▼  Alumni Profile: Erin Smith  ▼

The application for the 2020 summer CLS Program is now live! Find more information in the announcement, and start an application. The application deadline is November 19, 2019.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a summer study abroad opportunity for American college and university students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world.

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.

Each summer, CLS provides rigorous academic instruction in fifteen languages essential to America’s engagement with the world. CLS participants are citizen ambassadors, sharing American values and promoting American influence abroad.


Languages Offered



Apply for CLS Now

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Key Benefits

Develop Key Expertise

The CLS Program provides its scholars intensive language and cultural instruction in an environment designed to maximize their language gains at every level.

Career Ready Skills

Alumni apply their critical language skills in a variety of professional fields in public and private sectors as well as government, helping to support America’s competitiveness across the board.

Citizen Diplomacy

CLS scholars represent the breadth and diversity of the United States. Through personal engagement they help to spread American values and develop mutual understanding with the people of other countries.


Featured Alumni

Erin Smith
Arabic 2011
Amman, Jordan
Tara Lynch-Ornstein
Persian 2007
Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Chelsea McGill
Bangla 2011
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Rachel Sider
Arabic 2012
Rabat, Morocco

CLS News and Stories

Alumni Profile: Tara Lynch-Ornstein

“CLS equipped me with valuable experience and knowledge that I continue to use in my work every day. Participating in the CLS Program opened many doors to incredible professional opportunities that enable me to apply the experience I gained in Tajikistan to global health research and service...

Posted by Jessica Klink on November 11, 2019


Video: Host Families

Host families and roommates are one of the most important elements of the CLS Program. They help enhance students’ language acquisition and cultural adaptation, and give students the opportunity to practice speaking in a comfortable environment. More than anything, alumni describe the...

Posted by Syejeong Kim on November 06, 2019


Video: A Day in the Life of a CLS Participant

Every day on the CLS Program brings new challenges and rewards! Listen to the stories of CLS Program alumni Camille, Cheyenne, Elinor, Jacqueline and Tucker, as they talk us through a day in the life of a participant.

Posted by Syejeong Kim on November 06, 2019


Alumni Profile: Chelsea McGill

When Chelsea McGill went to Bangladesh on the CLS Program in 2011, it was her first time outside of the United States. After eight weeks navigating a completely new environment, culture and language, she knew that it wouldn’t be the last.

“Looking back, my decision to apply for Bangla has...

Posted by Jessica Klink on November 06, 2019


CLS in the Press

Podcast Seeks Greater Understanding Between Appalachia and Arab World

People on the outside looking in often misunderstand Appalachia’s cultural ways and traditions. Those same attitudes are often leveled at people from the Middle East. The new student podcast Sandstone, by Clara Haizlett, seeks to introduce people from both cultures, with the aim of developing greater understanding between them.

Shared from WV Public Broadcasting, November 15, 2019


Letter: It's time for ND college students to 'get loud'

Opinion article written by University of North Dakota CLS advisor Yee Han Chu encouraging students in North Dakota to apply for competitive awards.

Shared from Inforum News, November 15, 2019


Appalachian Faces: Clara Haizlett Connects Appalachia and Arabia

Clara Haizlett (Arabic 2017) received funding through the Alumni Development Fund to start a podcast project called the “Sandstone Podcast,” which is designed to provide an accessible educational source of information about the Middle East for her fellow West Virginians and which explores connections between those living in Appalachia and the Arab world.

Shared from expatalachians, November 15, 2019