Critical Language Scholarship Program | Urdu
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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.


  • 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
  • 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
  • "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

CLS News and Stories

Announcing CLS Refresh

The CLS Program is pleased to announce CLS Refresh, a new language learning opportunity for CLS alumni. To support alumni in their continued commitment to critical languages, individualized virtual language instruction will be offered for approximately 220 CLS alumni beginning in October 2021,...

August 18, 2021


2021 Alumni Photo Contest

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the CLS Program, we are pleased to invite alumni from all program years to enter the 2021 CLS Alumni Photo Contest.

Submissions will be accepted through Friday, September 10, 2021 and each entry should fall into one of four categories:

Mutual...

August 10, 2021


U.S. Government Issues Statement in Support of International Education

This week, as part of the opening of the EducationUSA Forum, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona announced a Joint Statement of Principles in support of international education with support from the Departments of Commerce and Homeland...

July 27, 2021


Announcing finalists for the 2021 CLS Summer Program

We are pleased to announce the full list of scholars awarded with the Critical Language Scholarship this summer to participate in intensive summer language institutes in fifteen different languages critical to America's national security and economic prosperity.

The list of scholars for...

June 16, 2021


CLS in the Press

Kalamazoo Alum Awarded Critical Language Scholarship, Pursues Master’s in Taiwan

Daniel Mota-Villegas, a new Kalamazoo College Posse alum, graduated last spring with degrees in East Asian studies, political science and psychology. He has been selected for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, a prestigious fellowship for American students learning critical foreign languages.

Shared from Posse Foundation, September 10, 2021


3 receive Department of State scholarships to study languages

Three Florida Gulf Coast University students recently wrapped up an intensive summer program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State designed to immerse participants in the study of foreign languages that have been deemed vital to the nation’s economic and security interests.

Shared from Florida Gulf Coast University, September 03, 2021


Fellowships Grant Gusties Life-Changing Opportunities

Fellowships Office coordinator and CLS Program advisor Pamela Kittelson sits down to talk about applying for fellowships and why Gusties should take advantage.

Shared from Gustavus Adolphus College News, September 01, 2021