Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program


About the Critical Language Scholarship
Eligibility & Deadline
Applicant Resources & Recorded Sessions

About the Critical Language Scholarship

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. CLS Institutes provide fully-funded group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences for seven to ten weeks over the summer.

On November 29, 2016 President Obama signed an Executive Order giving alumni from the CLS Program non-competitive eligibility for U.S. government jobs.


Basic Eligibility

Candidates must:

  • be a U.S. Citizen
  • be an enrolled undergraduate, master’s or Ph.D. student
  • Additional eligibility/criteria varies on site

National Deadline

November 16, 2016 at 8pm EST

Resources to Compose a Strong Application

  • CLS Information for Applicants Page – Take the Quiz: Is CLS Right for Me?
  • Search for USC CLS Alumni – Contact a recipient who has participated in the program you are interested!     
  • USC CLS Information Session & Essay Review with USC CLS recipient Jason Tse – Tuesday, November 8, 2016 from 11am-12:30pm in TCC 227  Jason won a CLS to study Persian in Tajikistan and followed it up with a Boren Scholarship to remain in Tajikistan for the full academic year.  In this session, Jason will review the basics of the CLS program, offer application tips and answer questions. If you are applying this year, please bring a draft of your essays since staff will be on hand to provide feedback.

Recorded Sessions

  • CLS Information Session with USC Recipient Jason Tse, Recorded November, 8 2016
  • Tips for a Successful CLS Application – Published October 3, 2016
  • CLS Program for Students With Disabilities and Medical Concerns – Published November 5, 2015
    The CLS Program will host a webinar for Students With Disabilities and Medical Concerns, co-hosted by Monica Malhotra of Mobility International USA. The webinar will be geared towards students with disabilities and medical concerns, and will cover program benefits, the experience of participants, program support, accommodations made for students with disabilities, and application tips.


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