Crowd standing around a Roman fountain

The Rome Empower Program

About the Program

Let Your Wanderlust Empower You: The Rome Empower Program
The Rome Empower Program is a signature St. Thomas study abroad opportunity that prepares you to excel in an ever changing global workforce. 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.

Designed for first semester sophomores, the Rome Empower Program ensures that you stay on track for graduation while you study abroad. 

  • Choose four courses from an expanded list of classes. Participants will also take a 2-credit Italian language course.
  • Program students live together with a St. Thomas faculty directors and an on-site resident director in the St. Thomas Bernardi residence. 


  • 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

  1. 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 apointment at the Office of Study Abroad. Access to the application will not be granted prior to these sessions. 
  2. The Rome Empower Program Fall 2021 priority deadline is December 15, 2020. 
  3. Applications submitted after the prioity deadline will be considered on rolling admission, space-available basis until March 15, 2021.

Selection Process

  • Application review by 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. These courses each fulfill a St. Thomas requirement, are 4-credits and are taught in English.
Course offerings for Fall 2021 have yet to be finalized, but please refer to these past course offerings from Fall 2020 for an idea of what to expect in Fall 2021, understanding that these courses are subject to change: 

  • Art History 310: Roman Art and Archaeology
  • Chemistry 201: Organic Chemistry I 
  • English 203/Journalism 372: Nature Writing from Ancient Rome to Modern Italy
  • History 111: Origins, Modern World to 1550 
  • Philosophy 214: Introductory Ethics 
  • Theology 251: Global Christianity

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

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 faculty in Rome.

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 preceeding semester.

Fall 2020 Program Dates
Sunday, August 30: Move-In Date
Monday, August 31 through Sunday, September 6: Orientation week + intensive Italian course 
Monday, September 7: Official first day of classes at Richmond
Monday, October 26 through Friday, October 30: Fall Break
Monday, December 7 through Thursday, December 10: Final Exams
Friday, December 11: Move-Out/Departure Date


Fall 2021 Program Dates to be announced soon.  

Fall 2020 Program Directors 

Dr. 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. 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 Resident Director
Visit the Rome Campus Website for information

U.S. citizens are required to obtain a visa if their stay in Italy will exceed 90 days. Because the Rome Empower Program is longer than 90 days, accepted students are required to obtain an Italian student visa. Upon acceptance to the program, St. Thomas will provide instructions on how to apply for the visa. Although St. Thomas will provide instructions and assistance on the visa application and approval process, St. Thomas employees are not consular officers and have no ability to guarentee the succesful procurement of student visas. The multi-step process requires careful attention to detail from each student in order to succesful obtain this legal immigration document. 
Students should not plan any international travel plans during the period 90-days prior to departure for Rome since their actual physical passport needs to be submitted along with the visa application and other required documentation materials.  Any international travel plans (particularly summer vacation travel prior to the Fall semester in Rome) may jeopardize the ability to obtain an Italian 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 also 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. For specific questions, students should reach out to the Office of Study Abroad and the Financial Aid Office. 

Program cost for the upcoming Fall will be posted each year by April 1.