Critical Language Scholarship

About the Scholarship

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program partners with universities and nonprofits around the globe to provide cohorts of U.S. students an opportunity to study the language and culture in a country/location where the target language is commonly spoken. The CLS Program, through its CLS Spark initiative, also provides beginner-level virtual instruction for Arabic, Chinese, and Russian for competitively selected U.S. undergraduate students whose home campuses do not offer these languages. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

The U.S. Department of State sponsors and oversees the CLS Program, including CLS Spark, as part of a larger U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to our national security, economic prosperity, and engagement with the world. CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the entire United States at every level of language learning. American Councils for International Education administers the CLS Program.

Most languages offered by the CLS Program do not require applicants to have any experience studying critical languages. The CLS Program seeks participants with diverse interests, and from a wide range of fields of study and career paths, with the purpose of representing the full diversity of the United States. Participants are selected based on their commitment to language learning and plans to apply their language skills to their future academic or professional pursuits.


  • Be a U.S. citizen or national at the time of application.
    • Others, including Permanent Residents, are not eligible, even if they anticipate naturalization by the beginning of the program.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be enrolled in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate (associate, bachelor's) or graduate (master's, doctoral, professional degree) level at the time of application. Students who are graduating seniors at the time of application and students enrolled in one-year master's programs are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants in an undergraduate program (associate or bachelor's) must complete at least one full year of study (two semesters or three quarters) by the beginning of the CLS Program in Summer 2024.
  • Applicants must meet the language requirements of the program to which they apply.
  • Applicants may only apply once, for one language and for one of CLS' models (i.e., Overseas or Spark), each year. Applicants who submit multiple applications will be considered ineligible.

Application Process

Applicants submit materials directly to CLS, but the Fellowships Office can provide advice, review drafts, etc. Review the Dartmouth Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Application Process on our Canvas Site.

Check out the CLS Applicant Resources page here. This page includes a number of helpful resources that will explain everything that you need to know about the application.


Dartmouth Winners


  • Nathaniel Attia '27 -- (Declined)
  • Diana D'Souza '23 -- Mandarin
  • Evan McMahon '25 -- (Declined)


  • Ryan Ellis '22 -- Arabic


  • Ian Reinke '22 -- Russian
  • Skylar Widman '19 and Thayer -- Indonesian


  • Ameena Razzaque '21 -- Arabic (Program cancelled because of Covid-19 pandemic)


  • Emily Carr '18 -- Chinese