Critical Language Scholarship – Requirements, Application Process And Sample Essay 2023

Are you searching online for information regarding Critical Language Scholarship? This article is for you. This page features the requirements, application process and sample essay for the Critical Language Scholarship. Read on!

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a U.S Department of State cultural and educational exchange program which offers about six-hundred undergraduate or graduate level students from the U.S the opportunity to partake in an intensive language study abroad.

This program is usually very competitive and it funds students who study one of the fifteen critical need foreign languages, the program is also part of the U.S Security Language Initiative. The fifteen critical languages include the following:

  • Arabic
  • Azerbaijani
  • Bengali
  • Chinese
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Persian
  • Portuguese
  • Punjabi
  • Russian
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Urdu

Most of the above mentioned languages do not require students to have any experience studying critical languages.

The Program looks for participants with diverse interests, and from a broad range of career paths and field of study, with the aim to represent the full diversity of the U.S.


Participants are chosen based on their dedication to learning new languages and plans to apply their language skills to their future academic or professional pursuits. It is paramount to note that, the CLS is an intensive group-based language program.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CSL) program has an acceptance rate of less than 10%, which makes the program one of the most competitive scholarships in the United States and the most prestigious language program for the citizens of U.S.

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State with funding provided by the United States Government and administered by American Councils for International Education.

Critical Language Scholarship Program Structure

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program institutions spans up to approximately one academic year of university level language coursework in an 8-10 weeks program duration, and is created to meet the needs of students from different backgrounds and language levels.

A few Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) institution require 1-2 years of previous language study, while others accept students with no previous background in the language.


Formal classroom language instruction is provided for at least 20 hours/week.

Extra-curricular activities are designed in addition to the formal curriculum, including regular one on one meetings with partners who speaks native language for conversational practice, as well as excursions and cultural activities designed to expand students’ understanding of the history, culture, politics, and everyday life of their host country.

Program Benefits

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program covers most of the expenses for participating in its overseas institutes, including:

  • Domestic and international travel between the student’s United States home city and the CLS Program site
  • Application fees for Visa
  • Language instruction, board, room, program sponsored travel within the host country
  • All fees for program entrance activities
  • OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) language test
  • United States academic credit issued through Bryn Mawr College.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program will not cover the following expenses:

  • Fees for United States passport; and
  • Any follow up visits compulsory for passing the medical review process, as stated by the CLS Program.
  • The expenses for any medical exam

Critical Language Scholarship Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, an applicant must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States or national at the time of application.
  • Be enrolled in an accredited American degree awarding program at the undergraduate (bachelor’s, associate’s) or graduate (professional degree, doctoral, master’s) level at the time of application.
  • Applicant’s program must result in a degree. The program is not for applicants who are taking stand alone or continuing education classes.
  • Applicant’s institution must be an accredited American institution. Students pursuing a degree at foreign institutions that are not based in the United States or its territories cannot apply, even if those institutions are accredited by a recognized American accrediting agency.
  • Applicant must successfully complete academic requirements for the fall term in order to remain eligible for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program. Students who fail to maintain a passing grade average or withdraw are not eligible to participate in the program.
  • Applicant must be at least 18 years old by 15th of May, 2023.
  • If in an undergraduate program (bachelor’s or associate’s), complete at least 1 full-year of study (2 semesters or 3 quarters) by the beginning of the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program in summer 2023.
  • Applicants may only apply once, for 1 language program, each summer. Applicants who submit two or more applications will be considered ineligible.
  • Participation is limited to a total of 2 Scholarship awards for any individual. Applicants who have participated in the program once may still apply for a second award.
  • Applicants who has benefited in the CLS Program more than two times in outside the United States are not eligible to apply again. This limitation does not include participation in a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Virtual Institute.

Critical Language Scholarship Application Process

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program application comprises of multiple short essays, 2 letters of recommendation, and a copy of your academic transcripts. You will be asked to discuss the following topics in your essay:

How you will handle new cultural environments, what will be the most challenging part of the Critical Language Scholarship program for you, and lastly, how will the scholarship program experience assist you with your academic and career goals.

Critical Language Scholarship Sample Essay

Below is a sample essay for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program:

In the world of globalization, communication has played a very important role in the lives of humans. English for example, has become a global language to aid people easily communicate with one another. I believe that studying another language in young age can have a huge effect in one’s life.

I have been studying English for more than 7 years and I’ve used English a lot in my daily life in order to increase my vocabulary.


Sometimes I feel more comfortable using English than my native language which is Lakota. If I am given an opportunity through this scholarship, I’ll be studying Russia.

Russia has always been the language I want to study the most but i couldn’t spare my time for it during my high-school. However, in my free time, I prefer watching Russian drama movies. That is where I fell in love with the language.

I believe that by taking a preliminary Russian language course, I will improve this language as my third language, which is a requirement for taking a bachelor’s degree course.

However, I will be using Russian in my daily activities such as studying and communicating as a result I will eventually get confident using Russian as I feel in using English.

The CSL has a history of awarding scholarships to promising young students in the United States in order to bring skills, knowledge and leadership communities to their home communities. With the assistance of CSL I will be able to achieve my dreams.


In Summary

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) is available for students in all disciplines, including engineering, business, law, sciences, medicine, and humanities. There is also no discrimination on the basis of color, race, religion, gender, age, national origin or disability in choosing awardees.

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