Interest in CLS has been growing steadily among ASU students in recent years.

“This year saw an uptick in the number of applicants, from 36 last year to 43, a number that has been increasing each year since I have been the role of primary advisor for this scholarship,” Stoff said. “This change is reflective of the growing interest in foreign language proficiency, which students increasingly recognize as a path to professional opportunities in a variety of fields, as well as significant outreach and recruitment efforts by ONSA, particularly among underrepresented categories of students.”

Producing six recipients demonstrates an upward trend in success: In 2022, four ASU students were selected for the CLS program, while in 2021, only three were selected.

One significant challenge of applying to CLS is that the application window is relatively small. The application opens in early October with a mid-November deadline. Given the tight turnaround and high levels of interest, both applicants and advisors have to work intensely. The application for CLS can be challenging, as it asks students to articulate their meaningful experiences, career trajectory, cross-cultural competence and plans for continuing study after their programs.

“Our students worked very hard to hone their application materials,” Stoff said. “They all developed and revised numerous drafts of the four essay questions the application requires, and met with me on multiple occasions to receive constructive feedback intended to help them strengthen their answers.”

Notably, the cohort of ASU applicants for CLS collaborated to strengthen their applications.

“We also held a number of workshops wherein students engaged in peer review of their essays, which was very useful not only in allowing them to receive additional feedback, but also to see how other students were crafting their application materials," Stoff said.

Once submitted, the applications are reviewed by a national committee composed of language faculty, area specialists, study abroad professionals and fellowship advisors. During the first round of review, all applications are read by two outside reviewers. During the second round, top applications are submitted to selection panels.

Reviewers look specifically at a candidate’s commitment to learning in relation to the language and their goals as well as their preparation for the program and how they may contribute to the program overall.

Stoff drew on her previous experience as a member of the national selection committee to advise students on application strategies.

“The strongest applications are ones that clearly demonstrate the student’s ability to handle the rigors of an intensive, full-immersion program within the context of living in the unfamiliar surroundings of a foreign country, and who will contribute to the mission of mutual cultural understanding,” Stoff said. “They also indicate the importance of study of the student’s chosen language for their further academic and professional development and how their future goals contribute to U.S. and world interests, broadly conceived.”

The application for 2024 Critical Languages Scholarships will open in October. Current ASU students who wish to learn more about the CLS program should contact ONSA at to learn about upcoming application workshops.

Story submitted by the Office of National Scholarships Advisement