Announcing the 2017 CLS Application Due November 16
About the Program
The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully funded summer 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 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.
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.
Select Your Language
- Azerbaijani, Bangla, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Swahili, 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.
Who Can Apply
The Critical Language Scholarship Program seeks participants from a variety of fields, backgrounds, and career paths, with the goal of building a cadre of Americans who speak critical languages at high levels in government, business, arts and culture, science and engineering, health and medicine, education, research, and other fields.
The CLS Program is a nationally competed award open to all eligible U.S. undergraduate and graduate students in every field (see additional eligibility requirements below).
In order to apply for the CLS Program you must, at the time of submitting your application:
- Be a U.S. citizen.
- Non-citizens including Permanent Residents are not eligible, even if they anticipate naturalization by the beginning of the program.
- Be enrolled in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate (associate’s, bachelor’s) or graduate (master’s, doctoral, professional degree) level.
- Your program must result in a degree. Applicants who are taking stand-alone or continuing education classes are not eligible.
- Your institution must be an accredited U.S. institution. Students earning degrees at foreign colleges or universities that are not based in the U.S. or its territories are not eligible.
- You must be enrolled at your home college or university in the Fall Semester of 2016. Please read the following information carefully:
- If you are not taking classes at your home institution in the fall semester, please confirm that you are, in fact, enrolled. Institutions have different requirements to maintain enrollment status and you will be required to provide a signed letter from your registrar stating that you were enrolled during the fall semester.
- If you are taking a leave of absence to participate in an organized semester- or year-long study abroad program, or to participate in a substantive internship program, you may still be considered eligible. You will be required to submit documentation of your study abroad or internship program. Decisions will be made on a case by case basis.
- In either case, you must submit a signed letter from your home college or university in the U.S. explaining your situation and your intention to re-enroll following the completion of your study abroad or internship program.
In order to participate in the CLS Program you must, by the beginning of your program:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be in acceptable mental and physical health. Grantees will be required to submit a satisfactory Medical Information Form and Physician’s statement and must inform the program of any changes in their health status between submission of these forms and departure in order to participate in the program.
- Undergraduate students must have completed at least one academic year of study (two semesters or three quarters).
- In order to participate in the CLS Program, finalists must receive an appropriate visa from their country of study (deadlines vary by country).
- The decision to issue a visa rests solely with the government and consular mission of the country to which a student is travelling. The CLS Program, American Councils for International Education and the U.S. Department of State will assist you with your visa application, but cannot influence a foreign government’s decision of whether or not to issue a visa.
- CLS Program finalists and, in some cases, alternates may be required to work closely with CLS Program staff on preparing their paperwork well in advance of regular deadlines in order to receive a visa.
Please note that you are applying by language, not for a particular country placement. You are eligible to apply for one language only. If you submit more than one application, you will not be considered for a scholarship in any language.
The following persons are ineligible for the CLS Program:
- Current employees of the U.S. Department of State who work in offices under the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Program, in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), or for a period ending one year following the termination of such employment;
- Current 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, or for a period ending one year following the termination of their services; or
- Immediate families (i.e., spouses and dependent children) of the individuals described in the above paragraphs, or 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.
These provisions do not include part-time or temporary employees, or consultants, or interns of the U.S. Department of State (including at U.S. Embassies and Consulates), or contract employees of the U.S. Department of State, unless such persons perform services related to the Critical Language Scholarship Program.
For applicants to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Applicants to the CLS Program may apply for and receive both a CLS Program award and a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award in the same academic year. However, participants may not accept both a CLS Program award and the Fulbright Critical Language Enhancement Award, which provides supplemental critical language study funding for Fulbright U.S. Student Program grantees, in the same academic year.
If a participant receives a Fulbright grant with a mandatory pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. that falls during the CLS Program period, he or she may need to choose between accepting the CLS Program award and the Fulbright grant.
Felony and misdemeanor convictions Applicant situations involving a felony or misdemeanor conviction will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Minor traffic violations do not need to be reported as misdemeanors. Please note that the applicant may also be asked to submit supporting documentation.
University disciplinary action Applicant situations involving university disciplinary action will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Please note that the applicant may also be asked to submit supporting documentation.
Failure of an applicant to fully report felony and misdemeanor convictions or university disciplinary action will result in termination of the application.
Top Five Reasons to Apply to CLS
You will make enormous language gains. The intensive and immersive nature of the CLS program means that in two months, you have the potential to make gains that might otherwise take you years of class time and study. On average, CLS participants gain the equivalent of one-year of study in U.S. classrooms over a single summer.
CLS will help you grow as a person and a student. Your study abroad experience will open your eyes to new people and places and introduce perspectives you could get nowhere else. These perspectives will be important to your personal and professional goals.
Critical languages make you more competitive in the job market. No matter what field you are pursuing, in our globalized world, employers are often looking for employees that are culturally competent and have a global perspective. The CLS experience will give you an advantage over the competition as you enter the job market.
Countries such as India, Turkey, China, Azerbaijan, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia make up some of the world’s fastest growing economies. With the language and cultural expertise you gain through CLS, you can be a part of those burgeoning economic climates and get the on the ground experience that will set you apart.
You will become part of a vast community of language learners. Your CLS cohort will be made up of America’s brightest and most dedicated students, many of whom will go on to become leaders in their field. Make contacts that will serve you well into the future! You’ll also become a member of the 4 million-strong Department of State Alumni network.
Besides the practical aspects of CLS, you’ll make lifelong relationships with unique people. CLS emphasizes the diversity of its participants. You’ll meet people from different backgrounds and build your network with people from all over the country!
CLS participants are citizen ambassadors. You may be the first American that someone from your host country meets. You will have the opportunity to teach people about our country and culture and build relationships between the people of the United States and your host country.