Study Abroad

Information for Parents

The School in Cortona welcomes inquiries and input from parents of prospective and current students. Attending our program is clearly an investment for both your child and you. We invite you to explore all of the information on our website so you can acquaint yourself with everything we have to offer.

Many parents will contact us with important questions about the School in Cortona. We have summarized the most common ones below. If you have questions about any other aspect of the program, please do not hesitate to contact us at: or by telephone at: 780-492-4295. You will also find our mailing addresses on our main webpage.

Q: How is the School in Cortona affiliated with the University of Alberta?

A: The School in Cortona is a satellite of the Faculty of Arts. It is operated on behalf of the Faculty by a full-time Director, Dr. Helena Fracchia, who is also a tenured faculty member of our Department of History and Classics. All course offerings are taught by U of A faculty members or local instructors. All instructors meet the strict teaching requirements of the U of A.

Because the School is part of the Faculty of Arts, all courses appear on the student's U of A transcript, just like any other course. As well, the students will be graded in the same manner as when they are taking courses on one of the campuses in Alberta, and all final grades will be calculated in their GPA. All tuition fees are paid directly to the U of A Financial Services office in Edmonton.

Q: Will these courses count as credit towards my child's degree?

A: All courses taught at the School are like any other liberal arts offering in the Faculty of Arts. If the student has room in his/her degree program for the courses (either towards a major/minor, or as options), then there should be no problem. We always recommend that prospective students consult with their program advisor before registering to confirm which course choices will be the best for them.

Q: Why are the tuition fees higher than the fees charged for students studying at one of the campuses in Alberta?

A: The School in Cortona is classified as a cost-recovery program by the U of A. This means that the School must pay for all infrastructure expenses associated with its operation. Given the School's location in Europe, the costs involved can be steep especially with the differences in currency exchange rates. In order to maintain the quality of the course offerings and the overall experience, the U of A has mandated that the tuition costs will be approximately double the regular tuition rates to ensure all expenses are covered.

Q: I see that the terms are shorter than regular terms. How can the courses still be worth the same credit as courses offered in Alberta?

A: The School ensures that all courses still provide the same number of lecture hours as a course offered in Alberta. Course delivery in Cortona is primarily lecture-style, supplemented with relevant field trips to sites related to the topic being studied in the course. The Faculty of Arts annually reviews all offerings to ensure the quality and academic rigor of the courses.

Q: My child wants to travel while attending the School in Cortona. Is this possible?

A: The School promotes travel in Italy on weekends since our students have a wonderful opportunity to explore the country while using Cortona as their homebase. That said, our primary focus is still on the academic nature of the program, and students must realize that their studies are more important than any secondary travel plans. Attendance in classes is strictly monitored, and any unexplained absences will be immediately reported to the Director. Students also have the opportunity to travel in Europe before classes begin and after the term is finished.

Q: My child has special dietary needs. Can these be accommodated?

A: Almost all dietary restrictions can be accommodated by the School. During the application process, students are asked to identify any special needs they may have so that these can be addressed during the admission process, and long before the students leave for Italy. The accommodation costs include breakfast 7 days/week and supper 4 days/week (Monday - Thursday). Supper is not provided Friday to Sunday because classes only operate from Monday to Thursday, and many students leave Cortona on the weekends. Students are responsible for their lunches and can purchase something in Cortona, or can also buy groceries and store them in the kitchen in the residence.

Q: What are the residence rooms like?

A: The School utilizes the local hostel for our multiple-person rooms (holding 4-5 students). Like most hostels in Europe, it has a central eating area on the main floor, with the bedrooms on the upper floors. All bathrooms are shared. There are no co-ed roommate assignments in Cortona, but there will be male-only rooms and female-only rooms within the hostel. Generally, one bathroom is designated for the male students with the remaining bathrooms designated for the female students. Laundry facilities are available in the hostel (washing machine only, or basins to hand-wash clothing). Accommodation costs cover the cost of wireless internet in the hostel for our students to use. The School also provides 5 desktop computers in the hostel in case a student does not bring a laptop. During the term, the U of A students are the only residents in the hostel. No outside individuals are allowed to stay at the hostel while the classes are in term. Please feel free to view the videos of the residence that are linked from our main page at:, or go to the hostel's website at:

The single and double rooms are located in the Hotel Sabrina. You can learn more about it at: All single and double rooms include a private bathroom.

A residence coordinator lives in the residence to manage the day to day issues that may arise as well as help the students in case they need any assistance outside of the classroom.

Q: Is it safe in Cortona?

A: Cortona is a very small town of approximately 2500 people. It is located on a hill and surrounded by an old Etruscan and Roman wall. Unlike the major cities in Italy, Cortona offers a peaceful, and very traditional, living environment that is also more conducive to study. Our students are welcomed by the town, and quickly realize that their learning experience will be both academic and cultural. This is their opportunity to see the 'real' Italy that is very difficult to still find in the large cities. This is also their chance to enjoy their time away from home in a community that watches out for all of its citizens. Safety (or a lack thereof) has never been raised as an issue by previous students.

Q: Can I visit Cortona while my child is there?

A: We welcome all visitors to Cortona! As stated above, only students are allowed to stay in the hostel, but Cortona is a major tourist destination and has many fine hotels. You can learn more about available accommodations at Cortonaweb or by using any online travel booking website like Expedia. If you would like to see what Cortona is like without traveling there, you can go through our video gallery . Or, you can watch Under the Tuscan Sun, a film that was set and filmed in Cortona (and was also based on a book of the same name).