Critical Language Scholarship


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

CLS 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.


CLS provides instruction in fourteen critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu.  You apply by language, not for a particular country placement.


In order to apply for the CLS Program you must, at the time of submitting your application:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Be enrolled in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate or graduate (master’s, doctoral, professional degree) level. Your program must result in a degree.


Award recipients will be selected on the basis of merit with consideration for:

  • Connection between language and goals;
  • Contribution to the CLS Program goals of citizen diplomacy and mutual understanding;
  • Preparation for the CLS Program;
  • Adaptability, sensitivity, and resilience; and
  • Commitment to language learning.

For applicants to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Applicants to the CLS Program may apply for and receive both a CLS Program award and a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award in the same academic year. However, participants may not accept both a CLS Program award and the Fulbright Critical Language Enhancement Award, which provides supplemental critical language study funding for Fulbright U.S. Student Program grantees, in the same academic year.


Interested BU students apply directly through the CLS website by the November deadline. Please contact Jeff Berg (berg@bu.ed) with any questions and for support and guidance on the application.