Coral Zayas-Colón, Ph.D. candidate in Spanish, 2021 CLS recipient for Portuguese
Veronika Vologina, CLA '22, 2020 and 2021 CLS recipient for Turkish
Alexander Litz, CLA '21, Temple Japan's first CLS recipient (2021, Chinese)

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program

This program is a summer study abroad opportunity for American college and university students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world. CLS 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. 

Each summer, CLS provides rigorous academic instruction in fifteen languages that are critical to America's national security and economic prosperity. CLS participants are citizen ambassadors, sharing American values and promoting American influence abroad. All CLS program costs are covered as part of the scholarship 

Eligible languages include (note that eligible languages may change, so confirm on the CLS website): 

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

  • Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian: Advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels; minimum one year of experience required.

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

National Deadline

Early to mid-November. Confirm exact date on the CLS website. 

Institutional Nomination

CLS does not require institutional nomination. Candidates are encouraged to work with Fellowships Advising on their application. 

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

  • Be a U.S. citizen or national at the time of your application. 

  • Be enrolled in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate (associate's, bachelor's) or graduate (master's, doctoral, professional degree) level at the time of your application. 

  • Be at least 18 years old before the start of the CLS program. 

  • If in an undergraduate program (associate's or bachelor's), complete at least one full year of study (two semesters or three quarters) by the beginning of the CLS Program. 

  • You may only apply once, for one language program, each summer. Applicants who submit multiple applications will be considered ineligible.

  • See complete eligibility requirements here.  

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.

  • See complete selection criteria here

Application Resources and Advice

  • Before you begin to write, watch the CLS Application Tips video. 

  • Not sure how to answer a specific question in the application? Review the CLS Application Instructions

  • Attend the Fellowships Advising Essays Workshop, or meet with an advisor to review past successful short essay responses. 

  • Letter of Recommendation. You will need only one letter of reference, so select the person strategically. Be sure to let them know why you are applying to CLS. Make the process as easy for them as possible, including giving them drafts of your essays. If you have an updated resume or CV, give it to them as well. 

  • Transcript(s). Even though CLS requests an unofficial transcript, that does not mean you should submit a cut/pasted version of your academic record from the TU Portal. Instead, order an e-transcript from the Registrar's office, save it, and then upload it. 

Campus Contact

Barbara Gorka

Director, Scholar Development and Fellowships Advising

Phone: 215-204-0708