U.S. Flag   State Department Seal   A Program of the U.S. Department of State
Five CLS Program participants in Jordan watch the sunset in the desert. ▼  Alumni Profile: Ezra Baker  ▼

On March 11, 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued Global Level 3 Health Advisory – Reconsider Travel. In light of this Travel Advisory, the CLS Program is suspending all CLS summer language institutes for 2020. The health and well-being of CLS Program participants is our most important consideration. The application for the summer 2021 CLS Program is expected to be available 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

Speech Bubble Icon
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.

Two People Icon
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.

United States Map Icon
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

Andrea Howard
Azerbaijani 2015
Baku, Azerbaijan
John Krzyzaniak
Persian 2016
Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Lauren Chow
Indonesian 2018
Malang, Indonesia
Dana Fager
Japanese 2011
Kyoto, Japan

CLS News and Stories

Alumni Profile: Ezra Baker

“Language learning will always be a part of my life. I am so grateful for the doors that the CLS Program has opened for me .”

Ezra Baker studied Economics and French at Ohio State University, and wanted to broaden his horizons to learn a more challenging and less commonly taught language....

Posted by Jessica Klink on June 01, 2020


Announcing the CLS Virtual Institutes for Summer 2020

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is pleased to announce CLS Virtual Institutes in six critical languages in summer 2020 for a limited number of participants. CLS Virtual Institutes will provide remote language instruction and cultural learning in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean,...

Posted by Andrew McCullough on May 29, 2020


Alumni Profile: Emily Cramer
“I cannot overstate the value of the CLS Program. It changed my life and what I have been able to do as a student and as a professional. I’m so excited for the waves that the CLS Program will continue to make in my life and the way CLS will continue to change the lives of American...

Posted by Jessica Klink on May 25, 2020


Alumni Profile: Leona Amosah

Leona Amosah is a heritage speaker of Russian and went on to study the language and Russian literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Russian literature classes enabled them to connect more deeply with the history and culture of Russia, and helped prepare Leona for their...

Posted by Jessica Klink on May 18, 2020


CLS in the Press

Students win prestigious national scholarships for language

Dashiell Hunter ’22, was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Arabic.

Shared from Connecticut College, June 02, 2020


How the Critical Language Scholarship has prepared me for the global workforce

CLS Chinese alumnus Ryan Mills reflects on the value of his time in Dalian on the CLS Program.

Shared from LinkedIn, May 26, 2020


UK International Center Announces Global Impact Award Winners

CLS advisor Patricia Whitlow wins University of Kentucky's Global Impact Award for Distinguished Staff Achievement in Campus Internationalization.

Shared from University of Kentucky News, May 26, 2020