Boren Scholarship for Undergraduates

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Campus Deadline: Jan 15, 2016
Official Website and Application
Stanford Pre-application


The Boren Scholarship provides funding 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. Boren Scholars represent many academic fields but all are interested in studying less commonly taught languages.

This award is the undergraduate portion of the Boren Awards for International Study, (which includes a Boren Graduate Fellowship—see separate listing). It was established by the National Security Education Act of 1991, in honor of Senator David L. Boren of Oklahoma. Boren Scholarships are funded through the National Security Education Program (NSEP), which focuses on geographic areas, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.

The Boren Undergraduate Scholarships offered through NSEP are designed to help prepare American students to enter professional life with more than a traditional knowledge of a foreign language and culture; acquire cross-cultural understanding and a global outlook; and enhance career and leadership opportunities in all fields-business, government, education, science and technology.

The Award

The term of the Boren Undergraduate Scholarship is one semester to an academic year (applications for longer programs are given preference).
Maximum scholarship awards are:

  • $8,000 for a summer program (special initiative for STEM students only; 8 weeks minimum)
  • $10,000 for a semester
  • $20,000 for a full academic year 

Preference is also shown to applicants studying in certain fields critical to U.S. national security (e.g. Agricultural and Food Sciences, Area Studies, Business and Economics, Computer and Information Sciences, Foreign Languages, Health and Biomedical Science, History, International Affairs, Law, Mathematics, Science and Engineering, Social Sciences, Political Science and Policy Studies.)


As a U.S. undergraduate student, you are eligible to apply if you are:

  • U.S. citizen at the time of application
  • Matriculated in an undergraduate degree progam located within the United States accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Boren Scholars must remain matriculated in their undergraduate programs for the duration of the scholarship and may not graduate until the scholarship is complete.
  • Applying to participate in a study abroad program that meets home institution standards in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand
  • Planning to use the scholarship for study abroad. Boren Scholarships are NOT for study in the U.S.

African Languages Initiative (AFLI)

For the fourth year in a row, through the African Languages Initiative (AFLI) funding is available for Boren Scholars and Fellows to study one of the following languages at the University of Florida's summer 2014 program prior to commencing their overseas Boren funded programs.

It is for instruction in the following languages: Akan/Twi, French (requires intermediate-high or above proficiency), Hausa, Swahili, Wolof, Yoruba, Zulu. 

In addition, African Languages Initiative oversas programs are available for intensive language and cultural study during fall semester 2014 in the following countries: Senegal (French), Mozambique (Portuguese), Tanzania (Swahili).

Outline of Boren NSEP Requirements

  • U.S. National Security Focus: Boren (NSEP) focuses on geographical areas, languages and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.
  • International Focus: Boren Scholarships can be applied to study abroad in countries outside Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Academic Focus: Must demonstrate an interest in undertaking serious study in foreign countries as a complement to U.S. academic and career goals. This should be reflected in the Statement of Purpose.
  • Language Study: Appropriate and integrated study of a foreign language is required for all study abroad proposals.
  • Length of Stay: Awards are for a minimum of one academic term. For juniors and seniors, full academic year programs are preferred and strongly encouraged.
  • NSEP Service Agreement:

    The NSEP Service Requirement stipulates that a Boren Scholarship or Fellowship award recipient work in the Federal Government in a position with national security responsibilities. Past recipients have fulfilled their Service Requirement in a wide variety of federal offices.
    The duration of the service requirement is equal to the duration of assistance provided under the program, but in no case less than one year.

The Application

If you are interested in applying for the Boren Undergraduate Scholarship, Stanford students must apply through the Overseas Resource Center (ORC). We can assist you on the following aspects of your application:

  • Review of your written materials
  • Help identify suitable programs of study overseas. We collaborate with the Stanford Bing Overseas Studies Program Office.
  • General guidance of the purpose of the scholarship
  • Information on the service requirement

Please link above for the Boren Scholarship home page for this year's application.

For the Campus Deadline you submit the following supplementary materials to the ORC (3 hard copies of the following):

  1. Online application
  2. Official transcripts (hard copies)
  3. Study abroad program description with cost information
  4. Program budget
  5. Two essays (see Boren website for prompts)
  6. Language self-assessment form
  7. 2-3 academic letters of recommendation (to be submitted online)
  8. Language proficiency form (optional) (to be submitted online)

You will be asked to attest that you have read some background information on the origins and purpose of the Boren.

A campus level evaluation will be conducted following the campus deadline. Stanford faculty and staff members from various departments will form the campus committee. Following the campus level evaluation, applications will then be forwarded to the national selection committee by the national deadline.

Scholarship award recipients will be notified in early May.

The staff of the Overseas Resource Center is readily available to help you with your application. If you need assistance in defining your proposal or simply want someone to read over your completed application, please contact the ORC.

Stanford Undergraduates and State Department Travel Warnings

Stanford Undergraduates face particular challenges in wishing to use the Boren Scholarship to study in countries where the U.S. Department of State has a Travel Warning. You can find information on which countries have travel warnings here.

Stanford currently has a policy, similar to many other institutions, that prohibits the use of university funds to support undergraduates in countries with travel warnings. This policy can be found here.

Additionally, Boren requires an institutionally signed form for any applicant applying to country with a Travel Warning. This form has to be submitted after an award is made. Stanford is not prepared to sign such a form. This means that undergraduates should not apply for a Boren to study in a country with a Travel Warning issued by the State Department. If you have such an interest, please talk to an advisor in the ORC so we can help you think about other programs.


Applicant Resources

Boren Award Webinars

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