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

January 20: Semifinalists for the CLS Program's 2022 summer institutes have been notified of their status by email. If you submitted an application for the 2022 program and have not received a notification, please email us at cls@americancouncils.org with your Application Reference Code and we will resend the notification to you.

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 Persian language opens a door to a universe of wonders within the collective history of humankind."
    Shabbir Abbas, Persian 2020
  • "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

CLS Refresh Spotlight: Liz Adema
Meet 2016 CLS Swahili Scholar and Refresh participant, Liz Adema! Liz participated in the CLS Swahili program in Arusha, Tanzania six years ago and in the time since her motivation to learn Swahili has become even stronger.   Liz’s husband is Kenyan and…

January 14, 2022


2021 Alumni Ambassador Year in Review
In a second year with challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Alumni Ambassadors brought enthusiasm, expertise, and generosity of time to their roles supporting the CLS Program and promoting language study in their communities. We are always grateful to Alumni Ambassadors for their commitme…

January 12, 2022


Chinese Language and Identity with Alumna Sarah Sabal
Sarah Sabal is a 2021 alumna of the CLS Chinese virtual program hosted by National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Tainan, Taiwan. This past summer, Sarah brought a unique perspective to her cohort as a student with a disability and as a heritage learner of Chinese. Sarah grew up in an orphanage i…

December 13, 2021


CLS in the Press

WKU graduate awarded Rangel Fellowship toward career in the Foreign Service

WKU graduate and CLS Program alumna Keightley Dudgeon (Arabic 2018) was named a 2021 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellow. She is one of 45 fellows selected nationwide and only the second WKU student to earn this honor.

Shared from Western Kentucky University News, January 19, 2022


Hannah Cole Receives Presidential Management Fellowship

Hannah Cole

Shared from University of Hawaii at Manoa, January 14, 2022


History graduate student Andrew Howard wins critical language award to study Urdu

Ohio University graduate student Andrew Howard has been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Refresh award to study Urdu with the American Institute of India Studies.

Shared from Ohio University, November 30, 2021