Critical Language Scholarship Program | The Critical Language…
U.S. Flag   State Department Seal   A Program of the U.S. Department of State

The summer 2022 application is now closed. The deadline for recommendation letters is November 19, 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

Speech Bubble Icon
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.

Two People Icon
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.

United States Map Icon
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
  • "The Persian language opens a door to a universe of wonders within the collective history of humankind."
    Shabbir Abbas, Persian 2020
  • Just having conversations with people and being open with them about what we did culturally where I’m from; I’ve always wanted to share that with people.
    Marcus Dunn, Korean 2011
  • "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

CLS News and Stories

CHamoru Language and Culture with Alumna Emily Wood
From child­hood Emi­ly Wood (Indone­sian 2018) was inter­est­ed in under­stand­ing her CHamoru her­itage. Grow­ing up in a pre­dom­i­nant­ly white area in the con­ti­nen­tal U.S., how­ev­er, she had few oppor­tu­ni­ties. When Emi­ly saw the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take CHamoru lan­guage class­es online, she jumped at it. Since…

November 19, 2021


2022 Alumni Ambassador Application
Are you inter­est­ed in shar­ing your expe­ri­ence while sup­port­ing and pro­mot­ing the CLS Pro­gram? The appli­ca­tion to become a 2022 CLS Alum­ni Ambas­sador is now open! Who are CLS Alum­ni Ambas­sadors? CLS Alum­ni Ambas­sadors take lead­er­ship roles as active and pos­i­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the CLS

November 08, 2021


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


CLS in the Press

Where I Lead: Victoria Hightower

Feature on CLS advisor Dr. Victoria Hightower - a professor in the Department of History, Anthropology and Philosophy and Assistant Director of the National Competitive Scholarships (NCS) Office at the University of North Georgia.

Shared from University of North Georgia, November 22, 2021


Pickering Fellowship Provides Pathways to Global Careers

CLS alumnus Colin Walsh (Bangla 2013) reflects on why the disability community should be involved in Department of State fellowships and careers.

Shared from Mobility International USA, October 29, 2021


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