Siena Academia

Siena Academia, University of Siena

Siena Academia welcomes intellectually driven high school students to the University of Siena this summer to learn from the finest teachers, scholars, and industry professionals in their fields. Based in a stunning, walled medieval city in the heart of Tuscany, this academic summer program offers the full European university experience as you choose an academic major and minor, pursue your subjects in the company of motivated peers, and engage with course material under the guidance of distinguished academics.

High School

Grades 9–12
Motivated rising 9th graders will also be considered

Session 1

July 2–15, 2022

Session 2

July 16–29, 2022


Link two sessions of any Academia programs and save $1,000 ($800 off tuition + no application fee)

View Seminars


Putney Student Travel, in its 71st year, is excited to offer Siena Academia at the University of Siena, a program created in collaboration with Professor James Basker, a Barnard College/Columbia University professor and Oxford Rhodes Scholar; University of Siena Chancellor Francesco Frati; and Professor Luca Verzichelli, Chair of the Department of Social, Political, and Cognitive Sciences.

The University of Siena is one of the oldest and most respected universities in Italy, specializing in law, medicine, economics, and management. Our Siena Academia students enroll in the university, giving them full access to libraries, museums, art galleries, lecture halls, and all of the school’s extraordinary facilities throughout the city.

As with each of our Oxford Academia programs, Siena Academia is set apart by the truly outstanding faculty that Dr. Basker and our colleagues at the university have assembled. They are Rhodes, Marshall, Gates, and British Academy scholars, with teaching posts at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia, the University of Siena, and other top institutions. They have earned awards for excellence in the arts and sciences, in scholarship and in teaching, and they bring unparalleled energy and passion for their subjects to the classroom.

Ultimately, though, the magic of Siena Academia stems from the students we accept, their interests, and the energy they contribute. Our Admissions Committee selects qualified students from all over the U.S. and abroad. Some students come to pursue a subject they love, others to explore new possibilities; some to polish their artistic skills or build a background for college, others to escape the pressure of GPA and class rank; and still others come to experience living and breathing the traditions, food, and architecture of Tuscany.

This year more than ever, we are excited to offer these opportunities for students to join a community of academically driven and intellectually curious peers. We hope to see you in Italy this summer!

Photo: Professor James Basker, left, with students

University of Siena

Founded in 1240, the University of Siena is a prominent part of civic life. Housed all across the city in structures both medieval and modern, it blends a history as one of the oldest universities in the world with cutting-edge research, scholarship, and facilities. Students on Siena Academia are immersed in university and city life, and find inspiration in the global, inclusive educational community that welcomes them.

 learn more


Siena Academia at University of Siena is designed for intellectually driven students to pursue an academic interest, without the pressure of grades or credit. Students enroll in a major seminar and a minor seminar, taught by academic faculty and active professionals, and engage with course material through lectures from guest speakers and scholars, small group projects, classroom discussion, and field-based learning. Seminars challenge students to ask questions, sharpen critical thinking and teamwork, and develop techniques essential for success at the university level and beyond.

 learn more

Educators & Scholars

Over the course of the program, students gain inspiration and unparalleled insights from tenured faculty, featured scholars, guest lecturers, and meetings with experts.

Learn from industry experts and thought leaders to hear about leading-edge developments in their fields. Complement program-wide keynote lectures with seminar-specific guest speakers, who bring to the program diverse backgrounds with high-level, real-world experiences and insights.

Small seminar sizes allow for students to engage directly with these experts in their fields, learning from the best and deepening their passion for the subject.

Meet the Faculty Guest Speakers & Presentations

“Our daughter said the seminars blew her mind and that she learned SO much more than she expected. Totally engaging and useful. And we can’t wait to see how this new knowledge and perspective applies to her classes when she returns to school and beyond.”

— Kirsten & Michael Beckwith, Kentfield, CA

The Siena Academia Program Experience

Participating in Siena Academia means joining an inspiring academic community of student peers and distinguished educators. Over the course of your program, attend lectures with scholars, learn from esteemed guest speakers, participate in hands-on workshops and field trips, develop crucial skills to help you excel in your future studies, and gain lifelong friendships along the way.

History & Tradition

For centuries the University of Siena has attracted brilliant scholars and minds, particularly in the fields of law, medicine, and economics. The student body composes a large part of this medieval city’s population, making the university itself an integral part of the fabric of Sienese life. This summer, students will weave themselves into this rich fabric of Italian culture and follow in the footsteps of world leaders, scientists, economists, researchers, and artists.

Accommodations & Meals

Students and residential faculty stay together in a small hotel or university residence in private doubles, or triples, each with bathrooms ensuite or on the hall. Faculty members reside with students throughout the program. We begin each day with breakfast at our residence. Lunches are taken in the unparalleled array of restaurants, cafes, and markets among the cobblestoned streets, and dinners are served in a college dining hall. Please note that lunches are not included in the tuition.


Join a community of intellectually focused student peers, invested in personal and intellectual growth. Like you, they are curious about the world and eager to make their mark on it. Everyone attends Community Meeting each evening, where the group shares ideas, successes, and goals, and sets plans for the coming day. Become part of a community that supports and nurtures your interests, and make lasting friendships along the way.


In addition to your in-depth seminars, explore other interests and topics in elective lectures and workshops offered by instructors and visiting guests alike. Examine the history of medieval cityscapes and the Palio de Siena horse race. Spend a day appreciating the iconic landscapes of Tuscany, from a hike or bike ride through the rolling Chianti hills to a swim at the breathtaking Mediterranean coast. Take a workshop in the art of homemade pasta as you learn about the history of Siena through the lens of its traditional pappardelle. Hop on the local train to explore nearby Florence. Workshops range from a single afternoon to a multi-series event.


Choose a major seminar and a minor seminar, and dive deep into your academic subjects. Major seminars meet six days a week for three hours; minor seminars meet three days a week for two hours. Begin with classroom discussions that frame your seminar concepts and identify key issues. Then take the learning beyond the classroom with site visits, meetings with experts, and guest lectures from distinguished academics and renowned scholars.

Seminar groups have the option to leave the college on day trips to nearby Florence, Pisa, San Gimignano, and Rome, as well as historical sites and guest expert locations to find further inspiration and utilize all the region has to offer.

View Seminars

Program Structure

Each day at Siena Academia features a combination of seminars, hands-on activities and workshops, lab time, guest speakers, community meeting, and unstructured time for socializing and reflection.

After breakfast, depending on the day, seminar learning may begin in classrooms, labs, or meeting spaces. After lunch taken independently in small peer groups, seminars continue. Afternoons and evenings offer opportunities for students to explore Siena and surrounding communities in Tuscany, expanding their interests beyond seminar topics through elective workshops and exciting extracurricular activities.

After dinner, students and instructors from all seminars convene for evening activities, which may include programming such as a keynote address, taking in a local play or concert, dances, coffee houses, or experiencing the streets of Siena on the evening stroll—la passeggiata—with locals. On the final days of the program, students focus on completing final seminar projects, which are presented to the program community.

Day in the Life

Due to the dynamic nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day at Siena Academia.

Daily schedule

9am • Breakfast in the college dining hall

10am • Major seminars meet in classrooms, labs, studios, or out in the city

1pm • Lunch and free time

2pm • Minor seminars continue the day’s activities

4pm • Afternoon activities, workshops, or extracurriculars

7pm • Dinner at the college or a local restaurant

8pm • Community meeting

8:30pm • Evening programming, speakers, or activities

Outcomes & Final Projects

Siena Academia’s summer programs are designed to immerse students intellectually in their chosen seminar topic as they prepare academically and socially for the college experience. Over the course of the two-week summer program, each student develops a final project based on their particular interests, which they present to peers and instructors at the end of the program. Present your research on the origins of the semi-annual Palio horse race, prepare a moot court argument from your Law seminar, or share findings from meetings with groundbreaking engineers on the future of electric Italian supercars.