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The application for the 2022 summer program is now live! The deadline to apply is November 16, 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 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
  • "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

CLS News and Stories

Meet CLS Hindi Instructor Neelam Singh
Nee­lam Singh is an instruc­tor for the 2021 CLS Vir­tu­al Hin­di pro­gram host­ed by the Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Indi­an Stud­ies (AIIS). Hav­ing worked for AIIS in India for most of her career, Nee­lam Ji has inter­act­ed with well over 1,000 U.S. stu­dents who come to Jaipur, India each sum­mer to learn Hindi.…

October 05, 2021


The 2022 CLS Program Application
We are pleased to announce that the appli­ca­tion for the 2022 Crit­i­cal Lan­guage Schol­ar­ship (CLS) Pro­gram is now open! We wel­come Amer­i­can stu­dents to apply now to learn a crit­i­cal for­eign lan­guage next sum­mer on a ful­ly-fund­ed study abroad pro­gram. The appli­ca­tion is now live and avail­able online…

October 04, 2021


Medical student learns about Korea’s approach to the pandemic during CLS program
This past sum­mer, Sarah Schrad­er par­tic­i­pat­ed in the CLS Kore­an pro­gram host­ed by Chon­nam Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty in Gwangju, South Korea. A micro­bi­ol­o­gy PhD and med­ical stu­dent, Sarah saw her CLS pro­gram as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to not only improve her Kore­an lan­guage but gain valu­able insights on Korea’s…

September 27, 2021


Announcing CLS Refresh
The CLS Pro­gram is pleased to announce CLS Refresh, a new lan­guage learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for CLS alum­ni. To sup­port alum­ni in their con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to crit­i­cal lan­guages, indi­vid­u­al­ized vir­tu­al lan­guage instruc­tion will be offered for approx­i­mate­ly 220 CLS alum­ni begin­ning in Octo­ber 2021, at…

August 18, 2021


CLS in the Press

UOG’s first Critical Language Scholars gain appreciation of heritage and multicultural learning

Lourdes Mafnas (Indonesian 2021) and Monita Paul (Bangla 2021) were the first University of Guam students to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship Program. Mafnas, a graduate environmental science student, and Paul, an undergraduate biology major, were chosen for the eight-week program from a pool of 4,600 national applicants.

Shared from University of Guam, October 21, 2021


An American in Dushanbe: How Studying Persian in Tajikistan Affects U.S. Students’ Language Learning

An article coauthored by alumna Leora Eisenberg (Persian 2017) abuot learning Persian in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Shared from The Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs, October 20, 2021


ASU alum uses global mindset in entrepreneurship

Growing up on an expansive farm in rural Arkansas, Sophie Aigner (Indonesian 2011) had an interest in other cultures from a very early age. It is only natural, then, that in her career the Arizona State University global studies alum would have a global mindset.

Shared from ASU News, October 08, 2021