Thursday, May 15, 2014

Awards for Language Learning

There is no better way to learn a language than to be immersed in it! If you're looking to kickstart your language learning, or you want the opportunity to hone your skills with the help of native speakers, here are a few programs focused on language acquisition you might want to consider.
Critical Languages Scholarship Program
Funded by the Department of State, this scholarship pays for undergraduate students to spend seven to ten weeks at one of thirteen different critical language institutes. And what is a "critical language," you may ask? It's a language deemed critical to the protection of American security interests (i.e., not enough Americans speak it and it's important that we have more who do). Here are the languages listed on the website:

  • Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, and Urdu: Beginning, advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels;
  • Arabic and Persian: Advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels;
  • Chinese, Japanese, and Russian: Intermediate and advanced levels.
The application period is generally from mid-September to mid-November for the following summer. For this program, you must be fully enrolled at the time of application, but this does mean that you can complete your summer program in the summer following senior year. Both undergraduates and graduate students are welcome to apply.

Boren Awards 
The Boren Award is a bit like the Critical Languages Scholarship but longer (unless you're in a STEM discipline) and with a job built in. Funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), undergraduate students are given up to $20,000 to study for up to a year abroad (preference given to those who plan to study abroad for two or more semesters). Programs of study must include an intensive language learning component, and like our friend CLS, must be oriented toward a less commonly taught language that is deemed of interest to the protection of national security. The list of languages is longer for the Boren (click here). Applicants must also specify how their program of study will contribute to U.S. national security, but national security is defined quite expansively in this case. 

The Boren is part of a group of awards that provide funding in exchange for service. In this case, recipients are required to work for a year within three years of graduation for a federal agency, with the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, or an agency within the intelligence community, having preference. So... if you're interested in working for the feds post-graduation, this is your chance to get a foot in the door!

Applicants for this award must apply through Temple, so check with Study Abroad or Fellowships Advising for the internal deadline for this award. It's generally sometime in the fall. Applicants must be fully matriculated for the duration of the program abroad, meaning that the year abroad can't follow graduation. This award is also open to undergrads and grads, though there are separate applications for each.

Boren Awards Special Initiative for STEM Majors
See above, but shorter. Up to $8,000 for language study abroad during the summer. Programs may be as short as eight weeks and applicants must be STEM majors. 

DAAD German Academic Exchange Service University Summer Course Grant
DAAD has an impressive array of opportunities for undergrads, graduate students and professionals, so please go and click around their site, but this grant in particular funds summer study of German language and various aspects of German culture. DAAD is sponsored by a consortium of German universities, so there's a broad range of courses available under this program. The grant funds tuition, room and board in whole or in part so be sure to check the cost against the value of the award. A travel subsidy is also provided.

For many of the DAAD awards, German is not required, but for the summer study grant, applicants must have at least four semesters of college German, or the equivalent level of proficiency gained elsewhere. Part of the application is a language evaluation form that must be completed by a member of the German department or the Goethe-Institut.

Applicants must be at least a sophomore at the time of application.

Middlebury Language Schools
Middlebury doesn't really belong here as it is in Vermont, which only counts as an international location for the most southerly oriented among our fellow Americans, and so doesn't offer an immersive experience of the kind we're focusing on here, and it is a private, for-profit language school. Nonetheless, it offers first-class language acquisition programs, attempts to create an immersive experience through the "language pledge", and does have a number of scholarships and fellowships available to help with the cost of attending.

Additional Tools
Finally, a few search tools that may help you identify other sources of funding for your language immersion experience:

IIE's scholarship database:

IIE's study abroad program database:

University of Minnesota study abroad scholarship database:


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Guest Post: Catherine Stecyk in the Ukraine and Advice for Fulbright Applicants


Where & Why:
I was a recipient of a 2010-2011 Fulbright Student Research and Study Fellowship to Ukraine. My host institution was the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, and my self-designed research project examined the evolution of the health system in Ukraine as well as the impact of foreign aid NGOs in-country. I was inspired to research this topic after I participated in a volunteer trip to orphanages in central and southern Ukraine sponsored by the Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund.
Some of the greatest moments of my grant year included learning the ins and outs of daily life in a new country. Seeing Ukraine from west to east and seeing the state of Ukraine about 20 years following the collapse of the Soviet Union was fascinating, and meeting new friends and colleagues and experiencing their hospitality was great. Taking ownership of my research project and delving into it one step at a time was a major learning experience-- by meeting expats and Ukrainians, networking, interviewing key stakeholders, working in my host university’s international department, and traveling to new cities and regions to meet with professionals and organizations. I increasingly developed a sort of cultural competence and understanding of etiquette that allowed me to conduct effective meetings and collect quality data for my research. My time in Ukraine was not without its struggles, but my experience there has continued to impact me in numerous ways. As a graduate student, I returned to Kyiv, Ukraine to work for a HIV/AIDS NGO and had the chance to serve as an international election observer in Donetsk, Ukraine for parliamentary elections in October 2012.
Overall takeaways:
The learning experience of a lifetime, specialized knowledge on my own original topic, insight into a country that operates very differently than the United States, and personal relationships with Ukrainians and the international community in Ukraine were major takeaways from my Fulbright year.
Advice for Students:
Keep an open mind, meet as many people as possible, and explore topics of interest! I left the United States knowing far less about international education, global health, and the intricacies of Ukraine as a post-Soviet country than I did after my Fulbright year. The time flew by and I am still drawing on my experiences professionally and personally years later. It might seem daunting to create a research project from nothing, but if you’re interested in a topic, run with it and see where it takes you! My Fulbright year opened many doors and allowed me to meet hundreds of interesting people from all over the world.
Check out Catherine’s Fulbright blog at

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Finding Graduate Funding, Currently Enrolled PhD Students Edition

This post is intended primarily for students who are currently enrolled in PhD programs in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. I'll address finding grad school funding for those applying in a separate post.

So. Graduate student friends. You are in graduate school and hopefully your financial situation is great! You are working with a well-funded mentor in a grad department with lots of money to toss your way. Should you still apply for funding? YES. And for those among you staring down abject poverty, you already know you need to apply for funding. Still, a quick "why apply" list to convince our first group may help motivate you latter folks (likely the majority).

Why apply

1) Applying for funding at regular intervals forces you to articulate your research project in a clear and concise way. This helps keep you on track even if you don't earn the funding.

2) Applying successfully even for small awards establishes a record of acquiring funding which will be important down the line when you're trying to make the case for why you're hireable.

3) It will make your advisor happy.

And now, how. First, start early! Think a year ahead of where you are right now. If a year from now you'll be finishing coursework, think about funding for preliminary research or for writing the proposal. If a year from now you will have completed your comps, think about funding for research. And if a year from now you will start the final year of writing (should the stars align), seek out dissertation completion funding.

There are very few graduate awards that fund the first two or three years. The NSF GRFP can generally be applied for in the first or second year of graduate study, and you may be surprised at the fields it will fund. The Soros can be applied for as an enrolled graduate student and will fund coursework and you can apply for the Ford Foundation's Predoctoral award as long as you have two years of coursework remaining. These latter two are incredibly competitive. The GRFP is by far the biggest among these, with 2,000 awards made for 2014/15. For students in the sciences, the NDESG and SMART may be options. NDESG also applies to the behavioral sciences. The resources below may also help identify other, more specific sources of funding for those early years.

Once you are looking at funding research, fieldwork, travel, dissertation completion, etc., your search will become more field specific.

Sources to help you identify funding

1) Your supervisor, grad chair and fellow graduate students: Now is not the time to be shy. Be sure to ask your supervisor and grad chair what the biggest sources of funding are in your field and when a student ought to apply. Ask other students - particularly students in cohorts before yours - what they applied for. And ask students at conferences you attend what they've applied for and what their supervisors encourage students in their programs to apply for. Take all advice with a grain of salt; fact-check for yourself.

2) Pivot: an important database for academic funding from undergrad to senior faculty that is accessible through academic institutions. If you log on to a Temple computer and click this link, you will be taken directly into the database. From home, you must create a login.

3) Era@TU: Temple's access to the InfoEd suite, to be used for identifying funding and submitting proposals. I'll be honest. I think this resource does all manner of things I am unfamiliar with - post-award administration, possibly creating unicorns. I'm not sure. What I do know is that if you click this link, you can log in and then click the words "Find Funding" in the upper lefthand corner to search for funding.

4) H-Net announcements: Finally! One just for you humanities and humanistic social sciences folks! On H-Net's announcements page, you will find calls for papers, job and post-doc listings and funding announcements. The search function seems a bit funky to me - best just to scroll.

5) Your professional association: Professional associations will sometimes provide awards for fieldwork or travel; more often they'll have a page of awards applicable to graduate students in a field. Remember to look for both your major disciplinary association and smaller sub-disciplinary or regional associations. Both may have resources. And if you're not sure what your professional association is, use the power of Google or go back to your supervisor and tell them that when you asked about major sources of funding, you forgot to ask what your professional association is.

6) Profellow: Who is, according to their page, building the "world's best fellowships database." The Kingdom Tower of fellowships databases, if you will. You be the judge.

7) The CV's of those you admire: I give you permission to snoop the publically accessible (no hacking, please) CV's of new faculty at your institution and at other institutions, post-docs, and other grad students you perceive to have successfully worked the system to learn about awards in your field. I emphasize early career academics because the funding landscape frequently changes. Again, the power of Google.

8) These other databases: Grants.govCornell University Graduate School, UCLA database, University of Chicago database

And finally, a few other major awards for those later years:

- NSF Dissertation Completion grants:
- Fulbright: (Temple contact = Denise Connerty, director of Education Abroad)
- Boren fellowship:
- American Association of University Women awards:
- American Council of Learned Societies:
- NIH Graduate Partnerships Program:
- American Educational Research Association: click here
- Woodrow Wilson National Fellowships Foundation fellowships:
- Social Science Research Council Fellowships:
- National Endowment for the Humanities grants:
- NIH Fogarty funding opportunities:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Guest post: Eva Cohn on winning the Boren Undergraduate Scholarship

Eva Cohn, an Anthropology major at Temple University, won the Boren scholarship and used it to travel to China during this academic year for two semesters of intensive language study. Here, she writes about the award, the application process, and what happens when you win.

Quick Glance:

Boren is a competitive scholarship that gives undergraduates the chance of a lifetime to not only study abroad but also learn a critical language and land a job with the federal government focusing on national security issues.  Through the National Security Education Program (NSEP), Boren will fund up to $20,000 for you to study abroad for one academic year to soak in your country’s language.  Upon graduation, Boren Scholars have up to three years to satisfy the one year NSEP service requirement (finding that federal government job).  Don’t worry, if you plan on attending graduate school or wonder how you can get your foot into the door of the federal government work force, Boren has you covered!  You can extend the three year grace period for fulfilling the NSEP service requirement if you continue on to higher education and there are laws (yes, laws!) that give Boren Scholars advantages over other applicants in securing a job.

Wow, that’s a lot of information.  Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed yet? Don’t fret because there are people at Temple whose job it is to help you through the application process. 

A Helping Hand:

In all honesty, I applied to the Boren to understand what the application process was like for a competitive scholarship.  I worked hard to meet and work with Temple staff to strengthen my application but never did I dream of actually becoming a Boren Scholar.  Therefore, I highly encourage you to meet with all of these people at least once (but you should probably aim for a dozen times) while completing the application.

First and foremost, Temple has a Boren representative located right in the Study Abroad office.  If you have specific questions concerning your application, Maureen Gordon is the expert.  Also talk to your language department chair.  They can provide information about learning your language abroad as well as give advice about specific study abroad programs.  Last but not least, make frequent visits to Dana Dawson, director of Fellowships Advising.  She is the scholarship and fellowship expert at Temple and assisted me every step of the way when it came to brainstorming, writing, and editing my essays. 

The Application Process:

Has the Boren Scholarship peaked your interest?  There are a few details you may want to know about the application process itself.  For me, I began the application process in October to meet the Temple deadline in December/January.  I received a notification that I would have an interview in February then Boren announces winners in April/May.  Therefore, this is not a quick process so you want to be organized.

Temple has its own deadline for applications before the official Boren deadline.  The application has two main parts along with supplemental sections.  Boren requires two statements of purpose: a detailed description of your chosen study abroad program and the significance of your study abroad experience to U.S. national security.  (Hint: You should know what study abroad program you want to apply for before starting the Boren application.)  The second question is quite daunting but think about how learning your critical language and studying abroad in the country of your choice can assist the federal government now and in the future.  Be specific, as specific as possible!  Go on and look up potential careers you may be interested in exploring.  You aren’t locking yourself into the job you described in your essay but it shows you have seriously thought about this aspect of the scholarship. You will also have to submit a budget proposal including tuition, airfare, etc.

The supplemental section contains the following: 2 letters of recommendation, transcript, language self-assessment, and a language proficiency form.  If you win a scholarship, there will also be addition forms you need to complete.

Receiving a Boren Scholarship:

You received the good news and you are now a Boren Scholar!  Here is what comes next!

You will attend a mandatory orientation meeting in Washington DC.  Boren will cover transportation and lodging but you must attend the whole orientation so save the date! Before you leave to go abroad, you will have a language proficiency test over the phone.  (Note: It does not matter what skill level you are at with the language.)  This is to provide a base assessment so when you return Boren can measure your progress.  Lastly, the monetary award will be given to you through a dispersement plan.  You will receive 4-5 checks throughout the academic year so keep that in mind.

That is the Boren Scholarship in a nutshell!  Please read over the official Boren website as well as talk with the staff at Temple.  If you are interested in China or studying Mandarin feel free to check out my blog at

Good luck!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

First blog!


Since this is the first entry for this blog, it seems logical to begin at the beginning and go over what this office does and how you can make an appointment. 

The services offered through Fellowships Advising are:

Individual Counseling
  • One-on-one meetings to identify opportunities and develop and polish application materials
  • Feedback on additional resources commonly requested in fellowship applications such as CVs and cover letters
  • Support in preparing for interviews, meet-and-greets and dinners
  • Advising in relation to developing mentoring relationships, asking for letters of recommendation, and maximizing academic opportunities on campus

  • Follow me on twitter and Facebook to receive notifications of upcoming award competitions
  • Visit the website for award search tools, writing resources, and other useful links
  • Visit my office in the Writing Center on the 2nd floor of Tuttleman Learning Center for hard copy resources such as examples of successful applications

  • I offer workshops for undergraduate and graduate students focused on finding opportunities, becoming a competitive candidate, navigating the application process, and developing graduate and professional school application materials
  • Study Abroad and The Writing Center offer related workshops on topics such as funding study abroad and writing competitive applications for study abroad which will be listed on my website

  • Applying for competitive awards will put you in contact with other students who share your drive, interests and goals and faculty who actively support undergraduate and graduate education; applying for awards is an opportunity not only to build your resume and win some money, but to expand your network of supporters and future collaborators

This office was introduced at Temple in January 2013. Over the past seven months, I've had a great time getting to know the amazing students who have applied for awards ranging from critical languages travel scholarships to transportation related urban planning scholarships! 

If you'd like to make an appointment, email me at or call my office at 215 204 0708.