Critical Language Scholarship Program

Award Details 

Awarded for 8-10 weeks fully-funded overseas foreign language instruction and cultural enrichment experience in 15 critical need languages for US students in higher education. 

Application Tips Webinar (2021 competition) 


  • US citizenship
  • Undergraduate or graduate student
  • No previous language study required for Azerbaijani, Hindi, Indonesian, Persian, Portuguese, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu
  • One year of previous language study required for Arabic, Korean, Chinese, and Russian
  • Two years of previous language study required for Japanese
  • SPARK program available for language learners of all levels for Arabic, Chinese, and Russian 
  • More information on eligibility

Application Timeline 

Deadline: November annually for language institute the following summer
Scholars are notified in March annually

OSU Contact 

LeAnn Adam
Director, OSU National and Global Scholarships Advising 
[email protected]

Critical Language Scholars from OSU 

Camryn Lau (2024) CLS Spark- Arabic

Hargobind Khalsa (2019) Punjabi

Miriam Lipton (2019) Russian

Brian Erickson (2019) Swahili

Chris Foertsch (2015) Indonesian

Camille Violet (2014, 2013) Bangla

Kimberly Kenny (2014) Chinese

Jenna Albert (2010) Korean

Sara Haines (2007) Arabic

Megan Rioux-Forker (2007) Arabic


  • Is preference given to people who have studied these languages?

For languages with no previous language experience requirement, no. However, two of the five primary selection criteria are: 1. Commitment to language learning, and 2. Connection between target language and career/academic goals. Therefore, to be a competitive applicant you need to demonstrate a commitment to learning your language of choice and to integrating that language into your future career/academic goals. See language requirements (0, 1, and 2 years of previous experience) here:

  • Where specifically in the given country would you go?

All programs have specific site locations, with anywhere from 1 - 3 locations per language. For some languages of study, such as Arabic, there is a site location in multiple countries. For other languages, such as Chinese, there are multiple sites within a single country (China, in this case). And for other languages, there is only one site available. You can see the site possibilities at this website: 

  • What else do they look for that would convince them to pick one candidate over another?

Award recipients are selected on the basis of merit with consideration for: Academic record and potential to succeed in a rigorous academic setting; Commitment to language learning; Connection between target language and career/academic goals; Ability to adapt to an intensive program and a challenging cultural environment; and Contributions to the CLS Program and program goals. 

It is important to demonstrate in your essays that you are prepared for the intensive nature of the CLS program; that you have a strong interest in your language of study; that you have concrete plans to continue studying your language and to incorporate this language into your future career; and that you possess relevant characteristics such as maturity, self-awareness, adaptability, resilience, stamina (emotional and physical), the ability to work well in diverse group settings, and cultural sensitivity.