Obtaining a degree in the field of translation/interpretation can be a grueling and costly process. Top U.S. universities like the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and top-tier schools with degree-seeking programs in this field, like Georgetown and Stanford University, have yearly tuitions exceeding $30,000, and relatively few slots available for highly competitive merit-based scholarships. But before the future translators and interpreters of the world lose hope, it should be noted that grants, scholarships, and fellowships are out there. To help you start your search, we’re providing you with information about some of the most generous funds currently available to language students.
The most coveted scholarships offer full rides to worthy students, usually asking for a period of community service upon graduation. The National Security Education Program (NSEP) offers the Boren Fellowship, which covers up to $30,000 for American students to increase their foreign language proficiency by studying highly-needed languages like Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Swahili. The NSEP asks for a one-year commitment to the U.S. federal government in a position of national security upon a fellow’s graduation. Fulbright grants, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, offer the full cost of tuition and living expenses for their scholars. Fulbright scholars typically study/research a foreign language abroad or teach English, but funds are also available for students wishing to conduct research on personal projects abroad. Another initiative funded by the State Department is the Critical Language Scholarship Program. Similar to the Fulbright, it offers students of languages critical to U.S. interests the ability to study for free. Unlike the Fulbright, this program is intended as an eight-week intensive course for undergraduate and graduate students.
In addition to federally-funded fellowships, there exists a staggering amount of money available to students of particular languages. While Spanish and the Asian languages enjoy the largest popularity with scholarship search engines and generous funding, many other languages have niche markets and organizations and individuals dedicated to preserving them and encouraging their expansion. Free scholarship websites like FastWeb and College Scholarships.org have proven useful in allowing students to cast a wider net and find more scholarship opportunities.
In general, the more specific a scholarship’s goals and requirements, the less money is disbursed. The American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation offers a scholarship worth $2,500 called the JTG Scholarship in Scientific and Technical Translation or Interpretation. On a quirkier note, the Klingon Language Institute offers a $500 scholarship to students of any language – provided they take a “creative” approach to that language. Many, many more minor scholarships exist, and, every year, tens of thousands of dollars of financial aid remain untouched. While a degree in translation or interpretation can be costly, the burden of funding it can be somewhat alleviated with a little patience and a lot of sent recommendation letters. We hope this helps with your search!
Resources for Language Students
Scholarships, Grants, and Programs
The Boren Fellowship
The Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program
Critical Language Scholarship Program
JTG Scholarship in Scientific and Technical Translation or Interpretation
The Foreign Language Enhancement Program (FLEP)
Phi Sigma Iota Scholarships
Klingon Language Institute Kor Memorial Scholarship