Boren Award

Research or study abroad with the Boren Award!

Are you interested in studying or doing research abroad?

Do you have a passion for languages?

Does a career in public service or national security appeal to you?


The National Security Education Program (NSEP) was established by the National Security Education Act of 1991, which created resources to provide undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, and institutional grants. David L. Boren is the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program and the Boren Awards. In arguing in the U.S. Senate for passage of the NSEP, Boren expressed his view that the U.S. needed a large increase in experts in the languages and cultures of nations which were underrepresented in the number of U.S. students studying there. With changes in the world, Boren felt that the U.S. would increasingly work through partnerships with other countries whose needs and perspectives needed to be more fully understood.

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. Boren Scholars and Fellows from diverse fields of study immerse themselves in the cultures in world regions underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Boren Awards alumni are committed to public service, working in positions critical to U.S. national security throughout the Federal Government, including the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, and USAID.

All Boren Award recipients must make a commitment to work for the federal government for a minimum of one year.

Students may apply to study abroad in Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Students cannot apply to Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. Please see the Boren Awards list of preferred countries and preferred areas of study. Preference will be given to students who plan to study abroad long term (25-52 weeks). All Boren Awards-funded programs must include language study as a core element for the duration of the grant. The Boren Fellowship covers expenses associated with overseas study including tuition, living expenses, books, supplies, equipment, travel expenses, and insurance.

Note: All Boren Awardees must remain matriculated, degree-seeking, undergraduate students at a regionally accredited U.S. post-secondary institution for the duration of the Boren Award funded study abroad program.

Types of Awards:

Boren Scholarships
Fund study abroad by U.S. undergraduate students in world regions critical to U.S. interests. Students may apply for a Regional Flagship Language Initiative, or they may select/design their own study abroad program.

Maximum Award Amounts:
24-52 weeks (preferred): $25,000
12-24 weeks: $12,500
8-11 weeks (STEM only): $8,000

Boren Fellowships
Fund research and language study by U.S. graduate students in world regions critical to U.S. interests. Students may apply for a Regional Flagship Language Initiative, or they may design their own research proposal and language study plan.

Maximum Awards Amounts:
$30,000 for domestic/ overseas study
25-52 weeks (preferred): $25,000
8-11 weeks: $12,500

Proposed programs of two or more semesters are strongly encouraged for both the Scholarship and Fellowship Awards. Preference will be given to Boren Awards applicants proposing overseas programs of at least 25 weeks’ duration. The minimum duration of an eligible program is 12 weeks for most Boren Awards applicants. (A special exception to this rule exists for undergraduate STEM majors, who may propose summer programs of 8 weeks or longer).

Boren Awards give preference to programs based on their duration, focus on intensive study of a preferred language in a preferred country, and the applicant’s field of study. For more information on eligibility, preferred countries, and preferred field of study, please the detailed requirements on the Boren Awards website:


A completed Boren Awards application contains the components listed below. Applications are submitted through the online application portal on the Boren webpage. Applications should NOT be submitted to the online portal until after your Campus Evaluation interview (do not submit before the UA deadline). While your application should be entirely complete by the UA deadline, you will only submit your application to the portal when your Campus Evaluation has already taken place. After submission, the application will be sent to the national committee.

1: Eligibility and Basic Information
2: Personal and Contact Information
3: Educational Information
4. Transcripts from each academic institution attended (these may be unofficial)
5. Employment History
6. Relevant Activities
7. Study Abroad Program (if applicable) and Budget: includes a one-page description of the study abroad program. You may create a screenshot or PDF from the program’s website, or scan a program brochure. Your budget should contain estimated costs for tuition and fees, room and board, airfare (must be on a U.S. carrier) and other costs associated with the program, such as books, local transportation, and insurance. Please note that there is no incentive to underestimate your costs—the amount of money that you estimate will not affect your chances of winning an award.
8. Career Plans: a succinct description of your career plans using fewer than 100 characters
9. Essays and Study Plan Summary: The application includes two essays, with a maximum of 800 words for each essay. This is the most critical component of the application, and you should review the extensive essay guidelines to increase your chances of success. You should also reach out to your UA Boren Campus Representative, Dr. Tayler Kent (, who is available to assist you with crafting a competitive essay.
10. Abstract and Methodology (Boren Fellows only)
11. Language self-assessment (to be completed even if the student has no prior knowledge of the target language)
12. Additional information: overseas experience, honors and awards, other scholarships or fellowships received
13. Two letters of recommendation (you may include an optional third letter, but choosing to do so will not necessarily hurt or help your application). Please review Boren’s guide on selecting strong recommenders. Applicants who have experience in the target language are also encouraged to fill out a Language Evaluation, which should be completed by a recent instructor in that language.
14. After the deadline, you will be contacted by Dr. Kent to set up an interview time for your Campus Evaluation. Your application must be complete before we can schedule an interview for you.

Next Steps:
Email UA’s Boren Campus Representative:
Dr. Tayler Kent, Capstone International Center,
Check out the official Boren website
Attend a Boren Awards Information session on campus

On-Campus Application Process

To begin, please email the UA Boren Campus Representative: Dr. Tayler Kent at

Note: The Boren Awards do not require campus certification; all complete, eligible applications submitted by the national deadline will receive full consideration. However, it is strongly recommended that students work closely with the Boren Campus Representative and participate in the on-campus interview and application process. The UA on-campus interview will give the national selection committee valuable insight into your candidacy for the Boren Award, and is a chance for you to articulate your study goals in person to the committee.

The Online Application:
Create an account on Boren’s online application portal (2021 application cycle begins in mid-August), which can be found on their webpage. You will submit all of your application materials through this portal.

The Campus Deadline: The campus deadline is a FINAL deadline. It is Friday, January 7, 2022.  All application materials must be submitted in the on-line application system by the campus deadline.

After the deadline, you will be contacted by Dr. Kent to set up an interview time for your Campus Evaluation. Your application must be complete before we can schedule an interview for you.

Please make sure you remind your recommenders that their letters are due by the campus deadline. Boren requires that recommendation letters be submitted online. Please make sure you have entered your recommenders’ information in the online application system correctly. This will generate an email to them with a username and password, which allows them to upload their letters. Recommenders do not submit hard copies.

It is your responsibility to make sure that all of your letters of reference and foreign language evaluation(s) are uploaded by the campus deadline. Please do not call or email to ask about the completeness of your application. You can check on the Boren application system to see if letters of recommendation and language evaluations have been uploaded and submitted.

What is the purpose of the campus interview?
The purpose of the campus interview is to provide additional information about your candidacy to the selection committee. The interviews are your chance to articulate, in person, your reasons for wanting to study or research abroad. Each applicant will be interviewed individually for about 30 minutes by a panel of UA faculty and staff. Panelists may question students on contacts they have made overseas, academic preparation for the study, knowledge of the host country, and language training.

How does the panel evaluate applicants?
The panel’s rating of your application is based on an evaluation of your complete application and the campus interview. The panel will assess the content and feasibility of your study abroad plans, your research proposal (if applicable), your language preparation, your plans for fulfilling the service requirement, your knowledge of the host country, etc., and then complete a Campus Evaluation Form. The panel will rate your candidacy. The campus interview is NOT a mechanism for disqualifying applicants, but it is a mechanism for rating—not ranking—the applicants. Your rating will not be disclosed to you at any time, nor will you be given feedback regarding the confidential Campus Committee Evaluation Form.

PLEASE NOTE: No one is eliminated from the competition at the campus level. All applications will be submitted, regardless of the rating given by the campus committee.

What is the makeup of the panel?
You will be interviewed by UA faculty and staff members who may or may not be in your area of study. Some may have language expertise or cultural knowledge from your proposed country of study. Committee members have often had years of experience in working with Boren and other competitive study abroad applications, and they are very aware of what makes a good application. In addition, your application at the national level will not only be read by people specifically in your academic field, but by others who have knowledge of the country or area where you wish to go.

Please be aware that the campus interview is meant to support your application and is not the deciding factor in your application. The interview and evaluation is meant to give the national selection committee as much information to work with as possible, and is, thus, very important.

What if I will be away from campus during the spring semester?
Most students who apply for the Boren at The University of Alabama have a campus interview in person, but we can accommodate an interview over Skype, Facetime, or Zoom if an applicant is out of town.

The National Selection Process
Applications will be evaluated according the official selection criteria. The panels consist of faculty members and administrators representing diverse fields of study from colleges and universities from across the United States. The regional panels will make initial recommendations, and the national nominating panel will designate scholarship finalists to the National Security Education Program office.

You will receive notification regarding your application acceptance some any time between mid-March to late April (the notification date can vary from year to year). Please contact your Boren Campus Representative when you receive your official notification, as we are often not informed until a later date.

Last Thoughts

  • Make this scholarship application a priority and manage your time well!
  • Watch a Boren Awards Webinar. Here you will find general information about the awards, as well as specific, useful tips for crafting a competitive application.
  • Get everything in on time. Supporting materials can be submitted late, but you should make every effort to have a completed application by the campus deadline. Incomplete applications will reflect poorly on you at the campus and national levels.
  • Please contact your campus representative, Dr. Tayler Kent ( with any questions you have.

Good luck!