Critical Language Scholarships

Multiple Locations
Term: Summer

Provide summer intensive language instruction in several overseas locations

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.

For a list of upcoming information webinars and events, visit CLS online.

For changes to the CLS application in 2023, see below!

  • No letter of recommendation;
  • Three short essays and a personal statement;
  • Portuguese instruction an option at the beginner level for the first time;
  • No limit to the number of times an applicant can apply;
  • Plan is for summer language institutes be in person.


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.

While not required for awardees, if interested in receiving academic credit at CC, Engineering, or GS for the Critical Language Scholarship study abroad experience, please note, there is an administrative fee for doing so. For further information on this fee and receiving academic credit for the CLS experience, please contact Undergraduate Global Engagement.

Fact Sheet

Foreign Language Learning
Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia General Studies, First Year, Junior, Senior, Sophomore, U.S. Citizen
Fellowship Type:
Study Abroad/Foreign Language, Summer Opportunity
Multiple Locations
Multiple Regions

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Applications due by 8:00 PM EST. Late materials will not be accepted.