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 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.

Designed for first semester sophomores, the Rome Empower Program ensures that you stay on track for graduation while you study abroad. Since this is a St. Thomas program, there's no question that credits will transfer.

  • 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 director and an on-site resident director in the St. Thomas Bernardi residence. 
  • All students receive a $2,000 Bernardi Rome award to help offset additional expenses, such as airfare and meals.

*Formally Rome CORE Semester


  • Sophomore standing or higher at the time of the program
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5
  • Good disciplinary standing, and
  • Complete a formal application and selection interview with Faculty Director and Office of Study Abroad Staff

Application Process

  1. Call us at (651) 962-6450 to schedule an advising appointment. Your Study Abroad advisor will open an application for you during your appointment.
  2. Meet with your academic advisor to determine how the Rome Empower Program will fit into your 4-year degree plan.

Applications will be reviewed as they are received through the final deadline: March 15, 2018
Selection Process

  • Application review by faculty director
  • Selected students are granted a personal interview
  • Final students will be selected after the interview

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: 

  • ARTH 310 (fine arts)
  • CHEM 201 (lab science) NEW!
  • ENGL 203 (literature & writing, second-level)
  • ENGL 337 (human diversity) NEW!
  • HIST 111 (historical studies)
  • PHIL 214 (moral & philosophical reasoning, second-level)
  • THEO 251 (faith & the Catholic tradition, second-level) 
  • THEO 424 (faith & the Catholic tradition, 4th level)
  • Other major/minor courses may be available!

Additionally, a 2-credit introductory Italian language course is also required. Italian courses can be facilitated based on student need.

Courses will take place on the Richmond University Rome campus located near the Pantheon and the Piazza Navona. ENGL 337 will be taught by Dr. Amy Muse, English. CHEM 201 will be taught by Dr. Tom Ippolliti. ENGL 203 will be taught by Dr. Doug Phillips. All other courses will be taught by faculty in Rome.

Students will live on the St. Thomas Rome campus in the 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 and grocery stores, banks and shops. The residence is just blocks away from the metro station and nearby bus routes.
Amenities include: single, double and triple dormitories, dining hall, student kitchen, library, lounge, computer lab, self-service laundry, chapel and rooftop terraces with views of St. Peter’s and the Piazza del Popolo.
The St. Thomas faculty and resident director live on-site and provide 24-hour student support.

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

Students will be required to attend 3 pre-departure meetings as well as the large-group semester orientation during the Spring 2018 semester.
Pre-Departure Meetings
Group meetings are held 12:00-1:00pm in MHC 204.
Thursday, March 8
Tuesday, April 17

Italian Visa Session
Thursday, March 15, MHC 204

Fall 2018 Orientation
Saturday, April 21, 2018
8:45am – 1:00pm
OEC Auditorium

Fall 2018 Program Dates
September 8 Move-In Date
September 10-14 Orientation
September 17 Official first day of classes at Richmond
October 29-November 4 Fall Break
December 13 Last day of exams
December 14 Move-Out/Departure Date

Dr. Amy Muse, Academic Director
Dr. Amy Muse is Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department. Since the age of ten, when she lived in Afghanistan for a summer, she has been fascinated with global travel and the reasons people journey from one place to another. She teaches courses in drama and theatre, travel literature, and essay writing, and has been conducting research on intersections between theatre, travel, and tourism in Greece, where she has taught study abroad courses for UST and a Shakespeare course at the University of Athens. She has also taught J-term courses in Turkey and directed UST’s former Glasgow English Semester, advising UST students and teaching at the University of Glasgow. During the 2018 Rome Empower Program, she will offer a Human Diversity English class on travel, tourism, and migration focused on the many ways people around the world (including our St. Thomas group) have made their way to Rome. She also looks forward to visiting the Torre Argentina cat sanctuary and eating a lot of gelato.

Thanos Zyngas, Bernardi Resident Director
Visit for information!

U.S. citizens are required to obtain a visa if their stay in Italy will exceed 90 days. St. Thomas will provide guidance to all students on the program in obtaining a visa (which is actually a stamp in your passport granting permission to remain in the country for a specified period of time). Upon acceptance to the program, St. Thomas will provide you with instructions on how to apply for your visa.
Students should not plan any international travel plans during the period 90-days prior to departure for Rome since your passport needs to be submitted with your visa application.  Any international travel plans (particularly summer vacation travel prior to the Fall semester in Rome) may jeopardize your ability to obtain an Italian visa.

All students participating in St. Thomas Study Abroad programs are required to verify that they hold health and hospitalization insurance that will cover them while abroad.
Once in Rome you 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 your program fee you will be enrolled in a Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) insurance plan for your time abroad. Generally, your CISI insurance will provide comprehensive accident/sickness, medical evacuation, repatriation, 24-7-365 worldwide assistance and a comprehensive security evacuation plan while you are abroad on your program. You will receive more information on the insurance plan prior to departure.

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, site visits and excursions within Italy. 

Fall 2017 Fees and Cancellation Policy

NOTE: Fees for the Fall 2018 program are based on the St. Thomas comprehensive semester fee for tuition, room and board plus the off-campus study fee. The St. Thomas fee will be announced for the 2018-19 academic year in February or March 2018. The program fee and budget sheets will be updated once those are announced.