The CLS Program application launches at the beginning of October--here's what's new!

Dear Colleagues, 

We hope you are doing well and that the beginning of the school year is off to a smooth start! We know many of you are gearing up for a busy fall semester of advising and we wanted to provide a few updates from the CLS Program in advance of our application launch, which is tentatively slated for October 4, 2022

We will host a webinar for all advisors at 3:00PM ET on September 29 to cover these updates in more detail and invite you to register for that event. We will also be contacting you soon with a list of webinars and events during the application period for you and your students to learn more about the program.

  • Languages/Levels Offered
    • Portuguese language will now be offered for applicants at all levels. Applicants will now be able to apply to beginning-level Portuguese (no previous experience), in addition to the advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced.
    • Punjabi will not be offered as part of the 2023 CLS Program. We have made this decision after careful consideration with our partners. The CLS Program will continue to support alumni of the Punjabi program. 
  • Program Eligibility
    • There is no limit to the number of times an applicant can participate in the CLS Program, which removes a previous limit established in 2018. 
  • CLS Spark Changes
    • CLS Spark is a pilot initiative of the CLS Program, which was developed to provide access and equity to language learning opportunities, especially at the beginning levels, to U.S. undergraduate students.  CLS Spark welcomed its first cohort of 85 U.S. students this fall for virtual instruction in Arabic, Chinese and Russian. Beginning next year, the CLS Spark program will be offered concurrently with the CLS institutes abroad during the summer. We will accept applications for 2023 CLS Spark on the same timeline as the CLS overseas institutes this fall. Applicants will choose as part of the application which program they are applying to: the summer study abroad program or the virtual summer program.
    • CLS Spark will be offered for applicants at the beginninglevel for U.S. undergraduates only for Arabic, Chinese and Russian. 
  • Application Changes
    • The first two short essays (Resilience and Preparation for the CLS Program, respectively) from last year’s application have been combined into a single essay prompt titled Resilience and Preparation for the CLS Program. Applicants will address the following prompts in 300 words: 
      • What aspects of living in a host community and participating in the CLS Program do you expect will be the most challenging for you?
      • What knowledge, skills, and experiences will you draw on to meet these challenges?
      • Give an example of a situation that required you to use strategies for interacting with people who are different from you or a situation that was unfamiliar.
    • Applicants will no longer be asked to submit a letter of recommendation along with their application.

We hope you will join us for the webinar to learn more about these changes. If you are unable to do so, please reach out to us with any questions at

We appreciate all your work in promoting the CLS Program and in helping your students navigate the application process. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to better support your efforts. 

Best wishes,

Andrew McCullough
Critical Language Scholarship Program
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
1828 L Street NW, Suite 1200
Washington, D.C. 20036