Five CLS Program participants in Jordan watch the sunset in the desert. ▼  Alumni Profile: Annisah Smith  ▼

The application for the 2020 Summer CLS Program is now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted an application. The competition for summer 2021 will open in the Fall of 2020.

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

Annisah Smith
Indonesian 2016
Malang, Indonesia
Radhika Arora
Arabic 2018
Meknes, Morocco
Janet Purdy
Swahili 2016
Arusha, Tanzania
Erik Hornberger
Japanese 2013
Himeji, Japan

CLS News and Stories

Alumni Profile: Annisah Smith
“Being awarded the Critical Language Scholarship was a special moment for me as it allowed me to finally learn Bahasa Indonesia in a formal setting and connect with my Indonesian family.”

Annisah Smith participated in CLS Indonesian in 2015 and 2016 in Malang, Indonesia. She grew up in Kuala...

Posted by Jessica Klink on January 14, 2020


Alumni Profile: Matthew Tappert

“After the CLS Program I spent the better part of a decade working in ex-Soviet Central Asia, which is how I ended up in D.C. working on international development programs. Russian has been essential to every job I’ve had.”

Matt began studying Russian as an undergraduate at Pennsylvania...

Posted by Jessica Klink on January 08, 2020


Alumni Profile: Radhika Arora
“From a young age, I became interested in learning languages and exploring the cultural differences that shape the way we think about the world. The CLS Program solidified those interests and inspired a clear career pathway for me.”

Radhika Arora’s interest in the Middle East started when she...

Posted by Jessica Klink on January 02, 2020


2019 Alumni Ambassador Year in Review

Posted by Liz Sinclair on December 30, 2019


CLS in the Press

Claremont McKenna Alum Named Schwarzman Scholar

Claremont McKenna College’s William Cullen ’19 has been awarded the prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship, a fully funded one-year master’s degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Shared from Claremont McKenna College News, December 10, 2019


Browning native Curtis Longtime Sleeping honored for his Fulbright work in Korea

Curtis Longtime Sleeping, a Browning native and member of the Blackfeet Nation, recently was recognized in a ceremony at the University of North Dakota to honor UND students who’d won national scholarships or awards.

Shared from Glacier Reporter, December 05, 2019


Making history, learning languages

Rebecca King is the first student in University of Delaware history to receive both a Boren Award and Critical Language Scholarship.

Shared from UDaily, November 19, 2019