Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships

Application deadline for the Summer 2024 and Academic Year 2024-25 competitions: February 1, 2024.  All applicants must apply on-line at

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 by undergraduate or graduate students, at in-person and online programs.  Summer study at in-person programs abroad may be restricted by State Dept. travel advisories.  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 (e.g. Malayalam, Marathi, Sinhala, Telugu, 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 achieved 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 Academic Year 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 $20,000.  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. 

Incoming MA students at GSAS

Applicants who are incoming to a GSAS MA program and are awarded a FLAS fellowship will receive full tuition funding from the Graduate School, for the first year of study only, in the Fall and Spring term.  Full funding is applicable to GSAS students only, and not to those applying to other schools. These incoming FLAS fellows must register for one full residence unit in both terms.  The additional tuition award is for incoming students only.  FLAS fellows and other students at GSAS may apply for an additional year of funding from FLAS, but subsequent awards after the first year of study will cover only $18,000 tuition.

Undergraduate Academic Year 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 - for both Undergraduate and Graduate students

Summer awards cover tuition up to $5,000 and a stipend of $3,500.  Summer fellows must study at language programs that meet the standards of the US Department of Education for intensive study.  FLAS may be used to study at online programs.  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.


All applicants must apply on-line at  Additional information about FLAS application may be found at  Students may apply for both Summer and Academic Year FLAS.  Iincoming applicants to Columbia are not eligible to apply for Summer awards until the competition following matriculation at Columbia.

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 achieved fluency, are encouraged to apply.  All applicants who are awarded a FLAS are required to file a FAFSA form.

Deadlines for Summer and Academic Year applications

Summer 2024 and Academic Year 2024-25 competition deadline: February 1, 2024.

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

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


Questions about FLAS at the South Asia Institute?  Contact William Carrick at <[email protected]>