Boren Scholarship for Critical Language Study

Supports study abroad for programs focusing on critical-need languages

Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Visit the Boren website for the current list of preferred countries and languages.

Boren Scholarships promote long-term linguistic and cultural immersion, and therefore study abroad proposals for three or more quarters (>26 weeks) are strongly encouraged. Preference will be given to undergraduate applicants proposing a full-year academic study. Boren-funded programs can begin no earlier than June 1. Summer-only programs must be eight (8) weeks or more and are limited to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students.

The program focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security. It draws on a broad definition of national security, recognizing that the scope of national security has expanded to include not only the traditional concerns of protecting and promoting American well-being, but also the challenges of global society, including: sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness. All applicants must demonstrate how their study programs and future goals are connected to this broad understanding of national security.

Deadline Information

Primer Deadline: Monday, November 5, 2018

Campus Application Deadline: Wednesday, December 19, 2018

National Application Deadline: Thursday, February 7, 2019


Recipients of a Boren Scholarship accept a Service Requirement that stipulates that an award recipient work in the Federal Government in a position with national security responsibilities. The Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State, or any element of the Intelligence Community are priority agencies. If an award recipient demonstrates to NSEP that no appropriate position is available in one of these agencies, the award recipient must seek to fulfill the requirement in a position with national security responsibilities in any Federal department or agency.

Recipients have fulfilled their Service Requirement in a wide variety of federal offices. Sometimes these positions include traditional national security responsibilities, but oftentimes these jobs are unique in their connection to national security. Please visit the Boren website for their guide to understanding the service requirement: NSEP Student Guidebook.

Eligibility Requirements

  • A U.S. citizen at the time of application
  • A high school graduate, or have earned a GED
  • Matriculated at the University of Chicago. Boren Scholars must remain matriculated in their undergraduate programs for the duration of the scholarship and may not graduate until the scholarship is complete. Please contact Nick Morris ( if you are a fourth year with questions about eligibility.
  • Applying to a study abroad program that meets home institution standards in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.

Please note, Boren also funds language fellowships for graduate students. More information can be found on the website for Boren Fellowships. Current graduate students are encouraged to reach out to UChicago GRAD for more information on the campus application process.


Application Process

Students are strongly encourage to seek University endorsement for the Boren Scholarship. There are no restrictions on the number of applicants the University of Chicago may endorse for the national competition. The endorsement process is facilitated by the CCRF.

Please complete the Boren Scholarship Primer by Monday, November 5 and schedule a meeting with Nicholas Morris to discuss the next steps. The primer is a non-binding, brainstorming tool used to help in the application advising process. Students will be asked to outline a rough sketch of their: interest in national security, proposed language to study, and potential study abroad location. A paragraph or two on each will be sufficient for the primer. 

In order to be endorsed by the University, students must notify Nicholas Morris of their complete Boren Scholarship Application by 11:59pm on December 19, 2018. Applications are processed through the Boren Scholarship Portal (you can begin the application on the Boren website). The complete Campus Application includes:

1. Biographical and educational information

You must upload transcripts for all colleges and universities where a degree was obtained or pursued.

2. Study Abroad Program

The Boren Scholarship funds the study of language and culture in a program of your choosing. The Boren Scholarship does not choose a program for you nor do we recommend or suggest programs. Choosing the right study abroad program is a matter to be decided in consultation with your study abroad office, academic advisors, Boren Campus Representative, as well as other trusted sources.

In your online application, you will upload a one page description of your study abroad program. This may be a page from the program’s website or part of the program brochure.

Click here to learn more about selecting a study abroad program.

3. Program Budget

Boren Scholarship provides up to $20,000 for a year-long program, $10,000 for a semester long program and $8,000 for STEM majors to participate in a summer program. Click here to learn more about budget guidelines.

4. Two essays

The essays are the most important part of the application. Click here for essay guidelines.

5. Letters of Recommendation and the Language Proficiency Evaluation

Your application must include two letters of recommendation. You may also include a third letter of recommendation and a language proficiency form. Click here for more information.

6. Language self-assessment

Complete this online form using the language self-assessment guide.
The language self-assessment is a form where the applicant assesses their own level in every language that they speak using the language self-assessment guide.

Campus interviews will be conducted in early January.

For more information on this opportunity, please contact: 
Sandra Zupan