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 opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning.
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 and cultural enrichment program.
The CLS Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The CLS Program offers instruction in fourteen critical languages:
|No Previous Study Required||One Year of Study Required||Two Years of Study Required|
The CLS Program covers many of the costs of participating in its overseas institutes, including:
- Intensive overseas group based language courses (20+ hours per week)
- Room and board, often with a host family
- A full cultural program
- Host community language partners
- U.S. academic credit issued through Bryn Mawr College
- Domestic and international airfare
Participants receive a small stipend to cover incidental expenses and meals not provided by the program. Upon completion of the program, participants also receive a certified American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) score.
CLS Program institutes cover approximately one academic year of university-level language coursework during an eight- to ten-week program and are designed to meet the needs of students from a variety of language levels and backgrounds. Some CLS institutes require one to two years of prior language study (or the equivalent), while others accept students with no prior background in the language.
Formal classroom language instruction is provided for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Extracurricular activities are designed to supplement the formal curriculum, including regular one-on-one meetings with native speaker language partners for conversational practice, as well as cultural activities and excursions designed to expand students’ understanding of the history, politics, culture and daily life of their host country.