Critical Language Scholarship Program | Urdu
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▼  Latest News: CLS Refresh Spotlight: Victor Yau  ▼

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 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

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

CLS News and Stories

CLS Refresh Spotlight: Victor Yau
Meet hip-hop diplomat Victor Yau! Victor is an alumnus of the 2015 CLS Korean Program in Gwangju, South Korea and the 2021 CLS Refresh Program. For Victor, what began as a fascination with Korean breaking — the proper term for ‘breakdancing’ —  has evolved into a public diplomacy career as a U…

January 26, 2022

Advisor Chat: Heather Sweetser
Meet Heather Sweetser— CLS Program Advisor, 2007 Arabic alumna and overall rockstar. Heather advises for CLS at University of New Mexico where she has taught Arabic for over seven years. Heather’s Arabic language journey began in 1998 when she enlisted as a linguist in the U.S. Army. An unsatisfact…

January 25, 2022

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

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