U.S. Flag   State Department Seal   A Program of the U.S. Department of State
Five CLS Program participants in Jordan watch the sunset in the desert. ▼  Alumni Profile: Vincent DeLaurentis  ▼
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

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.


Featured Alumni

Vincent DeLaurentis
Punjabi 2015
Chandigarh, India
Amy Moyer
Bangla 2009
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Noah Lerner
Chinese 2014
Guangzhou, China
Vanessa Huerta
Russian 2017
Vladimir, Russia

CLS News and Stories

Alumni Profile: Vincent DeLaurentis

While Vincent was growing up, his family lived close to a Gurdwara—a Sikh temple—which sparked his interest in learning more about the language and culture of the Punjab region. He was awarded the Critical Language Scholarship twice to study Punjabi in 2015 and 2017 in Chandigarh, India....

Posted by Jessica Klink on February 11, 2020


Alumni Profile: Amy Moyer

Amy participated in CLS Bangla in 2009 and 2010 as a graduate student at Lehigh University studying International Education Leadership. Her advisor worked in Bangladesh and sparked her interest in learning Bangla. Amy quickly connected Bangla with her passion for a career in international...

Posted by Jessica Klink on February 04, 2020


Alumni Profile: Noah Lerner

Noah participated in the CLS advanced Chinese program in Guangzhou in the summer of 2014 after his sophomore year at Amherst College. Even after living in China for a year prior, the CLS Program had a great impact on advancing his Chinese language proficiency. After returning to the United...

Posted by Jessica Klink on January 30, 2020


Alumni Profile: Avan Antia
“The CLS Program is what helped me form my own identity, which helped me be a better representative of both the United States and India. Growing up in an Indian household allowed me to connect to my CLS community, and foster mutual understanding.”

Avan Antia participated in the CLS Hindi program...

Posted by Jessica Klink on January 21, 2020


CLS in the Press

A student abroad: Two summers in South Korea

Once upon a time, at the age of 18, I imagined I would study, work and dwell within my rural town in New Hampshire for my entire life; that all changed once I received the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study abroad for eight weeks in Busan, South Korea during Summer 2018 and Gwangju, South Korea during Summer 2019.

Shared from The New Hampshire, February 14, 2020


Specht ’20 Announced as Fulbright and Critical Language Semi-Finalist

International Studies and Spanish double major Heidi Specht ’20 has her sights set on working in Brazil after graduation. This month, she’s moved one step closer to making it a reality. She learned that she’s a semi-finalist for both the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Award and Critical Language Scholarship (CLS).

Shared from Arcadia University News, January 24, 2020


Four students named CLS semifinalists

Madelyn Beacham, Daniel Shearer, Megan Shockley, and Maggie Simmons were selected in mid-January as semifinalists for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), which funds American undergraduate and graduate students to complete intensive language study abroad in the summer. The quartet will find out if they are finalists in March.

Shared from University of North Georgia News, January 22, 2020