How to Win the Critical Language Scholarship and Help Your Career


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Are you interested in learning a foreign language that is essential for America’s engagement with the world? Do you want to immerse yourself in a different culture and gain valuable skills for your academic and professional career? If so, you might want to consider applying for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, a prestigious and competitive program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

In this blog post, we will explain what the CLS Program is, why it is important to learn critical languages, how to apply for the program, and what are the benefits of participating in it. We will also provide some useful links and resources for further information.

What is the Critical Language Scholarship Program?

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to our national security and prosperity. These critical languages are less commonly taught in U.S. schools but are essential to America’s positive engagement with the world.

The CLS Program provides opportunities for American college and university students to study languages and cultures essential to America’s engagement with the world. Each summer, American undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities across the country, spend eight to ten weeks learning one of fourteen languages at an intensive study abroad institute. The CLS Program is designed to promote rapid language gains and essential intercultural fluency in regions that are critical to U.S. national security and economic prosperity.

The CLS Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government. It is supported in its implementation by American Councils for International Education.

Scholarship Sponsor(s): U.S. Department of State.

Scholarship Type: Academic Award

Host Institution(s):Critical Language Scholarship

Number of Awards: Several

Study Level: Undergraduate

Nationality: United States

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Why is it Important to Learn Critical Languages?

Learning a critical language can open up many doors for personal, academic, and professional growth. The following are the main reason you have to learn CLS.

  • Develop Key Expertise: The CLS Program provides its scholars intensive language and cultural instruction in an environment designed to maximize their language gains at every level.
  • Career Ready Skills: Alumni apply their critical language skills in a variety of professional fields in public and private sectors as well as government, helping to support America’s competitiveness across the board.
  • Citizen Diplomacy: CLS scholars represent the breadth and diversity of the United States. Through personal engagement, they help to spread American values and develop mutual understanding with the people of other countries.

What are the Benefits of the Critical Language Scholarship Program

The benefits of participating in the Critical Language Scholarship Program include:

  • Intensive Language Study: Participants undergo intensive language training, typically in an immersive environment, which allows them to make rapid progress in their language proficiency.
  • Language Fluency: The program’s rigorous language instruction can significantly improve participants’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in the selected critical language.
  • Cultural Immersion: Students have the opportunity to live in a country where the language they are studying is widely spoken. This immersion in the local culture enhances their understanding of the language and cultural nuances.
  • Global Perspective: Exposure to different cultures and societies fosters a more global perspective, helping participants become more culturally aware and sensitive.
  • Career Opportunities: Acquiring proficiency in a critical language can significantly enhance job prospects, especially in government, international relations, and various industries that require language and cross-cultural communication skills.
  • Competitive Advantage: Having participated in the CLS Program demonstrates dedication, cultural adaptability, and language proficiency, which can set participants apart from others in the job market and for future academic pursuits.
  • Networking: Participants have the chance to meet and interact with other students, language instructors, and professionals in their field, leading to valuable networking opportunities.
  • Exchange of Ideas: The program facilitates an exchange of ideas between participants and their peers, encouraging dialogue and understanding among people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Scholarship Coverage: The program provides funding for travel, accommodation, and the cost of the language program itself, relieving financial burdens for participants.
  • Alumni Community: After completing the program, participants become part of the CLS alumni community, gaining access to further resources, events, and opportunities for continued language practice and professional development.
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How to apply for the CLS Program?

The CLS Program is open to U.S. citizens who are enrolled in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate or graduate level. Applicants must be 18 by the beginning of the CLS program and have completed at least one year of college coursework by the program start date.

The application process consists of two parts: an online application form and two letters of recommendation. The online application form requires applicants to provide personal information, academic transcripts, language background information, essays, and preferences for language and location. The letters of recommendation should be from people who can speak to your academic abilities, your potential as a language learner, your interest in the target culture, and your suitability for a group-based intensive program.

The application deadline for the 2023 CLS Program is November 16th, 2022 at 8:00 pm Eastern Time. Applicants should start preparing their application materials well in advance and review them carefully before submitting them.


What are the benefits of participating in the CLS Program?

Participating in the CLS Program can have many benefits for your personal, academic, and professional development. Some of these benefits include:

  • Receiving a fully-funded scholarship that covers all program costs including travel expenses, tuition fees, room and board, cultural activities, visa fees, etc.
  • Gaining proficiency in a critical language through intensive instruction, immersion, and practice with native speakers.
  • Experiencing a different culture and society through homestays, excursions, community service, and cultural events.
  • Developing intercultural competence and cross-cultural communication skills that are essential for the 21st century’s globalized workforce.
  • Joining a network of over 8,000 CLS alumni who have gone on to pursue careers in various fields and sectors.
    Earning academic credit from your home institution for your language study abroad.
  • Enhancing your eligibility for other prestigious scholarships and fellowships such as the Fulbright Program, the Boren Awards, the Gilman Scholarship, etc.
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The Critical Language Scholarship Program is a unique and rewarding opportunity for American college and university students to learn languages and cultures that are critical to America’s engagement with the world. The program provides fully-funded scholarships for students to study one of 14 languages at an intensive study-abroad institute for eight to ten weeks. The program aims to promote rapid language gains, essential intercultural fluency, career-ready skills, and citizen diplomacy among its participants.

If you are interested in applying for the CLS Program, you should visit the official website¹ for more information and guidance. You can also check out the CLS Program’s social media channels, webinars, blogs, podcasts, and newsletters for updates, tips, stories, and resources. You can also contact your campus advisor or the CLS Program staff for any questions or concerns.

We hope this blog post has given you an overview of what the CLS Program is, why it is important to learn critical languages, how to apply for the program, and what are the benefits of participating in it. We encourage you to consider applying for this amazing opportunity and wish you all the best in your language-learning journey!

Hello, my name is Joseph Samaritan and I am a blogger who writes about various topics of interest, I have a passion for learning and sharing knowledge through my blog, I welcome feedback and comments on my posts and I look forward to engaging with you, thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoy reading it.


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