invoice, and is a condition for obtaining or renewing the enrollment.

Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

USI is a young and agile university that offers its students a quality education and an enhancing study experience. International faculty teach students with an interdisciplinary, engaging, and intera ... Read More

USI is a young and agile university that offers its students a quality education and an enhancing study experience. International faculty teach students with an interdisciplinary, engaging, and interactive approach, leaving room for practical application. The quality of the study curricula is complemented by USI small size, by its cosmopolitan environment and its informal and dynamic culture. These elements make USI a hub of opportunity open to the world, where students can engage in direct dialogue with their professors and define their educational path, discover unexpected horizons, and embrace international careers. Read less
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