Texas Tech University

What is a Critical Language?

A critical language is a language the US Government considers vital to national security and prosperity.

Texas Tech offers five critical languages at the undergraduate level: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. If you are interested in a career with the government, including organizations such as the FBI, CIA, Department of State, or if you want your resume to stand out, having studied a critical language will make a difference. There are also competitive scholarships available through the US government to study a critical language abroad.

Stand out from the crowd! Learn a critical language!

Sample list of US State organizations for which knowledge of a critical language is useful. (However, critical languages are important to all fields, not just governmental.)

  • Department of Defense
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Department of State
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • National Security Agency (NSA)
  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • National Virtual Translation Center
  • Peace Corps

Funding Possibilities for the Study of Critical Languages


The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a summer study abroad opportunity for American college and university students to learn languages essential to America's engagement with the world. 

NSEP awards Boren Scholarships and Fellowships to America's future leaders - undergraduate and graduate students committed to long-term, overseas immersive language study and to public service. Boren Scholars and Fellows, authorized under the David L. Boren National Security Education Act (NSEA), as amended, P.L. 102-183, receive funding (up to $25,000 for Scholars and $25,000 for Fellows) to study the languages and cultures most critical to our nation's security.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

If you are employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization, you might be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Contact Information

Arabic, Japanese, Korean: Stephanie Santos
Mandarin Chinese, Russian: Carla Burrus
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Erin Collopy

Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures

  • Address

    CMLL Building, 2906 18th St, Lubbock, TX 79409
  • Phone