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Critical Language Scholarship

Jennifer Williams '18 receives US Dept of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Arabic in Amman, Jordan.

About the CLS Program

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Jennifer is one of approximately 560 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who received a CLS scholarship in 2016. Selected finalists hail from 48 states and the District of Columbia, and represent more than 200 institutions of higher education from across the United States, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority-serving institutions, and community colleges.

Each CLS participant will spend eight to ten weeks in one of 24 locations studying Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu.Over the past ten years, the CLS Program has sent over 5,000 American undergraduate and graduate students overseas to learn critical languages all over the world. It provides fully-funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences. CLS Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.The CLS Program actively recruits in states and regions of the United States that have been historically under-represented in international education and encourages students from diverse backgrounds and academic majors to apply.

The CLS Program also promotes diversity in the independent review process, drawing readers and panelists from a wide variety of institutions across the United States, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority-serving institutions and community colleges. In the 2015-16 evaluation season, over 377 professionals representing 44 states and the District of Columbia, and 212 institutions participated in the selection process for the CLS Program.CLS Program participants are among the more than 50,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. These exchange programs build relations and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The CLS Program is administered by American Councils for International Education.