Penn State graduate student earns Critical Language Scholarship

July 09, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State graduate student Matthew Douthitt has earned a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Chinese during summer 2021.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the CLS program works to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. This year, the Department of State awarded nearly 700 scholarships to recipients from 255 different institutions of higher education in the U.S.

Douthitt, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History in the College of the Liberal Arts, is a historian of popular religion in 20th century China. He said he is passionate about education and believes it to be a driving force for social change and personal growth.

Matthew Douthitt

Matthew Douthitt

IMAGE: Provided

“My professional goals are to become an educator, and I have a particular interest in the education system with U.S. correctional facilities,” he said.

The Shamong, New Jersey, native has previously served as an adjunct instructor of history with the NJ-STEP Prison Program through Raritan Valley Community College. He also has taught at Cumberland County College, Rowan University and Camden County College.

CLS recipients spend eight to 10 weeks studying one of 15 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu. According to a press release, the program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences. The program is developed in partnership with local institutions in countries where these languages are commonly spoken. The Department of State reported the majority of CLS-affiliated institutes in 2021 will offer a virtual program due to the global pandemic. More than 8,000 students have been awarded a CLS scholarship since 2006.

To learn about the Critical Language Scholarship and application support, visit Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Mentoring.

Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Mentoring is part of the Penn State Office of Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at

Last Updated July 09, 2021