11 Essential Scholarships for Foreign Language Study

11 Essential Scholarships for Foreign Language Study

They say that learning another language opens up a world of possibilities, and it’s true! Although you can learn languages at home and online, why not fully immerse yourself in that world of possibilities, study abroad, and learn a language at the same time? You’ll not only get to experience and practice your language skills where the language is spoken, but you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the culture that speaks it.

They say that learning another language opens up a world of possibilities, and it’s true! Although you can learn languages at home and online, why not fully immerse yourself in that world of possibilities, study abroad, and learn a language at the same time? You’ll not only get to experience and practice your language skills where the language is spoken, but you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the culture that speaks it.

Scholarships for language study can change your life!

What’s even better is that there are many scholarships for language study and language immersion programs! Even if you aren’t a foreign language major, you can still apply for these scholarships to learn a language abroad.

More helpful resources:

  • 4 Ways to Prepare for Language Learning Programs Abroad
  • The 411 on How to Learn a Foreign Language Abroad

How do I apply for language scholarships?

Applying for scholarships for language study is easy! All of the directions and requirements are listed on the website, so make sure you do your research before applying. Most scholarships will have certain eligibility requirements, such as a GPA, major, study abroad location, class standing, etc., and you’ll have to narrow down which ones you’re qualified for.

Typical application materials are essays, transcripts, and at least one recommendation, but the exact materials vary depending on the grant and program. Before sending out your application, be sure to review best practices for creating the strongest application possible!

13 scholarships for foreign language study

1. Critical Language Scholarship

The Critical Language Scholarship is a fully-funded 8-week intensive language program that is equivalent to one year of university courses. The US Department of State funds immersive language study in 15 lesser-taught languages that are critical to US security. In addition to language immersion classes, the program offers homestays, cultural classes, excursions, and language partners to help you become fluent. CLS is open to American undergrad and graduate students, and most programs do not require you to have previous experience or background in the language. All majors and disciplines are welcome to apply.

  • Language: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu
  • Deadline: Mid-November
  • Learn More

2. Boren Awards

Boren offers American undergrad and graduate students grants for language immersion programs of up to one year abroad. You can choose to participate in one of the Flagship language programs, or design your own program, but there are specific requirements for the language, location, and for following the award. You must be a US citizen and clearly tie your preferred country, language, field of study, and overseas study to U.S. national security. Start searching for and creating your language program here.

  • Language: Multiple
  • Deadline: Boren Scholarship: February; Boren Fellowship: January
  • Learn More

3. NSLI-Y

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth is another U.S. State Department-sponsored language program. NSLI-Y provides high school students with fully-funded immersive summer or academic year programs in languages critical to US interests abroad. In addition to intensive language courses, participants typically stay with host families and go on cultural excursions. The program is only open to high school students between 15-19 years old and you must be a U.S. citizen.

  • Languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian (Tajiki), Russian, Turkish
  • Deadline: November
  • Learn More

4. Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD)

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) sponsors students from around the world to study German language and culture at a language school in Germany during the summer or winter. The requirements are different for the two study periods, but in general, you must be a current student (undergrad or graduate), and have completed at least two years of a Bachelor’s Degree. Start searching for German language programs here.

5. The Luce Scholars Program

Open to U.S. citizens and residents, the year-long Luce Scholars Program is not specifically a language immersion grant, but it does include a significant language study component. After a period of orientation and intensive language study, participants undertake a professional placement. Participating universities nominate candidates who have limited exposure to Asia for the program.

  • Language: Asian Languages
  • Deadline: November
  • Learn More

6. Ibn Battuta Arabic Scholarships

The Ibn Battuta Scholarship is offered to people who study Arabic at the Qalam wa Lawh Center in Rabat, Morocco. There are many program options and dates available to choose from, so you can be sure to fit the program into your schedule! They offer both full and partial scholarships for foreign language study in their semester, summer, and winter programs. Although you don’t have to be a student to apply, you have to have completed a minimum of four semesters in Modern Standard Arabic or equivalent.

7. Taiwan-United States Sister Relations Alliance (TUSA) Summer Scholarship Program

The TUSA Summer Scholarship program is an eight-week language scholarship program for Americans. Like many of the other programs, this isn’t just a scholarship for foreign language majors, because you don’t have to have a background in Chinese to participate. While representing the U.S. in Taiwan, you’ll have the chance to learn Mandarin Chinese, go on cultural excursions, and participate in volunteer activities. The program is open to university undergrad and graduate students.

  • Language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Deadline: March
  • Learn More

8. Darmasiswa Scholarship

The Darmasiswa Scholarship is an opportunity to immerse yourself in Indonesian language, arts, and culture for up to one year. You can choose from a number of institutions around the country. The program is open to any international applicant between 18 and 27. You must apply through your nearest Indonesian Embassy.

9. ARIT Summer Fellowships for Advanced Turkish Language Study

The American Research Institute in Turkey provides about 18 fully-funded fellowships to American undergrad and graduate students. The language grant includes round-trip airfare, application and tuition fees, and a maintenance stipend for language study at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. Applicants must already be at an advanced level in the Turkish language.

10. Blakemore Freeman Fellowships

The Blakemore Freeman Fellowships are for advanced learners of an Asian language. The language scholarship is awarded for one year of intensive foreign language study, and includes tuition or tutoring fees, plus a stipend for travel, living, and study expenses. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, have an undergraduate degree, and be pursuing a career that requires regular use of the proposed language. Start searching for language programs here.

  • Languages: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Burmese, Indonesian, Khmer, Thai, Vietnamese
  • Deadline: December
  • Learn More

11. American Institute of Indian Studies

Through the American Institute of Indian Studies, you can learn any number of Indian languages on their immersive summer, semester, or year-long programs. Although you can attend their programs on your own, AIIS also offers full foreign language fellowships to semester and academic year applicants who have the equivalent of two years of language training. Eligibility requirements vary depending on the term and language.

  • Languages: Bangla (Bengali), Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Mughal Persian, Pali/Prakrit, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu
  • Deadline: December
  • Learn More

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This is by no means a complete list of scholarships and grants for language immersion programs, and there are many more out there to find! Many governments will offer scholarships to foreign students to learn that country’s national language, and many program providers offer scholarships for their programs, which you can inquire directly about at any time.

Most of the time, you can also use general study abroad scholarships to help fund your language immersion goals. Additionally, you can easily make language studies a part of another experience abroad, and some programs offer language study in conjunction with other programming, like volunteering and interning.

And remember, these are not just scholarships for foreign language majors—almost anyone can apply for these grants!

The possibilities are endless. All you need is the motivation to find and apply to foreign language scholarships and programs…get started now!

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