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The summer 2022 application is now closed. The deadline for recommendation letters is November 19, 2021.

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.


Why You Should Study Abroad with 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.


  • "The Persian language opens a door to a universe of wonders within the collective history of humankind."
    Shabbir Abbas, Persian 2020
  • Diplomatic representation of the monolith that is the United States military is very similar to the citizen diplomacy aspect of the CLS Program. You cannot begin to understand culture without the language component. With the CLS Program, you gain authenticity by learning the language.
    Andrea Howard, Azerbaijani 2015
  • 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

CLS News and Stories

CLS Refresh Spotlight: Samuel Hotop
What does computer science and Russian language have in common? A whole lot—just ask Samuel Hotop, CLS Refresh participant (KORA Russian Language Center) and 2009 CLS Russian alumnus. Since participating in CLS in 2009 in Kazan, Russia, Samuel has created a career that merges his passion for t…

November 26, 2021


CHamoru Language and Culture with Alumna Emily Wood
From childhood Emily Wood (Indonesian 2018) was interested in understanding her CHamoru heritage. Growing up in a predominantly white area in the continental U.S., however, she had few opportunities. When Emily saw the opportunity to take CHamoru language classes online, she jumped at it. Since the…

November 19, 2021



CLS in the Press

History graduate student Andrew Howard wins critical language award to study Urdu

Ohio University graduate student Andrew Howard has been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Refresh award to study Urdu with the American Institute of India Studies.

Shared from Ohio University, November 30, 2021


Where I Lead: Victoria Hightower

Feature on CLS advisor Dr. Victoria Hightower - a professor in the Department of History, Anthropology and Philosophy and Assistant Director of the National Competitive Scholarships (NCS) Office at the University of North Georgia.

Shared from University of North Georgia, November 22, 2021


Pickering Fellowship Provides Pathways to Global Careers

CLS alumnus Colin Walsh (Bangla 2013) reflects on why the disability community should be involved in Department of State fellowships and careers.

Shared from Mobility International USA, October 29, 2021