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, January 31, 2024


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 BA/MA programs apply for the Boren Scholarship, and are supported by CCRF. Students enrolled in five-year joint BA/MA programs apply for the Boren Fellowship, and should seek support from the UChicagoGRAD Fellowships Office.

For more information on this opportunity, please contact: 
Jenna Sarchio