Critical Language Scholarship Program: Eligibility, Application, Benefits, Last Date 2023

7 minute read
Critical Language Scholarships

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Programme is a summer immersion program for American college and university students to acquire languages critical to America’s global engagement. CLS Spark, a CLS Programme initiative, allows American undergraduate college and university students to study Arabic, Chinese, and Russian digitally at the beginning level. The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Programme is sponsored by the United States Department of State and funded by the United States Government. The American Councils for International Education aid its implementation. Read this blog to learn more about Critical Language Scholarship, eligibility, application process, deadlines, etc.

Scholarship NameCritical Language Scholarship Program
DeadlineNovember 15, 2022
Length of the Course< 1-year
Term of AwardUndergraduate
Field of StudyArts, Education, Humanities, Social Sciences, STEM

Must Read: Best Foreign Language Courses in India & Abroad 2021

Critical Language Scholarship Program: Overview

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Programme collaborates with universities and charities worldwide to provide cohorts of US students with the chance to study the language and culture in a country/location where the target language is widely spoken. 

Every summer, American undergraduate and graduate students from colleges and institutions across the country spend eight to ten weeks at an intensive study abroad institute learning one of fourteen languages. 

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is intended to foster quick language acquisition and crucial intercultural fluency in areas critical to US national security and economic growth.

Must Read: Career in Foreign Language – Top 2023 Courses and Jobs

CLS Spark, designed to harness best practices in online language learning, allows students to study vital languages remotely when they may not have access to these languages on their campuses.

Languages Provided

The Critical Language Scholarship Program provides instructions in 14 languages. Check the list below:

No previous study requiredAzerbaijani
1 year of study requiredArabic
2 years of study requiredChinese

Must Read: 10 Most Difficult Languages in the World!

Program Structure

The structure of the Critical Language Scholarship program is very easy to understand. Read the points below to understand how it works:

  • CLS Programme institutes encompass about one academic year of university-level language coursework throughout an eight- to ten-week program and are designed to satisfy the needs of students of all language skills and backgrounds. 
  • Some CLS institutes demand one to two years of prior language study (or the equivalent), but others accept students with no prior language training.
  • A minimum of 15 hours per week of formal classroom language education is provided. 
  • Extracurricular activities are designed to supplement the formal curriculum and include regular one-on-one meetings with native-speaker language partners for conversational practice, as well as cultural activities and excursions designed to broaden students’ understanding of their host country’s history, politics, culture, and daily life.

Relevant Read: Benefits of Learning the Local Language of a Country

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens or national at the time of application to be eligible for the CLS Programme.
    • Others, including Permanent Residents, are ineligible, even if they expect to be naturalized by the start of the program.
  • By May 15, 2023, you must be at least 18 years old.
  • At the time of application, you must be enrolled in a recognized U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate (associate, bachelor’s) or graduate (master’s, doctorate, professional degree) level.
    • Applicants must be enrolled in a degree-granting program. Applicants enrolled in stand-alone or continuing education courses are ineligible.
    • Applicants must be enrolled at a U.S. university that is accredited. Students pursuing degrees at foreign universities not based in the United States or its territories are ineligible, even if those institutions are approved by a recognized U.S. certifying agency.
    • Applicants in an undergraduate (associate or bachelor’s) programme must have completed at least one full year of study (two semesters or three quarters) by the start of the CLS Programme in Summer 2023.
    • Applicants must be enrolled at this university for the autumn semester of 2022. There are a few exceptions to the enrollment requirement; please carefully read the following information:
      • If applicants are not enrolled in classes at their home university during the autumn semester, they should affirm that they are. varying institutions have varying standards for maintaining enrollment status, and candidates must present a signed statement from their registrar verifying that they were enrolled throughout the autumn semester.
      • Applicants may request an exception to the enrollment requirement if they are taking a leave of absence to engage in an organized term- or year-long study abroad program or a substantive internship program. Only in these two instances will exceptions be given, and judgments will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
      • In either case, applicants must provide a signed statement from their home institution or university in the United States stating their position and intent to re-enrol when their study abroad or internship program is completed. They must also present documents from the program provider confirming their attendance and outlining the opportunity. This material should be emailed to American Councils at [email protected].
    • To stay eligible for the CLS Programme, applicants must satisfactorily complete academic requirements for the fall semester. Applicants who withdraw or fail to maintain a passing grade average are ineligible for the program.
  • Applicants must fulfil the language requirements of the program to which they are applying.
  • Each year, applicants may only apply once for one language. Applicants who submit repeated applications will be disqualified.

Who is Ineligible?

The following people are ineligible to apply for the Critical Language Scholarship Program:

  • Employees of the United States Department of State who work in offices reporting to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programmes in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), for a period ending one year after the termination of such employment; 
  • Employees of private and public agencies under contract or grant with the United States Department of State who perform services related to the Critical Language Scholarship Programme, for a period ending one year after the term ends.
  • Immediate family members (spouses and dependent children) of the individuals listed in the preceding paragraphs, for a period ending one year after such job or service is terminated. Self-supporting members of families that live separately from their parents are not disqualified under this rule.

Relevant Read: Overcoming Language Barriers When Studying Abroad

Source: CLScholarship

Application Process

In October of each year, applications are made available on the CLS website. You may only apply to one language every application cycle, and you apply for the language rather than the place. 

Several essays are required as part of the application process. Dr. Gump hosts an annual CLS essay-writing workshop in the autumn and is willing to assess essay draughts from Princeton undergraduate and graduate student applicants who participate.

The CLS Summer Programme Application for 2023 is now closed.

The deadline for applications was November 15, 2022, at 8:00 p.m. 

Must Read: Best Colleges For Foreign Languages in India

Selection Process

CLS Spark award recipients are chosen on merit, with attention given to:

  • Impact of participation; 
  • Motivation; 
  • Readiness and resolve; and 
  • Unique background and experience.

Veterans of the United States Armed Forces will be given preference, as will candidates from states or institutions that have historically been underrepresented in study abroad or the CLS Programme.

Applicants are chosen to demonstrate geographic variety as well as a diversity of schools and topics of study.

Benefits of the Critical Language Scholarship Program

Participants in the CLS Programme will receive the following benefits: 

  • Language training and cultural programming
  • Textbooks and language learning resources; 
  • Certification of language gains utilizing the widely accepted ACTFL OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) assessment;
  • Non-competitive eligibility for federal government jobs in the United States for up to three years after program completion; 
  • Academic credit from Bryn Mawr College International, as well as domestic travel between the student’s home city in the United States and the CLS Programme site abroad; 
  • Visa application expenses, if required; 
  • And room, board, and program-sponsored travel within the host country or region.

What is NOT Covered?

The CLS Programme will not cover the following expenses:

  • Passport fees in the United States
  • The expense of medical exams and any follow-up visits required to complete the CLS Program’s medical review process.
  • COVID-19 testing costs incurred due to non-compliance with admission standards. 

Relevant Read: How to Become a Language Translator?


To fully represent the diversity of the United States, the CLS Programme seeks individuals with a variety of interests, backgrounds, and career prospects. Participants are chosen based on their dedication to language study and how they intend to use their language abilities in future academic or professional endeavours. The Critical Language Scholarship Program is a great opportunity to learn some of the most critical languages. 


Q.1. What is the acceptance rate of the Critical Language Scholarship program?

Ans: Even though only 10% of applicants will be chosen to participate in the CLS Programme, everyone who can give a strong response to each of the required essay questions can put themselves in a competitive position.

Q.2. What is a critical language?

Ans: A foreign language that is crucial to the national security and economic health of the United States is known as a critical language.

Q.3. Which languages are known as critical languages?

Ans: Hindi, Urdu, Chinese, Russian, and Korean are some of the critical languages.

This was all about the Critical Language Scholarship Program. If you wish to know more about scholarships to study abroad, subscribe to Leverage Edu and kick-start your study abroad journey. 

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *