city at sunset

Catholic Studies in Rome

Catholic intellectual exploration and career preparation – why not both?

St. Thomas Catholic Studies is the oldest, largest program of its kind. Through this signature St. Thomas study abroad program experience in Rome, you will find deeper integration of your faith, academics, and professional pursuits for a meaningful life and career. 

Explore more than 2,000 years of Catholic thought and culture while learning both in Rome and throughout the country of Italy. Forge lasting friendships through living at the St. Thomas Bernardi Residence. Discover how "Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11) in the wisdom you seek, work you choose, and actions you take.


  • Catholic Studies major or minor
  • Sophomore, junior, or senior standing at time of participation
  • Minimum 2.5 GPA 
  • Good disciplinary standing 

Application Process

  • Meet with Dr. David Foote ( from the Department of Catholic Studies to discuss the program, process, and credits.
  • Complete the program application by the priority deadline: January 15. The final deadline is September 15, but usually this program fills by the priority deadline. The program is limited to 35 students.

Selection Process

  • Application review by faculty Program Director
  • Interviews with faculty Program Director 
  • Students notified of official admission decision and next steps 

Note to Accepted Students:  All students accepted into the Catholic Studies Program are required to attend all scheduled pre-departure meetings and orientation sessions. These meetings will take place during the Fall semester prior to departure. Dates will be sent with approval notifications.

Course Information

  • Conversational Italian (ITAL 199Y) will be taken by all students on a pass/fail basis. Higher level Italian courses may be facilitated based on student need.
  • Students will take four additional courses: two taught by faculty at The Angelicum; one taught by faculty at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce; and one taught by the St. Thomas faculty Program Director.
  • Each course is worth four credits. 


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 Director and the Bernardi Director live on-site and provide 24-hour student support.

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

Excursions & Weekend Retreats
Included in the program fee are academic excursions to Assisi and a weekend Art History trip to either Florence or Venice. Most academic courses include site visits throughout Rome.

Each semester a weekend retreat is planned at Casa Divin Maestro in the quiet woods on Lake Albano in the Alban Hills outside of Rome. The Casa offers respite from the activity of Rome. Students will have time for quiet prayer and reflection as well as community life and activities.

Volunteer Opportunities
As Service is an essential part of Catholic life, all students are strongly encouraged to serve Rome's poor. You may choose to work with such communities as the Missionaries of Charity, the Little Sisters of the Poor, or the Saint Egidio Movement, providing ample opportunity for reflection on your life and vocation as a member of the larger Catholic community.

Spring 2021 Program Dates

Sunday, February 7: Move In, Orientation begins 

Monday, February 8: Bernardi Orientation

Tuesday, February 9 - Saturday, February 13: Angelicum Orientation, Class Registration, Italian Course Begins, Course taught by St. Thomas Program Director begins

Monday, February 15: Classes begin at The Angelicum

Saturday, March 27 - Sunday, April 11: Easter Break, No Classes 

Thursday, May 20 - Tuesday, May 25: Final Exams

Wednesday, May 26: Move-Out Date 


Application Deadlines

January 15: Priority application deadline*
September 15: Final application deadline

*Note that this program typically fills at the priority deadline.

Dr. W. Matthews Grant, Spring 2021 Faculty Program Director 

Dr. David Foote, Catholic Studies Rome Program Director 

Fr. Dominic Holtz, Catholic Studies Director at The Angelicum, Rome

Thanos Zyngas, Bernardi Campus Director

A team of American priests serve this program. They offer mass regularly in the residence chapel, lead the semester retreat, are regularly available for confession and can arrange for spiritual direction.

U.S. citizens are required to obtain a visa if their stay in Italy will exceed 90 days. Because the Catholic Studies Program is longer than 90 days, accepted students are required to obtain an Italian student visa. Upon acceptance to the program, the Office of Study Abroad will provide instructions on how to apply for the visa. Although St. Thomas employees will provide instructions and assistance on the visa application and approval process, St. Thomas employees are not Italian consular officers and have no ability to guarantee the successful procurement of student visas. The multi-step process requires careful attention to detail from each student in order to successful obtain this legal immigration document. 
Students should not plan any international travel during the period of 90-days prior to departure for Rome as their actual physical passport needs to be submitted along with the visa application and other required documentation materials.  Any international travel plans prior to program departure 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 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.