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Critical Language Scholarships

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program offers fully-funded summer language institutes for U.S. university students and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  The CLS Program offers intensive summer language institutes for critical foreign languages.

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical need foreign languages. Eligible languages include:

  • Azerbaijani, Bangla, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu: Beginning, advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels; no prior experience required.

  • Arabic and Persian: Advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels; mimimum one year experience required.

  • Chinese, Japanese, and Russian: Intermediate and advanced levels; minimum two years experience required.

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.

All CLS Program costs are covered for participants including: travel to and from the student's U.S. home city and program location, a mandatory Washington, D.C. pre-departure orientation, applicable visa fees, room, board, group-based intensive language instruction, program-sponsored travel within country, and all entrance fees for CLS Program cultural enhancement activities.

Institutional Endorsement:  CLS does not require institutional endorsement; students may apply directly to the CLS program.

U-M Contact: Dan Cameron, International Institute Fellowships Office, or Henry Dyson, Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships (ONSF)

Application Deadline: Typically the second week in November. See the CLS website for more information.


  • U.S. citizen at time of application

  • Applicants must be currently enrolled in a U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate or graduate level.

  • Current undergraduate students must have completed at least one year of general college course-work by program start date (one year is defined as two semesters or three quarters).

  • Applicants must be in acceptable mental and physical health. Grantees will be required to submit a satisfactory Medical Information Form and Physician’s Statement.

  • Applicants must be 18 years old by the beginning of the CLS Program.

  • Please see the CLS website for more information on language prerequisites for individual institutes and more specific eligibility requirements.

Application Instructions:

  • Contact Henry Dyson with any questions after viewing the CLS website and reading the application instructions.