The semester program in Florence, Italy is an immersive cultural and academic experience. With diverse faculty and exciting course opportunities, you live in Florence for a full semester, becoming true residents of the city. Florence is the home of the Renaissance, but is also a multicultural cosmopolitan city.

Applications for Studio Art & Fashion Design sophomores will open in September 2024

“I haven’t exactly put my finger on it, but there’s something about this city, beyond its artistic inspiration and its historical value, that makes it seem alive. I find myself falling in love with the laid-back atmosphere. We can sit for hours after dinner with a glass of wine and no one will bother us. But even more than that, there’s an appreciation for aesthetics that does not go unnoticed.”  
– Sabrina Hilfer, student

“Studying in Florence is not just about Renaissance art and architecture, it is experiencing the beginning of modern economy, science, and technology.”
– William E. Wallace, PhD

Eligibility & Prerequisites

Sam Fox majors and second majors (BS, BFA, BA) can study abroad in the semester. Your major determines when you take your semester abroad:

BFA/BA in Studio Art & Fashion Design – fall of junior year
BFA/BA in Communication Design – spring of junior year
BS/BA in Architecture – fall of senior year
Second Major in Art or Design – either fall or spring of junior year


Minors in Sam Fox cannot attend the semester abroad program, but can attend the summer program.

To study in Florence for the semester, students must:

  1. Apply on time
  2. Have and maintain a 3.0 GPA
  3. Be in good academic and behavioral standing with the university
  4. Earn 3 credits of Italian Language before the program begins. Course must be taken for a grade and you must earn a C or better.
  5. Pass the mandatory Pre-departure Orientation Seminar in the semester before the program.
  6. Art school students must complete all foundation year classes before the semester abroad.
  7. Com Des students must complete either Word & Image II or Type II before the semester abroad.

Apply online at the link above or below. You will write a short essay about your interest in going to Florence and what it will bring to your academics and personal experience. You will submit a 10-page portfolio of your work. You will also submit the name and contact information for two references. More details are given in the application. Note: you do not need to have taken Italian to apply for the program. You need to take it before you go abroad. See the policy here.

Students apply in spring of their sophomore year for the Fall senior semester program. The application opens January 1, 2024 and is due March 1, 2024.

Communication Design
Students apply in spring of sophomore year for the spring junior semester abroad. The application opens January 1, 2024 and is due March 1, 2024. 

Studio Art & Fashion Design
Applications for the Fall 2024 semester program open on September 1, 2023.


Students earn 15 credits during the Florence semester program. All courses must be taken for a grade and the grade will show on the transcript. Registration is handled during the preparation seminar.

BFA/BA Studio Art

  • 3 credits Italian Language
  • 3 credits Art & Architecture History
  • 6 credits Art Practice + Methods & Contexts I
  • 3 credits SFS Elective

BFA/BA Fashion Design

  • 3 credits Italian Language
  • 3 credits Art & Architecture History
  • 3 credits Patternmaking
  • 3 credits Fashion Major Elective
  • 3 credits SFS Elective

BFA/BA Communication Design*

  • 3 credits Italian Language
  • 3 credits Art & Architecture History
  • 9 credits Com Des Major Elective Studio

*Com Des students will choose 3 courses from a pool of 4 or 5 illustration and graphic design courses. Past course offerings have included Branding & Identity, Experimental Typography, Methods: Verbal to Visual, Strategies on Site: Sketchbook, and Making Meaning. 

** For BA and BFA students, the 3 credits in Art & Architecture History can count as Art History & Visual Culture credit.

Passports & Visas

Students obtain their own passports. Students who already have passports should make sure they will be valid at least three months after their last day in Europe. If your passport will expire before this, then you should renew your passport as soon as possible. Visit for more info.

International students should make sure all necessary paperwork is in order and that their country of origin has passport and visa reciprocity with Italy.

All students except European passport holders will need a visa. The School will assist students with the visa application process during the Pre-departure Orientation meetings.


Due to varying points of departure and individual travel schedules, students arrange their own transportation to Italy. Students are given the arrival and departure dates for their program during the preparation seminar, along with instructions for arrival. Florence has an airport, the Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola, and main train station, Santa Maria Novella, which are both suitable arrival destinations. While it is possible to arrive to another airport and take the train to Florence, students should consider how much luggage they are traveling with and how comfortable they are traveling in a foreign country with lots of luggage.

Students are responsible for booking and paying for their own flights. You do this during the semester or summer before you travel abroad. If you go abroad in Spring, you will book your flight in the Fall before. If you go abroad in the Fall, you will book your flight in the Spring before.

Field Trips

Field trips are organized by faculty to destinations throughout Italy and Europe including to Venice for the Venice Biennale (fall and summer) and Milan for Fashion Week (fall). These field trips are a required part of the Art History class and are very exciting, engaging, and an unforgettable experience. The trips are organized for the entire group and billing for the field trips (transportation to and from, lodging, museum admissions) will be on WebSTAC, not out of pocket while abroad.

Approximately 3 group field trips will take place during the semester abroad.

Personal travel is also popular on weekends and during fall or spring break. Being based in Florence, students have easy access to popular destinations throughout Italy and Europe. We encourage students to take advantage of the great location, but advise all students to wait to book their personal trips until after they have their syllabi. Personal travel is not an excuse for missing class, and will be counted as an absence, which could affect the final grade. During the pandemic, strict rules may be in effect that limit personal travel. Details will be provided in advance.


Students live in a residence in Florence, a short waling distance from the studios, markets, shops, sites, and train station. It is fully furnished, with rooms, kitchen, living area, wifi, and air conditioning. Florence is a very walkable city and public transportation is readily available.

Single, double, and triple rooms are available, but single rooms are more rare. Housing costs during the program range from about $1,055/month for triple occupancy rooms to $2,020/month for single occupancy rooms. This cost includes utilities.

Students are required to pay a $500 housing security deposit. If the apartment is in good condition at the end of the semester, students will receive a full refund. Any charges for damage to apartment will be taken out of the deposit.

Students are required to stay in university arranged housing.


Tuition is the same as on-campus WashU tuition. Semester financial aid or scholarship packages carry over to the semester program. For example, if a financial aid package covers tuition, fees, and housing for a semester on campus, then it will cover the same things while you are abroad. An estimated cost sheet for the program will be issued with the acceptance letter and you should confirm your scholarship awards by contacting your Student Financial Services Advisor.

Students will need to make a Program Deposit of $500 to reserve their place in the program. This will be due approximately 1 month after notification of acceptance. Depending on your financial aid package, this deposit can be waived. Contact the Special Programs Manager to request a wavier.

Tuition and fees are due before the program begins and will be billed through WebSTAC. Students are responsible for paying for airfare to Italy, activities fee, supplies, international health insurance, visa application fee, international phone, etc.

Pre-Departure Orientation

Pre-departure Orientation is a series of meeting with the Special Programs Manager the semester or summer before you go abroad.

The Pre-departure Orientation meetings occur before your program begins.

Spring Abroad – pre-departure orientation in the fall.

Summer Abroad – pre-departure orientation in the spring.

Fall Abroad – pre-departure orientation in the spring and/or summer.

In the meetings, you will learn about Italy and get prepared to live there; register for housing; register for classes; and hear from former study abroad students about their experience. The meetings are mandatory and if you fail to attend and complete the required forms and responsibilities, you may not be able to go abroad. 


Prepare for Florence.


Policies related to study abroad.