Foreign Language and Area Studies

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships provide funding to current Northwestern graduate students to encourage the study of African languages in an intensive summer program as part of an overall academic program of area studies, international studies, or international aspects of professional studies. 

Students may use FLAS awards to study any less commonly taught language (LCTL) used in Africa. LCLTLs are defined as any modern foreign language other than Spanish, German, or French. Summer FLAS awards may be used to attend an eligible intensive language program located in the US or overseas.

Award Benefits

Summer FLAS Fellowships provide up to $5,000 for tuition and required fees at the summer intensive language programs and a stipend of $2,500 to cover living and travel expenses. Stipends may be used to cover tuition above $5,000 at the fellow’s discretion. 

Applicant Eligibility

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • You must be currently enrolled as a full-time student at Northwestern.
  • You must be able to place in the intermediate level (2nd year) or above of the chosen language. If you do not meet this requirement, please contact the FLAS coordinator to discuss potential exceptions to this requirement or alternative funding options.
  • Additional information on eligibility is available from the U.S. Department of Education.


February 1

Applications are submitted through the Application Portal. A complete application includes all the items below:

  • Statement of Purpose. Provide an essay (1-2 single-spaced pages) outlining your current academic program, how study of an African language fits into it, and any additional information that would be helpful in evaluating your application. Please indicate how receiving a FLAS award will aid you in reaching your program and/or career goals.
  • Transcripts. Submit your most recent Northwestern transcript, showing all courses taken at Northwestern to date. Unofficial transcripts that you can access via CAESAR are acceptable.  
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation:

1) From an individual familiar with your academic work, preferably your advisor or other professor in your department;

2) From your language instructor if you have taken a formal language course within the last three academic years.  Otherwise a letter on your language training is not necessary, but you should provide a second academic letter of recommendation. 

Recommenders will submit their letters of recommendation through the online application portal. Your certification on the application waives your right to see the letter before it is submitted. Applicants are responsible for requesting letters from their recommenders and ensuring that they are submitted on time. You may provide the suggested topics below to your recommenders:

  • How long and in what capacity have you known this student?
  • What is the student’s academic potential and interest?
  • Why is studying the proposed language important to the student’s graduate training and research?
  • What do you anticipate will be the professional contribution of the student’s proposed work in area studies?
  • For language recommenders: comment on the student’s language ability and suitability for the proposed language course work during the academic year.
  • Add any additional information which will assist in the evaluation of the student's potential for completing graduate study and for making a professional commitment which will utilize his/her acquired knowledge of language and area studies? 

Incoming graduate students need only to submit the Application Form and Statement of Purpose. Your submission of the Application Form authorizes the FLAS Selection Committee to request your application file from the department to which you applied. It is not necessary to submit letters of recommendation, transcripts, or CV to the Program of African Studies. You should prepare a separate Statement of Purpose for the FLAS award, however, that indicates how study of your chosen African language fits into your degree program and research goal 

Optional:  Financial Need Information

FLAS fellowships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and other selection criteria as determined by the Department of Education (DoED) and the Program of African Studies. However, in accordance with DoED requirements, competitive preference is given to students who demonstrate financial need. Applicants will be grouped into categories of need based on the financial information provided to the Program of African Studies. Students who do not provide information will automatically be assigned to the “No Need” group. All other factors being equal, applicants with higher need will be given competitive preference. 

If you wish your financial need to be considered, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the current/upcoming academic year and have it sent to Northwestern University (federal school code 001739). Financial need will be determined by The Graduate School using the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) value from the FAFSA.

Questions? Contact the FLAS Coordinator