Critical Language Scholarship Program 2019, USA
About The Program
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.
The Critical Language Scholarship Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by American Councils for International Education.
The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. 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. Please visit the CLS Institutes page for more information.
The CLS Program offers instruction in fifteen critical languages:
No Previous Study Required
One Year of Study Required
Two Years of Study Required
The Persian language courses offered through the CLS Program are organized in Tajikistan. You may read this article to learn more about studying Persian in Tajikistan and Armenia.
The Critical Language Scholarship 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 nationally competed award open to all eligible U.S. undergraduate and graduate students in every field.
The CLS Program maintains a list of faculty members and administrators at colleges and universities nationwide who have volunteered to assist students with the CLS application process.
To find CLS Advisors on your campus, visit this page:
The CLS Program does not designate official campus advisors because CLS applicants are not required to obtain support from their home institution to apply for the scholarship. However, the CLS Program maintains a list of faculty members and administrators at colleges and universities nationwide who have volunteered to assist students with the CLS application process. If you do not have a designated CLS representative at your university, we recommend you contact your university’s study abroad, fellowship or career office.
Also be sure to watch the official CLS Application Tips video, which is designed to help you write focused, effective essays that speak to the selection criteria for the CLS Program. We recommend this video for every student applying to the CLS Program.
Top Five Reasons to Apply to CLS
You will make enormous language gains. The intensive and immersive nature of the CLS program means that in two months, you have the potential to make gains that might otherwise take you years of class time and study. On average, CLS participants gain the equivalent of one-year of study in U.S. classrooms over a single summer.
CLS will help you grow as a person and a student. Your study abroad experience will open your eyes to new people and places and introduce perspectives you could get nowhere else. These perspectives will be important to your personal and professional goals.
Critical languages make you more competitive in the job market. No matter what field you are pursuing, in our globalized world, employers are often looking for employees that are culturally competent and have a global perspective. The CLS experience will give you an advantage over the competition as you enter the job market.
Countries such as India, Turkey, China, Azerbaijan, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia make up some of the world's fastest growing economies. With the language and cultural expertise you gain through CLS, you can be a part of those burgeoning economic climates and get the on the ground experience that will set you apart.
You will become part of a vast community of language learners. Your CLS cohort will be made up of America's brightest and most dedicated students, many of whom will go on to become leaders in their field. Make contacts that will serve you well into the future! You'll also become a member of the 4 million-strong Department of State Alumni network.
Besides the practical aspects of CLS, you'll make lifelong relationships with unique people. CLS emphasizes the diversity of its participants. You'll meet people from different backgrounds and build your network with people from all over the country!
CLS participants are citizen ambassadors. You may be the first American that someone from your host country meets. You will have the opportunity to teach people about our country and culture and build relationships between the people of the United States and your host country.
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
- Contributions to the CLS Program and program goals.
Each applicant will be contacted by email in January with notification of the status of their application following the initial review process. Applicants who move past the initial review process will be notified of their status as a scholarship recipient, alternate or non-recipient by early March, 2020.
Commitment to Language Learning
- Articulate a motivation for learning the language for which they are applying.
- Show that they have leveraged available resources to develop appropriate foreign language skills for the CLS Program.
- Show commitment to further developing their language skills and cultural knowledge after participating in the CLS Program.
Connection between Language and Goals
- Show that the language and cultural knowledge they gain on the CLS Program will have an impact on their academic, personal and professional development.
- Show that the language and cultural knowledge they gain is integral to their future plans.
Preparation for the CLS Program
- Show that they understand the challenges of the CLS Program as a group-based, intensive, study abroad program, and that they are prepared to meet these challenges.
- Articulate how their academic, professional and personal experiences have prepared them to succeed on the CLS Program.
Background Knowledge, Adaptability and Sensitivity
- Exhibit knowledge of the host culture and/or language appropriate to their linguistic and academic level.
- Show the ability to interact with people and situations that require adaptation.
Contribution to the CLS Program and Program Goals
- Have considered what their unique experiences, perspectives and/or background might contribute to the program.
- Make a good case for how they will contribute to the mission of building mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of their host communities.
All other factors being equal, the CLS Program gives preference to veterans of the United States armed forces.
All other factors being equal, applicants are selected with the goal of representing geographic diversity and a diversity of institutions and fields of study.
Preference may be given to candidates with limited or no previous study abroad experience.
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