Critical Language Scholarship Program

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully funded summer overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning.

View a list of languages offered >

The CLS Program seeks participants from a variety of fields, backgrounds, and career paths, with the goal of building a cadre of Americans who speak critical languages at high levels in government, business, arts and culture, science and engineering, health and medicine, education, research, and other fields.

The CLS Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State.

Application Deadline: November 2022


To apply for the CLS Program you must, at the time of submitting your application:

  • Be a U.S. citizen (non-citizens, including permanent residents are not eligible)
  • Be enrolled in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate or graduate level at the time of the application deadline. Special circumstances allowed are detailed on the CLS Program website.

In order to participate in the CLS Program you must, by the beginning of your program:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be in acceptable mental and physical health
  • Receive an appropriate visa from the country of study (deadlines vary by country)

More information about eligibility requirements >

Application process

Information sessions for the CLS Program are typically held in early autumn quarter. Check our Events and Deadlines calendar for upcoming sessions. Additional information for applicants, including recorded webinars, are available on the CLS website.

All application materials are completed online. The application portal typically opens in late September. In addition to filling in required background information, applicants must complete four short-answer essays and a statement of purpose.

One recommendation is required; once registered, recommenders will be able to submit online directly through the application portal.

Apply for the CLS Program online

Materials and resources

Why apply for CLS? Recent UW alum Isy Okafor discusses her journey of starting from learning Korean independently online to participating in the CLS Program, and how the experience has impacted her professional and academic trajectory.

Previously recorded webinars with extensive information about the award and application process are available on the CLS Program website.


The Office of Fellowships and Awards can assist you with questions: or 206.543.7152.