Foreign Language Scholarships and Grants

With globalization occurring at record speeds, pushed forward by high speed travel and the internet, a foreign language is priceless. Scholarships offered for foreign language study give students the best of everything. Foreign language students usually enjoy the benefits of learning about new cultures, communication styles in different parts of the world and unlimited job opportunity wherever they choose to settle. Plus, there are companies, colleges and international governments all willing to help you get there. This is a terrific scholarship option.

Since 9/11 the United States government has also stepped up a push to have foreign language graduates within all security and intelligence branches of government.

Jobs in the Federal Government

  • There is a growing demand for people with foreign language skills across the federal government.
  • Since 9/11 the FBI ( has hired close to 1,000 linguists. It is projected that 274 new hires will occur in the next fiscal year.
  • The National Security Agency ( is aggressively recruiting and plans to hire 1,500 people a year, many of them language analysts, until 2010.
  • Due to the high demand of qualified linguists, the Pentagon is temporarily recruiting foreigners on work or student visas. Read more about this initiative.

Many Federal Agencies Offer Attractive Signing Bonuses

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) offers a Corporate Language Hiring Bonus Program for individuals who have exceptional language skills. New employees who are hired for a language specific occupation must be tested in order to meet eligibility requirements. The size of the language bonus is determined by tested proficiency, language difficulty and level of critical need as determined by the CIA. Individuals may qualify for multiple hiring bonuses if they are proficient in more than one language. The maximum bonus awarded is $35,000 per person.

The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship ( is funded by the Department of State and is administered through the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF). The goal of the fellowship is to attract students from diverse backgrounds, with an interest in international affairs, political and economic analysis, administration, management and science policy, to the Foreign Service. The fellowship award includes tuition, room, board, and mandatory fees during the junior and senior years of college and during the first year of graduate study.

The National Security Education Program is administered through the Institute of International Education and provides undergraduates with scholarships to study abroad in regions such as Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East. The program offers students an opportunity to learn about other cultures and to study languages in regions critical to national security. Upon completion, students are required to work for the Federal Government in agencies such as the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State or the Intelligence Community.

The Critical Language Scholarships Program is offered by the Department of State and the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), and consists of over 500 overseas scholarships for intensive summer language institutes in eleven critical need foreign languages. Participants take part in seven to ten week group-based intensive language instruction and extensive cultural enrichment experiences at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. All program costs, including travel, are covered by the scholarships.

Outside of the public realm the list of scholarships is no less impressive.

Each year, St. John Fisher College offers two Foreign Language Scholarships ( to high school seniors. These scholarships recognize achievement in foreign language as a sound preparation for college work.

These scholarships are available to all high school seniors with proficiency in French, German, Italian, or Spanish, and a minimum 1000 SAT (Math and Critical Reading) or 22 ACT composite score. Students of all majors are eligible for this scholarship, with priority given to those students majoring in a Foreign Language. (St. John Fisher College offers undergraduate majors in French and Spanish.)

Scholarship recipients receive $3,000 annually, over four years, if they complete two foreign language courses during their first year at Fisher and maintain a minimum 3.00 cumulative average.

The United States Air Force

This amazing education and career opportunity is awarded to students who meet air force entry requirements as well as scholarship requirements in any one of over 25 available languages. Air Force ROTC seek to help students to overcome the financial hardships associated with college, and when you complete your degree, you have got a guaranteed career after school – debt free.

IES Merit-Based Scholarships

This scholarship is open to students who excel in the study of one of the following foreign languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, or Spanish. Applicants for this scholarship must be accepted to and enroll in an IES Abroad program in which the target language is taught and/or used. Native speakers are ineligible for this scholarship. The scholarship award is for up to $3 000.

Corinne Jeannine Schillings Foundation Scholarship

The Foundation will award scholarships to deserving young women who have attained at least the honor of Silver Award Girl Scout, and who plan to, or are currently, pursuing a major/minor in foreign language at a four year college/university. The scholarship provides $1,500 per academic year. The scholarship may be renewed three times following the initial award, for a total $6,000 maximum award. Scholarship renewal is not automatic and students must submit the renewal application and all required attachments each year.

Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Scholarships

The East Asia Council administers the FLAS Scholarships of which there are two types: the Academic Award and the Summer Award. The Academic Award provides an $11,000 stipend and pays for tuition at UHM or at a foreign university where the student is studying language.

The Summer Award provides a $2,500 stipend and pays for tuition of up $4,000 at UHM or at a foreign university where the student is studying language.

Fulbright Scholarships

And finally the Fullbright. Nearly 300 000 students have received this coveted award which offers students the opportunity to study abroad as a representative of the American Government. The scholarship is administered by the CIES (Council for the International Exchange of Scholars). The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, composed of 12 educational and public leaders appointed by the President of the United States, formulates policies for the administration of the Program, establishes criteria for the selection of candidates and approves candidates nominated for awards (CIES Website).

The Congressional appropriation for the Fulbright Program in fiscal year 2008 was $215.4 million. Foreign governments, through bi-national commissions or foundations abroad, contributed approximately $60 million directly to the Program.

If the extensive list of opportunities from within the United States doesn’t fit your bill, or if you are interested in studying at a particular institution elsewhere in the world, there is plenty to look at here as well. Many foreign colleges and universities offer scholarships to foreign students proficient in the native language. Your best bet is to contact the institution directly to obtain scholarship criteria. In most cases it will be similar to what is required from an American institution.