Critical Language Scholarship (CLS)

National Deadline: November 16, 2016

Critical Language Scholarship


A program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program offers intensive summer language institutes in thirteen critical foreign languages. 

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.

Languages Offered

  • Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, and Urdu: Beginning, advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels;
  • Arabic and Persian: Advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels;
  • Chinese, Japanese, and Russian: Intermediate and advanced levels.

Program Benefits 

  • International and domestic travel between the participant’s U.S. home city, Washington, D.C., and the CLS Program site;
  • Related costs for a mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation in Washington, D.C.;
  • Applicable visa fees, language instruction, room, board, program sponsored travel within the host country;
  • All entrance fees for CLS Program cultural enhancement activities; and
  • U.S. academic credit.

Eligibility Criteria 

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
  • At the time of application, applicants must be enrolled at an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate (associate’s, bachelor’s) or graduate (master’s, doctoral, or professional degree) level.
  • Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited degree-granting institution that is physically located in the United States or its territories. U.S. students enrolled in a degree-granting program at a foreign college or university are not eligible for the scholarship. Students currently on a semester or yearlong program abroad are eligible as long as they are still currently enrolled as a degree-seeking student at their home college or university, or if they intend to return to their degree-granting program and institution in the U.S.
  • Undergraduate students must have completed at least one academic year of study at the college level by the program start date (two semesters or three quarters).
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old by the start of the summer program.
  • Applicants must be in acceptable mental and physical health. Grantees will be required to submit a satisfactory Medical Information Form and Physician’s Statement.
  • Ability to participate in the CLS Program is contingent upon an applicant’s ability to receive a visa to the CLS institute host country. Although the CLS Program will work with awarded students to secure a visa for the CLS institute host country, the program cannot be held responsible for other countries’ visa requirements and/or the denial of a student’s application for a visa. CLS awards are contingent upon the participant securing a host-country visa, and all awardees must meet deadlines and host country requirements set for obtaining a visa.

Please visit the CLS page for more information.