Critical Language Scholarship Program | The CLS Program Launches CLS…

The CLS Program Launches CLS Spark, a New Initiative Focused on Access

We are pleased to announce CLS Spark – a pilot initiative providing funded virtual opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world. Designed to leverage best practices in online language learning developed by the CLS Program during the pandemic, CLS Spark provides American students the access and opportunity to start their language learning journeys even when these critical languages may not be offered on their campuses or when they may have responsibilities that limit their ability to go overseas. Participants will spend an academic year learning either Arabic, Chinese or Russian through online classes and activities facilitated by native speakers at a host institution abroad.

A program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program and CLS Spark are part of a U.S. government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.

The CLS Spark program will be offered in academic year 2022 - 2023 with approximately 18 hours of virtual language instruction offered per month, as well as monthly cultural activities.

The application for the CLS Spark Program is open now! Applications are due Thursday, May 26, 2022 by 8:00pm EST.

The application is now live and available online at:

CLS Spark Key Benefits:

  • Full scholarship covers all instruction and a $300 stipend
  • Online language instruction and cultural enrichment experiences over the course of two eleven-week terms
  • Language gains certified with the widely recognized ACTFL OPI test
  • Automatic consideration as CLS Program semifinalists for the summer overseas 2023 CLS Program to continue their language study

CLS Spark is open to any American undergraduate student enrolled in an accredited U.S.-based degree-granting program. Preference will be given to veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and to applicants from states or institutions historically underrepresented in study abroad or in the CLS Program.

Instruction will be provided by faculty and staff at host institutions located abroad in countries where these languages are commonly spoken. With inclusive support provided by CLS Program staff, students will improve their command of all four modalities in these languages (listening, speaking, reading, writing), participate in cultural activities once a month, and make connections with members of the host country’s community and their peers across the U.S. More information about the Spark program can be found at:

The CLS Program will host frequent webinars, Q&A sessions, and alumni panels for students and advisors throughout the open application period. A full calendar of these events and corresponding registration links is available on our web site at:

If you have any questions, please contact us at: