National Security Language Initiative for Youth

U.S. Department of State funded program for high school students to study abroad, National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) application is currently open, the deadline is : October 30, 2014. Please share with students!


The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program, sponsored by theU.S. Department of State, provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students and recent high school graduates to learn less commonly taught languages in summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs.

NSLI-Y is part of a U.S. government initiative that prepares American citizens to be leaders in a global world. Now more than ever, it is important that Americans have the necessary linguistic skills and cultural knowledge to promote international dialogue and support American engagement abroad. NSLI-Y aims to provide opportunities to American youth that will spark a lifetime interest in language learning.


NSLI-Y programs offer intensive language immersion in a variety of locations around the world. Beginners are welcome to apply for any of the target languages.

Scholarships are available for students to learn the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Hindi
  • Korean
  • Persian (Tajiki)
  • Russian
  • Turkish

Programs may take place in the following locations:

  • China
  • Estonia
  • India
  • Jordan
  • Korea
  • Moldova
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Russia
  • Taiwan
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkey
  • Other locations


Is the NSLI-Y program right for you?

Before filling out the online application, review the eligibility requirements below and read more about the process of learning a language through immersion.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale, or the equivalent
  • 15-18 years of age at start of program (birthdate between July 15, 1996 and June 10, 2000 for summer programs; birthdate between September 30, 1996 and June 30, 2000 for academic year programs)
  • Enrolled in high school (including home school) at the time of application
  • Not an immediate family member of an employee of the U.S. Department of State who works in the Youth Programs Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs or an employee at a NSLI-Y administering organization whose duties involve the NSLI-Y program
  • Have not previously traveled outside the U.S. on a long-term (more than eight weeks) program sponsored by the Youth Programs Division of the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
  • Previous NSLI-Y summer program participants or alumni of ECA-funded short-term programs are only eligible to apply for a NSLI-Y academic year program.

Click here to read additional eligibility criteria from the U.S. Department of State for the 2015-2016 program year.

Previous language study is not a requirement. Students of all levels of language ability are welcome to apply. However, please note that the majority of NSLI-Y participants are at novice or intermediate levels.

The NSLI-Y program seeks applicants who represent the diversity of the United States. Students of all racial, ethnic, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds are encouraged to apply, as are students with disabilities.

Is language learning through an intensive immersion experience right for you?

The goal of the NSLI-Y program is to promote critical language learning among American youth and to spark a lifetime of interest in language learning. NSLI-Y aims to guide students toward using language in their university and professional careers and to dedicate themselves to continued language learning far beyond their time on the program.

NSLI-Y scholars participate in intensive language courses on both summer and academic year programs. Summer programs include a minimum of 120 hours of formal classroom instruction.  Academic year programs include at least ten hours per week of formal classroom instruction, and most programs include additional academic courses. These intensive language courses are complemented by cultural immersion activities inside and outside of the classroom, including home-stays, excursions, and local community service projects.

Successful NSLI-Y participants dedicate themselves to language acquisition through both formal and informal learning opportunities. Participants strive to succeed both academically, by improving their language skills, and culturally, by gaining an understanding and appreciation for a new way of life. Participants should expect to immerse themselves fully in the language and cultural experience; they should not expect to complete academic work for their U.S. school while abroad.

Before deciding whether or not to apply, learn more about the program by exploring this website and speaking with other students via networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We encourage you to discuss this opportunity with your parents and teachers. You may also want to talk with your teachers and school administrators about the possibility of receiving academic credit for your NSLI-Y experience.


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