Critical Language Scholarship Program | CLS Program Policies
CLS Russian participants attend a round table discussion in Tbilisi, Georgia.

CLS Program Policies

The CLS Program operates according to policies which are intended to help keep participants safe and to facilitate the goals of the program. When finalists accept the CLS award, they agree to the program policies, which are linked below.

If a finalist has questions about any aspect of CLS Program policies, they should reach out to CLS Program staff. This section highlights some important program policies.

Attendance and Participation

CLS participants are required to attend and fully participate in all CLS activities. This includes group classes, individual consultations, cultural activities and excursions, Language Partner meetings, and other activities as outlined by the host institution. Participants are required to complete all assignments, even if they did not elect to receive academic credit for the CLS Program. Failure to attend and participate in program activities or complete assignments may result in disciplinary action and possibly the termination of the scholarship. Participants are also responsible for observing satisfactory academic and professional standards and maintaining a standard of conduct and integrity that is in keeping with the spirit and intent of the CLS Program.

Absence from classes or other mandatory program activities, for reasons other than medical absences or other approved reasons will be grounds for a warning; extended absences may result in a revocation of the CLS scholarship.

When a participant gets sick, they must notify their Resident Director as soon as possible before missing class or other program activities. After missing two days of activities due to illness, students may be required to meet with a medical professional for an assessment. Please note that if a participant misses 15 hours of class total and/or four consecutive class days for medical reasons, a recommendation may be made to the U.S. Department of State to terminate the CLS award. In the event that the participant is able to keep up with classwork and homework assignments as assigned by CLS teachers after missing 15 hours of class and/or four consecutive class days for medical reasons, they may be able to continue the program.

Personal or Academic Research

CLS participants are not allowed to conduct personal research (including coursework, thesis, or dissertation writing) or other non-CLS Program academic work if it in any way detracts from full participation in CLS Program activities. Research, interviews, and/or surveying may also be prohibited by the terms of the participant’s visa.

Internet and Media

Participants are welcome to share their CLS experiences on social media throughout the summer. In addition to the participant’s own personal social media pages, CLS staff encourage participants to tag the CLS accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

When posting content online, participants should be sure that any other people present in the content are comfortable having it shared publicly, that the content is respectful in both the U.S. and host community contexts, and that the content does not violate any U.S. or local laws (which may be different than those in the U.S.) Please note that participants agree to adhere to the CLS Internet and Media Guidelines, which can be found in the CLS Terms and Conditions.

Public Gatherings

Many places worldwide have dynamic political climates and protests, demonstrations, and strikes are not uncommon. These situations can be particularly risky for foreigners. Participants should always avoid public demonstrations and areas prone to instability and disorder. Participants should be wary of any large gatherings. If a participant happens across a protest or strike, they should leave the area as quickly as possible and should not stay to take photos or “experience” the protest. Participants should not photograph crowds and should never photograph police, military personnel, or official buildings. The U.S. Embassy in each host country/location may notify U.S. citizens via e-mail of scheduled protests. Please note that CLS participants’ ASPE health benefits do not cover injuries sustained as a result of protests, demonstrations, or strikes.

Site-Specific Policies

In addition to agreeing to the Terms and Conditions when accepting the award, CLS participants are required to sign additional Site-Specific Policies related directly to their host country/location upon arrival in the host community. These policies are discussed during the pre-program orientation and the on-site orientation. Site-Specific Policies reflect sensitivities in the local context and may include a dress code, curfew, and expectations for respectful behavior.

Language Policy

During the on-site orientation, all CLS participants are required to sign the CLS language policy, which states that the participant agrees to use the CLS language at all times in certain settings. Participants are not required to speak the CLS language in emergency situations or when discussing issues of a sensitive nature. For more information about this policy, please see the Language Learning section of this guide.

Independent Travel

Participants may wish to travel independently during their free time on the CLS Program. Typically, CLS participants can pursue limited independent travel on designated days as long as such travel does not interfere with full participation in the CLS Program or violate program policies. Depending on local conditions, independent travel opportunities may be limited, or independent travel may not be permitted at all. If independent travel is permitted, participants are required to submit an independent travel form to the Resident Director at least 48 hours before traveling outside the host city. The independent travel form asks participants to indicate when and where they plan to travel, how they plan to get there, their contact information during the travel, and when they intend to return. Should a student present an independent travel plan that is unrealistic or inadvisable, they will be asked to revise their plan and submit an updated form.

Travel to any area deemed unsafe or off-limits by the U.S. Department of State or other authorities is not permitted. Specific information about this is provided during pre-program orientation and on-site orientation. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate may also provide information about areas where travel advisories have been issued. Please note that travel restrictions may change at any time before or during the summer program.

Alcohol and Drugs

A participant’s abuse of alcohol or drugs that endangers themselves or others may result in termination of the CLS award. Drinking alcohol during the CLS Program is strongly discouraged, and in some program sites, drinking alcohol is prohibited. Some CLS Program sites have additional policies regarding alcohol consumption, which are communicated to participants as part of the Site-Specific Policies. If participants do decide to drink, they should be mindful of the following:

  • CLS participants are required to follow both local and U.S. laws regarding alcohol consumption. The CLS Program prohibits the consumption of alcohol by or distribution of alcohol to participants who are not of U.S. legal drinking age.
  • Always drink in moderation. Be cautious when drinking around people you don’t know.
  • It is not advisable to take alcohol as a gift to a lunch or dinner invitation. Even in cultures where many people drink alcohol, your hosts may not drink for religious or personal reasons.

CLS has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use. Participants are prohibited from selling, using, or possessing any drugs (including marijuana) that are illegal under either U.S. or host country/location law. If a participant sells, uses, or possesses illegal drugs, their scholarship will be terminated.

Using illegal drugs is not only a health risk but also puts participants at risk for arrest and imprisonment in the host country/location. Furthermore, drugs can be tainted or contain substances other than those advertised, which can lead to an overdose or death. Additionally, misuse or abuse of prescription drugs is dangerous. Participants should not respond to the stresses of adjusting to a new culture by taking more than the prescribed dosage of either their own medication or drugs prescribed to someone else.

Sexual Harassment Policy

The full CLS Sexual Harassment Policy can be accessed in the CLS Program Terms and Conditions. For more information about the CLS Program’s response to sexual misconduct, please see the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct section of this guide.

Disciplinary Measures

In the event that a participant violates a CLS Program Policy (inclusive of Site-Specific and Language Policies), the CLS Program may issue a written warning, place the participant on probation, and/or recommend the immediate termination of the participant’s award. Please note that in the case of a single incident comprising multiple infractions, or if one infraction of program policy is deemed of great significance or severity, there may be a recommendation to move directly to a recommendation for CLS award termination. The warning system is implemented by the Resident Director in consultation with American Councils and institute staff. All warnings issued to participants will be provided to American Councils and the U.S. Department of State.