All roads lead to Rome

There’s no better way to learn about and experience a culture – or to learn about global history in art and design – than to be fully immersed in it.

The College of Design’s flagship Rome Program gives students an opportunity to live like the Romans do and attend classes in the college’s studio facilities in the historic center of Rome at the Palazzo Cenci-Bolognetti, a 16th-century building located in the Piazza delle Cinque Scole near the Tiber River.

Benefits of studying abroad with the Rome Program

By studying in Rome, third- and fourth-year students gain the art and design perspectives of other cultures, grow in personal strength and confidence, and stand out to future employers.

Other benefits include:

  • Semester-long classes taught in English by Rome-based European instructors
  • Collaboration with instructors with connections to art and design professionals
  • Apartment-style housing provided through the program
  • Studying in a fully licensed facility (the first study abroad program to be fully licensed in the Iowa regents’ system)
  • A dedicated onsite staff and resident director
  • Customizable program opportunities that fit into your academic study at Iowa State

Not only did I get to experience a new culture, but I was also able to meet many people with diverse backgrounds and expand my personal world knowledge.

Kyra Troendle – Community and Regional Planning, Class of 2023

When in Rome: What students experience abroad

Through visits to local historic sites and contemporary art and design studios, field trips to various parts of Italy, exhibition opportunities, language and cooking classes, and major-related studio projects, students will learn all there is to know about European – and especially Italian – art and design culture.

Students painting in Rome

Stay on track to graduate by taking this optional course of study! Students will enroll in 12-16 credit hours during their spring or fall semester at the Rome Center. Consult with your academic advisor to ensure you’re meeting your degree requirements.

Studio and lecture courses are held in the Rome Center at Palazzo Cenci-Bolognetti, a 16th-century building in Piazza della Cinque Scole in the historic center of Rome. The building neighbors the Tiber River and is steps away from iconic historical sites like the Pantheon, Teatro di Marcellus, Piazza Navona and Largo di Torre Argentina.

Students will reside in apartments located across from the Rome Center in the Trastevere neighborhood. The area is heavily influenced by food, family, and the beauty of the Roman landscape. Each apartment contracted by Iowa State accommodates six to eight students in double or triple bedrooms with two bathrooms per unit.

In addition to the semester-long Rome Program, the Rome Center hosts numerous faculty-led summer study abroad programs from Iowa State and other universities and institutions in a wide range of disciplines.

Students from Agriculture, Anthropology, Architecture, Art History, Athletics, Business, Civil Engineering, Classics, Communication, Community and Regional Planning, Education, Food Science, History, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Italian Studies, Landscape Architecture, Photography, Studio Art, and Urban Design have made the Rome Center their base during summer programs.

These opportunities create an impressive multidisciplinary community for collaboration and exploration.

Before studying in the Eternal City, all students will complete the one-credit DSN S 301 Rome Preparation course. The class, taught on Iowa State’s campus in Ames, provides a cultural introduction to Italy and covers the particulars of traveling and living abroad while making financial and logistical preparations.

Applying for the Rome Program

To participate in the Rome Program, you must have a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 2.3/4.0, be a junior or senior with at least 60 credit hours completed, be enrolled in courses at the College of Design, and apply online through the Iowa State Study Abroad Center.

Video Poster

Rome Program History

Iowa State University College of Design students have been traveling to Rome for more than 30 years. Back in the spring of 1991, a group of 15 architecture students took the inaugural trip to the Eternal City paving the way for thousands of students from across all art and design majors to follow in their footsteps.

Annually, the Rome Center welcomes more than 100 students majoring in architecture, art and design, graphic design, interior design, integrated studio arts and landscape architecture. There they are able to learn first hand about Rome’s rich history and culture, the significance of many historic works of Roman art and design, and how and why contemporary European artists and designers continue to uphold or work against this tradition and legacy.

Ask questions or request information

The Study Abroad Center offers a range of resources and information for students to consider before applying for a study abroad program, and the College of Design’s staff is also available to help students interested in planning a trip as part of their degree program.

Future Students

Exploring college opportunities is a big deal, and we are here to support you along every step of the way!

Current Students

Jen Hogan

Jen Hogan

International Programs Director

Students working on class project in the King Pavillion.

A Cyclone in the Making

Find your place at Iowa State University’s College of Design, where we like to ask questions, poke and prod, create something new, and make a difference through design.