Critical Language Scholarships

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is part of a US government interagency effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical need foreign languages, as identified by the US Department of State. Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) provide intensive language instruction in thirteen critical languages—Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu. Programs last for 7-10 weeks and provide structured cultural enrichment activities for participants, in addition to language study. Language institutes may be located in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Russia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, or other countries where the target languages are spoken.

All CLS Program costs are covered for participants including: travel to and from the student's US home city and program location, a mandatory Washington, DC pre-departure orientation, applicable visa fees, room, board, group-based intensive language instruction, program-sponsored travel within country, and all entrance fees for CLS Program cultural enhancement activities. Note: US passport fees will not be paid by the scholarship.


  • Applicants must be US citizens.
  • Applicants must be currently enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student.
  • Applicants must be 18 by the beginning of the program.

If the applicant is applying to a program that requires an advanced beginner, intermediate, or advanced language level, s/he will need to demonstrate prior knowledge of the selected language.


The application requires four short essays, two letters of recommendation, and a copy of the applicant's college transcript(s). If the applicant is applying to a program that requires an advanced beginner, intermediate, or advanced language level, one of the letters of reference should come from a language instructor.

Applicants will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Academic record and potential to succeed in a rigorous academic setting
  • Ability to adapt to a different cultural environment
  • Diversity
  • Plan for continuation of study of the language

Plan to use the language in future career.


Applications are due in November 2017 on a TBD date for admission to language institutes the subsequent summer. Applicants will be notified of the results of their application to the CLS Program in mid to late March. After notification, selected participants will be required to complete a language evaluation. Grantees will also be expected to submit a satisfactory Medical Information Form and Physician’s Statement.


Arthur D. Casciato, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Distinguished Fellowships
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey