Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships

Summer 2021 and Academic Year 2021-22

Deadline:  February 11, 2020 - must be submitted before 1:00pm

The International and Foreign Language Education Office of the U.S. Department of Education (USED) has authorized the South Asia Institute as a National Resource Center and to award undergraduate and graduate Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships.  FLAS fellowships support undergraduate and graduate students who will study a modern South Asian language as an integral part of an academic program focusing on South Asia.  FLAS awards can be for Academic Year study at Columbia, or for intensive summer language study in the U.S. or abroad by undergraduate or graduate students.  All Academic Year fellows must enroll in one language and one South Asia area studies class per term in a given academic year.  Summer FLAS is for intensive language study only - applications for research or non-language programs will be rejected as ineligible.

Languages of Award

SAI is authorized to award FLAS for Academic Year study at Columbia for the following languages: Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Persian, Tamil, and Urdu.  Summer study at Columbia or at approved programs in the US and abroad may include the above approved languages or other modern South Asia languages (Malayalam, Marathi, Sinhala, Telegu, etc., pending approval by USED).  For a list of Summer South Asia language programs, see the attached PDF file.  Students studying Intermediate and Advanced languages in the summer may be eligible to study at programs outside the U.S.

Language Levels

Students may apply to study Intermediate or Advanced level languages.  Elementary level study is not permitted, with one exception: students who have acheived fluency or advanced proficiency in one South Asia language may apply to learn a second South Asian language.  Evidence of advanced proficiency must be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education before FLAS can be approved for study at the Elementary level.  Such documentation might include one of  the following:  a proficiency exam by a qualified language instructor; transcript showing  Advanced language courses; or having earned a degree in which the target language is the primary language of instruction.

Heritage Hindi and Heritage Urdu

Students planning to enroll in the two-semester sequence of Heritage Hindi or Heritage Urdu language courses in a given year are eligible to apply for FLAS.


All applicants to FLAS must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  Academic Year applicants must be enrolled or plan to enroll full-time or part-time in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at Columbia University.  Summer applicants must be enrolled in a undergraduate or graduate degree program. 

Graduate Academic Year FLAS

Academic Year awards consist of $18,000 tuition and a stipend of $15,000.  The annual Academic Year (AY) and Summer FLAS competitions at Columbia are open to students in GSAS, SIPA, and Teacher's College, and the School of Public Health.  All AY fellows must enroll in one language class and one South Asia area studies class per term. 

Undergraduate FLAS

Academic Year awards consist $10,000 tuition and a stipend of $5,000.  The annual Academic Year (AY) FLAS and Summer competitons are open to all undergraduate students at Columbia College, General Studies, Engineering, and Barnard College.  All AY fellows must enroll in one language class and one South Asia area studies class per term. 

Summer FLAS

Summer awards cover tuition up to $5,000 and a stipend of $2,500.  Summer fellows must study at language programs that meet the standards of the US Department of Education for intensive study.  Summer programs must be intensive and equal to one year of academic year study.  Programs must be at least 140 hours of classroom instruction, and at least six weeks long.  Each individual program of study must be approved by USED in advance of any payment for tuition and fees. (Requests for approval should be submitted no later than one month before the begin date of the program).   

Applicants for Summer may apply to study Intermediate or Advanced level languages.  Applications to study at the Elementary level only if the student is applying to study a second South Asian language and can demonstrate Advanced proficiency in one South Asian  language.  Applicants who wish to be considered for such an exception should contact the Institute before applying.  The annual Summer FLAS competition at Columbia is open to all Columbia College, General Studies, Engineering, and Barnard College undergraduates, and graduate students enrolled at GSAS, SIPA, and Teacher's College, and the Schools of Business, Journalism, Law, and Public Health.  Incoming undergraduate or graduate students are not eligible to apply for Summer FLAS until the summer following their first enrollment at Columbia.

Study Abroad and Research Abroad FLAS

Students may apply to study abroad during the Academic Year, provided that they have achieved an advanced level proficiency in their target language.  All courses in a FLAS study abroad program must be taught in the target language (i.e. no English language course instruction is allowed) and each individual study program will be reviewed for approval by USED.  All overseas programs require language and area studies components.  Study abroad FLAS will include tuition for the cost of the program, which is capped at the amount of the annual tuition award of $18,000 for graduate students and $10,000 for undergraduate students.  There is no travel allotment for a study abroad award.  

Doctoral students who have completed all coursework for the Ph.D. may apply for dissertation research abroad fellowships if the research project will be performed in the target language during the academic year, and provided that they have achieved advanced level proficiency, and that the project will utilize the language sufficiently to be considered the equivalent of one year of language study above the Advanced level.  Research abroad fellowships offer a stipend of $15,000 (no tuition or travel).  FLAS is not awarded for dissertation write-up.  Students planning to submit an application for study abroad or research abroad FLAS should consult the Institute to review their proposed submission and applicable conditions in advance of the FLAS application deadline.  AY FLAS funding for graduate students is considered an "internal fellowship" and will impact the level of funding for Columbia doctoral students receiving multi-year fellowship funding through their departments.

Application and deadlines

The next competition will be for Summer 2022 and Academic Year 2022-2023. The deadline for both competitions will be in February 2022 (final deadline to be announced).  All applicants must apply on-line at   The application requires an information form, statement of purpose, two recommendations, and transcripts.  A resume or c.v. may be included with the application.  The statement of purpose can be used to talk about your academic and career goals, research interests, and how the pursuit of language skills fit into those plans.  Students applying for Intermediate and Advanced language study must submit an evaluation by a language instructor as one of the recommendations.  Competitive priorities include 1) applicants who submit a FAFSA form demonstrating financial need; and 2) students who will plan to achieve Advanced or Superior levels of proficiency by the time of graduation.  Students at all levels of proficiency, except those who have acheived fluency, are encouraged to apply.  All applicants who are awarded a FLAS are required to file a FAFSA form.


February 2022 - final deadline for Summer 2022 and AY 2022-23 to be announced.

Summer Language Programs and Fellowship Opportunities in the U.S. and Abroad

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at <>