Boren Scholarship for Critical Language Study

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

The deadline to submit your Draft One was November 9, 2020. As a result, CCRF is not accepting any late additions to the 2020 UChicago Boren Scholarship Campus Process. We look forward to working with you in 2021!

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 clearly an interest in federal service.
  • I can demonstrate academic, extracurricular, professional and/or volunteer experience that is relevant for national security or foreign affairs careers.

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. 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, 2021 or as late as March 1, 2022.

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 BOTH a serious commitment to language study and 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

Deadline at 5 pm EST: 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 - 4th-year students enroll in No Further Enrollments Required 

***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

UChicago resources and support: A comprehensive resource, "Boren Scholarship: Overview and Essays" is available via CCRF Resource Library. You are asked to watch the whole webinar and attend "Essays and Group Advising" on October 15 or October 16. Next, develop detailed notes for both essays and schedule a meeting with Sandra Zupan by November 2 to receive additional individualized guidance in preparation for writing your Draft 1. 

Campus deadlines and endorsement: To secure UChicago endorsement, you must complete all of the following steps. Please note that late and/or incomplete submissions will not be accepted. Developed fully means as per the detail provided in the webinar - that is, partial, vague or underdeveloped content will not be considered complete.

Please submit your materials here:

1. DRAFT ONE (Essays): due November 9 by 5pm CST.  You are required to attend an idividual appointment, November 10-20, to obtain feedback and suggestions for revisions.

*** Optional Peer-Review: Pairs of two, applying for different language/country. Facilitated by Sandra Zupan between November 30 and December 4. 

2. DRAFT TWO (Essays, Study Plan) : due December 9 by 5pm CST. You are required to attend an idividual appointment, December 10-18, to obtain feedback and suggestions for revisions.

3. DRAFT THREE (Essays, Study Plan): due January 4 by 5pm CST. 

4. CAMPUS ENDORSEMENT INTERVIEW: January 11 and January 12. In addition, you are required to attend an idividual appointment, January 14-22, to discuss final revisions.

5. FINAL DRAFT/NATIONAL APPLICATION (Complete Application): due February 3 by 4pm CST.

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