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CLS Scholars in Okayama, Japan learn about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. ▼  Latest News: U.S. Government Issues Statement in Support of International Education  ▼
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.

Why You Should Study Abroad with the CLS Program

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.

  • "I had always been interested in learning about Brazilian culture and Portuguese language and CLS made that a reality for me."
    Max Courval, Portuguese 2020
  • "The Persian language opens a door to a universe of wonders within the collective history of humankind."
    Shabbir Abbas, Persian 2020
  • Just having conversations with people and being open with them about what we did culturally where I’m from; I’ve always wanted to share that with people.
    Marcus Dunn, Korean 2011
  • The CLS Program was instrumental in getting me to the proficiency level required for my career. My employer cited my language skills as one of the main traits that made me an outstanding candidate.
    John Krzyzaniak, Persian 2016

CLS News and Stories

U.S. Government Issues Statement in Support of International Education

This week, as part of the opening of the EducationUSA Forum, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona announced a Joint Statement of Principles in support of international education with support from the Departments of Commerce and Homeland...

July 27, 2021

Announcing finalists for the 2021 CLS Summer Program

We are pleased to announce the full list of scholars awarded with the Critical Language Scholarship this summer to participate in intensive summer language institutes in fifteen different languages critical to America's national security and economic prosperity.

The list of scholars for...

June 16, 2021

Alumni Profile: Aarzu Maknojia

Reflecting on the ways in which her South Asian heritage intersected with her experience on the CLS Program, Aarzu Maknojia (Urdu 2018) said, “Learning Urdu in Lucknow as a heritage speaker was a challenging experience. There was a constant hum of being ‘too Indian’ to enjoy the benefits of an...

May 20, 2021

Alumni Profile: Ramil Mercado

Ramil Mercado is an alumnus of the 2020 CLS Indonesian virtual institute hosted by Universitas Negeri Malang in Malang, Indonesia. He’s a recent graduate of University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in political science and Asian studies and minored in Southeast Asian studies.


May 10, 2021

CLS in the Press

Grad Earns Second Critical Language Scholarship

Susquehanna University’s Hannah Kelly-Quigley ’20 has been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study Chinese during the summer of 2021. Kelly-Quigley graduated from Susquehanna with a double major in neuroscience and psychology and a minor in Asian studies.

Shared from Susquehanna University, July 28, 2021

Transylvania student studying Swahili this summer through Critical Language Scholarship

Transylvania University student Cynthia Kayitesi ’24 is studying Swahili this summer through a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship.

Shared from 1780: The Official Blog of Transylvania University, July 27, 2021

UIC student, alumna selected for State Department Critical Language Scholarship

A graduate student and a recent graduate from the University of Illinois Chicago have been awarded the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship to participate in intensive foreign language programs this summer.

Shared from UIC Today, July 26, 2021