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Five CLS Program participants in Jordan watch the sunset in the desert. ▼  Latest News: Being LGBTQIA+ in a Conservative Country  ▼

CLS Virtual Institutes are underway this summer. Be sure to follow along on our social media accounts and stay tuned for more news from the CLS Program!

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 that are critical to America's national security and economic prosperity. CLS participants are citizen ambassadors, sharing American values and promoting American influence abroad.


Languages Offered


Students in Jaipur, India

Key Benefits

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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.

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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.

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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

David Fields
Korean 2010
Jeonju, South Korea
Andrea Howard
Azerbaijani 2015
Baku, Azerbaijan
John Krzyzaniak
Persian 2016
Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Lauren Chow
Indonesian 2018
Malang, Indonesia

CLS News and Stories

Being LGBTQIA+ in a Conservative Country

Luana Davila is an alumna of the 2019 CLS Arabic program in Meknes, Morocco, and wrote the following about her experience as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community on the CLS Program. Luana is working toward a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago and is a...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on June 29, 2020


Alumni Profile: Audrey Petersen

Audrey Petersen made the decision to study Bangla after doing a public health research project on the incorporation of zinc in the treatment of diarrheal diseases for her nursing program at George Mason University. The research was primarily being studied by an organization headquartered in...

Posted by Jessica Klink on June 22, 2020


Alumni Profile: David Fields

David Fields became interested in Korea when he learned of opportunities to teach English after earning his undergraduate degree. After teaching English in South Korea for two years, he began studying United States and East Asian relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and participated...

Posted by Jessica Klink on June 15, 2020


Alumni Profile: Rhys Leahy

Rhys Leahy’s journey with Russian and Persian languages started when she participated in the NSLI for Youth Russian Program in high school for a year. While engaging fully in the culture, she became proficient in the language. The program site, Kazan, Russia is a historically Turkic and Muslim...

Posted by Jessica Klink on June 08, 2020


CLS in the Press

The Lesson of the Korean War in the Age of “America First”

David Fields (Korean 2010) writes about how the history of the Korean War underscores that not every international problem has a clear or quick solution, but it does offer an important lesson for dealing with intractable problems: seek allies and build consensus.

Shared from The Wilson Center, July 02, 2020


Transparency Key as Indonesia Relaxes Restrictions

Alumna Camille Bismonte (Indonesian 2018) was published in the Jakarta Post, writing on Indonesia's response to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in the country.

Shared from The Jakarta Post, June 29, 2020


7 Stories Of Growing Up Black In Appalachia

Reporter Benny Becker (Indonesian 2012) tells the story of Derek Akal and his family. Akal currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky. He was working for Cumberland Mine Service, but was laid off during the pandemic.

Shared from WV Public Broadcasting, June 24, 2020