The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully-funded overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, CLS provides study opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning. The CLS Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
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. Please visit the CLS Institutes page for more information.
The thirteen CLS languages are: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu. Please note that participants in the CLS Program are not required to have any experience studying critical languages for most of the thirteen languages. Arabic, Chinese, Persian, Russian, and Japanese institutes have language prerequisites, which can be found on the CLS website.
Specific Eligibility Criteria
- All applicants must be U.S. citizens.*
- Applicants must be currently enrolled in a U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate or graduate level in the following Fall
- Current undergraduate students must have completed at least one year of general college course-work by program start date (one year is defined as two semesters or three quarters).
- Applicants must be in acceptable mental and physical health. Grantees will be required to submit a satisfactory Medical Information Form and Physician’s Statement.
- Applicants must be 18 years old by the beginning of the CLS Program.
Students in all disciplines, including business, engineering, law, medicine, sciences, and humanities are encouraged to apply.
*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.
Ineligibility: CLS applicants cannot be:
- Employees of the U.S. Department of State, for a period ending one year following the termination of such employment. This provision does not include part- time or temporary employees, consultants, and contract employees of the Department of State, unless such persons perform services related to the Bureau's exchange programs;
- Employees of private and public agencies (excluding educational institutions) under contract to the U.S. Department of State to perform services related to exchange programs, for a period ending one year following the termination of their services; or
- Immediate families (i.e., spouses and dependent children) of individuals described in the above paragraphs, for a period ending one year following the termination of such employment. This provision does not disqualify self-supporting members of families who live apart from their parents.
Participants may not accept both the Fulbright Critical Language Enhancement Award, part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, and a CLS award in the same academic year. In addition, if a participant receives a Fulbright grant with a mandatory pre-departure orientation in Washington, DC, he or she may need to choose between accepting the CLS award and the Fulbright grant.