Critical Language Scholarship Program | Homepage
U.S. Flag   State Department Seal   A Program of the U.S. Department of State
▼  Latest News: CLS 2023 Application Now Open!  ▼

The Application for the 2023 CLS Program is now live! Applications are due November 15, 2022 at 8pm Eastern Time. To start an application, visit

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

The CLS Program provides opportunities for American college and university students to study languages and cultures essential to America's engagement with the world. 

Each summer, American undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities across the country, spend eight to ten weeks learning one of fourteen languages at an intensive study abroad institute. The CLS Program is designed to promote rapid language gains and essential intercultural fluency in regions that are critical to U.S. national security and economic prosperity.

CLS Spark, an initiative of the CLS Program, provides opportunities for American undergraduate college and university students to study Arabic, Chinese and Russian virtually at the beginning level. 

Designed to leverage best practices in online language learning, CLS Spark provides students with the opportunity to study critical languages virtually when they may not have access to studying these languages on their campuses.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government. It is supported in its implementation by American Councils for International Education.

What Alumni Say About the CLS Program

Key Benefits

Speech Bubble Icon
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.

Two People Icon
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.

United States Map Icon
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.

  • 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
  • "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
  • 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 Persian language opens a door to a universe of wonders within the collective history of humankind."
    Shabbir Abbas, Persian 2020

CLS News and Stories

CLS 2023 Application Now Open!
We are pleased to announce that the application for the 2023 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is now open! We welcome American undergraduate and graduate students to apply now to study a critical language next summer on a fully funded virtual or overseas language program. The application…

October 05, 2022

CLS Student Spotlight: Colby Santana on Russian Language, Rugby and International Relations
Two years ago, if you had told Colby Santana that he would be studying Russian in Kyrgyzstan and be a commentator for the National Rugby Team, he wouldn't have believed you. A last-minute sign up for a Russian literature course led Colby down a path of falling in love with Russian language, declari…

September 16, 2022

Announcing the 2022 Alumni Photo Contest
We are pleased to invite alumni of the 2022 CLS Program to submit photos to the 2022 photo contest! We welcome submissions from those who participated virtually as well as those who were abroad at their program sites this summer. Submissions will be accepted through Monday, September 26, 2022 and …

September 08, 2022

Announcing the 2022 CLS Refresh Alumni Program
The CLS Program is pleased to announce the second year of CLS Refresh, a language learning opportunity for CLS Program alumni. To support alumni in their continued commitment to critical languages, individualized virtual language instruction will be offered beginning in October 2022, at no cost to …

September 01, 2022

CLS in the Press

‘Cultural excursions’ in South Korea | Penn State student shares experiences studying abroad, regaining his heritage

Juntae Rocker (Korean 2022) talks about his experience on the CLS Program in Busan.

Shared from Daily Collegian, September 22, 2022

U.S. Department of State Offers Opportunities for American and International Students and Scholars at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

U.S. Department of State programs including the CLS Program provide opportunities for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Shared from U.S. Department of State, September 20, 2022

Elizabethtown College Student Laura Cardona Named Critical Language Studies Scholar

Elizabethtown College International Business and Political Science major Laura Cardona ’23 has been granted a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Mandarin through the U. S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, CLS Program.

Shared from E-Town News, August 29, 2022