The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Students spend eight to ten weeks abroad studying one of the languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.

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. Please note that CLS is an intensive group-based language program.

General Eligibility

Please visit the program website for specific eligibility requirements, including the critical languages and corresponding prerequisites.

  • Class year: Be enrolled in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program at the undergraduate or graduate level at the time of application. If in an undergraduate program (bachelor's or associate's), complete at least one full-time equivalent year of study (two semesters or three quarters) by the beginning of the CLS Program. You must be enrolled at your institution in the fall term of the application year. Limited exceptions apply; please read the information on the CLS website carefully.
  • Citizenship: U.S. citizen at the time of your application. Non-citizens including Permanent Residents are not eligible, even if they anticipate naturalization by the beginning of the program.

Other eligibility guidelines:

  • Be at least 18 years old by May of the year your CLS Program begins.
  • You may only apply once, for one language program, each summer. Applicants who submit multiple applications will be considered ineligible.
  • Participation is limited to a total of two CLS awards for any individual. Applicants who have been selected for and participated in the CLS Program one time may apply for a second award.

Application Process

To be considered for a Critical Language Scholarship, you must apply directly to the CLS Program. Carefully review the application guidance provided by the CLS Program. Before applying for a Critical Language Scholarship, interested candidates must schedule an appointment with the Davidson College Office of Education Abroad to discuss study plans.

Learn More

For more information, contact the Fellowships and Scholarships Program at, or schedule a Fellowships & Scholarships advising appointment with Gaylena Merritt, Sr. Assistant Director for Fellowships & Scholarships, through Handshake (login required).

Recent Davidson CLS Recipients

2021 - Talar Terzian (Chinese)

2019 - Catherine Cartier (Persian, declined), Grace Covelli (Persian, declined), Anna Dolder (Arabic), Dana Schrock (Arabic, declined)

2018 - Sunia Young (Persian)

2017 - Alston Lippert (Chinese)

2016 - Sarah Aziz (Persian), Abby Ordillas (Chinese)

2015 - Jessica Gumucio (Russian), Mohammed (Jake) El Sarhan (Arabic)

2013 - Suncica Dragas (Russian)

2011 - Vitaly Radsky (Russian), Caroline Emch (Arabic)

2010 - Brittany Ell (Chinese)