Over the course of my experience with the NSLI-Y program, I’ve come to discover just how impactful studying abroad can truly be. I’ve made lifelong friends, discovered my passion for language learning, and gained greater clarity about the eventual impact I want to make on the world. NSLI-Y has been an unforgettable, transformative experience that has shaped me into the person that I am today.
– Bethany, NSLI-Y Alumna


The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. NSLI-Y is part of a multi-agency U.S. government initiative, NSLI, launched in 2006 to improve Americans’ ability to engage with people from around the world. In addition to the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, and the National Security Agency offer language-focused programs under NSLI. Learn more about NSLI-Y and other programs of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Since its inception in 2006, the NSLI-Y program has experienced dramatic growth in the number of languages taught and the number of scholarships offered. From 2006 through 2008, NSLI-Y offered study abroad opportunities in only two languages: Arabic and Chinese (Mandarin).

In these three years, approximately 330 American high school students studied Arabic and Chinese on short-term, summer programs. Today, the program has expanded to offer summer and academic year programs for students to learn Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian (Tajiki), Russian, and Turkish. In 2019, NSLI-Y added a Virtual NSLI-Y program for students with no prior language skills. Over 8,000 individuals proudly call themselves NSLI-Y alumni. The program’s history of growth is testimony to the importance of learning and using critical world languages.