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Critical Language Scholarship (CLS)

A program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program offers intensive summer language institutes in 15 critical foreign languages. The selection process is administered by American Councils for International Education with awards approved by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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.

Languages offered:

  • Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Persian, Punjabi, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu: No previous study required
  • Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian: At least 1 year of previous study reuired
  • Chinese and Japanese: At least 2 years of previous study required

Program benefits:

  • International and domestic travel between the student's U.S. home city, Washington, D.C., and the CLS Program site
  • Related costs for a mandatory pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C.
  • Visa fees, language instruction, room, board, program-sponsored travel within the host country
  • All entrance fees for program activities

Please note that applicants are eligible to apply for one language only. If more than one application is submitted, the applicant will not be considered for a scholarship in any language.


There is no campus endorsement or application process for CLS, but Drexel applicants are encouraged to seek support on their application from fellowships advisors. See our Fellowships Resource Page on CLS for more information (access restricted to Drexel community).

Last updated: November 2020
Related Awards:
Boren Awards for International Study
Title VIII Research and Language Program

Fields of Study:

  • Arts and Creative Fields
  • Business and Law
  • Education
  • Health
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, S. Korea, Tajikistan, Russia, Turkey

Program Type:

  • Study
  • Travel


  • US Citizen

Program Length:

  • 8-10 weeks


  • November 

Degree Level:

  • Undergrad
  • Post UG
  • Graduate


  • Travel expenses, room & board