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Critical Language Scholarship (CLS)

Important Dates

National Application Deadline (Application Period): 
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Date of information session event / application workshop: 
Thursday, February 3, 2022 - 16:00

Application Materials


Open to: 
Graduate students
Eligibility requirements: 

To be eligible for the CLS Scholarship Program applicants must:

·      Be a U.S. citizen at the time of application

·      Be currently enrolled in a U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate or graduate level at the time of application

·      Be at least 18 years old by May 15th of the year of the CLS Program

·      Current undergraduate students must have completed at least one year of general college course-work by the CLS program start date (one year is defined as two semesters or three quarters) 

Applicants may only apply once, for one language program, each summer. Applicants who submit multiple applications will be considered ineligible. Participation is limited to a total of two CLS awards for any individual. 


Application Process: 


The Critical Language Scholarship Program does not have a campus process. The application process is lengthy and requires many months of preparation.

Should I apply?

Important information, which can help you determine if the Critical Language Scholarship Program is right for you, can be found here:

Additional information on the Critical Language Scholarship Program, including application criteria, can be found at:

Additional information on the CLS Spark Program, including application criteria, can be found at:

Additional Information


How the ORC can help

After reading this website and the official Critical Language Scholarship Program website you should fill out the ORC Interest Form (located at either the top of this page or our ORC homepage). Next, attend an info session. The schedule for current info sessions can be found on the lower left of our ORC homepage:

CLS offers many webinar information sessions:

Amount Awarded: 
Round-trip travel, orientation in Washington DC, visa fees, room, board, group-based intensive language instruction, course materials, CLS cultural enrichment activities, small living stipend. Undergraduate academic credit is offered through Bryn Mawr.

About the Critical Language Scholarship Program

As part of the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI), the U.S. State Department's Critical Language Scholarships provide funding for U.S. citizen undergraduate, Master’s and Ph.D. students to participate in beginning, intermediate and/or advanced level summer language programs overseas at American Councils for International Education and affiliated partners. 

Languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu.   

The CLS Program is pleased to announce the addition of Brazilian Portuguese and that Swahili will be offered at the beginning through advanced levels.  Please note that participants in the CLS Program are not required to have any experience studying critical languages for most of the fifteen languages.   (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Persian, and Russian institutes have language prerequisites.)     

Programs range from 8 to 10 weeks, beginning in early to mid-June with a pre-departure orientation in the U.S. Students must attend the full program and participate in all program activities.  Students in all disciplines including business, engineering, law, medicine, sciences and humanities are encouraged to apply.  

The national dealine for the CLS Scholarship Program is usually in the Fall, in late November. 


NEW! CLS Spark Program 

The U.S Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Spark Program is a pilot initiative providing virtual opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world. 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. Selected 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.

CLS Spark will offer Arabic and Russian instruction for students with no previous experience in these languages, and Chinese instruction for students with one year of experience (advanced beginners).

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 national deadline for the CLS Spark Program is May 26, 2022.