A program of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) provide group-based summer intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences for eight to ten weeks, in one of a dozen or more critical language sites overseas. Currently, "critical languages" include Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu. CLS participants will cover approximately one year’s worth of language study during the summer institutes.
Domestic air travel will be arranged for participants from their home city in the U.S. to Washington, D.C. for a pre-departure orientation. Institute groups will travel together from Washington to their institute site overseas on pre-arranged group flights. CLS Program Institutes house students in a variety of settings, including home-stays, dorms, hotels, and furnished apartments. Meals are either prepared and provided for participants or covered by a modest program stipend intended to cover required living expenses. Students are required to participate in the full program, including the pre-departure orientation.
All applicants for CLS awards must be U.S. citizens enrolled in a U.S. degree-granting undergraduate or graduate program at the time of application. Undergraduates must be at least 18 and have completed at least one year of college by the program's start date. Applicants must also be in acceptable mental and physical health. Language prerequisites vary with each institute, but the program encourages students in all disciplines (including business, engineering, law, and medicine) to apply.