Application for CLS Spark Now Open!

Dear CLS Advisors,

We are pleased to announce the application for CLS Spark – a pilot initiative providing funded virtual opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world – is now open. 

Designed to leverage best practices in online language learning developed by the CLS Program during the pandemic, CLS Spark provides American students the access and opportunity to start their language learning journeys even when these critical languages may not be offered on their campuses or when they may have responsibilities that limit their ability to go overseas. Participants will spend an academic year learning either Arabic, Chinese or Russian through online classes and activities facilitated by native speakers at a host institution abroad.

A program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program and CLS Spark are part of a U.S. government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.

The CLS Spark program will be offered in academic year 2022 - 2023 with approximately 18 hours of virtual language instruction offered per month, as well as monthly cultural activities. 

The application is now live and available online at:

Applications are due Thursday, May 26, 2022 by 8:00pm EST.

I will host a webinar for advisors on Monday, April 11 at 3pm Eastern to go over the details of the program, how it is different from the summer overseas CLS Program, and to answer any initial questions. A recording of this webinar will be shared with our full advisor list.

Please register for Monday’s webinar here:

CLS Spark Key Benefits:

  • Full scholarship covers all instruction and a $300 stipend
  • Online language instruction and cultural enrichment experiences over the course of two eleven-week terms
  • Language gains certified with the widely recognized ACTFL OPI test
  • Automatic consideration as CLS Program semifinalists for the summer overseas 2023 CLS Program to continue their language study

CLS Spark is open to any American undergraduate student enrolled in an accredited U.S.-based degree-granting program. Preference will be given to veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and to applicants from states or institutions historically underrepresented in study abroad or in the CLS Program. 

Instruction will be provided by faculty and staff at host institutions located abroad in countries where these languages are commonly spoken. With inclusive support provided by CLS Program staff, students will improve their command of all four modalities in these languages (listening, speaking, reading, writing), participate in cultural activities once a month, and make connections with members of the host country’s community and their peers across the U.S.

The CLS Program will host frequent webinars, Q&A sessions, and alumni panels for students and advisors throughout the open application period. A full calendar of these events and corresponding registration links is available on our web site at:

If you have any questions, please contact us at:


Natalie Spencer
Assistant Manager, Outreach and Selection

The CLS Program is a program of the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, supported in its implementation by American Councils for International Education
Sent by American Councils for International Education
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Washington, D.C. 20036