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Five CLS Program participants in Jordan watch the sunset in the desert. ▼  Alumni Profile: Nilaya Knafo  ▼

CLS Virtual Institutes are underway this summer. Be sure to follow along on our social media accounts and stay tuned for more news from the CLS Program!

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

Alumni Profile: Nilaya Knafo

Nilaya Knafo is an alumna of the 2017 CLS Arabic program in Amman, Jordan. A 2019 graduate of American University with a bachelor’s degree in international relations, Nilaya focused her studies on foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa. She now works as a Senior Program Assistant at...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on July 09, 2020


Being LGBTQIA+ in a Conservative Country

Luana Davila is an alumna of the 2019 CLS Arabic program in Meknes, Morocco, and wrote the following about her experience as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community on the CLS Program. Luana is working toward a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago and is a...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on June 29, 2020


Alumni Profile: Audrey Petersen

Audrey Petersen made the decision to study Bangla after doing a public health research project on the incorporation of zinc in the treatment of diarrheal diseases for her nursing program at George Mason University. The research was primarily being studied by an organization headquartered in...

Posted by Jessica Klink on June 22, 2020


Alumni Profile: David Fields

David Fields became interested in Korea when he learned of opportunities to teach English after earning his undergraduate degree. After teaching English in South Korea for two years, he began studying United States and East Asian relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and participated...

Posted by Jessica Klink on June 15, 2020


CLS in the Press

Daniel Lang

Alumnus Daniel Lang (Chinese 2018) writes about his experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia before returning early due to the pandemic.

Shared from The National Peace Corps Association, July 06, 2020


WKU graduate awarded Rotary Global Grant Scholarship for master’s degree in Israel

CLS Arabic alumna Kate Hart will use a $50,000 Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in Israel.

Shared from Western Kentucky University News, July 06, 2020


Recent Graduate Awarded Yenching Academy Scholarship

CLS Chinese alumnus Haider Nazir has been accepted to the Yenching Academy of Peking University.

Shared from India Education Diary, July 06, 2020