Peer Scholarship Advice

The official blog of the Charles Center Peer Scholarship Advisors

Category: CLS

Scholarships for Language Study

1. Critical Language Scholarships
Critical Language Scholarships are a U.S. State Department Sponsored program providing two months of fully funded language study abroad during the summer. CLS is specifically focused on languages that are important to U.S. national security interest, so it has programs in countries such as China, Morocco, Turkey, Russia, and others where critical languages are spoken. You can find more info about CLS on their website.

2. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships
The Boren Scholarship is a U.S. government-sponsored program funding U.S. students’ study of languages in regions of the world critical for U.S. national security. Its purpose is similar to that of CLS, but unlike CLS it provides funding for semester- and year-long study instead of just for the summer, and Boren funds study of a much wider range of languages than CLS does. Moreover, it is designed for students planning to work in the national security arena and includes a one-year government service requirement. The Boren Scholarship gives up to $20,000 to fund semester- and year-long programs for undergraduates, and up to $8,000 for summer programs for STEM students. The equivalent program for graduate students, the Boren Fellowship, provides up to $30,000 in funding. You can learn more about Boren here.

3. Blakemore Foundation Freeman Fellowship
Blakemore Foundation Freeman Fellowships provide a year of intensive language study of an East or Southeast Asian language. This fellowship is intended for recent graduates who are pursuing a career that involves the regular use of the language that they choose. Fellows must already have a high degree of proficiency in the language that they choose, and they can choose from a pre-selected set of programs in Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, or Vietnam. Learn more about this program here.

4. Gilman Scholarship
The Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program is a State Department sponsored program designed to reduce barriers to study abroad through providing assistance to those undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. To be eligible, applicants must be receiving a Federal Pell Grant or provide proof that they will be receiving a Pell Grant at the time of application or during the term of their study abroad. Gilman scholarship recipients are not required to complete language study, but the program does provide additional funding for students studying critical languages while abroad. To find out more about the Gilman Scholarship, check out their official website, the William & Mary specific website.


Keep in mind that these are only a few of the many opportunities for William & Mary students to find funding for language study. For more info about all kinds of scholarships and fellowships, check out Scholarship Search, keep following the scholarship blog, or bring your questions to the PSAs directly in the Charles Center Mondays through Fridays from 9am to 5pm. Good luck on all your apps!

Critical Language Scholarship Application Tips

Are you interested in studying a language critical to U.S. national security interests? Want to study abroad, but don’t have time to do so during the semester? Then the Critical Language Scholarship may be right for you.

Critical Language Scholarships provide two months of fully funded language study in countries such as China, Morocco, Turkey, Russia, and others where critical languages are spoken. You can find more info about CLS on their website.

1. Get an Early Start
Not procrastinating is an important skill in just about all aspects of life, and it’s especially important for the Critical Language Scholarship application. With three 350 word essays, one 100 word essay, and a 500 word statement of purpose, you’ll be doing well over 1500 words of writing for this application, and you don’t want to leave yourself struggling to answer the prompts last minute. Starting early will also help ensure that you are able to write multiple drafts of all of your essays which is critical (pun intended) to your success as an applicant.

Moreover, you need to give your recommenders as much time as you can to ensure that they can write the best possible recommendation. They will not be happy if you come to them asking for a recommendation only a few days or a week before the deadline, and they are much less likely to agree to write it.

2. Pick the Language/Culture that Most Interests You
This may sound like a no-brainer to applicants who immediately know what language they want to apply for, but for less unsure applicants, deciding on the language can be a challenge. If none of them jump out as the right language to study for you, think long and hard about your interests and your post-graduate plans. Pick the language whose culture interests you the most, or that you could most easily see yourself immersing yourself in again through future study. It’s also important that you are able to connect the language that you pick to your goals for the future, which I’ll touch on again later.

However, what you should NOT base your language choice on is the relative competitiveness of some languages over others. Some languages receive much more applicants than others, but those languages also tend to have more teaching sites and are thus able to accept more applicants. Your application will be best if you pick the language that most interest you and fits best with your future goals, regardless of how many other applicants that language receives.

3. Show a Commitment to Language Learning
Once you’ve decided on the language, make it clear throughout the application, and especially in the statement of purpose, why this language fits best for you. By the time the reader finishes your application, there should be no doubt in their mind that you are completely committed to learning that language to the best of your ability.

4. Distinguish your Essays from one another
With 4 short essays and the statement of purpose, the CLS application will require you to do quite a bit of writing. Especially in the first two essays, which ask similar questions, many applicants find it difficult to keep their essays distinct and avoid repetition. But keep in mind that the readers of your essays are going to be reading dozens or even hundreds of other essays, and it’s important that you keep them interested and not repeat yourself. Read your essays over multiple times and make sure that you’re answering the right questions and not using the same idea over and over again.

5. Connect to your Future
Getting the Critical Language Scholarship should not be your ultimate goal in life. CLS should be the means to some other end, like working in international business or the Foreign Service. Throughout your essays, and especially in your statement of purpose, create a narrative that explains how your past has led to you applying to CLS, and how CLS will lead to you achieving your future goals. If you can express how CLS, and specifically your CLS language, is connected to your life plans, you will do a much better job of showing them why it’s important that they award you with this scholarship over someone else.

6. Get Your Essays Checked Over
Writing multiple drafts of your essays and having them looked over by another person is absolutely vital to your application. Proof-reading on your own can be helpful, but you need to have another person’s perspective to make your essays the best they can possibly be.

The Peer Scholarship Advisors are here for you throughout the process of applying for CLS, and we are always happy to read through your essays and give our feedback! We’re trained to know what each scholarship is looking for, and we can help you refine all aspects of your application.

7. Be Sure of Yourself
If you’re not sure of yourself and your future, how will your essay-readers ever be? It’s not enough just to be well-qualified for CLS, you also have to be able to sell yourself. So instead of saying “I think that I’d like to…” or “I might…” try saying “I will…” or “I intend to…” to convey more confidence. This will show your readers that you are certain of what you want to do and how CLS will help you get there.

Many college students find it challenging to convey confidence in their life plans, and you are probably not 100% sure what you want to do after you graduate. That’s okay! Even if you do have a plan, plans often change, and your essay readers understand that. However, it is important that you do some self-reflection to make some sort of plan that you can convey genuine confidence in.


If you have any more questions about this or other scholarships, don’t hesitate to visit Scholarship Search or come to the Charles to ask a PSA Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. As always, thanks for reading and good luck on your applications!

Opportunities to fund Summer Study, Research, and Internships

Many William & Mary students use the summer as an opportunity to continue their studies, get involved in research, or partake in an internship, but often research projects need funding and internships are unpaid. Luckily, W&M offers funding from a number of different sources for students doing research or participating in low-paying or unpaid internships. Here are a few places you can look to find funding for summer study, research or internships:

1. Fulbright UK Summer Institutes
Each summer the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission offers several themed institutes across the U.K. for American freshman and sophomores to explore U.K. culture, history, and heritage, as well as take part in an engaging academic experience. Past institutes have included Shakespeare, climate change, and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Each institute is 3-6 weeks long and all expenses, including airfare, tuition and fees, and room and board are covered by the scholarship. To learn more about this opportunity, check out their website.

2. Critical Language Scholarships
Critical Language Scholarships are a U.S. State Department sponsored program providing two months of fully funded language study abroad during the summer. CLS is specifically focused on languages that are important to national security interest, so it has programs in countries such as China, Morocco, Turkey, Russia, and others where critical languages are spoken. You can find more info about CLS on their website.

3. Charles Center Summer Research Scholarships
The Charles Center is the biggest source of funding for summer research at William & Mary. We offer funding for research in any discipline, from the humanities to the natural sciences, and most awards are for $3,000 and support seven weeks of full-time research. In addition to the general umbrella of Charles Center Summer Scholarships which anyone in any discipline can apply to, there are a number of smaller scholarships which are specific to certain disciplines; for example: the Christopher Wren Association Scholarship for research in the humanities, the Jacobs Scholarship for research taking place in Israel, and the Lemon Project Summer Research Grant for research on African Americans and the College of William & Mary, just to name a few. The deadline for Charles Center Summer Scholarships is typically in mid or late February of the year that you will conduct your project. You can find more information about the Charles Center Summer Scholarships here.

4. Departmental Funding Resources
Many departments have their own specific pages with lists of research funding opportunities, some sponsored by the department itself, others sponsored by external organizations. Check out your department’s website under the “research” tab to see if your department has a list of resources! Also, ask your major advisor or another professor who you are close to if they know of some grants that can be used to fund research in your area of study. Professors are often delighted to help their students get involved in the research process. Some departments also offer funding for internships in fields relevant to the department, which you should be able to find information about on their website.

5. Cohen Career Center Internship Funding
The Cohen Career Center offers a number of scholarships to help fund low- or non-paying internships. These include the Steve Banker Fund for Real Estate Internships, the Olympia & Adam Trumbower Fund for International Development/Philanthropy Internships, and the Cohen Career Center Internship Fund. These scholarships provide up to $4,000 (or $5,000 for the Steve Banker Fund) to students with unpaid internships in a variety of different fields. You can find more about these opportunities here.

6. Charles Center Internship Scholarships
In addition to offering funding for summer research, the Charles Center also administers a limited number of scholarships to fund unpaid internships. These include the Freeman Intern Fellowship and the Woody Internship in Museum Studies. The Freeman Fellowship provides placement and funding at internships in Asia, and the Woody Internship in Museum Studies allows opportunity to intern and conduct research at a respected museum that exhibits art, historical materials, etc. to the public. You can find more information about them here.

7. Reves Summer International Internship Scholarships
The Reves Center provides funding for unpaid or low-paying internships overseas or domestic internships that are international in focus. These include internationally-directed government agencies (such as the State Department), overseas non-governmental organizations, overseas private sector corporations, etc. Internships must entail at least five full-time weeks of work over the summer. You can learn more about this opportunity here.

8. Scholarship Search
The Scholarship Search website is a PSA-run scholarship database that allows you to search for different scholarships, research grants, and internships offered by both William & Mary and external sources. As of right now we have over 250 opportunities that William & Mary students are eligible for, but the list is constantly growing as we add more. You can filter your search based on your area of study, the academic years eligible, whether financial need is required, and many other criteria. Click here to begin your scholarship search!


As always, if you have any questions about these or other opportunities, or you want someone to look over your application materials, don’t hesitate to come into the PSA office any time from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday!