Frequently Asked Questions

Boren Fellowships Frequently Asked Questions

Boren Fellowships can be awarded for overseas language study, academic study, research (either Master’s or Ph.D. level), an academic internship, or any combination of the above.  In addition, Boren Fellowships can provide limited funding for domestic language study that will supplement the overseas component.  You should design a project based on your own academic interests, while keeping in mind that all projects must include a serious language component.

The Boren Fellowship covers expenses associated with overseas study including tuition, living expenses, books, supplies, equipment, travel expenses, and insurance. In addition, the Boren Fellowship provides limited funding for domestic language study. Please see the budget guidelines for more information.

You must be matriculated at an accredited U.S. institution of higher education located within the United States, and be in the process of pursing a graduate degree at the time the award begins. Boren Fellows must remain matriculated in their graduate programs for the duration of the fellowship. Universities will usually allow students to maintain matriculation while they are abroad pursuing curricula outside the standard requirements. The option of registering for independent study or directed reading credits during the semester(s) of absence from the home institution is available. Please consult with your campus representative or academic advisor for more detailed information on the specific requirements of your university.

If you are in the process of applying to graduate schools, you may also apply for a Boren Fellowship. In your Boren Fellowship application, you will need to indicate the graduate programs to which you have applied. If you are selected for a fellowship, the award will be contingent upon your acceptance into a graduate program, and you will be required to provide IIE with proof of matriculation before any Boren Fellowship funds are disbursed.

Boren Fellowship applicants should work with their academic advisors and campus representatives, and all applicants should read What Makes a Competitive Application. In addition, you should see the applicant resources for other helpful information, including a PowerPoint presentation, a schedule of upcoming webinars, and the Boren Awards newsletter.

Yes. Foreign language study is a key element in all Boren proposals. The language you choose should be appropriate to the country in which you plan to study.  We are committed to both new language acquisition and improvement of language competence for advanced language students.

For most languages, there are no language proficiency requirements. Your overseas program should be appropriate for your language ability.

In the cases of Spanish and French, there are language proficiency requirements. If you study French through the African Flagship Languages Initiative, you must be at an intermediate high level or above. For all other applicants for French or Spanish, you must already be an advanced speaker (or intermediate, if you are a STEM major).

We encourage applications for study in non-preferred countries, languages, and fields of study when the applicant can make a compelling argument that increased understanding and appreciation of that particular country, language, and/or field of study contributes to U.S. national security and the goals of the Boren Fellowship.

Yes. While the Boren Fellowships have a preference for 6 months or longer overseas, applicants proposing overseas programs of 3-6 months, especially those in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields are encouraged to apply.  In your application, explain why you have chosen to go overseas for a shorter period, whether it is because of your class sequence, participation in a particular sport, familial responsibilities, or other compelling reasons.

Yes. You may study in a country with a current State Department Travel Warning; however, if you decide to do so, you must be willing to sign a waiver. In certain countries, further restrictions may apply, including possible outright prohibition on using the Boren Fellowship in a particular country. In such cases, IIE will work with the Fellow to find an alternate program. Information about active travel warnings is available on the State Department website.


Yes. All Boren Fellowships must include an overseas component. The duration may be as short as 12 weeks or as long as one year. 

You can participate in an internship if it is an integrated and meaningful component of your academic program. However, you may not accept paid employment while abroad. In addition, you cannot intern with U.S. or foreign government agencies.

Yes, we recognize that it may be difficult to receive a letter of overseas affiliation by the time of application; therefore, the letter is not required at that time. Applicants should use the essays to describe their overseas plans. Applicants who do have a letter from an academic institution, research institute, or non-governmental organization should include it in the application.

Current employees of the federal government may apply for a Boren Fellowship. Recipients of the award, however, may not be employees of a federal agency during their Boren-funded study period. A Fellow who was previously an employee of the federal government must provide proof that he or she is separated from that agency. In addition, ROTC students, military reservists,
and members of the National Guard must confirm inactive, non-drilling status
during the Boren-funded period.

Boren Fellows represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena. Boren Fellows must make a commitment to work in the federal government for a minimum of one year. For more information please visit the  NSEP service requirement

Yes. Graduate students who received Boren Scholarships as undergraduates are encouraged to apply for the Boren Fellowship, especially if they plan to continue studying the same language.

You can receive additional awards provided that there is no duplication of support in requested budget line-items. Boren Fellows who receive scholarship funding to support their study abroad must notify IIE about their award(s). In some cases, reduced financial need as a result of increased support may impact the amount of the Boren Fellowship.