Critical Language Scholarship Program | Homepage

CLS semifinalists, check your email! Notification messages for the 2024 CLS Program have been sent! We applaud all applicants for their commitment to language learning and congratulate the finalists and alternates selected from an impressive pool of over 5,000 applicants.

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

Celebrating Women's History Month with CLS Alumnae
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, the CLS Program is shining a spotlight on three inspiring and entrepreneurial CLS Turkish alumnae: Isabelle McRae, Keyia Yalcin, and Sydney Ribot. Isabelle is a multilingual development consultant based in London, one of her recent projects, translating Tu…

March 28, 2024

Navigating Vegetarianism & Veganism in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
When CLS Russian students, Raven and Valentina, first learned they’d be studying in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, they were ecstatic. Their second feeling was one of uncertainty – what were they going to eat!? As a vegetarian and vegan respectively, Raven and Valentina’s plant-based diets were in strong co…

March 15, 2024

Announcing the 2024 CLS Program Awards
Congratulations to the over 500 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students selected for the 2024 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program! We applaud all applicants for their commitment to critical language study and congratulate the finalists and alternates selected from an impressive pool of ov…

March 05, 2024

Celebrating Black History Month with CLS Alumni
In celebration and recognition of Black History Month, the CLS Program is highlighting the perspectives of Black CLS alumni and the ways in which they connected with the African Diaspora and Black culture while on CLS. For Black scholars participating at CLS Program sites with large African di…

February 29, 2024

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