Critical Language Scholarship Program | Homepage
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CLS Scholars in Okayama, Japan learn about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
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

2020 Alumni Ambassador Year in Review

Despite the unprecedented challenges prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Alumni Ambassadors remained resilient, resourceful, and engaged through the months, working with the alumni community, applicants, finalists, CLS virtual scholars, CLS staff and others in their communities to share...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on January 22, 2021


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


CLS in the Press

In Defense of U.S. Education and Cultural Programs

Daniel Bottomley, CLS Alumnus (2012 Indonesian) and Director of Public Diplomacy & Global Initiatives at University of Delaware, makes the case for a renewed focus on international exchange programs promoting mutual understanding within the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Shared from E-International Relations, February 15, 2021


Six students selected as CLS semifinalists

Six University of North Georgia students were recently named semifinalists for the U.S. Department of State's Critical Language Scholarship Program.

Shared from University of North Georgia Newsroom, February 09, 2021


Three Named as Critical Language Scholarship Semi-Finalists

Three Miami students were named as semi-finalists for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities.

Shared from Miami University Global Initiatives, January 25, 2021