Crowd standing around a Roman fountain

Rome Empower Program

Located near the center of Rome and Vatican City, the Bernardi Campus serves as a base for St. Thomas students as they study various courses from organic chemistry to philosophy. The Bernardi Campus helps students immerse themselves in the rich history of Rome while staying on track to graduate on time from St. Thomas.

Designed for first-semester sophomores, the Rome Empower Program perfectly blends classroom with real world. Site visits, weekend excursions and cultural events immerse you in a new culture and broaden your perspective on the world, bringing relevance to the classroom and allowing you to think across disciplines.

Accepted priority deadline applicants automatically receive a $2,000 scholarship from The College of Arts and Sciences to offset additional expenses like airfare and meals.

Get a glimpse of a day in the life of the Rome Empower Program. 


  • Sophomore standing or higher at the time of the program
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5
  • Good disciplinary standing 
  • Complete the online application and interview with faculty Program Directors 

Application Process

  • Access to the online application for the Rome Empower Program will be granted to you following attendance at a Rome Empower Information Session or advising appointment with the Office of Study Abroad Rome Program Manager. Access to the application will not be granted prior to attendance at one of these sessions. 
  • The Rome Empower Program Fall 2021 priority deadline is December 15, 2020. 
  • Applications submitted after the prioity deadline will be considered on rolling admission, space-available basis until March 15, 2021.

Selection Process

  • Application review by the Office of Study Abroad and the faculty Program Directors
  • Interviews with faculty Program Directors 
  • Students notified of official admission decision and next steps 

The program is limited to 35 students.
Note to Accepted Students:  All students accepted into the Rome Empower Program are required to attend all scheduled pre-departure meetings and orientation sessions. These meetings will take place during the Spring semester, dates will be sent with approval notifications.

Courses Offered 
Students select four courses from the course offerings. Each course fulfills a St. Thomas requirement, is 4-credits, and is taught in English. Courses will be taught at the Richmond University Rome campus located near the Piazza Navona. The Chemistry lab will be taught at La Sapienza University. The English/Journalism course and Chemistry course/lab will be taught by the University of St. Thomas faculty Program Directors. All other courses will be taught by local faculty in Rome.

Fall 2021 Course Offerings*: 

  • Art History 310: Roman Art and Archaeology
    • Can fulfill either the Fine Arts requirement or the Integrations in the Humanities requirement but not both.

  • ENGL 203/JOUR 372: Nature Writing from Ancient Rome to Modern Italy
    • Both ENGL 203 and JOUR 372 fulfill the Integrations in the Humanities requirement.

  • Chemistry 201:Organic Chemistry 1
    • No core fulfillment, but a course required or recommended for many natural science majors/pre-health professions.

  • History 111
    • Fulfills the Historic Analysis requirement.

  • Philosophy 235: Philosophy of Arts and Beauty
    • Fulfills the third course for the Philosophy and Theology requirement. 

  • Theology 226: Spirituality: Christianity in Rome (Cross-listed as Theology 310: Spirituality)
    • Can fulfill either the third course for the Philosophy and Theology requirement or the Integrations in the Humanities requirement but not both. 

Additionally, a 2-credit (ITAL 199Y: Conversational Italian) introductory Italian language course is required for all students. Higher level Italian language courses may be facilitated based on student need.


*All the requirements listed above are for the New Core Curriculum. If you are a student who deferred from Fall 2020 and are under the Old Core Curriculum, you can still use the Fall 2021 courses offered to fulfill the equivalent requirements in the Old Core Curriculum. In cases where the requirements don’t map perfectly (e.g. PHIL 2xx vs. PHIL 214) the Chair will work with the Registrar to allow the course to count for you. Therefore, you can participate in the program in Fall 2021 and fulfill the same requirements you had intended to fulfill in Fall 2020. If you have questions about which courses to take in order to stay on track with your degree plan, we recommend reaching out to your academic advisor. 


Students will live at the St. Thomas Bernardi Residence. Bernardi is well-situated in the Prati neighborhood of Rome on the west bank of the Tiber River and across from the Borghese Gardens. Students will have convenient access to restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, banks, and shops. The residence is just blocks away from a metro station and various nearby bus routes.
Amenities at Bernardi include: single, double and triple rooms, a shared dining room and kitchen, library, lounge, computer lab, self-service laundry, chapel, and rooftop terrace with views of St. Peter’s and the Piazza del Popolo.
The St. Thomas faculty Program Directors and the Bernardi Director live on-site and provide 24-hour student support.

Seven breakfasts and one dinner per week are included in the program fee. Students will have access to kitchen facilities and nearby grocery stores, restaurants, and cafes.

Accepted students will be required to attend all pre-departure meetings as well as the large-group semester orientation during the Spring semester prior to their departure. Dates of these meetings will be included in the official acceptance correspondence. 

Fall 2021 Program Dates
Sunday, September 12: Arrival, Move In to Bernardi 
Monday, September 13 - Sunday, September 19: Orientation, intensive Italian course period, Chemistry course begins 
Monday, September 20: First day of classes at Richmond University 
Friday, October 29 - Monday, November 1: Fall Break, no classes 
Thursday, December 9: Departure, Move Out of Bernardi

Fall 2021 Program Directors 

Dr. Mark Neuzil

Dr. Neuzil teaches Multimedia Reporting, Communication History, Communication Ethics and Environmental Communication. He boasts fifteen years as a newspaper and wire service reporter and editor with such organizations as the Associated Press, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the Quad-City Times, the Ames Daily Tribune and the New Ulm (Minn.) Journal. He also works as a freelance writer for magazines on environmental subjects. Professor Neuzil joined UST in 1993. In 2013, his faculty colleagues across the University voted him “Professor of the Year.” He is one of the advisers to, and serves as the Department Chair of Emerging Media. 

Dr. Tom Ippoliti

Dr. Ippoliti teaches Organic Chemistry I, Organic Chemistry II, and Organic Spectroscopy.  He also has an active research group of undergraduate students and over his tenure at UST has mentored over 250 students. Dr. Ippoliti’s research utilizes his expertise in organic chemistry to make useful molecules. His research projects embody a wide variety of topics including photochromic molecules, thermochromic molecules, polymers for drug delivery, NMR spectroscopy and synthesis of new antibiotics. Professor Ippoliti joined the chemistry department at UST in 1989.  In 2000, he was awarded the first annual Undergraduate Research award and in 2018 he was awarded the John Ireland award.

Thanos Zyngas, Bernardi Director
Visit the Rome Campus Website for information.

Once in Rome, students are required by the Italian government to hold the I.N.A. Assitalia, the Italian national hospitalization insurance. This insurance is included in the program fee and is obtained during the orientation in Rome.
As part of the program fee, students will be enrolled in a Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) insurance plan for the duration of their program dates. Generally, CISI insurance will provide comprehensive accident/sickness, medical evacuation, repatriation, 24-7-365 worldwide assistance and a comprehensive security evacuation plan while students are abroad. Students will receive more information on the insurance plan prior to departure, including a digital/printable insurance card and a detailed policy document.

Although insurance coverage is provided in the program fee, students are required to keep their existing U.S. health insurance plans in full force during the duration of the study abroad program. 

Costs are comparable to the St. Thomas comprehensive semester fee for tuition, room and board plus the off-campus study fee. Program fees include tuition, room, partial board, site visits, and excursions within Italy. 

Students are able to use their financial aid packages in Rome as they would on the main campus in St. Paul. Additionally, all students admtited in the priority application period will automatically receive a $2,000 scholarship from the College of Arts and Sciences. For specific questions, students should reach out to the Office of Study Abroad and the Financial Aid Office.

Program cost for each fall term will be posted by no later than April 1st each spring.