Critical Language Scholarship Program | Homepage

The 2024 CLS Program application is now closed.

Congratulations to all applicants for the 2024 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program and virtual initiative, CLS Spark! Applicants will be contacted by email in January with notification of the status of their application following the initial review process.

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 thirteen 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

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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.

CLS News and Stories

Announcing the 2023 Alumni Photo Contest
We are pleased to invite alumni of the 2023 CLS Program to submit your photos from this summer to the 2023 CLS photo contest! Winning photos will be featured on special-edition CLS postcards.  Photo Contest Submission Form Submissions will be accepted through Sunday, December …

December 01, 2023

Finding Home in Okayama, Japan
A perspective on the 2023 CLS Japanese Program told by CLS Digital Ambassador, Kirk Preston.  March 9, 2023, I remember where I was when I got the email. I was out giving a tour of Rose-Hulman’s campus to a prospective student, unaware of the good news that had just arrived. It wasn’t un…

November 17, 2023

2024 CLS Program Application Now Open!
We are pleased to announce that the application is now open for the 2024 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program and virtual initiative, CLS Spark! We welcome American undergraduate and graduate students to apply now to learn a critical language next summer on a funded language and cultura…

October 03, 2023

CLS Student Spotlight: Thai Nguyen
Since middle school, Thai Nguyen has been captivated by Russian history. Ask the average person to name a significant moment in Russian history and you’ll likely be met with blank stares; Ask Thai and he’ll give you his top three. In order to take his Russian history knowledge to the next-level, Th…

September 20, 2023

CLS in the Press

Critical Language Scholarship Sends Pomona College Recipients to Morocco, South Korea and India

This summer, Lilly Bar ’23, Benjamin Cheng ’24 and Arivumani Srivastava ’26 made vast language gains as participants in the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program.

Shared from , September 26, 2023

Q&A: Winner of the 2023 Critical Language Scholarship speaks to its value

This year’s Critical Language Scholar finalist is Saba Rehman, a third-year political science and Arabic language and culture student with a certificate in legal studies. Rehman studied Arabic in Morocco this past summer.

Shared from , September 07, 2023

SE sophomore Chelsea Maxwell experiences Brazil as Critical Language Scholarship recipient

As the 2023 spring semester wrapped up on the Durant campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Chelsea Maxwell was exploring new challenges and opportunities as she looked ahead to her second year as a Southeastern student.

Shared from , September 06, 2023