At a Glance

November 17, 2020 7:59 pm EST

All levels of students, including graduating seniors, must be enrolled at the time of application.

Fully funded, intensive language study during the summer

Iyman Ahmed

ID# 1480 | Last Updated: Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Visit the Program Website

With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering languages critical to national security and economic prosperity, this scholarship provides fully funded intensive language study during the summer to a diverse group of students from across the United States at every level of language learning.

NOTE: Applications must be submitted directly to the Critical Language Scholarship Program, not the Center for Global Initiatives.

The Critical Language Scholarship is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Program Details

The fifteen CLS languages are: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu. Please note that participants in the CLS Program are not required to have any experience studying critical languages for most languages. Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Japanese and Portuguese institutes have language prerequisites, which can be found on the CLS website.

The CLS Program seeks participants from a variety of fields, backgrounds, and career paths, with the goal of building a cadre of Americans who speak critical languages at high levels in government, business, arts and culture, science and engineering, health and medicine, education, research, and other fields.

The summer program occurs over eight to ten weeks, and students will participate in formal classroom language instruction for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Extracurricular activities are designed to supplement the formal curriculum, including regular one-on-one meetings with native speaker language partners for conversational practice, as well as cultural activities and excursions designed to expand students’ understanding of the history, politics, culture and daily life of their host country.

There is no service requirement for CLS Alumni after the program. However, participants are expected to continue language study beyond the scholarship period and apply critical language skills in their professional careers. Participants are selected based on their commitment to language learning and plans to apply their language skills to their future academic or professional pursuits. [Please note that CLS is an intensive group-based language program.]


Application Support

There is a wide variety of support available to you as a UNC applicant to CLS, even though you’ll be applying directly to the program. Below, please find a guide to help you find the best resource for your question.

CLS Program Staff

  • Online application issues
  • Detailed program questions (dates, staff, logistics for program)

UNC CLS Advisor (Iyman Ahmed)

The Writing Center

  • Essay review/peer tutoring
  • General writing advice

Your Friends, Family and Faculty

  • Essay review
  • Grammar/spelling/editing help

Related Information Sessions & Events

Fri 16

Information Session: Critical Language Scholarship (CLS)

Friday, October 16, 2020 @ 12:30 pm1:30 pm EDT