Boren Awards

The Boren Awards, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide funding for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded. In exchange for funding, Boren Awardees commit to working in the federal government in the national security arena (broadly defined) for at least one year after graduation.

This award does not require university endorsement. However, we strongly recommend that you work closely with NCA as you prepare your application.

Deadlines

Application Opens: August 16, 2021
Campus Deadline: January 3, 2022
National Deadline: February 2, 2022 @ 5PM ET (Scholarship); January 26, 2022 @ 5PM ET (Fellowship)

Read the NCA Boren Awards Q&A with Recent UC Boren Award Winner Julia James

Boren Scholarship for undergraduates

Up to $12,500 for 12-24 weeks of study abroad (a semester) or up to $25,000 for 25-52 weeks of study abroad (an academic year or full calendar year), with a preference for applicants who intend to spend a full academic year in their chosen country.

Boren Fellowship for graduate students

Up to $12,500 for 12-24 weeks of study abroad (a semester) or up to $25,000 for a minimum of 25-52 overseas and a maximum for 12 months overseas, with preference given to applicants proposing programs of 6 months or longer (though STEM applicants proposing 3-6 month programs are strongly encouraged to apply). Limited funding for supplemental domestic language study is also available.

Special Initiatives

  • Boren-ROTC Initiative (undergraduates only): a special initiative for any Army, Air Force, or Naval ROTC student on track to commission who is in an inactive, non-drilling status for the duration of overseas study.
  • STEM Initiative (undergraduates only): provides up to $8,000 to STEM undergraduates for a summer study abroad program that lasts for a minimum of 8 weeks.
  • African Flagship Languages Initiative (AFLI): offers graduate and undergraduate applicants the opportunity for intensive language study through domestic and overseas language programs in Akan/Twi, French, Portuguese, Swahili, Wolof, or Zulu.
  • South Asian Flagship Languages Initiative (SAFLI): offers graduate and undergraduate applicants the opportunity for intensive language study of Hindi or Urdu and cultural immersion through domestic and overseas language programs.
  • Indonesian Flagship Languages Initiative (IFLI): offers graduate and undergraduate applicants the opportunity for intensive language study of Indonesian and cultural immersion through domestic and overseas language programs. 
  • Turkish Flagship Languages Initiative (TURFLI): offers graduate and undergraduate applicants the opportunity for intensive language study of Indonesian and cultural immersion through domestic and overseas language programs. 

Eligibility Criteria

  • Currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate students who remained enrolled for the duration of their study abroad program
  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Applying to a study abroad in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand
  • Study abroad plan must include serious language study component
  • No age limit, field of study restrictions, or GPA requirement  
  • Please refer to the Boren website for detailed descriptions of the scholarship eligibility criteria and the fellowship eligibility criteria.

Selection Criteria

Preference is given to:

  • Students who are committed to a career in the federal government (rather than the minimum service required)
  • Applicants proposing a full academic year, or at least two consecutive semesters, of study abroad
  • Proposals for countries, languages, and fields of study critical to U.S. national security

Please refer to the Boren website for detailed descriptions of the scholarship selection criteria and the fellowship selection criteria.

  • Background information
  • Short answer responses
  • Essay 1: significance of proposed country, region, and language to national security and career goals
  • Essay 2: study abroad program description
  • Letters of recommendation (2-3)
  • Language proficiency evaluation (optional)
  • In the fall, attend NCA Learning Series session on the Boren Awards.
  • Contact NCA office (nca@uc.edu) to schedule an advising appointment.
    Carefully review award details on Boren website in advance of that appointment.
  • Complete two NCA forms:
  • Create application in Embark (applications become available in late August).
  • Contact Ryan Meyer, Associate Director of International Programs (aka Study Abroad), to consult on study abroad programs. His email address is meyerr2@ucmail.uc.edu
  • Applicants who opt into campus interview process must submit application by the Campus Deadline: January 3, 2022
  • Campus interviews take place in January.
  • All applicants submit revised and final application by National Deadline
    •     January 26, 2022 (Fellowship)
    •     February 2, 2022 (Scholarship)
  • Every year, Boren offers helpful webinars. We highly recommend you watch the one(s) best suited to your application type.
  • NCA and Study Abroad are available to provide feedback on your essays. If possible, you may also wish to secure a specialist reader who is knowledgeable about the region of the world you have chosen or your area of national security. The essays are a very important piece of this application, so make sure you give yourself time to work through a series of drafts.
  • Information on this page is intended to supplement, not supplant, your own careful review of the official Boren website. If you find any discrepancy between the two, the Boren website takes precedence.
  • Though you should seek out others’ advice and feedback on your application, the essays should be your original work (no one should be writing your essays for you). UC’s Student Code of Conduct applies.

If you're interested in language learning opportunities, you may want to explore these other options, too:

  • The U.S. Department of State has launched a new website to serve as a resource for information on language scholarships and training programs offered by the federal government, available now at https://language.state.gov.
  • With the launch comes a message to the U.S. higher education community from the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs at the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Caroline Casagrande. Download a PDF of her statement.