Critical Language Scholarship

*Note: The CRF no longer offers advising on the Critical Language Scholarship, though students are encouraged to apply on their own.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students. The eight- to ten-week summer program, covers approximately one academic year of university-level language coursework and includes structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.

The CLS Program offers instruction in fifteen critical languages. Some CLS institutes require one to two years of prior language study (or the equivalent), while others accept students with no prior background in the language..

No previous study required: Azerbaijani, Bangla, Hindi, Indonesian, Persian, Punjabi, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu

One year of study required: Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, Russian

Two years of study required; Chinese, Japanese


  • Be a U.S. citizen at the time of your application (Non-citizens including Permanent Residents are not eligible, even if they anticipate naturalization by the beginning of the program).
  • Be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at the time of your application.
  • Be at least 18 years old by May 15 of the award year.
  • Undergraduate students must complete at least one academic year of study by the beginning of the CLS Program.

Please refer to the CLS site for more information about eligibility.

For applicants to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Applicants to the CLS Program may apply for and receive both a CLS Program award and a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award in the same academic year.  However, participants may not accept both a CLS Program award and the Fulbright Critical Language Enhancement Award, which provides supplemental critical language study funding for Fulbright U.S. Student Program grantees, in the same academic year.

Application Process

Deadline: The 2025 application will open in Fall of 2024

January: Each applicant will be contacted by email with notification of the status of their application following the initial review process.

February: Applicants who move past the initial review process will be notified of their status as a scholarship recipient, alternate or non-recipient.

CLS applications are reviewed by language faculty, area specialists, study abroad professionals and fellowship advisors as part of the selection process. During the first round of review, all applications are read by two outside reviewers. During the second round, top applications are submitted to selection panels.

Award recipients will be selected on the basis of merit with consideration for:

  • Academic record and potential to succeed in a rigorous academic setting;
  • Commitment to language learning;
  • Connection between target language and career/academic goals;
  • Ability to adapt to an intensive program and a challenging cultural environment; and
  • Uniqueness of background and perspective in representing the United States abroad.