T he U.S. Department of Education (USED) recently released the results of its 2010-2012 FLAS Tracking Survey. FLAS, or the Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship program authorized by Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HEA), provides academic year and summer fellowships to institutions of higher education. The fellowships are awarded on the basis of merit to eligible undergraduate and graduate students who are undergoing training in modern world languages and the related world areas.

When the Congress reauthorized HEA in 2008, it directed USED to assist grantee institutions in the administration of a survey to track the post-graduate career trajectories of FLAS fellows. The survey sought to answer, primarily, the following questions:

  1. What languages do FLAS fellows study? Do they study them domestically or overseas? How proficient do fellows perceive themselves to have become in their chosen language at the conclusion of their fellowship?
  2. What degrees did the fellows pursue and in what academic disciplines? Were these degrees completed?
  3. What are fellows doing now? Are they pursuing further study, or are they employed? Are they using their FLAS education, including their language skills, in their current pursuits? Have the language proficiency and area studies training the fellows gained as a part of the fellowship affected their career paths?

Among the survey’s highlights:

  • 59% indicated that knowledge of a foreign language is a requirement or considered a key asset for their current job;
  • 62% reported that knowledge of area/international studies is a requirement or a key asset for their current job;
  • ~50% of respondents reported that they use their foreign language knowledge at least monthly in their current job;
  • ~60% reported using their area/international studies training in their current work on a regular basis;
  • ~70% reported that their foreign language and area/international studies’ training directly impacted their career path.

Read the full survey results.