Jerry Dávila explains

What in the world is a FLAS Fellowship?

The IGI Spring e-newsletter brings news of significant achievements by staff, students, and faculty, as well as well-deserved recognition of their efforts. This note takes a closer look at one of the major building blocks of international studies at UIUC: the FLAS Fellowship. 

FLAS stands for Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. What FLAS provides is an opportunity for students to connect learning a language to their work studying or conducting research in a world region outside of the US or in global approaches to their work.

For graduate students, a FLAS award carries a 9-month stipend of $20,000, and in many programs it includes a tuition waiver. This support allows a student to devote time to language study in place of a teaching or research assistantship. Undergraduate students who have reached intermediate language or higher can also receive the FLAS award as a scholarship that includes a $5,000 stipend.

This year, 51 students at UIUC hold FLAS awards. For students whose focus in in global or area studies, this language study support builds their skills and connections to their field. For students developing an international component of work in other fields, FLAS creates the opportunity to build both language skills and area studies understanding that can support new work.

Most students who hold FLAS awards pursue their study language at UIUC – 31 languages have direct instruction at UIUC, most in the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, as well as two indigenous languages of the Americas that are taught at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS). UIUC has the longest-running U.S. language program in Quechua, a commonly spoken in the Andean region. Beginning this fall, CLACS will have instruction in Q’anjob’al, which is widely spoken in Guatemala as well as in Champaign County. 

Some students take their FLAS fellowships to other institutions and to other countries. In particular, summer FLAS awards make it possible for students to participate in intensive language institutes. Many of these are in a student’s country of study and provides a critical opportunity to gain both linguistic and cultural fluency and to build academic and research connections that can support future work.

The FLAS Fellowship program on campus is funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education. The fellowships and scholarships are awarded by the six centers that hold Department of Education National Resource Center designations: the Center for African Studies, Center for Global Studies, Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Center for South Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, the European Union Center, and the Russian, East European and Eurasian Center. Thanks to the work of these centers, our campus currently holds over $6 million in funding for FLAS awards that make current and future work by UIUC students stronger and more creative by building language, area, and global studies proficiencies.

And in describing this incredible set of resources it is important to acknowledge all of the effort made by the area and global studies centers and their faculty affiliates, the graduate college, and especially IGI Grants and Fellowship Coordinator Allyson Magno, who manages dozens of academic year and summer FLAS appointments, many of which involve enrollment in programs outside of UIUC and outside of the US.

Jerry Dávila

February 2024