Five CLS Program participants in Jordan watch the sunset in the desert. ▼  Alumni Profile: Rena Wang  ▼

The application for the 2020 Summer CLS Program is now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted an application. The competition for summer 2021 will open in the Fall of 2020.

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.


Languages Offered


Students in Jaipur, India

Key Benefits

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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.

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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.

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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.


Featured Alumni

Amanda Barbour
Arabic 2010
Tunis, Tunisia
Rena Wang
Chinese 2018
Changchun, China
Saumya Kini
Japanese 2010
Kyoto, Japan
Erin Smith
Arabic 2011
Amman, Jordan

CLS News and Stories

Alumni Profile: Amanda Barbour

Amanda Barbour participated in CLS Arabic program in Tunis, Tunisia in 2010 as an undergraduate student at the University at Buffalo.

“[Participating on the CLS Program] influenced the trajectory of my study. I completed my undergraduate work shortly after my summer in CLS and eventually...

Posted by Jessica Klink on December 04, 2019


Alumni Profile: Rena Wang

“Language is so much more than the ability to communicate. It’s the ability to understand the thoughts, values and culture of others. Language overcomes barriers, opens up our minds to new perspectives and allows us to empathize and realize our shared humanity.”

Rena uses Chinese every...

Posted by Jessica Klink on November 26, 2019


The CLS Program at the Annual ACTFL Conference

The 2019 Annual Convention and World Languages Expo for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages kicked off this week in Washington, D.C. and staff from the CLS Program were there to meet with our colleagues and alumni from across the United States, and all over the world. The...

Posted by Andrew McCullough on November 22, 2019


Alumni Profile: Saumya Kini

Saumya Kini is an alumna of the first CLS Japanese Program in 2010 and is a current Fulbright fellow living in Okayama, Japan. She participated in the program as a junior at the University of Oregon, where she studied architecture and Japanese.

"CLS was really instrumental to me for...

Posted by Jackie Albright on November 22, 2019


CLS in the Press

Browning native Curtis Longtime Sleeping honored for his Fulbright work in Korea

Curtis Longtime Sleeping, a Browning native and member of the Blackfeet Nation, recently was recognized in a ceremony at the University of North Dakota to honor UND students who’d won national scholarships or awards.

Shared from Glacier Reporter, December 05, 2019


Making history, learning languages

Rebecca King is the first student in University of Delaware history to receive both a Boren Award and Critical Language Scholarship.

Shared from UDaily, November 19, 2019


Domestic student profile: Angel Trachta

University of Iowa student Angel Trachta received a Critical Language Scholarship Award to study Korean in 2019.

Shared from The University of Iowa, November 19, 2019