Graduate Funding Information Service

October 15, 2019

Critical Language Scholarship Program

Application Deadline: November 19, 2019, 8pm ET

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Students spend eight to ten weeks abroad studying one of 15 critical languages. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS, a program of the U.S. Department of State, is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.

Most languages offered by the CLS Program do not require applicants to have any experience studying critical languages. The CLS Program seeks participants with diverse interests, and from a wide range of fields of study and career paths, with the purpose of representing the full diversity of the United States. Participants are selected based on their commitment to language learning and plans to apply their language skills to their future academic or professional pursuits. Please note that CLS is an intensive group-based language program.

The CLS Program offers instruction in fifteen critical languages:

  • No Previous Study Required: Azerbaijani, Bangla, Hindi, Indonesian, Persian, Punjabi, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu
  • One Year of Study Required: Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, Russian
  • Two Years of Study Required: Chinese, Japanese


For a complete list of eligibility criteria, click here. Below we offer just a few of the key eligibility points:


  • Be a U.S. citizen or national at the time of your application.
    • Others, 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 at the time of your application.
    • 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 institutions that are not based in the U.S. or its territories are not eligible, even if those institutions are accredited by a recognized U.S. accrediting agency.
  • You must be enrolled at this institution in the fall term of 2019.  Limited exceptions apply; please read the following information carefully:
    • If you are not taking classes at your home institution in the fall term, 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 term.

For more information about this opportunity, including how to apply, click here.