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 Empower Study Abroad 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. 

Interested in learning more? Attend a Fall 2022 Rome Empower Info Session.


  • 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 2022 priority deadline is December 1, 2021. 
  • Applications submitted after the prioity deadline will be considered on rolling admission, space-available basis until March 15, 2022.

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 take place at the AIFS Global Study Center located near the Piazza Navona. The Chemistry lab will be taught at La Sapienza University. The English 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.

Possible Courses Include*: 

  • 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: Existential Italy
    • Fulfills 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
    • Can fulfill either the third course for the Philosophy and Theology requirement or the Integrations in the Humanities requirement but not both. 
  • Theology 226: Spirituality: Christianity in Rome 
    • 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.


*The course list for Fall 2022 is not yet finalized.


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 2022 Program Dates
Sunday, September 11: Arrival, Move in to Bernardi 
Monday, September 12 - Sunday, September 18: Orientation, intensive Italian course period, Chemistry course begins 
Monday, September 19: First day of classes  
Friday, October 28 - Tuesday, November 1: Fall Break, no classes 
Thursday, December 8: Departure, Move out of Bernardi


Fall 2022 Program Directors 

Dr. Amy Muse

Dr. William Ojala

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

As the Fall 2022 Rome Empower program will be under 90 days in length, students will not need to obtain an Italian student visa.

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 admitted in the priority application period will automatically receive a $2,000 Empower Study Abroad 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.