Students who have an interest in learning a new language or becoming more proficient in a current language may find that some of the best language scholarship programs offer ample financial help, particularly if it is a language that is not commonly studied. The best language scholarship programs also help pay for study abroad experiences and intensive language programs. Many programs are sponsored by the U.S. Government, and they provide students with careers upon graduation.
The Critical Language Scholarship Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, offers funding for students and provide intensive language instruction for undergraduate and graduate students. Through the program, students spend seven to ten weeks studying a critical need foreign language, such as Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Hindi, or Turkish. Programs typically take place in the summer. Students attend a pre-orientation program in Washington D.C., then travel to the specified country with a group of other students. The scholarship covers tuition, lodging, meals, airfare, and cultural experiences and activities while participating in the program. Over 500 scholarships are offered each year.
Through the Central Intelligence Agency’s Undergraduate Scholarship program, high school seniors planning to major in a foreign language in college may earn money to help pay for tuition and work for the CIA. Students who receive the scholarship are provided with an annual salary and benefits package, along with money to pay for tuition, books, and other supplies. During summer break, scholarship recipients must agree to work at a CIA facility in the Washington D.C. area where they will receive a housing allowance and transportation to and from work. Foreign language majors will gain work experience translating documents and dealing with other foreign language tasks. Additionally, students must agree to work for the CIA for 1.5 times the number of years the scholarship was received. For example, a student who received the scholarship for four years must work for the CIA for six years after graduation.
The National Security Education Program sponsors multiple scholarship programs for students interested in a foreign language. Students may choose to attend a Language Flagship program at a specified university and receive scholarships to study a critical need language through that program. For example, Indiana University has flagship programs in African and Chinese, and the University of Texas has flagship programs in Arabic and Hindi Urdu. Furthermore, students may participate in the intensive language program while pursuing another major of their choice.
For students who desire to study abroad, the National Security Education Program offers the Boren Scholarships, which provide up to $20,000 to help students study abroad in a country that speaks a critical need language. Students may choose to study languages such as Russian, Korean, Arabic, or Swahili as part of the program. Those applying for the scholarship must explain how their language studies and future career will benefit national security in order to be considered for a scholarship. Students are encouraged to study for an entire semester or full academic year, although scholarships are also available for eight-week summer study programs for math, science, engineering, and technology majors.