Gordon in Orvieto

Gordon in Orvieto

The landscape of pre-modern Italy, populated by saints, mystics, artists, and poets, provides a foundation for this semester in Orvieto.  Students examine these traces of Western classical civilization, exploring its relationship with present-day European culture.  Especially appropriate for studio art majors, this program offers classes in the visual arts, creative writing, history, and literature.

Additional information available at Gordon in Orvieto.


All Messiah approved semester-long, off-campus programs are approved and designed to meet the requirements for the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI). To learn more about the process, please explore the ELI Off-Campus Study Information Page.

  • Students will complete all of the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) requirements that are a part of this program.
  • Sophomore, juniors, seniors
  • 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Since studying off-campus for a semester is a privilege, please note the following implications of being place on probation at Messiah University:

    Chapel Probation: A student currently on chapel probation for the first time (or with an impending chapel probation for the upcoming semester) will be required to communicate or meet with the Director of the Agape Center for Local and Global Engagement to determine the potential impact on the student’s upcoming semester off-campus.  If a student has been placed on chapel probation more than once during their time at Messiah, they will not be eligible to study off-campus for a semester.

    Academic Probation or Low GPA: A student on academic probation or whose GPA drops below 2.75 will be not be eligible to study off-campus.

    Disciplinary Probation: A student who has been placed on disciplinary probation at any time during the off-campus study application / acceptance process will be required to meet with the Director of the Agape Center for Local and Global Engagement to determine the potential impact on the student’s upcoming semester off-campus.

Off-Campus study is a time of challenge and change. The following are some things you should understand about this program before you participate:

  • Orvieto is a small town, so students will not be living in a big, fast paced city where there is always something to do.  Learning to slow down and be present is a strong overarching value of the program. Students who want to have the type of study abroad experience where they are off on their own, living abroad and managing their own life and classes independently may not find this a good fit.
  • Because this program is a small and very intentional community of learners, all students who apply to the program need to know that the expectation is that they understand and are willing to/desirous of living in this type of community.
  • All meals are taken together (prepared by the program’s chef at the program and with no choices). Meals times are set and are an integral part of the community life. The program can accommodate food allergies and vegetarian students.
  • There is a great deal of walking in the program. Virtually every field trip (to Rome, Florence, local organic farm, etc.) involves walking and/or hiking. Many times visits to other Italian cities involves walking up to 8 or 10 miles in a day. In addition, students in some classes take part in a pilgrimage which is two days of walking.
  • There is a chair lift in the convent for students with mobility issues, which makes most of the spaces where the students live, eat, take classes and work in the studio accessible.
  • Internet access is limited and slow.  Students need to be prepared for much less internet time/access than they are used to. 
  • There have been recent terrorist attacks in Western Europe.

Courses may meet major or general education requirements.

Students take a three credit course in Italian

Courses will appear on Messiah transcripts with letter grades.

Students will meet their third language/cross-cultural requirement by participating in this program.  Students will not earn 3 credits, rather the requirement will be waived.

Pass/Fail Option

During their university careers, students may take a maximum of four courses on a pass/fail (P/F) basis with these conditions: 

  • Such a course must be from a discipline other than those required for the student's major or minor.
  • Courses fulfilling requirements for a major, minor, or general education may not be used.
  • Students may declare their intention to take a course under the Pass/Fail option when they register or through the first calendar week of classes at the beginning of the new term. Students may also select to return to the letter grade system during this same time period. The selection cannot be changed after the first calendar week of classes.
  • The cut-off point to obtain a P is C–.
  • The instructor will submit only conventional letter grades to the Registrar's Office. This office will then convert the grade to P or F. (An instructor does not know which students are taking a course on a pass/fail basis.

The first FIVE DAYS of your classes are critical:

Recognizing that courses change while abroad, a student is required to communicate to the Registrar’s Office within the first FIVE DAYS of classes if their Off-Campus Course Approval Form in Terra Dotta has changed since the original submission/approval. Specifically, if a student desires to change a course to a pass/fail instead of a letter grade, this must be approved by Messiah University Registrar’s Office within the first FIVE DAYS of classes at the host partner program.


Students are required to take no fewer than 12 credits towards their overall degree requirements and no more than 18 credits. These 12-18 credits include courses taken as pass/fail and letter grades. However, in addition to those 12-18 degree credits, students who would like to audit an academic course for no credit are permitted to do so for up to one 4 credit hour course for the sake of learning, cultural immersion or personal interest at no additional charge. This audited course will not appear on the Messiah University student’s transcript.

Because of the high cost of this program, participation is capped at 9 students per academic year.

What do you pay?

TOTAL COSTS = Messiah tuition + Messiah room + Messiah board + Student services fee + $1,910 off-campus study fee

Explore possible scholarships for this program. 

These Costs Include:

  • tuition, housing, meals
  • educational excursions
  • Partial airfare as provided by Gordon**
  • pre-departure and re-entry orientation
  • studio fee will be assessed for each special topics course
  • international travel insurance
  • student services fee
    • Student Services fee includes access to various services available to all students through, including internet access to, the Learning & Writing Centers, Career Services, Academic Accessibility Office, Library, Department of Safety, Agapé Center for Local and Global Engagement, and other campus offices that provide services to students both on and off campus.

Note: additional fees students may encounter include (but are not limited to) transportation, visas, passports, immunizations, and course fees.

**Once flights are booked, students are responsible for the cost of the flight if they cannot participate for any reason, including visa issues. 

**Airfare fees over $1,000 will be added to students bills once we receive an invoice from Gordon College.

Credit Limit Policy for Semester-Long, Off-Campus Program

Typically when students study off-campus in Messiah-approved, semester-long programs, students earn between 13 and 18 credits. All students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits.

The tuition/fees charged for Messiah’s approved study abroad programs permits a student to complete 12-18 credits.  Messiah University will process up to 18 credits.  If a student completes more than 18 credits and would like the additional credits applied to their transcript, additional tuition will be charged for credits over 18 and would be assessed after the official transcript is received/processed by Messiah.

Updated 03 March 2023


Messiah Pre-Approval Deadlines

  • Fall - December 1
  • Spring - April 1

Gordon in Orvieto Deadlines

  • Fall - March 15
  • Spring - October 15

Leah Palamaro

"Italian culture taught me a lot about the importance of family, friends, and leisure time. Their entire day is built around time spent socially, saving room for the important things, like food, love, and relaxation. It has made me want to take more time with the people who I love in my life, and to remember to see the beauty all around me."