Critical Language Scholarship
Each summer, the Critical Language Scholarship (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.
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.
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
CLS Program institutes cover approximately one academic year of university-level language coursework during an eight- to ten-week program and are designed to meet the needs of students from a variety of language levels and backgrounds.
Formal classroom language instruction is provided for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Extracurricular activities are designed to supplement the formal curriculum, including regular one-on-one meetings with native speaker language partners for conversational practice, as well as cultural activities and excursions designed to expand students’ understanding of the history, politics, culture and daily life of their host country.
To be eligible for the CLS Program you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or national at the time of your application (on November 16, 2021).
- Be enrolled in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate (associate’s, bachelor’s) or graduate (master’s, doctoral, professional degree) level at the time of your application (on November 16, 2021).
- Be enrolled for the Fall 2021 term and maintain a passing grade average.
- Be at least 18 years old by May 15, 2022.
- If in an undergraduate program (associate’s or bachelor’s), complete at least one full year of study (two semesters or three quarters) by the beginning of the CLS Program in summer 2022.
- You may only apply once, for one language program, each summer. Applicants who submit multiple applications will be considered ineligible.
- Participation is limited to a total of two CLS awards for any individual. Applicants who have been selected for and participated in the CLS Program one time may apply for a second award. Applicants who have successfully completed the CLS Program two or more times in overseas locations are not eligible to apply again. This limitation does not include participation in a CLS Virtual Institute.
- Additional eligibility information and answers to frequently asked questions are available on the CLS Eligibility page.
Award recipients will be selected on the basis of merit with consideration for:
- Commitment to language learning;
- Connection between language and goals;
- Preparation for the CLS Program;
- Adaptability, sensitivity and resilience; and
- Contribution to the CLS Program and program goals.
- More information about how CLS interprets each of these criteria is under Selection.
The CLS Program covers most of the costs of participating in its overseas institutes, including:
- International and domestic travel between the student’s U.S. home city and the CLS Program site
- Visa application fees
- Language instruction, room, board, program-sponsored travel within the host country
- All entrance fees for program activities
- Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) language assessments
- U.S. academic credit issued through Bryn Mawr College.
The following expenses will not be covered by the CLS Program:
- U.S. passport fees; and
- The cost of medical exams and any follow-up visits necessary to pass the medical review process, as determined by the CLS Program.
Learn more about the Critical Language Scholarship
Optional Advising Available
Enrolled undergraduate students may contact Courtney Santos, Director of National & International Fellowships, firstname.lastname@example.org for access to our Canvas advising course resources and personalized application materials feedback. You can also book a National Fellowships advising appointment through MyPLAN.
Graduate students may request feedback on CLS applications through the Office of Graduate Studies Consultation Services. You can either request a 30-minute Friday morning consultation or submit your materials for a more in-depth review and appointment. If you submit materials, use the form at the bottom of the page and mark “Grant and Proposal Writing”. OGS can also review materials for other fellowships or grants as requested.