David L. Boren Awards for International Study

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Boren Scholarship Preferences

Boren Scholarships are awarded with preference for countries, languages, and fields of study critical to U.S. national security. Preference is also given to students who will study abroad for longer periods of time, and who are highly motivated by the opportunity to work in the federal government. 


Boren Scholars may study abroad in Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Students may apply to study in any country outside of the United States, Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand...

The program will give preference to applicants planning to study in one of the following emphasized countries:

  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh 
  • Belarus
  • Benin 
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Congo, Democratic Republic of the*
  • Congo, Republic of the
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Czech Republic
  • Egypt*
  • El Salvador
  • Eritrea*
  • Ethiopia
  • Georgia
  • Ghana 
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Honduras*
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Korea, South
  • Kosovo 
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lebanon*
  • Liberia
  • Macedonia
  • Malaysia
  • Mali* 
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Nigeria*
  • Oman
  • Pakistan*
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia*
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Serbia 
  • Sierra Leone
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Taiwan
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste
  • Tunisia*
  • Turkey
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine*
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen*

 *NSEP did not make awards for these countries in 2015. You may still apply for a 2016 Boren Award to study in one of these countries; however, you must include a viable alternate plan in another appropriate country for the same language of study.

Note: Boren Scholars may only study in a country with a U.S. State Department Travel warning if they are willing to sign a waiver.  Students must also have a responsible officer of their home institution certify that study in that particular country is allowable under the home institution's policies.  Click here to view the Institutional Travel Warning Form.  This form is not required until award decisions have been made in May. Students planning on applying for study in one of these countries should check with their study abroad offices to determine what the university policies are. Information about active travel warnings is available on the State Department website.

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All Boren Scholars must study a foreign language appropriate to the country in which they are studying abroad...

The program will give preference to applicants studying one of the following emphasized languages:

  • Akan/Twi*
  • Albanian
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Azerbaijani
  • Bahasa Indonesian
  • Bambara
  • Belarusian
  • Bengali 
  • Bosnian
  • Bulgarian
  • Cambodian 
  • Cantonese
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Gan
  • Georgian
  • Haitian 
  • Hausa
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Japanese
  • Javanese
  • Kanarese 
  • Kazakh
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Kurdish
  • Kyrgyz
  • Lingala
  • Macedonian
  • Malay
  • Malayalam
  • Mandarin
  • Moldovan  
  • Pashto
  • Persian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese*
  • Punjabi 
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Sinhala
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian
  • Swahili*
  • Tagalog
  • Tajik
  • Tamil
  • Telegu 
  • Thai
  • Turkmen
  • Turkish
  • Uighur
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Uzbek
  • Vietnamese
  • Wolof*
  • Yoruba
  • Zulu*

*These languages are part of the African Flagship Languages Initiative. Portuguese can also be studied in Brazil.

French is not a Boren Awards preferred language; however, there is a special option for the study of French under the African Flagship Languages Initiative. Students who have achieved an intermediate high or above oral proficiency level in French are encouraged to apply for a Boren Scholarship under this initiative.

Please note that in most cases, study of French or Spanish is only permissible if the applicant is at an advanced level of competency. Students should focus their Boren application on achieving further language proficiency through academic coursework in French or Spanish. However, students at the intermediate level of French or Spanish who are majoring in the sciences, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields are also eligible. Any award granted for the study of French or Spanish will be made contingent upon verification, through testing, of the student's language level. For more information about evaluating your language proficiency, click here.

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Fields of Study

The program will give preference to applicants planning to study in one of the following fields of study:...
  • Agricultural and Food Sciences
  • Area Studies
  • Business and Economics
  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Foreign Languages
  • Health and Biomedical Science
  • History
  • International Affairs
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Sciences and Engineering
  • Social Sciences
  • Political Science and Policy Studies

As we cannot list all countries, languages, and fields that are critical to U.S. national security, we are interested in applications that fall outside the preferences, if the candidate can make a compelling case that such study can contribute significantly to U.S. national security and the goals of the program.

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Length of Study

Boren Scholarships promote long term linguistic and cultural immersion, and therefore study abroad proposals for two or more semesters are strongly encouraged. Preference will be given to undergraduate applicants proposing a full-year (6 months or more) academic study. Summer-only programs must be eight (8) weeks or more and are limited to science, technology, engineering and mathematics students...

If full year opportunities in the same program are unavailable, students may study abroad on two different study abroad programs. We encourage consecutive programs of study; these applications could be for summer and year programs; fall and spring semesters; summer and fall semesters; or spring and summer semesters. These applications would then be considered together, and if the total length of study exceeds six months, they receive preference as a year-long proposal. Applications for two different consecutive study abroad programs must entail study of the same language. Applicants should click here for information about completing the application correctly.

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Commitment to Government Service

Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate a desire for a career in the Federal Government.  In exchange for scholarship funding, all Boren Scholars must agree to the NSEP Service Requirement...

The NSEP Service Requirement stipulates that an award recipient work in the federal Government in a position with national security responsibilities. The Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, or any element of the Intelligence Community are priority agencies. If an award recipient demonstrates to NSEP that no appropriate position is available in one of these agencies, the award recipient must seek to fulfill the requirement in a position with national security responsibilities in any Federal department or agency. Approval of service outside of a priority agency is contingent upon satisfactory demonstration of a full and good faith effort in accordance with conditions established by NSEP. If an award recipient demonstrates to NSEP that no appropriate position is available in the Federal Government, the award recipient may petition NSEP to fulfill the requirement in an education position directly related to the language[s] or area[s] studied by the individual under NSEP support or to another language or area where the individual has demonstrated competency. The education option is available only after exhausting all opportunities to fulfill the requirement in the Federal Government in accordance with conditions established by NSEP.

The duration of the NSEP Service Requirement is one year or the duration of assistance provided under the program, whichever is longer.

Boren scholars must begin fulfilling the service requirement within three years of graduation. 

For more details and a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the NSEP Service Requirement, click here.

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