Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


The M.A. in Political Science with a concentration in European Union Policy Studies is an accelerated, one-year M.A. program. As such, the workload is significant. Students generally work on a 5 days per week schedule (Mon-Fri). In addition to classes, students often attend additional guest lectures, study excursions, group meetings and community service events. Coursework is equally intensive across all three semesters. An average week has one or two classes per day and activities that, overall, engage students for about 20 hours of in class work and 20 hours of personal study and group activities.

Students are provided with full access to the library of JMU’s on site main academic partner institution, the European University Institute (EUI), which has one of the most extensive and complete European libraries for political science, and may use books from the EUI library on-site. The EUI also has extensive electronic material available; students may download and use this material when not physically at the EUI. Students also have access to the full collection at the Florence local municipal libraries, upon requesting a free membership card.

Finally, while in Florence, students have full access to the JMU library and its Interlibrary Loan services. Students freely access all periodicals to which JMU subscribes, and JMU librarians can deliver articles and chapters accessed via Interlibrary Loan to students.


Students who do not hold EU passports must obtain a study visa before the program starts. Once accepted, such students may apply for a visa directly, but they are encouraged to apply through JMU's Center for Global Engagement, whose staff is very experienced in helping students with the visa process.

Students are responsible for making all their own travel arrangements and for arriving at the program location at the appropriate time (best by two o’clock on the indicated arrival date). Cheap fares can be found, but are often bound by restrictions and subject to large fees for date changes and cancellation. Whenever possible, opt for refundable tickets or tickets with reasonable change fees. Each student is required to provide a copy of his/her flight itinerary with departure and arrival times and flight numbers to JMU's Center for Global Engagement. If students purchase an airline ticket without the approval of the program director, they understand that JMU will not be held liable for the price of the ticket or any fees associated with changing the ticket, should the program be cancelled for any reason.

Students are strongly encouraged to purchase trip cancellation insurance. Trip cancellation insurance provides monetary support for non-refundable expenses and service charges imposed by airlines and travel agents, including baggage loss or delay.

Florence is close to both the Florence-Amerigo Vespucci-Peretola (FLR) airport and the Pisa-Galileo Galilei (PSA) airport. Most students find it is easiest for their first big arrival (when they have many suitcases and belongings) to arrive at the FLR airport and take a taxi from there to their accommodations. From other Italian airports, such as Milan, Rome, and Venice, Florence is easily accessible by train.

The date that the program begins is the date that students are required to be on-site. In case you miss your incoming flight or the flight is delayed or cancelled, be sure to carry specific directions to JMU’s Florence building, Palazzo Capponi in Via dei Michelozzi, in writing, with the complete address and telephone number.

Apart from the academic excursions, students wishing to explore Europe on their own will have such opportunities. The fall and spring semesters include a one-week break, and there is a one-week break between the spring semester and the summer semester. Students can also travel during the approximately three-week period between fall and spring terms.

Weekend (Saturday and Sunday) travel is also possible, although coursework obligations and academic excursions’ travel days (which can sometimes fall on a Saturday or Sunday) often require students to remain in Florence on selected weekends. Students should wait until they arrive in Florence to plan weekend trips or visits from friends and family in order to accurately consult the academic schedule.

A formal commencement ceremony, typically in the third week of June, closes the academic year. A few days after the ceremony, students have to leave their accommodations. Specific information regarding commencement and departure dates is distributed at the beginning of the academic year.

Visas for non-EU citizens are granted for a specified time period. Students without EU passports cannot enter the European Union prior to the start date of their visa. Also, visas for American students are occasionally issued soon before the start of the program. Because of this, American students should plan to be in the US before departure in order to ensure that they are able to collect their visa and travel legally to Italy. Students are obligated to leave the Schengen zone once their time of legal residence has expired; if they do not, they risk deportation and future censure.


Student apartments and JMU’s study center at Palazzo Capponi are both fully equipped for Internet access. In Palazzo Capponi, students are granted access to the building's network for their personal laptops and devices. Students also have access to Internet-equipped desktop computers with printers in Palazzo Capponi. In addition to Internet connectivity in apartments and Palazzo Capponi, many public squares (piazzas), bars, cafes, and libraries in the city have free Wi-Fi connections.

Students are required to live in program-provided accommodations for the duration of the program and cannot arrange their own accommodations locally. The cost for housing is included in the total program costs and fees. Those students doing an internship in the summer semester are able to do so outside of Florence, but any additional living expenses must be paid by the student directly. In this scenario, students are still responsible for paying for their Florence apartment during the summer term.

Life in Italy

Students' average monthly costs vary significantly depending on their lifestyle. Students should budget for everyday expenses such as groceries. Additional expenses, such as eating out, entertainment, and non-program travel might also be considered. Students should also consider exchange rate fluctuations when preparing their monthly budget.

Each year, the program makes assistantships available to students. Students are informed about the specifics of such assistantships or other educationally relevant paid posts upon applying to the program. Please see the assistantships page for more information. Beyond any educationally relevant posts provided by the EUPS program, students who are not EU citizens are not otherwise permitted to work during their studies.

All classes, apart from Italian language instruction, are conducted in English. Florence is a cosmopolitan city that hosts over ten million visitors annually, and English is widely spoken throughout the city. Even so, committing oneself to learning Italian can significantly affect the type of experience that students have. Students who make a strong effort in Italian are able to connect more closely with the country and its culture, to make local Italian friends, and to have friendly conversations with local shopkeepers.

Students should always consider luggage restrictions for carry-on and checked luggage. Many items that can be bought at home (shampoos, clothes, shoes, etc.) can also be bought in Italy, but students should pack very specific items that cannot be bought in Italy (e.g., a preferred contact lens solution or sunscreen). A full list of recommended items is sent to accepted students prior to departure. If you have questions about what kinds of products are (not) available in Italy, contact the Program Director.

There are two distinct issues. Electric plugs have different shapes in Italy. In addition, the voltage of Italian (and most European) electrical systems is different from that used in the U.S. Most laptop, tablet, and phone chargers sold in the USA are dual-voltage models; thus, one can buy a plug converter for those devices’ chargers upon arrival in Italy (if not earlier). However, most non-Italian hair dryers, hair straighteners, and curling irons purchased in the USA are incompatible with Italian plugs and with the voltage. Plugging in a non-Italian hairdryer, straightener or curling iron will most likely result in the destruction of the device. It is generally more economical for students who wish to use these devices to purchase them directly in Italy.

Our program does not require students to carry a cellphone that provides broadband data access in Italy. However, we do encourage our students either to add international service to their primary cellphone or to consider carrying a second phone (or a second phone line housed within the same cellphone) that has an Italian-based telephone number with some data access. To add a Italian number to a phone you purchased outside of Italy, you will need to make certain that the phone is "unlocked". That is, you have to know that you have the permission of your current cellphone provider to place another phone number in that device or, instead, you need to purchase a cellphone that is unlocked.

The program will provide referrals to an Italian cellphone provider that carries both physical and eSIM cards and does not require an multiyear plan.  Students pay a small monthly sum (e.g., €15, subject to change) for a plan that provides a significant amount of data, text, and calling capability.

JMU's premises at Palazzo Capponi do not include a gym. There are many gyms around the city that students can join for a membership fee.

Florence is very manageable by foot, especially because JMU's Florence premises and student apartments are so centrally located. Many students rent or purchase bikes for the duration of their stay. Others utilize the easy-to-navigate public bus system.

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