Boren Scholarship for Critical Language Study

Funds language study in world regions critical to U.S. interests.

What are Boren Scholarships? Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study a wide range of critical languages. Awards are available to students of all proficiency levels who are committed to enhancing their skills. Boren Scholars from diverse fields of study immerse themselves in the cultures in world regions underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. 

The program alumni commit to public service throughout the Federal Government, working in positions critical to U.S. national security. The Boren Awards employ a broad definition of national security that encompasses not only national defense, diplomacy, and intelligence matters but also any topics addressing the challenges facing global society, such as environment, food and migration.

Duration: The Boren Awards promote long-term linguistic and cultural immersion. Therefore, proposed programs must include language study as a core element for the duration of the grant, with a preference for applications proposing overseas programs of at least 25 weeks’ duration. The minimum duration of an eligible program is 12 weeks, with the exception of undergraduate STEM majors who may propose summer programs of 8 weeks or longer. Awards may be applied to programs starting as early as June 1, 2020 or as late as March 1, 2021.

Selection Criteria: Successful applicants not only meet the preferences for geographic areas, languages and fields of study, but also make a compelling case that the proposed study can contribute to U.S. national security and their career goals. Preference is given to applicants who demonstrate a serious commitment to language study, along with a longer term commitment to the federal government.

The two essays are critical to the selection process for Boren Scholars. The Boren Awards application process does not have a semi-finalist or interview phase, so everything an applicant would want the selection committee to know should be stated clearly in the essays and other application materials.

Deadline Information

Draft One: Monday, November 25, 2019

Draft Two: Thursday, December 26, 2019

Draft Three: Friday, January 17, 2020


Boren Scholars commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation. See a range of agency placements here. While Boren Scholars receive numerous advantages in their federal job search, It is ultimately the responsibility of the award recipient to secure federal employment.

Eligibility Requirements

  • A U.S. citizen at the time of application
  • A high school graduate, or have earned a GED
  • Planning an overseas program in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand
  • Planning to study in a country of which they are not a citizen
  • Must remain matriculated in their undergraduate programs for the duration of the scholarship and may not graduate until the scholarship is complete (contact Sandra Zupan if you are a 4th-year student with questions about eligibility)

Application Process

All applicants are encouraged to attend Information Session (October 21), and are required to participate in Writing Workshop (October 28 or October 31), followed by individual advising. Please schedule a meeting with Sandra Zupan, ideally between November 4 and November 8.

In order to be nominated by the University, students must submit their Boren Scholarship Application by 11:59 PM on November 25. This includes fully developed drafts of Essay 1 (National Security) and Essay 2 (Motivation & Public Service Careers). 

Campus interviews will be held in early January. The final, internal University deadline is January 31, 2020.

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