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The Critical Language Scholarship Program

Program Website

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully funded summer experience for students of all academic majors. Supported by the U.S. Department of State, the mission of the CLS program is to increase the number of Americans with foreign language proficiency, specifically in languages that are critical to national security and diplomatic relationships. Currently, students can apply to participate in summer programs centered on one of 14 critical languages:

Arabic Chinese Japanese Punjabi Turkish
Azerbaijani Hindi Korean Russian Urdu
Bangla Indonesian Persian Swahili

Who should apply?

The CLS program accommodates novice and advanced language learners. Since many of the 14 languages listed above are not commonly taught at academic institutions in the U.S., students without prior language study are eligible to apply. However, some of the languages more commonly taught in the U.S., such as Arabic, Russian, and Chinese, require prior language study. Students wanting to pursue a Fulbright Study/Research or English Teaching Award should consider applying if CLS program participation will help them achieve the required or recommended level of host country language proficiency.

The CLS Application

The CLS application consists of multiple short essays, two letters of recommendation, and a copy of your academic transcripts. The essay prompts will ask you to discuss the following topics:

  • How do you handle new cultural environments?
  • What will be the most challenging part of the CLS program for you?
  • How will the CLS experience assist you with your academic and career goals?

Feedback and Advising

This is an extensive application process and you should begin drafting your essays early. All interested applicants from the University of Houston should contact the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards, Office of Learning Abroad, or Language Commons for feedback as you develop and refine your application materials.