Frequently Asked Questions

Boren Scholarships Frequently Asked Questions

The Boren Scholarship covers costs associated with your study abroad program, including tuition and fees, room and board, books, insurance, local transportation, and round-trip airfare on a U.S. carrier. The Boren Scholarship does not cover study tours of several countries, such as semester at sea. Please see the budget guidelines for more information.

The Boren campus representative at your institution will set your on-campus application deadline. The campus deadline will be earlier than the national deadline in order to allow time for the on-campus review of Boren Scholarship applications. Most institutions set an on-campus deadline between mid-December and late January, but you should contact your Boren campus representative immediately for the campus deadline at your institution.

Yes. Every year there are applicants for the Boren Scholarship who do not have a campus representative. Successful applicants often find someone to work with them on campus, such as a study abroad, fellowships, or departmental advisor. You can always contact IIE directly for assistance (1-800-618-NSEP or

Boren Scholarship applicants should work with their campus representatives, study abroad office, and other advisors, 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. 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 Scholarship.

Yes. While the Boren Scholarships have a preference for academic year (6 months or longer) study abroad, if you are unable to study abroad for an academic year and have chosen to study abroad for a semester, you should still apply for a Boren Scholarship.  In your application, explain why you have chosen to study abroad for a semester, whether it is because of your class sequence, participation in a particular sport, familial responsibilities, or other compelling reasons. You could also strengthen your application by adding a summer study abroad program to your fall or spring program.

In addition, the Boren Scholarship has a special initiative for applicants in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Students in these fields may apply for summer study of at least eight weeks, and their applications will not be at a disadvantage. 

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. Your study abroad proposal should note the amount (number of hours per week) and level of classroom instruction you will undertake. Most importantly, you should provide a realistic estimate of the language level you expect your formal as well as informal (non-classroom) study will help you achieve.

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).

In some cases, appropriate full academic year programs may not be available. In these cases, 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.  If the total length of study exceeds six months, the application will receive preference as a year-long proposal. Applications for two different consecutive study abroad programs must entail study of the same language. 

If your college or university has approved applying your academic credits towards an associate's or bachelor's degree, you are matriculated in a degree program.

Yes. Community college students - both two-year and transfer - are particularly encouraged to apply. If you are a transfer student who would like to study abroad next fall and/or spring, you should apply from your community college, indicating to which institution you will transfer.

No. The Boren Scholarship can be used to support study abroad through an established program, direct enrollment in a foreign university, or an individually arranged study. The choice of a particular program for study abroad is made by you in consultation with your campus advisor. Make your choices based on the overall quality of the program, on the strength of the language instruction, and on other elements (i.e. support services provided, cultural activities) that will enhance your period of study abroad. There are no lists of Boren-preferred programs, nor does Boren endorse programs under a particular institution, organization, or group's sponsorship.

Choosing an alternate study abroad program is optional. However, because Boren Scholarships may be used only for study abroad programs listed as either the primary or alternate option on the application, except in extraordinary cases, you may find it to be useful. Selecting an alternate program provides you with an option in the event that you are not accepted into your primary program, your primary program is already full, or your primary program is cancelled. Your alternate program should be in the same country as the primary program, but if there is no alternate in that country, you can select another country in the same region as long as your language of study remains the same. The Boren Scholarship is designed for students who are serious about study of a particular region and language. Proposing to study another language or in another area of the world is often interpreted as a lack of serious focus by the review panelists.

Yes. The policy of IIE and NSEP is to allow Boren Scholars to study in countries with State Department Travel Warnings, if their home institutions’ policies allow for such study. If you wish to study in one of these countries, you must sign a waiver, and the appropriate official from your home institution must document the institution’s policy and compliance with our institutional travel warning form before the overseas program begins. In certain countries, further restrictions may apply, including possible outright prohibition on using the Boren Scholarship in a particular country. In such cases, IIE will work with the Scholar to find an alternate program. Information about active travel warnings is available on the State Department website.


Yes. We recognize that many students will submit applications to specific study abroad programs and the Boren Scholarship simultaneously, with expected notification for each at a different date. Students who are awarded the Boren Scholarship must furnish IIE with evidence of acceptance to the study abroad program for which they applied before they can receive any funding.

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

Yes. In fact, you are encouraged to apply. One of the objectives of the Boren Scholarship is to expand international educational opportunities for students who have not studied abroad and who may require financial assistance to do so. Please work closely with your study abroad office and your Boren campus representative who can provide support as you apply for scholarship assistance. You can also contact IIE at or 1-800-618-NSEP (6737) with questions about the application process.

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

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

All recipients may only receive one Boren Scholarship; however, if the award was initially for one semester, the student may request an extension for a second semester. Designation of second term awards will be based on performance and availability of funds.

Boren Scholarship recipients who pursue a graduate degree are eligible to apply for the Boren Fellowship

Yes, students who are currently enrolled in The Language Flagship are encouraged to apply for the Boren Scholarship. Please review the Boren-Flagship Initiative section of this website for more information.

Yes. It may be to your advantage to combine funding from two or more scholarship programs. Therefore, Boren Scholarship applicants may apply for and receive scholarship funding in addition to the Boren award. Boren Scholars who are selected to receive other 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 scholarship support may impact the amount of the Boren Scholarship.

Please contact your study abroad and financial aid offices on campus to discuss scholarship opportunities. Additional scholarship opportunities for study abroad include:

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program
Tel: 1-888-887-5939 ext. 25

Study Abroad Funding - Database of study abroad scholarships