Critical Language Scholarship (CLS)

Updated: about 3 hours ago


Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Critical Language Scholarship Program offers fully funded support for intensive summer language institutes overseas in 15 critical-need foreign languages—for U.S. citizens in any major, from first year on (through graduate students). Prerequisites vary; the languages are: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu. Most programs offer homestays; all include intensive language instruction and structured cultural-enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language acquisition.


Dr. Steve Gump, (link sends email) , 609-258-1998

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate or graduate level at the time of application
  • Must be at least 18 years old by May 15 of the award year

Criteria for Selection

Award recipients are 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 the target language and career or academic goals
  • Ability to adapt to an intensive program and a challenging cultural environment
  • Contributions to the CLS Program and program goals (including diversity and the ability to be a strong cultural ambassador)

Application Procedure

Applications open annually on the CLS website in September. You may apply to only one language per application cycle, and you apply for the language, not to a specific location. Applications require two letters of recommendation, language evaluations (where relevant), and a number of essays. Dr. Gump provides a CLS essay-writing workshop annually in the fall and is happy to review essay drafts from Princeton’s undergraduate and graduate student applicants who attend this workshop.

Additional Information

The CLS Program is quite competitive, annually receiving over 5,000 applications for approximately 550 scholarships. Make sure you thoroughly review the CLS website, which includes detailed information about the selection criteria, and invest adequate time in preparing as strong an application as you can.

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