Critical Language Scholarship Program | The Critical Language…
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Eligibility and Requirements

To be eligible for CLS Spark applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or national at the time of their application.
    • Others, including Permanent Residents, are not eligible, even if they anticipate naturalization by the beginning of the program.
  • Be enrolled and working towards a degree in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate (associate's or bachelor's) level at the time of their application.
    • Applicant academic institutions must be accredited U.S. institutions. Students earning degrees at foreign institutions that are not based in the U.S. or its territories are not eligible, even if those institutions are accredited by a recognized U.S. accrediting agency.
    • Be enrolled at this academic institution in the spring term of 2022.
      • If an applicant is not taking classes at their home institution in the spring term, they must confirm that they are, in fact, enrolled. Institutions have different requirements to maintain enrollment status and applicants will be required to provide a signed letter from their registrar stating that they were enrolled during the spring term.
    • Applicants must remain in good academic standing at their institution to remain eligible.
  • Be at least 18 years old by September 1, 2022.
  • Applicants may only apply once per application cycle for a single language. Applicants who submit multiple applications will be considered ineligible.
  • Participation in CLS Spark is limited to one award per individual.

The following persons are ineligible for CLS Spark:

  • Individuals who have been selected for and participated in the CLS Program (CLS Program alumni).
  • Employees of the U.S. Department of State who work in offices under the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs, in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), for a period ending one year following the termination of such employment;
  • Employees of private and public agencies under contract or grant with the U.S. Department of State who perform services related to the Critical Language Scholarship Program, for a period ending one year following the termination of their services; and
  • Immediate family members (i.e., spouses and dependent children) of the individuals described in the above paragraphs, for a period ending one year following the termination of such employment or service. This provision does not disqualify self-supporting members of families who live apart from their parents.

These provisions do not extend to part-time or temporary employees, consultants, or interns of the U.S. Department of State (including at U.S. Embassies and Consulates), or to contract employees of the U.S. Department of State, unless such persons perform services related to the Critical Language Scholarship Program.

Program Requirements

With reasonable accommodations, each participant must:

  • Have reliable internet access and some type of electronic device to participate in live classes weekly including the ability to be on camera and use a microphone.
  • Complete pre-program orientation virtual sessions (both recorded and live).
  • Complete pre-program proficiency and placement testing (Chinese only).
  • Maintain an 80% rate of attendance and completion of homework assignments.
  • Complete mid- and post-program surveys.
  • Complete post-program proficiency testing.

In addition, if you are selected for a CLS Spark award, you must agree to the terms and conditions of the award. The award terms and conditions are revised on an annual basis.