The USA Critical Language Scholarship Program 2023/2024 Section

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Critical Language Scholarship Program Overview

American students enrolled in American colleges and institutions can participate in the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, a rigorous overseas language and cultural immersion program. One of 14 important languages is studied abroad by students for eight to ten weeks. In order to encourage quick language gains, the program offers both scheduled cultural enrichment activities and intense language instruction.

The CLS Program’s CLS Spark program offers American undergraduate college and university students the chance to electronically begin studying Arabic, Chinese, and Russian. When American undergraduate students may not have access to studying these languages on their campuses, CLS Spark gives them the chance to do so electronically using the finest standards in online language learning.

The CLS Program, run by the U.S. Department of State, is a part of a larger government effort to increase the number of Americans learning and speaking foreign languages that are essential for both economic growth and national security. In terms of boosting national competitiveness and preparing students for the globalized workforce of the twenty-first century, CLS is crucial.

The majority of the languages that the CLS Program offers don’t demand that applicants have any prior knowledge of key languages. In order to fully represent the diversity of the United States, the CLS Program seeks participants with a variety of interests, backgrounds, and professional 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 endeavors.

The American Councils for International Education is in charge of administering the Critical Language Scholarship Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and funded by the American Government.

There are different levels and languages

The CLS Program offers instruction in fourteen critical languages:

No Previous Study Required

  • Azerbaijani
  • Bangla
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Persian
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Urdu

One Year Of Study Required


Two Years Of Study Required


Program Structure

The CLS Program institutes are created to satisfy the needs of students from a variety of linguistic abilities and backgrounds, and they typically cover one academic year’s worth of university-level language education during an eight- to ten-week program. While some CLS institutions need one to two years of prior language study (or the equivalent), others allow students with no prior knowledge of the language.

There is a minimum of 15 hours of formal classroom instruction per week. Extracurricular activities are intended to supplement the required coursework. These activities include scheduled one-on-one language practice sessions with native speakers as well as cultural activities and field trips that aim to deepen students’ understanding of the history, politics, culture, and way of life of their host nation.

NOTE: A single language can only have one application per application cycle. People who submit repeated applications will be disqualified.

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Program Benefits

Participants in the CLS Program will receive:

  • Language instruction and cultural programming;
  • Textbooks and language learning materials;
  • Language gains certified using the widely recognized ACTFL OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) assessment;
  • Non-competitive eligibility for U.S. government employment for up to three years after program completion;
  • Academic credit issued through Bryn Mawr College
  • International and domestic travel between the student’s home city in the U.S. and the CLS Program site abroad;
  • Visa application fees, where applicable; and
  • Room, board, and program-sponsored travel within the host country or location.

The following expenses will not be covered by the CLS Program:

  • U.S. passport fees
  • The cost of medical exams and any follow-up visits necessary to pass the medical review process, as determined by the CLS Program.
  • COVID-19 testing expenses incurred because of non-vaccination for entry requirements.

U.S. Department of State

Through academic, cultural, sporting, and professional exchanges, public-private partnerships, and other means, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State strives to foster friendly, peaceful relations between the citizens of the United States and those of other nations. The more than 30,000 participants in exchange programs that ECA oversees each year include those who receive the Critical Language Scholarship. The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and the Fulbright Program are among the other initiatives that the Bureau oversees.

American Councils for International Education

Through the development and execution of educational programs that are thoroughly rooted in important international languages, cultures, and regions, American Councils for International Education fosters scholarly research and cross-border learning. Through international training, academic exchange, partnership in educational development, and public diplomacy, we support the production of new knowledge, the expansion of professional perspectives, and personal and intellectual development.

American Councils works to increase dialogue between students, scholars, educators, and professionals for the advancement of learning and mutual respect in the diverse communities and societies we work in. We have presences in the U.S., Russia, and Eurasia for nearly four decades, in addition to representation in over thirty countries across Asia, the Middle East, and Southeastern Europe.

American Councils was established in 1974 as a group for specialists in local and foreign languages, and it has since concentrated on academic exchange, professional development, distance learning, curriculum and test development, and research. American Councils has grown over the course of its forty years to become one of the top American educational and international training institutions, providing rigorous foreign language study and research programs for American undergraduates, graduate students, teachers, and scholars.


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