Exclusive to CLS Advisors: 2024 CLS Pre-Launch Updates

Dear CLS Advisors, 

We are excited to announce the application for the U.S. Department of State’s 2024 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, including its virtual initiative, CLS Spark will open Tuesday, October 3! We welcome your U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to apply to study a critical language on a funded overseas or virtual summer program. 

The application will be available at https://clscholarship.org/apply. The deadline for applications is 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, November 14, 2023.

The 2024 CLS Program and application has a number of small but important changes. We will host a pre-launch webinar for all advisors on Monday, October 2 at 2 PM ET to cover these updates in more detail and invite you to register for the event. Afterward, a recording of the webinar will be made available to registrants. 

Languages and Levels Offered

  • Chinese (Mandarin) language will now be offered for applicants with one year of prior study. Applicants will now be able to apply to the advanced beginning level of Chinese (one year of prior study or equivalent experience) in addition to the intermediate and advanced levels.
  • Bangla will not be offered as part of the 2024 CLS Program. We have made this decision after careful consideration with our partners. The CLS Program will continue to support alumni of the Bangla program. 
  • CLS Spark will continue to be offered for applicants at the beginning level for U.S. undergraduates only for Arabic, Chinese and Russian. 

CLS Program Application Changes

  • The prompts and titles for three short-answer essays have been finetuned. Each one now has a maximum limit of 300 words.
    • Citizen Diplomacy and Mutual Understanding
    • Preparation for the CLS Program
    • Commitment to Language Study
  • The statement of purpose has been replaced with a personal statement. The word limit of 500 remains the same.

CLS Spark Application Changes

  • The second short-answer essay on access to language learning opportunities has been finetuned to focus on the barriers an applicant has faced. The word limit is now 300 words.

CLS Website

  • The left-hand navigation menu has been replaced with a horizontal menu across the top of the page and new pages are in the works! Please clear your browser’s cache in order to get the full experience on the CLS website.

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 clsadvisors@americancouncils.org

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. 


Caitlin Ting
Assistant Manager, Outreach & 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
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