Critical Language Scholarship

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.

CLS is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. CLS plays an important role in preparing students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce and increasing national competitiveness.


  • 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 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. Your program must result in a degree. Applicants who are taking stand-alone or continuing education classes are not eligible.
  • Your institution must be an accredited U.S. institution. Students earning degrees at foreign colleges or universities that are not based in the U.S. or its territories are not eligible.
  • You must be enrolled at your home college or university in the Fall Semester of 2019. Please read the following information carefully:

If you are not taking classes at your home institution in the fall semester, please confirm that you are, in fact, enrolled. Institutions have different requirements to maintain enrollment status and you will be required to provide a signed letter from your registrar stating that you were enrolled during the fall semester.

If you are taking a leave of absence to participate in an organized semester- or year-long study abroad program, or to participate in a substantive internship program, you may still be considered eligible. You will be required to submit documentation of your study abroad or internship program. Decisions will be made on a case by case basis.

In either case, you must submit a signed letter from your home college or university in the U.S. explaining your situation and your intention to re-enroll following the completion of your study abroad or internship program.

  • Be at least 18 years old by May 15, 2020.
  • Undergraduate students must complete at least one academic year of study (two semesters or three quarters) by the beginning of the CLS Program.

Please refer to the CL Scholarship site for information about eligibility.

Application Process

Deadline: mid-November 2019

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.

For more information, please contact

CLS Alumni Ambassador

Camille, an individual with dark hair and bangs, wearing a green turtleneck, standing in front of a blurred background.

Camille Bismonte, Indonesia Alumni Ambassador

Camille Bismonte is a junior in the College majoring in Economics and minoring in Spanish. She spent the summer of 2018 studying Bahasa Indonesia in Malang, Indonesia with the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS).

Camille was selected as the Critical Language Scholarship Alumni Ambassador of the Indonesian program for the 2019-2020 school year.

She plans on spending an additional 11 months in Indonesia through the Boren Scholarship Program where she will participate in the Indonesian Flagship Language Initiative program in Fall 2019 followed by interning at an environmental NGO in Jakarta for Spring 2020, where she plans to cultivate her interest in Environmental Conservation in Southeast Asia through economic policy. After graduation, Camille hopes to pursue a career in foreign service.