The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to increase the number of Americans studying critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. The CLS Program provides opportunities to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to ten weeks studying one of 14 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu. The program includes intensive language instruction and cultural enrichment experiences to
promote rapid language gains.

The CLS Program partners with universities and nonprofits around the globe to provide cohorts of U.S. students an opportunity to study the language and culture in a country/location where the target language is commonly spoken. The CLS Program, through its CLS Spark initiative, also provides beginner-level virtual instruction for Arabic, Chinese, and Russian for competitively selected U.S. undergraduate students whose home campuses do not offer these languages. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

CLS scholars represent a broad diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. Recipients of the 2023 CLS awards come from all 50 U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico and include students from over 200 institutions of higher education, including public and private universities, community colleges, liberal arts colleges, military academies, and minority-serving institutions.

For further information about the CLS Program or other exchange programs offered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please contact and visit our websites at and