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CLS Scholars in Okayama, Japan learn about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
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

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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.

  • 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
  • Diplomatic representation of the monolith that is the United States military is very similar to the citizen diplomacy aspect of the CLS Program. You cannot begin to understand culture without the language component. With the CLS Program, you gain authenticity by learning the language.
    Andrea Howard, Azerbaijani 2015
  • 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

CLS News and Stories

Alumni Profile: Imani Everett

Imani Everett is an alumna of the 2020 CLS Korean institute hosted by Chonnam National University in Gwangju, South Korea. She’s an undergraduate sociology major at Virginia Commonwealth University and will graduate in 2022. She also works as an Education Coach for ACE-IT in College at VCU, an...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on May 10, 2021

Alumni Profile: Ramil Mercado

Ramil Mercado is an alumnus of the 2020 CLS Indonesian virtual institute hosted by Universitas Negeri Malang in Malang, Indonesia. He’s a recent graduate of University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in political science and Asian studies and minored in Southeast Asian studies.


Posted by Liz Sinclair on May 10, 2021

Alumni Profile: Liz George

Liz George is an alumna of the 2020 CLS Hindi virtual institute hosted by the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur, India. She’s a graduate of Wayne State University, with a Master of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in biology. She’s currently a Project Coordinator at the Michigan...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on May 10, 2021

Alumni Profile: Daniel Rothberg

Daniel Rothberg is an alumnus of the 2020 CLS Russian virtual institute hosted by National Research Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. He’s a 2020 graduate of Oberlin College with a bachelor’s degree in Russian and Eastern European studies, Russian language, and political...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on May 10, 2021

CLS in the Press

Oregon Garden Challenge offers free seed packets

Halie Cousineau (Indonesian 2016), State Wide Garden Coordinator for Oregon State University discusses the Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge

Shared from The Oregonian, May 12, 2021

Murray State University graduate of Portuguese program wins prestigious scholarship

Cameron Garcia, a graduate of the online Portuguese Language and Culture certification program in Murray State University’s department of global languages and theatre arts, has been awarded a prestigious Critical Language Scholarship to study at the University of Santa Catarina in Brazil.

Shared from Murray Ledger and Times, May 11, 2021

A Taste of China

When her Critical Language Scholarship to China went virtual because of COVID, Maria Kisker (Chinese 2020) got a six-week sampler of the country and its language through her computer screen.

Shared from Washington and Lee University News, May 11, 2021