Frequently Asked Questions about FLAS Fellowships
Who is eligible to receive a FLAS fellowship?
(1) Graduate students who are US citizens or permanent residents AND who are enrolled (or accepted for enrollment) in a program that combines modern foreign language training with international or area studies or with the international aspects of professional or other fields of study.
As per Department of Education guidelines and recommendations, the Middle East Center and South Asia Center will consider FLAS applications for graduate students at the beginner level only if "a graduate has achieved advanced proficiency in another language of the world area of specialization—e.g. "Middle East" or "South Asia"—and if learning a second language of that world area (Middle East or South Asia) is required for the student’s overall training and expertise.” Receiving FLAS at the beginner level, however, is an exception that is subject to the approval of the Department of Education. If you are planning to apply for FLAS at the beginner level as a graduate student, please indicate in which language you achieved advanced proficiency, and why studying another language from the same region at the beginner level will contribute to your expertise and training in your application. Feel free to contact the MEC or SAC FLAS coordinator, if you have questions on this issue.
(2) Undergraduates who are US citizens or permanent residents AND who have declared a major by the application deadline and who will study a FLAS language at the intermediate or advanced level during the fellowship year.
How are awards made?
Awards are made on the basis of academic merit and other criteria set by each Center and the U.S. Department of Education.
Additionally, according to guidelines set in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education, Centers will give priority when awarding fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need as indicated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To be considered under the priority category of demonstrated financial need, students are required to complete and submit the FAFSA form to Penn's Office of Student Financial Services by the FLAS deadline in order to determine their level of need.
NOTE: we are prioritizing those with need, not excluding those without need. In other words, all applicants will be considered for FLAS, but if you have financial need and wish to be considered under this priority category, you MUST complete the FAFSA by the same FLAS deadline and submit it to Penn's Office of Student Financial Aid.
Although graduate students don't normally complete the FAFSA, the University requires them to do so in order to be considered under the category of financial need for FLAS fellowships. This is to ensure that all candidates are assessed for need with uniform and fair consideration by the Office of Student Financial Services.
May I apply for a FLAS if I am not a Penn student?
Yes, as long as you are enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, at another institution receiving an allocation of FLAS fellowships for either the summer or the academic year. To find out whether your home institution is a FLAS-granting institution, click here to view the list. Contact the FLAS Coordinator for your language for more information.
Is there a limit on the number of FLAS fellowships I can receive?
There is no limit on the number of FLAS awards you can receive over your academic career, but no more than one fellowship can be awarded for the same period.
What information is required for the application?
Please refer to the application instructions. Note that there are separate competitions, for the Academic Year FLAS and for the Summer FLAS, for which two separate and complete applications are required. Each fellowship application requires creation of a free online Interfolio account and completion of the application in that system. In addition to entering information into the account, you will need to upload: your personal statement regarding your planned use of the FLAS fellowship, your curriculum vitae, unofficial higher education transcript(s), and two letters of recommendation (you can request them through the system). Your application is not complete until all have been submitted.
In addition, according to guidelines set in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education, Centers will give priority when awarding fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need as indicated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To be considered under the priority category of demonstrated financial need, students are required to complete and submit the FAFSA form to Penn's Office of Student Financial Services by the FLAS deadline in order to determine their level of need. Please read the full statement on demonstrating financial need above in the section on "Questions about Eligibility".
Can I apply to more than one National Resource Center?
Yes. Penn has four Centers that award FLAS Fellowships for their related languages. You can submit applications to more than one Center, but you will not be allowed to receive two simultaneous awards.
Can I apply to both summer and academic year FLAS fellowships?
Yes. It is possible to receive both a summer and AY award in the same year. These are separate competitions, and you must apply separately and completely for the Summer and AY FLAS fellowships.
How are the competitions for the FLAS awards decided?
Each Center has a review and selection committee that evaluates and ranks its applicants. Undergraduate and graduate student applications for the Academic Year FLAS are ranked separately and not in competition with each other. The Summer FLAS competition draws from both undergraduate and graduate students in the same pool. In addition, financial need is considered, according to new guidelines set by the US Department of Education. Please read the full statement regarding finasncial need in the eligibility section above under "How are awards made?".
(Also see below for specific answers about Academic Year and Summer awards)
Is a FLAS fellow allowed to work during the award period?
FLAS fellows are required to be engaged in full-time foreign language and area or international studies course work or dissertation research during the academic year, or in intensive language study during the summer award period. Students are permitted to undertake additional work, however, with permission from their departments, where required.
Can I take a semester off and finish the award during a subsequent period, or delay acceptance of the FLAS Fellowship for the academic year or summer?
No. FLAS Fellowships must be completed during the year for which they are awarded.
Can I request a Pass/Fail grade for my FLAS-qualifying area studies or language course?
No. FLAS-qualifying courses must be graded.
Beyond coursework, is anything required of FLAS Fellows?
All FLAS Fellows are required to make pre- and post-award reports online to the U.S. Department of Education and will be surveyed every two years following their award for a period of up to eight years. In addition, all FLAS Fellows must take pre- and post-award language proficiency assessments.
What does an academic year FLAS Fellow receive?
Graduate students receive $18,000 toward tuition and fees. Undergraduates receive $10,000 toward tuition. A stipend is also provided: $15,000 for graduate students and $5,000 for undergraduates.
What is the Academic Year FLAS used for?
Academic Year FLAS Fellowships are awarded to students engaged in:
(1) Formal, full-time modern language and area studies coursework at Penn, including the international aspects of professional or other fields of study.
(2) Formal, full-time modern language and area studies coursework, including the international aspects of professional or other fields of study, as part of an approved official undergraduate overseas program.
(3) Full-time dissertation research abroad. The use of the foreign language in the dissertation research must be sufficiently extensive that the language improvement facilitated by the research equal to the improvement that would be obtained from a full academic year’s worth of formal classroom instruction.
Do I have to take specific classes?
AY FLAS Fellows must take at least one language course and one area studies course focused on that region each semester of the FLAS year.
Can I receive an Academic Year FLAS for a single semester?
No. AY FLAS Fellowships are awarded for the entire academic year only.
I am an undergraduate student currently receiving financial aid. If I am awarded an Academic Year FLAS, how will it affect my financial aid package?
We recommend that you speak with Penn's Office of Student Financial Services to discuss how a FLAS fellowship would affect your aid package.
I am a graduate student currently receiving a fellowship. If I am awarded an Academic Year FLAS, how will it affect my fellowship?
The different Penn schools and departments have different policies. We recommend that you speak with your graduate chair or graduate dean to see how the FLAS fellowship would affect your fellowship package.
What does an summer FLAS Fellow receive?
Graduate and undergraduate students receive $5,000 toward tuition and fees plus a $2500 stipend.
What is the Summer FLAS used for?
Summer FLAS fellowships are intended to help students gain the equivalent of a year's worth of college-level language study. They support students enrolled in:
(1) Formal domestic programs of intensive language study at the beginning (graduate students only), intermediate or advanced level;
(2) Formal overseas programs of intensive language study at the intermediate or advanced level; or
(3) Formal overseas programs of intensive study at the beginning level of languages for which appropriate equivalent instruction is not available in the United States (graduate students only).
To be considered "intensive," a language program must offer a minimum of 140 contact (class-time) hours (120 for advanced level) and must last a minimum of 6 weeks.
Can a Summer FLAS award be used to participate in an internship program?
No. The Summer FLAS is intended to support study in an intensive summer language program only.
Can I receive a Summer FLAS if I will graduate in the previous spring?
No. Only currently enrolled students can receive a Summer FLAS.
Does a summer FLAS include a travel award?
The Summer FLAS does not pay for travel to the study site. Occasionally, however, the Penn Centers may offer partial reimbursement of Summer FLAS travel up to $1000, but ONLY if the flight is taken on a U.S airline. Contact your FLAS coordinator for more information.
For More Information
If you have further questions or suggestions for additions to this list, questions about a particular language, or questions about the selection process of the competition, please contact the FLAS Coordinator of the Center.