The Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS) is a program that enables undergraduate and graduate students from the United States to study abroad during the summer. The program provides funding to students who desire to master one of the highly needed critical foreign languages. The current languages that are considered critical include: Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Persian, Bangla, Urdu, Azerbaijani, Turkish, Hindi, Punjabi, Swahili, Korean, and Indonesian. This program is supported by the United States Department of State.
In order to apply for a CLS scholarship, applicants must meet a number of eligibility requirements. Students are required to be a graduate or undergraduate student in an accredited institution that is located in the United States. Students are also required to be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States, in at least their sophomore year (if they are an undergraduate student), in good physical and mental health, and obtain a visa from their intended country of study prior to departure. While students can apply to both the CLS and the Fulbright Critical Enhancement Award at the same time, students are not eligible to receive both awards in the same academic year.
In addition to the previously described requirements, students are required to meet the minimum standards set for their language of study. Some languages, such as Japanese and Russian, require that students have at least two years of study prior to applying. Other languages, such as Swahili and Hindi, are open to entry level students.
Students are selected for these scholarships based on a number of different criteria. First, students are reviewed based on their ability to assimilate to a new cultural environment and their potential to excel academically in a challenging environment. In addition, all applications are reviewed for the applicant’s plan to maintain their study of the proposed language and also how they intend to use their proposed language in meeting their career goals.
Students who intend to apply are required to solicit at least two letters of recommendation. At the time of application, students will also be asked to provide their unofficial transcripts. Applicants who make the finalist round will be required to send a copy of their official transcripts to the program. In addition, applicants are encouraged to consult with the CLS advisor on campus, which can be found on the following website. Students who have remaining questions can explore the FAQ information, which has responses to many commonly asked questions. The list can be found at this link.
Students should note that there are some restrictions if they choose to attend this program. For example, the student must stay in the country for the duration of the program and are not permitted to leave. This is due to the intensive nature of the program. Students may not opt to defer until a different summer. If the student chooses to accept a position in the program, he or she is not permitted to obtain an internship, volunteer, or research position while abroad.