Fellowships Office { Advising Center }

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Critical Language Scholarships (CLS)

Please consult the program website to confirm program details, including applicable deadlines.

Program Website

Program Purpose

The Critical Language Scholarships Program is part of the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI), a U.S. government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans mastering critical need foreign languages.

Program Description

The Program provides 7- to 10- week group-based intensive language instruction and extensive cultural enrichment experiences at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. Supported languages are: Arabic and Persian (at the advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels); Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, and Urdu (at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels); and Chinese, Japanese, and Russian (at the intermediate and advanced levels). The summer institutes where these language intensives are taught may be in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Russia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, or elsewhere where the targeted languages are spoken.


All CLS Program costs are covered for participants including: travel to and from the student's U.S. home city and program location, a mandatory Washington, D.C. 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.

Applicant Profile

Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers in any field. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply.

Selection Criteria

Award recipients will be selected on the basis of merit with consideration for: 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; and plan to use the language in future career.


Sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students.


U.S. citizens only.


Usually mid-November.

CLS Ambassador at SF State:

Brandon Thomas, a Critical Language Scholarship recipient in 2011 and CLS Ambassador, would be happy to discuss the program with SF State applicants, as well as provide feedback on applicant essays. Mr. Thomas may be contacted by emailing kingblt@mail.sfsu.edu.

How To Apply


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