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The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a summer study abroad opportunity for American college and university students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world.

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

Each summer, CLS provides rigorous academic instruction in fifteen languages that are critical to America's national security and economic prosperity. CLS participants are citizen ambassadors, sharing American values and promoting American influence abroad.


Languages Offered


Students in Jaipur, India

Key Benefits

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Develop Key Expertise

The CLS Program provides its scholars intensive language and cultural instruction in an environment designed to maximize their language gains at every level.

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Career Ready Skills

Alumni apply their critical language skills in a variety of professional fields in public and private sectors as well as government, helping to support America’s competitiveness across the board.

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Citizen Diplomacy

CLS scholars represent the breadth and diversity of the United States. Through personal engagement they help to spread American values and develop mutual understanding with the people of other countries.


Featured Alumni

David Fields
Korean 2010
Jeonju, South Korea
Andrea Howard
Azerbaijani 2015
Baku, Azerbaijan
John Krzyzaniak
Persian 2016
Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Lauren Chow
Indonesian 2018
Malang, Indonesia

CLS News and Stories

2021 CLS Alumni Ambassador Application

Are you interested in sharing your experience while supporting and promoting the CLS Program? The application to become a 2021 CLS Alumni Ambassador is now open!

Who are CLS Alumni Ambassadors?

CLS Alumni Ambassadors take leadership roles as active and positive representatives of...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on December 02, 2020


Alumni Profile: Marcus Dunn

Marcus Dunn is an alumnus of the 2011 CLS Korean program in Jeonju, South Korea. His summer on the CLS Program followed his final undergraduate year at the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture, where he studied Fine and Studio Arts. He also holds a master’s degree in painting...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on November 24, 2020


Edwin Juarez Reflects on Identity and the CLS Program

Edwin Juarez is an alumnus of the 2020 CLS Virtual Korean program and a current student at Claremont McKenna College, where he is majoring in Foreign Languages. Growing up in a predominantly Mexican-American community in Houston, he noticed how relieved his parents were when someone offered...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on September 30, 2020


Alumni Profile: Lauren Sooy
“Although beginning my civil service career amidst a pandemic was a bit unusual, I’m grateful to be contributing my skills and knowledge to the U.S. government’s coronavirus response efforts.”

Lauren, an alumna of the 2017 CLS Indonesian program, landed a position in early 2020 as a...

Posted by Jessica Klink on September 21, 2020


CLS in the Press

Naimul Chowdhury is NCF’s first Rangel fellow

Making history this year, New College alum Naimul “Naeem” Chowdhury (Chinese 2018) is the first-ever Novo Collegian to become a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellow.

Shared from New College of Florida News, December 24, 2020


COVID-19 Pandemic, Social Tension Inspires W&J Student to Make A Difference

Clara Sherwood (Arabic 2020) started an oral history project with the goal of promoting an understanding of difficulties migrants, immigrants, and refugees face.

Shared from Washington & Jefferson College News, December 23, 2020


Michael Di Girolamo on UK at the Half

[Video] Michael Di Girolamo (Chinese 2020) speaks to Carl Nathe about his CLS experience on "UK at the Half."

Shared from UK at the Half, December 10, 2020