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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

ISEP at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore


History, art, culture, and style - Italy’s got it all!

Italy is a modern, industrialized nation, at the forefront of style, fashion, and design. It is a Mediterranean country with a strongly family-oriented culture and has more historical monuments than any country in the world, superb museums, and incredible cuisine. 

Located in a stunningly beautiful medieval building in the heart of Milan, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore is a renowned private higher education institution as reflected by its degrees, international reputation, rankings, and global network.

This dynamic yet traditional university offers young people not only the opportunity to engage in professional development but to grow through personal experience promoting an interdisciplinary approach which helps students gain scientific knowledge in a responsible and independent manner.

Cattolica is where great minds connect. Where enthusiasm meets innovation. Where dedication creates outcomes.

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.

Learn more about Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type

Exchange or Direct-Enroll


Milan, Italy

Languages of Instruction

Italian, English - If taking courses in Italian, minimum 4 semesters of Italian or equivalent required

Program Dates

Fall 2018: September to February (UCSC University Academic Curriculum (coursework in Italian) or September-December (UCSC International Curriculum)

Spring 2019:  February to July (UCSC University Academic Curriculum (coursework in Italian)) or  February to May (UCSC International Curriculum)


*NOTE FOR WINTER ATHLETES: The Academic Curriculum in the School of Economics runs a third term in spring, running from mid-April - Late July.  Students can earn a total of 3 credits on this term. See Ashley Sinclair for more details.


All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


Early departure for fall term may be possible. Please contact the ISEP coordinator of the host country for more information.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  
  • Language Requirements for UCSC International Curriculum and UCSC University Academic Curriculum (in English): There is no Italian requirement for students taking courses which are taught in English, in either the UCSC International Curriculum or UCSC University Academic Curriculum.
  • Language Requirements for coursework in Italian: A minimum of 4 semesters or the equivalent of university level Italian must be completed prior to the program. Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker.


Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice, but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up.  Direct options may have an additional cost.

Chance of placement on ISEP Exchange for US students is generally good.

Chance of placement on ISEP Direct for US students is excellent.


The historic city of Milan is the capital of Lombardy in the central Po valley, which is Italy’s richest, most populated and most economically active region. Milan has always been forward-looking. During its 2,000 year history, it has been a driving force for great social, economic, cultural and political events. Milan is also a city of art, with a wealth of monuments, palaces, churches, and museums, not to mention, the Duomo and La Scala, the temple of Opera. In 2013 Milan was ranked as the top student city in Italy by QS Best Student Cities Ranking! Check out the New York Times’ video 36 Hours in Milan.


The Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, founded in 1921 by Father Agostino Gemelli, is one of the most comprehensive and complete higher education institutions in Italy. Università Cattolica excels in the diverse study opportunities that it offers in the humanities as well as scientific fields. Through the courses offered, combined with strong research programs, the university values and promotes an interdisciplinary approach that helps students gain scientific knowledge in a responsible and autonomous fashion. 

Located in a stunningly beautiful medieval building in the heart of Milan, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore is a renowned private higher education institution as reflected by its degrees, international reputation, rankings, and global network.

This dynamic yet traditional university offers young people not only the opportunity to engage in professional development but to grow through personal experience promoting an interdisciplinary approach which helps students gain scientific knowledge in a responsible and independent manner.

Fields that are especially appropriate for ISEP participants include Humanities, Business/Economics, Languages & Literature, Political and Social Sciences. 

Students typically enroll in 4-5 classes per term which average to 12-15 hours in class per week. A term runs for 15 weeks.

Winter-sport athletes may wish to participate in the School of Economics Term 3, which traditionally runs mid-April - late-July; they would earn ~3 Lake Forest credits.  These students can work with a professor on campus to determine if they can complete an independent study project in order to fulfill one of the requirements to live on campus and/or to stay on track to graduate.



There are two program options at Sacro Cuore for a semester or full year placements. Please clearly indicate on your Host Site Request List which option you prefer: 

OPTION 1 ISEP Exchange: Courses in Italian in the UCSC University Academic Curriculum. See below for course options. 

OPTION 2 ISEP Exchange: Courses in English through the UCSC International Curriculum or the UCSC University Academic Curriculum. See the section “Courses Taught in English” for more information. Students with an Intermediate level of Italian may combine courses in English with course in Italian in this option. 


Courses available in OPTION 1: UCSC University Academic Curriculum (coursework in Italian)
Banking, Finance, and Insurance Sciences; Business (accounting, economics, management, marketing); Education(adult education, pedagogy & planning for education, science of learning processes, sport & exercise sciences, sports science for prevention & rehabilitation); Foreign Languages and Literature (English, French, German, Russian, Spanish); Humanities(archaeology, architecture, art history, classics, communications, drama/ theatre, history, library science, literature, philosophy, theology/ religious studies); Law (business law, legal studies); Political and Social Sciences (international relations, public relations & communication, social studies, social work); Psychology



Courses available in OPTION 2: There are two opportunities to take courses in English at UCSC offered on both ISEP Exchange and ISEP Direct:

1. UCSC International Curriculum
Students may develop their Italian language skills through intensive classes and everyday use while also following business; international relations; media, communications and sociology; literature and/or Italian culture courses in English.
Information and Course Descriptions

2. UCSC University Academic Curriculum:
Courses in English taught in Economics, International Management, Banking & Finance as well as Sociology, and International Relations. Non-European students who take courses in English from this option can arrange for early exams. Please consult the academic calendar for more information. 
Information and Course Descriptions

Students with an Intermediate level of Italian may combine coursework in English with coursework in Italian in this option.


Language Courses: Italian language courses are offered in addition to regular classes during each semester for lower intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced levels. These classes are 45 total hours of course work for 6 ECTS credits, which appear on the university transcript. Students may also request a certificate upon completion.

  • ISEP Exchange: language courses are not included in ISEP benefits, but are available for an additional fee.

Pre-session: A 3-week pre-session, intensive Italian language course is offered for absolute beginner, lower intermediate and upper intermediate levels. 45 hours of course work for 6 ECTS credits. Pre-session includes tuition, housing, and meals.

  • ISEP Exchange: Pre-session language course is not included in ISEP benefits, but are available for an additional additional fee.



For the UCSC University Academic Curriculum (coursework in Italian):

- Click HERE
- Select Anno academic
- Choose your Faculty/Department
- DO NOT select a choice under CORSO DI LAUREA and ANNO DI CORSO categories
- Click Avvio Ricerca

You will be taken to a page with the full selection of courses. Here you can read the details and download the syllabus for each course.



Classes and Credit Hours 
A typical, full-time, Italian student takes 30 CFU (crediti formativo universitario) units each semester. CFU credits meaure the total amount of effort the student must put into a course, including outside study. Each CFU typically represents 25 hours of student work. 1 CFU credit equals 1 ECTS credit.  In this case, students will need 30 ECTS/CFU credits to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.

Students taking courses in the International Curriculum at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore should note that course credits are awarded in US credit hours. Typically these courses bear 3 US credits unless otherwise noted.  In this case, students will need 15 US credits to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.

Study Habits
Regular class attendance will be very important to your academic success in Italy. You may find that some professors do not take attendance, while others have strict attendance policies, where absences may affect your grade. Individualized learning is emphasized; there is a large amount of outside reading, and students study hard for exams.

Teaching Style/Interaction with Professors
Professors establish set office hours, but student should contact professors to arange an appointment in advance.

Grades and Assessment
Grades are given on a scale of 0 to 30, with 18 considered the lowest passing grade.

While grading policies will vary by course and university, many courses taught in Italian will have an important final exam, the esame di profitto, which will determine a large portion of your grade. Many of these exams are oral, but some may be written. The minimum passing grade is 18.

With the exception of those participating in the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore International Curriculum, all students will register for courses after arriving in Italy. Normally you will have a trial period to determine which courses you want to register for.

IMPORTANT: In order for you to receive grades and credits for the courses you complete, you must follow the explicit instructions of your host ISEP Coordinator. You may be required to present a libretto, a booklet, or other documentation, for your professor’s signature after completing the course.

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.

Can review the country handbooks for ISEP here as well:



ISEP Placement info: http://www.isep.org/Coordinators/us_placement_notes_english.asp

Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Student Life

The campus offers a complete range of services, all of which share a common goal: meeting the needs of a large student population. The campus may best be described as “a city within a city,” where finding your way and learning the ropes is easy thanks to effective tutoring services and competent academic advisors and coordinators. Total enrollment: 30,000. 



UCSC International offers two orientation events for international students at the beginning of each semester. Students will be given useful information about Milan, UCSC campus, academic programs, registration, extracurricular activities, and permit of stay procedures. During the orientation, students will also meet student associations. 


Airport pickup may be available for a group of students.

Housing and Meals

ISEP Exchange
The primary accommodation for ISEP Exchange students will be off-campus housing in apartments or single dorm rooms with a bathroom. Students placed in apartments will have a combination of university cafeteria plan and meal tickets to purchase groceries and use at restaurants around the city. Students placed in the dorm will have a complete meal plan at the university cafeteria. 

ISEP Direct
The primary accommodation for ISEP Direct students will be off-campus housing in apartments or single dorm rooms with a bathroom. Meals are not included, so students should budget accordingly.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

ISEP costs for Exchange are usually the most cost-effective, as it is intended to promote mobility of students around the world. Direct options are available for those students that prefer to attend a school with limited availability for Exchange, though costs may be different as they are set by the host school. For students that participate in the ISEP Direct to UCSC, the program fee includes housing and insurance, but not meals.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 semester:

Budget Item



Lake Forest College Tuition



Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost



College Deposit (credit)



Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College



ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application



College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)



ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance ($90/mo estimated)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP



Additional Meals



Estimated Airfare



Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance, if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)



Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses








Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Experiences of Former Students


“Why am I studying in Italy at UCSC?: I actually started as an exchange student thanks to one of my friends’ recommendation. I ended up transferring to Cattolica and am now taking a degree in applied languages and linguistics with a specialization in communication.” -Josh, Williamsport, USA