Critical Language Scholarship

Critical Language Scholarship Language study International


The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) is one of the most competitive scholarships in the U.S. and the most prestigious language program for U.S. citizens. It provides fully-funded group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences for 8-10 weeks for undergraduate, master’s and PhD students. The program takes place in a country where the critical language is spoken. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Applicants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers. The scholarship covers travel between the U.S., Washington D.C., and the CLS program country, visa application fees, language instruction, room and board, program-sponsored travel, U.S. academic credit, Oral Proficiency Interview language assessment and all entrance fees for program activities.


  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be an undergraduate or graduate student
  • Be at least 18 years of age by May 15th of the award year
  • If you are an undergraduate, complete at least 1 full year of study by the beginning of the CLS program
  • Be at the appropriate level of the desired language
    • No previous study required:
      • Azerbaijani
      • Bangla
      • Hindi
      • Indonesian
      • Persian
      • Punjabi
      • Swahili
      • Turkish
      • Urdu
    • 1 year of study required:
      • Arabic
      • Korean
      • Portuguese
      • Russian
    • 2 years of study required:
      • Chinese
      • Japanese
Application Material

  • Critical Language Scholarship Application
  • 2 letters of recommendation
Selection Criteria

  • Demonstrated academic excellence
  • Potential to succeed in a rigorous academic setting
  • Commitment to language learning
  • Clear connection between target language and career/academic goals described in the essays
  • Ability to adapt to an intensive program and a challenging cultural environment
  • Contributions to the CLS program and program goals
  • Preference may be given to candidates with limited or no previous study abroad experience

  • September 17, 2020

    CLS Application Opens
  • November 17, 2020

    National deadline
  • Late January/Early February 2021

    Notification of semi-finalists
  • March 2021

    Notification of selection
  • June 2021

    Pre-departure orientation in Washington D.C.
  • August 2021

    Students return

  • ~600 per year
Length of Scholarship

  • 8-10 weeks
Make an Appointment with an Advisor

Contact Information

Director: Ginger Smoak

Advisor: Alison Shimko