Boren Scholars and Fellows study a wide range of critical languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, and Swahili. Boren Awards are available to students of all proficiency levels who are committed to enhancing their skills.


Fund study abroad by U.S. undergraduate students in world regions critical to U.S. interests.
Maximum awards are determined by duration abroad:

Up to $20,000 for 25-52 weeks (preferred)

Up to $10,000 for 12-24 weeks

Up to $8,000 for 8-11 weeks


Fund research and language study proposals by U.S. graduate students in world regions critical to U.S. interests.
Maximum awards are determined by duration abroad:

Up to $24,000 for 37-52 weeks abroad (preferred)

Up to $20,000 for 25-36 weeks abroad (preferred)

Up to $12,000 for 12-24 weeks

+ Up to $12,000 for domestic language study (optional)

Field of Study

The Boren Awards give preference to applicants who will be matriculated in degree programs (i.e. majoring or double-majoring) in the following fields of study. These fields of study are summary categories — applicants should choose the field of study that most closely resembles their major subject(s) of study.

Note that only undergraduates majoring in subjects marked as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are eligible for summer-only awards of at least eight weeks’ duration.

The Boren Awards are available to students from other fields of study than those listed below. Applicants from other fields of study will need to explain clearly how they will make competitive applicants for specific public service careers in their second application essay.

Boren Awards Preferred Fields of Study
· Agricultural & Food Sciences – STEM

· Anthropology

· Archaeology

· Area Studies

· Astronomy – STEM

· Biology – STEM

· Business

· Chemistry – STEM

· Computer & Information Sciences – STEM

· Criminal Justice

· Cybersecurity – STEM

· Economics

· Engineering – STEM

· Environmental Studies – STEM

· Geography

· Geology – STEM

· History

· International Affairs

· International Development

· Languages

· Law

· Linguistics

· Mathematics – STEM

· Medical Sciences – STEM

· Military Science

· Nursing – STEM

· Physics – STEM

· Political Science

· Psychology

· Public Administration

· Public Health – STEM

· Social Sciences

· Social Work

· Sociology

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Graduate-Level Research (Boren Fellows Only)

The Boren Fellowships are designed to give graduate students maximum flexibility to pursue their academic goals alongside their study of the target language. As noted above, Boren Fellows may concentrate only on language study during their time abroad — such an application will be given equal consideration. Language study throughout the duration of the grant may be supplemented with any or all of the following activities:

Academic Internship: Boren Fellows may conduct internships related to their degree programs while abroad. Internships conducted during the period of a Boren Awards grant may not be remunerated, nor may they be conducted with the U.S. or a foreign government.

If you have questions about an internship with an organization with ties to the U.S. or a foreign government, please contact us at or 1-800-618-NSEP (6737). Boren Fellows also may not work as journalists while abroad, even if the work is freelance or unpaid.

Classroom Study: Boren Fellows may enroll in or audit courses in their academic disciplines at host-country institutions while abroad.
Research: Boren Fellows are encouraged to conduct research related to graduate theses or dissertations while abroad.
Boren Fellows with sufficiently advanced skills in the target language may be able to conduct any of the above activities in that language. They are also encouraged to supplement those activities with languages courses or tutoring.

If advanced language immersion or supplemental tutoring are part of the proposed program, applicants should make this explicit in the study program description.

Applicants proposing internships, other classroom study, or research are strongly advised to secure letters of affiliation from overseas host institutions or faculty and attach them to their applications.

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All elements of the proposed program — language study, internships, other classroom study, or research — should be tied to U.S. national security and public service in the application essays.

Summer Domestic Option (Boren Fellows Only)

The Boren Fellowships offer up to $12,000 for summer intensive language study. If requested, the maximum total combined domestic and overseas award amount is $30,000. Domestic study is entirely optional, but may be useful preparation for Boren Fellows whose overseas program requires that they arrive in country with strong language skills.

Domestic funding is limited to the summer immediately before the applicant’s proposed program overseas. Therefore, in order to be eligible for domestic funding, the applicant must have an overseas program that starts no later than September 30. Additional rules for domestic study include:

Boren Fellows may receive domestic funding for study at their own institution or other U.S. academic institutions.
Domestic funding must be for the primary language the applicant plans to study while overseas.

Domestic funding is for language classes only. Boren will not fund other academic coursework, internships, or research conducted in the United States.
Applicants planning on taking language classes at their home university or in their local area are eligible to receive funding for tuition and fees only. Applicants planning domestic summer intensive language study in a different geographic area will also be eligible for room and board funding. The Boren Fellowship does not cover travel or relocation expenses associated with domestic funding.



Visit the Apply Now page to get started by selecting the country and language you want to study. You may change your selections at any time.


Reach out to the Boren Awards campus representative at your institution. (You may still apply if your institution does not have one.) They will have lots of constructive advice for you.

Review the official selection criteria.


Apply for a Regional Flagship Language Initiative

Regional Flagship Language Initiatives offer Boren Scholars and Boren Fellows carefully-selected, credit-bearing language courses during the summer (domestic) and fall (overseas), with the option to continue overseas study into the spring:

  • The African Flagship Languages Initiative (AFLI) for the study of FrenchPortugueseSwahiliAkan/TwiWolof, or Zulu
  • The Indonesian Flagship Language Initiative (IFLI) for the study of Indonesian
  • The South Asian Flagship Languages Initiative (SAFLI) for the study of Hindi or Urdu
  • New in 2020! The Turkish Flagship Language Initiative (TURFLI) for the study of Turkish
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 Select/Design Your Own Study Program


The Boren Awards invest in linguistic and cultural knowledge for aspiring federal government employees. Understanding the national security implications of your study and the many career opportunities available to you is critical to a successful application.

Draft your essays as early as you can and share them with your recommenders.


Your most important support will come from your campus representative. (You may still apply if you do not have one; ask new advisors to contact us if they want to be listed.)

Boren Awards staff will release new webinars on specific topics throughout the application cycle — watch as many as you can!

If you have any questions specific to your application, contact us at or call 1-800-618-NSEP (6737) during business hours (9 am to 5 pm Eastern).


The national deadlines for the 2021 Boren Awards are:

Boren Fellowships: January 27, 2021 at 5:00 pm EST

Boren Scholarships: February 3, 2021 at 5:00 pm EST

The application for the 2021 cycle will open in mid-August 2020.

Boren Awards funding may be applied to programs starting as early as June 1, 2021 or as late as March 1, 2022.

Your campus representative may also set a campus deadline to provide support and feedback — please check to see if there is one and respect it!

Applicants will be notified if they have been selected in mid-to-late April of 2021.


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