FLAS Manual


The University of Chicago

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship Manual


Table of Contents

Purpose of the Manual

Important FLAS Contacts

About FLAS

  • Purpose of the FLAS Fellowship Program
  • Where do FLAS Fellowship Funds Come From?
  • FLAS Trivia/National Need

Student Eligibility Requirements

FLAS Administration

Academic Year (AY) Fellowship Requirements

  • Basic Requirements 
  • Meeting the Area Studies Course Requirement
  • Approval for an Independent Study to Fulfill FLAS Requirements

Summer Fellowship Requirements

  • Basic Requirements
  • Requirements of an Intensive Language Program
  • Overseas Program Approvals

For All FLAS Fellows (AY and Summer)

  • Grades and Credits for FLAS Courses
  • Pre- and Post-FLAS Program Evaluations
  • Disbursement of FLAS Funds
  • FLAS Reports: International Resource Information System (IRIS)
  • Taxes
  • Post-Graduation: FLAS Tracking Survey
  • Evaluation/Improvement of FLAS Administration
  • LinkedIn Group for FLAS Alumni


Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship Manual 



The University of Chicago is proud to be among a select group of institutions that receive Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) grants in order to provide fellowships to our graduate students to engage in world language and area studies training.


FLAS Fellowships are funded by the federal government and awarded through the U.S. Department of Education. By accepting the award, the University of Chicago and, by extension, our FLAS Fellows agree to comply with the rules and regulations stipulated by the U.S. Department of Education.

We have created this manual in order to help students navigate the FLAS Fellowship process and better understand the rules associated with it. If anything is unclear or not covered here, please feel free to contact your area studies center. We are always here to help!


We welcome any edits, comments, or questions you might have as you read through this document. Please send them to Meredith Clason (mclason@uchicago.edu).



Center for East Asian Studies

Abbey Newman, Associate Director


Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies

Meredith Clason, Associate Director


Center for Latin American Studies

Natalie Arsenault, Associate Director


Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Thomas Maguire, Associate Director


Committee on Southern Asian Studies and the South Asia

Irving Birkner, Associate Director



Jessica Smith, FLAS Coordinator





Purpose of the FLAS Fellowship Program


The FLAS Program provides grants to a select number of public and private institutions of higher education to enable them to offer competitive academic year and summer fellowships to graduate students annually. Meritorious students use the fellowships to pursue advanced training in modern foreign languages and either area or international studies. The disciplinary structure of a FLAS program may be interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary, including the humanities, social sciences, or other professional studies, and must include the study of the languages of the geographical area of specialization.


The goals of the FLAS fellowship program are:

  • To assist in the development of knowledge, resources, and trained personnel for modern foreign language and area or international studies.
  • To foster foreign language acquisition and fluency.
  • To develop a domestic pool of international experts to meet national need.


Where do FLAS Fellowship Funds come from?


The world area centers at the University of Chicago submit proposals to the U.S. Department of Education every four years. If we are successful, they award us an allocation of fellowships. To receive FLAS Fellowships, we need to demonstrate that we are an institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education that teaches performance-based courses in modern foreign languages and provides instruction in the disciplines needed for a full understanding of the areas, regions, or countries in which the foreign languages are commonly used.


While the University administers the FLAS funds, the fact is that you have competed successfully for a federal fellowship. This is testimony to your impressive academic merit and puts you in a position to compete successfully for other fellowships down the line. For example, many of the students who receive Fulbright-Hays DDRA awards held a FLAS earlier in their academic career.




FLAS Trivia: Did you know that prior to the 1970s, FLAS fellowships were called National Defense Foreign Language Fellowships? These awards have always been designed to provide support to students studying the languages and cultures of specific foreign countries, in particular those in the strategic interest of the United States. Our funding agency, the US Department of Education, certainly encourages you to consider among your possible career trajectories careers in government or public service. Expertise in FLAS languages and regions is considered a “national need” to a number of government agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice, Labor, State, and Transportation.



A student is eligible to receive a fellowship if the student—

  • is a citizen or national of the United States OR a permanent resident of the United States AND
  • is accepted for enrollment or is enrolled—

      -In an institution receiving an allocation of fellowships, and

      -in a program that combines modern foreign language training with area or international studies; or

      -research and training in the international aspects of professional or other fields of study;

  • shows potential for high academic achievement based on such indices such as grade point average, class ranking, or similar measures that the institution may determine;
  • is enrolled in a program of modern foreign language training in a language for which the institution has developed or is developing performance-based instruction;
  • is engaged in pre-dissertation level study; preparation for dissertation research; dissertation research abroad, or dissertation writing, if a graduate student.
  • Note about Language Levels Supported by FLAS:

    Beginning with academic year 2016-17, the U.S. Department of Education clarified it would not allow the awarding of a FLAS fellowship for beginning level language study unless it met the following exception: “beginning level of a LCTL if a graduate student has achieved advanced proficiency in another language of the world area of specialization, and if learning a second language of that world area is required for the student’s overall training and expertise.” Other reasons for studying a beginning level language may also be considered. The U.S. Department of Education must approve all exceptions on a case-by-case basis before the FLAS fellowship can be awarded. Students wishing to apply for a FLAS Fellowship to start the study of a new language, who believe they meet this exception or have other compelling reasons for studying a beginning level language, MUST contact the Associate Director in the area studies center to which they will apply with their request and a brief justification of how this new language will fit into their research and career goals. The area studies centers will then submit a request for an exception. Approval from the U.S. Department of Education must be obtained before the student submits the FLAS application.



The application process and administration of FLAS Fellowships at the University of Chicago is a cooperative venture between the area studies centers, UChicagoGRAD, and the Deans of Students offices.


The area studies centers apply for the FLAS grant from the federal government, and so are responsible for grant management and reporting. The area studies centers are also the language and content experts for their respective regions. The area studies centers convene faculty selection committees to review FLAS applications, and then submit the ranked lists of applicants to the Deans of Students and UChicagoGRAD.


FLAS applications are ranked based on:

  • GPA/academic performance
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Statement
  • Financial Need


The area studies centers can answer questions about:

  • Student eligibility
  • What a good statement of purpose looks like
  • Course requirements
  • What courses will fulfill the language and area studies course requirements
  • What your options are if you need a language that is not offered at UChicago
  • How to make a summer program FLAS-eligible if it isn’t long enough or doesn’t have enough contact hours


The area studies center staff should be the point of contact for all questions related to the FLAS requirements, including course requirements, pre- and post-award evaluations, which languages you can study with FLAS, etc.


UChicagoGRAD posts the FLAS applications and instructions each year (http://grad.uchicago.edu/grad_fellowships_funding/featured_fellowships/), publicizes FLAS through various University channels, and schedules FLAS orientation sessions for interested students. Jessica Smith, Assistant Director of Fellowships, is often the first point of contact for questions about the application process. She refers applicants to the appropriate area studies center for content-specific questions.


The Deans of Students offices collect the completed applications and distribute them, with any additional supporting documents, to the area centers; vet the applications to make sure applicants meet the eligibility requirements; notify students of the selection committee decisions (students then accept/decline awards by notifying the Dean of Students); monitor students’ progress through the academic year to make sure students remain in good academic standing; and work with the area studies centers to ensure that each FLAS Fellow completes the requirements of the award. The Deans of Students offices regularly refer questions to the area centers.





  • AY FLAS Fellows must take a language course and an area studies course during each academic quarter (fall, winter, spring).
  • AY FLAS Fellows must be in residence for the entire academic year (fall, winter, and spring quarters) in order to hold a FLAS Fellowship.  You cannot have a FLAS for only part of the academic year except in emergency situations, such as a medical leave of absence, when you might have to decline the award partway through the academic year.
  • AY FLAS awards are intended to be used on the University of Chicago campus. In very rare cases, an exception could be made—for example, through enrollment in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Traveling Scholars Program—but this MUST be approved in advance by the U.S. Department of Education and the Dean of Students. This conversation should always start with the Associate Director in the area studies center that awarded your FLAS Fellowship.



  • Area studies centers can be flexible in defining the area studies course:

      -For some students, it will be easy to identify a course with focus on the region of the world that corresponds to the FLAS language.

      -Other students will need to add regional content to seminars or core courses that you must take in your discipline and “create” an area studies course by adding additional readings or completing a paper/project that touches on the region of the world in question. Area studies center staff are your primary contacts for addressing questions about courses needed to meet FLAS requirements.

  • The area studies centers will be in touch with FLAS Fellows at the beginning of each quarter (fall, winter, spring) to find out which course you are using to fulfill the area studies course requirement. Because this is not always obvious from the course number or title, we will collect additional information from you as needed and send it to your Dean of Students so that they, too, are aware of which courses count toward that FLAS requirement.




An independent study or a directed reading course may be used to fulfill the area studies course requirement or the language course requirement of an academic year fellowship but it requires prior approval.


If the independent study will fulfill the language course requirement, final approval rests with the Program Officer at the U.S. Department of Education. In any case—whether the independent study is for a language or area studies course—students must provide the following information to the area centers, prior to the start of the quarter in which the independent study will take place:

  • Syllabus for the independent study or directed reading that includes—

      -Title of the course (independent study courses do not have unique titles, but you MUST put the name of each course into your final report at the end of the year. Give your course a name!)

      -Content and context of the independent study

      -Course objectives

      -Course requirements

      -Standards for evaluating the student

      -Schedule for the assignments and deliverables


  • The instructor’s curriculum vitae; and
  • An explanation for why an independent study is necessary.





  • A summer fellowship is awarded for intensive language study only.
  • A summer fellowship may be used at a domestic program, an overseas program, or both.
  • Students can only study abroad at the beginning level of a language if there are no available domestic programs in which to enroll.



A summer session (domestic or overseas) qualifies as an intensive language program if—

  • it is at least six weeks in duration and offers at least 140 contact hours for students at the beginning or intermediate level of the language.
  • it is at least six weeks in duration and offers at least 120 contact hours of instruction for students at the advanced level.


A student must meet the required number of weeks and contact hours for his/her level, and may do so by attending one program, attending more than one program, or supplementing hours with private tutoring. If a student’s plan of study includes private tutoring, the student must submit a syllabus for the tutoring and the instructor’s CV to both the area studies center staff and Jessica Smith. Final approval of private tutoring as part of a summer program rests with the Program Officer at the U.S. Department of Education.


Note:  Field trips and excursions cannot be used to fulfill contact hour requirements.



  • All Summer FLAS Fellows who enroll in an overseas program must receive approval from our Program Officer at the U.S. Department of Education. Jessica Smith submits the overseas program requests on behalf of all UChicago FLAS Fellows. In all cases, final overseas program approval rests with the Program Officer, not anyone at the University of Chicago.
  • Students at the beginning level of a language will be considered for overseas language study only if an appropriate equivalent beginning language instruction program in the target language is not available in the United States.

If you change your summer program, you must talk to your area studies center and UChicagoGRAD. We are required to submit a new Program Approval Request. There is precedent for students having to repay their summer FLAS awards for participating in programs abroad that were not approved in advance by the U.S. Department of Education. 



  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP):


The U.S Department of Education strongly recommends FLAS Fellows who are enrolled in programs overseas to register  in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service provided by the U.S. Department of State, that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to enroll with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Registering your travel plans allows you to:

·         Receive the latest safety and security information for your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.

·         Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

·         Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.


  • UChicago Traveler:


A secure website to register international travel plans and contact information, UChicago Traveler allows the University to assist students, faculty, and staff overseas, including in emergencies or times of crisis. Register your University-affiliated travel and you are automatically enrolled in UChicago's International Travel Emergency Assistance Program.






FLAS Fellows must receive letter grades and credits for all of the courses required for the Fellowship.

  • AY FLAS Fellows must receive grades and credits for the language courses and the area studies courses.
  • Summer FLAS Fellows must also receive grades and credits for their summer language programs. Credit can be awarded through the institution in which they are enrolled and does not need to be reflected on the UChicago transcript.
  • Pass/Fail is NOT permissible in any course that counts toward your FLAS requirements.
  • Students must receive a ‘B’ or higher in any class that counts toward the FLAS course requirements.


Note: students may not be competitive for additional FLAS awards if ANY grades are lower than a ‘B’. FLAS awards are for a specific period (academic year or summer) and students must apply for FLAS fellowships for additional years. ALL grades count toward the high academic standing that students must maintain to be competitive for future FLAS awards.




Each FLAS Fellow must be evaluated by a language instructor at the beginning and end of the FLAS program period. These pre- and post-program evaluations form part of the government report in order to demonstrate increased language proficiency at the end of the FLAS period.

  • AY FLAS Fellows are generally evaluated by the language instructor teaching the UChicago language courses.
  • Summer FLAS Fellows may be evaluated by a University of Chicago language instructor or one of the instructors at the summer language program (if off-campus or overseas).


In most instances, the area studies centers can identify an instructor to evaluate proficiency at the beginning and end of the FLAS program. However, there are instances—especially for summer FLAS Fellows—in which the area centers might need the student’s help in identifying who will evaluate their progress. If area studies center staff ask for your assistance, you will need to provide the name and email address for the evaluator, who will be required to go into the online reporting system to complete the pre- and post-program evaluations.




Academic Year FLAS awards are disbursed through the Deans of Students offices based on the disbursement schedule and process followed by each Division/School.


Summer FLAS awards: Checks are disbursed by the Deans of Students in late Spring Quarter.  

  • Internal programs: Students taking their FLAS at the Summer Language Institute at UChicago only receive a stipend check. 
  • External programs (U.S. and overseas): Students taking their summer FLAS outside of the University of Chicago receive two checks: one for tuition and one for stipend. Students are then responsible for coordinating tuition payment with the language school.


If you have any questions about your FLAS award disbursement, please contact your Dean of Students office.




In addition to successful completion of course requirements, each FLAS Fellow must complete an online report at the end of the FLAS award through IRIS, the online federal reporting system. The IRIS system will send a report notification and login information by email (from irismail@cds2helpdesk.com—please update spam filters to allow messages from this email address).


The report is not arduous, but does need to be completed accurately. If it is incomplete or inaccurate, the U.S. Department of Education will unsubmit our collective final report and ask us for additional information.



  • Courses: you must list all of the courses in which you were enrolled over the course of the academic year. You must list ALL of your classes, not just those that fulfill your FLAS requirements.
  • Grades: you must submit grades you received for your courses. You must receive letter grades for the language and area studies courses that fulfill the FLAS requirement. TBD is not allowed in a final IRIS report
  • Credits: you must list the number of units of credit you received for each course (note: this is typically 100).


No matter when you are notified by the IRIS system, it is important to wait until you receive your grades to submit your completed report. The area studies centers will try to be diligent about sending reminders about impending report deadlines. Screenshots from the student reports are included at the end of this document.




Our offices do not have tax experts and therefore cannot, by law, answer specific tax questions or help you prepare your tax forms. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to meet your tax obligations and do so accurately.


However, it is our understanding that you must declare the stipend portion of your award as taxable income on your income tax returns. Please refer to IRS documentation at: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch01.html




The U.S. Department of Education has instituted a mandatory FLAS tracking survey for all FLAS Fellows in an effort to collect longitudinal data on the impact of the FLAS program. The area studies centers will contact each of you every two years for a period of eight years after you receive the degree on which you were working when you held the FLAS award to ask you to complete a brief survey designed by the Department of Education. Your input is instrumental in making the case to the federal government that such programs should continue to be funded by Congress.


The biennial survey asks questions to determine FLAS alumni’s utilization of their foreign language and area studies training, such as—

  • Have their jobs required them to use their language they studied as a fellow? What about their area studies training?
  • Is speaking a foreign language/knowledge of a world area a requirement for their job?
  • How often do they use their foreign language/world area expertise in their job?
  • How has the FLAS fellowship been useful for their careers?


An additional set of questions is designed to collect data, including: number of FLAS fellowships received; academic year vs summer, domestic vs overseas; language, academic discipline, degree; gender, age, race/ethnicity, location, years of employment.




During this grant cycle, which runs through Summer 2018, the area centers are trying to improve the administration of FLAS awards to make the process more straightforward for you and also to provide opportunities for you to interact as a cohort of exceptional scholars of foreign languages and cultures. Therefore, we need to receive feedback about your experiences as a FLAS Fellow.  The area centers are working with Outlier Research & Evaluation, an arm of CEMSE at The University of Chicago, to help us make these improvements to FLAS Fellowship administration. During and/or following your FLAS award, each of you will be contacted by Outlier and asked to participate in a survey and/or focus group about your FLAS experience.  Please don’t ignore this request. We would greatly appreciate your consideration and participation as we are working to build the profile and streamline procedures for these prestigious federal awards.




IFLE recently created a LinkedIn group for Alumni of the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Program. They are hopeful that FLAS alumni will use LinkedIn to connect with fellow language and area studies specialists, share stories about their experiences in the FLAS program, and network with alumni working in similar fields of expertise. In addition, the group will help IFLE track and gather more detailed outcome data on fellows’ paths of continued study and employment after graduation. Please note that this LinkedIn group does not replace the FLAS Tracking Survey, which alumni are still required to complete as per the terms of the award.

To connect with former FLAS fellows from around the country (now located all over the world, no doubt), click on the following link:

Click the "Ask to Join" button in the upper right-hand corner of the group's home page. IFLE will verify and approve requests.