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The CLS Application for the 2021 Summer Programs is now available!

Start your application online now. Applications are due November 17, 2020 at 8:00pm Eastern

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

The 2021 Summer Application is Now Available!

We are pleased to announce that the application for the 2021 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is now open! We welcome your students to apply now to learn a critical foreign language next summer on a fully-funded study abroad program.

The application is now live and available...

Posted by Andrew McCullough on August 27, 2020


Announcing the CLS Program Fall Virtual Institutes

Following the success of the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program’s Virtual Institutes this summer, we are pleased to announce that the CLS Program will offer further virtual language instruction this fall for the study of ten critical languages: Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Indonesian,...

Posted by Andrew McCullough on August 14, 2020


Alumni Profile: Nilaya Knafo

Nilaya Knafo is an alumna of the 2017 CLS Arabic program in Amman, Jordan. A 2019 graduate of American University with a bachelor’s degree in international relations, Nilaya focused her studies on foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa. She now works as a Senior Program Assistant at...

Posted by Liz Sinclair on July 09, 2020


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


CLS in the Press

Pardee Students Awarded for Academic Achievement

Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University celebrates awards to received by its students in the 2019-2020 year.

Shared from Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, August 24, 2020


Former Chinese Flagship student speaks on program following funding renewal

ABC affiliate WBKO News interviews Jake Raymond (Chinese '19) about the renewal of NSEP Language Flagship funding to Western Kentucky University

Shared from WBKO News, August 24, 2020


Fifteen students and alumni offered Fulbright Awards to teach and conduct research abroad

Fifteen students and recent graduates of the University of Minnesota, including three CLS Program alumni, have been offered grants to study and teach abroad during the 2020-21 academic year by the Fulbright U. S. Student Program.

Shared from University of Minnesota, August 24, 2020