Boren Scholarship for Critical Language Study

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

Boren Scholarships: At a Glance


  • U.S. citizens
  • First, second, third, and fourth-year students
  • Intent to study in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand
  • Intent to study in a country in which the applicant does not hold citizenship

Selection Criteria: 

  • Commitment to language study
  • Commitment to a career in U.S. government, either in national security or foreign affairs

Candidates for the Boren Scholarship can affirm the following: 

  • I can make a compelling case for the proposed language study overseas.
  • I can explain how the proposed study can contribute to the wellbeing of the U.S. as well as my career goals.
  • I can articulate what motivates me for government service.
  • I can demonstrate academic, extracurricular, professional and/or volunteer experience that is relevant for national security or foreign affairs careers.

Extensive Description

What are Boren Scholarships? Boren Scholarships provide up to $25,000 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 or foreign affairs. 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. 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, 2022 or as late as March 1, 2023.

Deadline Information

Deadline: Wednesday, February 2, 2022


Boren Scholars commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation, and within three years upon completing the Boren award. See a range of placements here.

Please note that Boren Scholars receive assistance as well as numerous advantages in their federal job search. In addition, Boren Scholars are eligible for noncompetitive eligibility (NCE) hiring status within the federal government until they secure employment.

Eligibility Requirements

  • A U.S. citizen at the time of application
  • 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 and may not graduate until the scholarship is complete (Note: 4th-year students enroll in No Further Enrollments Required)

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 the wellbeing of the U.S. 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. Selection preference will be given to veterans when other factors are equivalent.

Joint Degree Programs: Students enrolled in four-year joint bachelor's/master's programs apply for the Boren Scholarship, and are supported by CCRF. Students enrolled in five-year joint bachelor's/master's programs apply for the Boren Fellowship, and should seek suppor from the UChicagoGRAD Fellowships Office.

Application Process

Language Study Resources: Students are strongly encouraged to explore and utilize language study resources in preparation for (and/or in addition to) their application for the Boren Scholarship.

Campus Process and Deadlines: To secure CCRF support and endorsement, you must complete ALL of the following steps:

STEP 1. Watch Boren Scholarship: Overview and Essays. Also, email Sandra Zupan ( and complete the 2021-2022 Boren Scholarship Cohort Form by October 1. Note that CCRF will provide advising, writing support, and campus evaluation only to cohort members.

STEP 2. Draft One (Essays), due November 1 by 5pm CST. Late and/or incomplete submissions will not be accepted. Next, you are required to attend an individual meeting, November 4-12, to obtain feedback and suggestions for revisions. You are also asked to participate in peer-review, November 22-30. 

STEP 3. Draft Two (Essays, Study Plan), due December 6 by 5pm CST. Late and/or incomplete submissions will not be accepted. Next, you are required to attend an idividual meeting, December 9-17, to obtain feedback and suggestions for revisions.

STEP 4. Draft Three (Essays, Study Plan), due January 10 by 5pm CST. Late and/or incomplete submissions will not be accepted. Next, you are required to attend an idividual meeting, January 13-21, to obtain feedback and suggestions for final revisions.

STEP 5. Final/National Application, due February 2 by 4pm CST. Please access and submit your application here.

Note: 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. Therefore, everything an applicant would want the selection committee to know should be stated clearly in the essays and other application materials.

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