Left to right, Greg Billion, St. John Vianney seminarian Colin Jones and Anna DeMarais walk through Piazza del Popolo in Rome, Italy


St. Thomas offers three different programs in Rome. In the fall, sophomores can fulfill core requirements through the Rome Empower Program. In January, first-year students can complete one of their required theology courses through Theology 101 in Rome. In the spring, St. Thomas offers Catholic Studies in Rome, giving Catholic Studies majors and minors the opportunity to take Catholic Studies classes at the Dominican Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas while growing in their faith.

During the summer months, the Bernardi Campus offers housing to several non-University of St. Thomas short-term student programs from various colleges and universities in the United States. These programs are booked several months in advance. 

The Rome Empower Program is a signature St. Thomas study abroad opportunity that prepares you to excel in a changing, global marketplace. In this program, the classroom intersects with the real-world. Site visits, weekend excursions and cultural events immerse you in a new culture and broaden your perspective of the world, bringing relevance to the classroom and allowing you to think across disciplines.

All students in this program receive a $2,000 Bernardi Rome award to help offset additional expenses, such as airfare and meals.

Designed for first-semester sophomores, the Rome Empower Program ensures that you stay on track for graduation while you study abroad. You’ll take four core courses and a 2-credit Italian language course. Since this is a St. Thomas program, there's no question that credits will transfer.


  • ARTH 310 (fine arts)
  • CHEM 201 (lab science)
  • ENGL 203 (literature & writing, second-level)
  • HIST 112 (historical studies)
  • PHIL 214 (moral & philosophical reasoning, second-level)
  • THEO 250 (faith & the Catholic tradition, second-level)
  • THEO 424 (faith & the Catholic tradition, fourth level)
  • Other courses may be available

Learn more the Rome Empower Program.

Designed for first-year students, this course is designed to acquaint students with the contents of the Bible and with Christian history, especially in the context of the Catholic tradition. Through careful reading of a core of common texts, a variety of site visits and guided tours, as well as written assignments, students are expected to attain a basic understanding of human experiences as interpreted by major areas of Christian theology (including revelation, God, creation, Jesus and the Church). Emphasis will be placed on the city of Rome, its role in Christian history and the cultural expressions of Christianity found in its environments.

Learn more and apply on our Theology 101 in Rome page

Catholic Studies in Rome allows Catholic Studies majors and minors to take four classes at the Dominican Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the “Angelicum”), three of which will provide Catholic Studies credits and one of which will fill a fine arts requirement. The classes will also fill one or two faith and the Catholic tradition requirements. In addition to these classes, students will take a conversational Italian course.

Academic excursions are a part of the program, including one weekend trip. Most of the courses will also include site visits in Rome. Each semester, there will be a planned trip to Assisi in which students may elect to participate at their own cost.

This program offers plenty of opportunities to grow spiritually. Students take a weekend retreat at Casa Divin Maestro in the Alban Hills outside Rome, during which they will have time for both quiet prayer and reflection and for community life and activities. The chaplain offers mass regularly in the residence chapel and is available for confession. Students also serve Rome’s poor through work with the Missionaries of Charity, the Little Sisters of the Poor or the Saint Egidio Movement.

Learn more and apply on our Catholic Studies in Rome page.