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Critical Language Scholarship

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The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) is one of the most competitive scholarships in the U.S. and the most prestigious language program for U.S. citizens. It provides fully-funded group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences for 8-10 weeks for undergraduate, Master’s and Ph.D. students. The program takes place in a country where the critical language is spoken. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Applicants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers. The scholarship covers travel between the U.S., Washington D.C., and the CLS program country, visa application fees, language instruction, room and board, program-sponsored travel, U.S. academic credit, Oral Proficiency Interview language assessment and all entrance fees for program activities.

Scholarship Amount

Program fees, and a travel stipend

Annual Number of Scholarships Awarded

  • ~600 per year


  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be an undergraduate or graduate student
  • Be at least 18 years of age by May 15th of the award year
  • If you are an undergraduate, you have to have completed at least 1 full-year of study by the start of the award
  • Be at the appropriate level of the desired language of study:
    • No previous study required:
      • Azerbaijani
      • Bangla
      • Hindi
      • Indonesian
      • Persian
      • Punjabi
      • Swahili
      • Turkish
      • Urdu
    • 1-year of study required:
      • Arabic
      • Korean
      • Portuguese
      • Russian
    • 2 years or more of study required:
      • Chinese
      • Japanese

Selection Criteria

  • Academic excellence
  • Potential to succeed in a rigorous academic setting
  • Commitment to language learning
  • Clear connection between target language and career/academic goals described in the essays
  • Ability to adapt to an intensive program and a challenging cultural environment
  • Potential contributions to the CLS program and program goals
  • Preference may be given to candidates with limited or no previous study abroad experience

Application Material

  • CLS Application
    • Resilience Essay
    • Preparation for the CLS Program Essay
    • Citizen Diplomacy Essay
    • Commitment to Language Study Essay
    • Statement of Purpose
  • CV/Resume
  • Transcripts
  • 2 letters of recommendation


University Deadline:

National Deadline:


Mid-September: Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Application Opens

November 14, 2023 by 6 pm MST: National Deadline

Late January/Early February: Notification of semi-finalists

March: Notification of selection

Length of Scholarship

8-10 weeks

Scholarship Website


Contact Information