Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Indian Language Programs At US Universities

Fewer than 3000 students are enrolled in Indian language course offerings at U.S. colleges and universities.

A survey on foreign language enrollments at U.S. colleges in 2002 by the Modern Language Association found that Hindi was the most popular Indian language at U.S. colleges, accounting for roughly half of total enrollment in Indian languages.

Spanish is by far the most popular foreign language among U.S. college students, accounting for well over half of the total enrollment of 1.4 million in language courses throughout the country. It was followed distantly by French, German and Italian. Among Asian languages, Japanese attracted 52,000 students; Chinese 34,000; Korean 5,211 and Vietnamese 2,236. Hindi ranked 22nd in popularity with 1,400 students.

Among Indian languages, Hindi was followed by Sanskrit, Urdu, Bengali and Tamil.

After 9/11, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Education have launched initiatives to encourage foreign language instruction  of Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) in the United States.

A report by researchers at North Carolina State University on South Asian language instruction identified 84 Indian languages for the initiative, including 25 it rated at the highest priority “Category One” level. Of these only 17 were taught at U.S. universities. It is estimated that 75 U.S. colleges and universities offer Indian languages.

U.S. Colleges Teaching Indian Languages
University of Alabama
University of Arizona 
Brown University
Cal State, Sacramento
University of Chicago
Columbia University
Cornell University
Duke University
Emory University
Florida State University
University of Georgia
Harvard University
University of Hawaii
University of Illinois
Indiana University
University of Iowa
Johns Hopkins University
Loyola University, Chicago
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
Monterey Institute
North Carolina Central
North Carolina State
Northern Illinois University
New York University
Ohio State University
University of Pennsylvania
Princeton University 
Rice University
Rutgers University
San Jose State University
Southern Methodist University
SUNY, Stonybrook
Syracuse University
University of Texas
UMASS – Amherst
U. of California – Berkeley
U. of California – Los Angeles
U. of California – Santa Barbara
U. of California – Santa Clara
U. of North Corlina – Chapel Hill
University of Virginia
U. of Washington – Seattle
Washington U. – St. Louis
William Paterson University
University of Wisconsin
Yale University
Source: David Gilmartin, Dwight Stephens and John Caldwell, “Setting Priorities for South Asian Languages,” National Planning for the Teaching of the Less Commonly Taught Languages, North Carolina State University, June 2005.

Foreign language enrollment at us colleges
Spanish  746,267 
French  201,979 
German 91,100 
Italian  63,899 
American Sign  60,781 
Japanese  52,238 
Chinese  34,153 
Latin  29,841 
Russian   23,921 
Ancient Greek  20,376 
Biblical Hebrew  14,183 
Arabic  10,584 
Modern Hebrew  8,619 
Portuguese  8,385 
Korean  5,211 
Vietnamese  2,236
Hawaiian  1,687
Aramaic  1,686
Swahili  1,593
Hindi  1,430
Persian  1,117
Polish  1,053
Other languages  14,914 
Total  1,397,253


Indian language enrollment at US colleges
Hindi  1,430
Sanskrit  487
Hindi-Urdu*  427
Bengali 154
Urdu  152
Tamil  114
Punjabi  99
Tibetan  78
Malayalam  20
Gujarati  20
Nepali  11
Telugu  3
Marathi  2
Kannada  2
Total  2,999
*Hindi-Urdu are offered in combination at several institutions
Source: Elizabeth B. Welles, “Foreign Language Enrollments in the United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2002,” ADFL Bulletin, Winter-Spring 2004.