Priming the Pump: The Making of Foreign Area Experts

This report presents the results of a survey of graduate students, both U.S. and foreign, enrolled in U.S. universities who are focusing their advanced studies on a world area. The survey was designed to determine how these students became interested and involved in foreign language and area studies and focuses on several questions: What types of experiences influenced students to pursue graduate work in area studies? When did these experiences occur? What differences are there in types of experiences across areas? How do experiences influence choice of discipline and research interest in graduate school as well as professional goals?

This report is concerned with the nature of the pipeline, or recruitment process, into area studies, focusing on those who have made decisions to specialize in a world area in graduate school. The results of this study shed some light on self-recruitment and on the ways in which we are and should be cultivating our national resources in foreign language and area studies .