Types of Boren Awards
There are three (3) types of awards: Boren Scholarships (for undergraduates), Boren Fellowships (for graduate students), and grants from the Language Flagship Program, which are designed to help students achieve superior-level proficiency in critical languages. Flagship students participate in intensive language programs offered at selected undergraduate institutions. For the purposes of this webpage, we will include information only on Boren Scholarship and on the Language Flagship program.
Boren Awards Definition
Boren Scholarships provide American undergraduates (generally Sophomores and Juniors) with the resources and encouragement they need to acquire skills and experiences in areas of the world critical to the future security of our nation, in exchange for their commitment to seek work in the federal government.
Boren awards focus on countries, languages, and fields critical to U.S. national security, recognizing a broad definition that includes traditional concerns of protecting American well-being, as well as challenges of global society, such as sustainable development, environmental issues, disease, migration, and economic competitiveness.
Who Administers Boren Awards
The Institute of International Education (IIE) administers the Boren Scholarships, Boren Fellowships, and The Language Flagship Fellowships and Grants on behalf of the National Security Education Program. IIE is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building international goodwill through educational and cultural exchange among nations.
By enabling more than 18,000 outstanding men and women each year to study, conduct research, receive practical training, or provide technical assistance outside their own countries, IIE fosters mutual understanding, builds global problem-solving capabilities, and strengthens the international competence of U.S. citizens.
- Must be a U.S. citizen at the time of application.
- Must be a high school graduate, or have earned a GED.
- Must be matriculated in an undergraduate degree program in the U.S. and accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Boren Scholars must remain matriculated in their undergraduate programs for the duration of the scholarship.
- Must apply to a study-abroad program that meets home institution standards in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. Boren Scholarships are not for study in the United States.
National Security Connection: Both Grants
All Boren Scholarship Applicants Must Address National Security in their Essays. The Boren program draws on a broad definition of national security, recognizing that the scope of national security has expanded to include not only the traditional concerns of protecting and promoting American well-being, but also the challenges of global society, including sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, women’s rights, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness.
Boren Scholarship applicants explain the significance of their study abroad experience (including the region they selected, its culture, and the language they will study) to U.S. national security, broadly defined.
Please see the following interpretations of national security as examples:
- Security studies or diplomacy – Students studying international affairs, history, or political science could discuss the bilateral relationship between the United States and the country in which they propose to study. Previous topics include U.S - Turkey Bilateral Relationship, USA-China Comparative Law, and Political Parties in Egypt.
- International trade- Applicants studying business or economics might make the case that the United States is more secure with stable trading partners. Former case studies include Global Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, China-Origin Trade-Based Money Laundering: Trends and Solutions, and The Decentralization of Fisheries in Cambodia.
- Sustainable development or global disease – Students focusing on these issues could argue that regional stability is threatened by global poverty, environmental degradation, or disease, and that U.S. security is enhanced by combating these concerns. Previous research includes HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Programs in East Africa; Famine in French Algeria: Environmental Disaster and Colonial Policy; and Taiwan: Climate Change and Energy, Beyond the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- Health and literacy issues: Women’s health, women’s education, gender equality, water and food security, global health leadership, etc.
With this broad definition, you should not feel compelled to limit your focus or concentrate your statement of purpose or essay in an area in which you are not truly interested. Rather, in your statement of purpose/essay, it is imperative that you articulate your interpretation of national security and make a compelling case about why your experience/project, region, and language are important.
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.
- View list of preferred countries
- View list of preferred languages to study
View preferred list of fields of study
Preferred Length of Study
Boren Scholarships promote long-term linguistic and cultural immersion; therefore, study-abroad proposals for two or more semesters are strongly encouraged. Preference will be given to undergraduate applicants proposing a full-year academic study. Boren-funded programs can begin no earlier than June 1st.
Summer-only programs must be eight (8) weeks or longer and are limited to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students.
Selecting a Study Abroad Program
- Most students consult their Campus Representative, study abroad office, and Boren Scholarship Staff at IIE. You may also consult IIE Passport, an online study abroad directory with more than 7,000 study abroad programs worldwide.
- 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.
- If the total length of study exceeds six months, candidates receive preference as a year-long proposal. Applications for two different consecutive study abroad programs must entail study of the same language.
Importance of Language Acquisition
- Language study is a major component of your Boren study abroad program. All study abroad programs do not offer the same opportunities to learn a language. The language component must incorporate opportunities to learn a language in a context that is meaningful to your language proficiency and language learning goals. You should take into account any prior knowledge and experience in the proposed language when selecting and designing your study abroad program.
If you already have studied the language, you should consider what opportunities the program will provide for you to advance your proficiency. If you have not studied the language, you should consider what the program offers you in opportunities to make substantial progress. Among the issues you should consider in selecting your program are:
- Does the program offer language courses that emphasize rigorous study and practical use of the contemporary language leading to increased proficiency in reading, speaking, and listening?
- How many classroom contact hours are offered in the language study? Will this be sufficient to increase your language proficiency?
- Are there opportunities to study the language in small groups tailored to your proficiency level?
- Who are the faculty who teach the language? Are they native speakers with extensive experience in teaching foreign students?
- Is there a full-time U.S. resident director at the institution who will help oversee your academic and cultural programs and monitor your language learning?
- Are there serious opportunities for living in university housing or home-stays where the foreign language will be spoken on a regular basis? How are home-stay families selected?
Since the Boren Scholarship encourages students to study in countries whose languages are less commonly taught at U.S. institutions, it is anticipated that many students will not be familiar with the language of their chosen country. Prior study of another language will serve as an indication of interest and aptitude.
Regional Flagship Language Initiatives
Boren offers four (4) Regional Flagship Language Initiatives:
- The African Languages Initiative (AFLI) offers Boren recipients the opportunity to study French and African languages in Africa: French in Senegal, Swahili in Tanzania, Akan/Twi in Wolof in Senegal, and Zulu in South Africa.
- The Indonesian Flagship Languages Initiative (IFLI) funds the intensive study of the Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia) through a combination of domestic and overseas programs.
- The South Asian Flagship Language Initiative (SAFLI) offers Boren Scholars the opportunity for intensive study of either Hindi or Urdu through a combination of domestic and overseas programs.
- The Turkish Flagship Language Initiative (TURFLI) offers Boren Scholars the opportunity for intensive study of the Turkish language through a combination of domestic and overseas programs.
Maximum Boren Scholarship awards are:
- $8,000 for an 8-week summer program (special initiative for STEM students only)
- $12,500 for a semester
- $25,000 for a full academic year
In exchange for funding, all recipients of Boren recipients must be willing to complete one year of service either to the Federal Government or in an area of education related to their language study.
How to Apply
- Consult with a faculty adviser about your plan.
- Consult with Prof. Bell about your plan and throughout your application process.
- Download and complete a Pre-Application for Boren Awards. Forward it, along with all of the supplementary documents, to Prof. Bell. View the application form here.
- Read the Boren Application process and familiarize yourself with the Boren website.
- Click here for application instructions: Application Instructions
- Select a study abroad program.
Note: You must submit a draft of your application by the MMC Campus Deadline. See the Timeline (hyperlink on main ESS website) for specific dates.
These documents are uploaded onto the IIE web application site. You will need a username and password. Click here to register your application: Register at IIE.
- Applicant Data
- Academic Data
- Other Academic Data
- Foreign Language Experience
- Applicant Experience Abroad
- Proposed Study Abroad Programs; includes Budget
- Financial Aid / Survey Data / Other Scholarship Information
- Statement of Purpose I (800 words): Explain the significance of your proposed country, region, and language to U.S. national security. The Boren Awards recognize a broad definition of national security, but you should make a specific, detailed, and focused argument.
Statement of Purpose II (800 words): Please discuss the following points in one integrated essay, giving equal attention to each point. You can discuss the points in any order.
- Think about a previous experience that has led to growth or a personal quality. Reflect upon it and describe how it will assist you in preparing to spend significant time overseas studying a critical foreign language and culture.
- Explain how the country and language you selected will help you achieve your career goals, including your plans to fulfill the federal service requirement. Be specific. If appropriate, you may also include relevant past academic, extracurricular, volunteer, internship, and professional experiences.
- As you will be committing to working for the federal government for at least one year, describe what makes you interested in federal service and what you will bring as a leader in the federal workforce.
The purpose of the second essay is twofold: it is an opportunity for applicants to describe their preparation for long-term, immersive overseas study, and to convince selection panelists of their motivation for and commitment to careers in public service.
For more on the essays, click here.
Balance of the Application
- Letters of reference. Two letters are required; you may include a third, optional letter. All letters are submitted online through the Slate website.
- Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. First-year students must also include high school transcripts.
- One page study abroad program description with cost information. (This may be a page from the program’s website or a photocopy of part of the program brochure.) If you set up a direct enrollment or individually arranged study abroad program, please provide two letters of support. The first letter should be from your home institution and the second letter should be from your overseas host institution.
- Language self-assessment (copy on the Boren website)
- Language proficiency form (optional) (copy on the Boren website) (if applicable)
Students will also be interviewed by MMC’s Campus Evaluation Committee.
About the Application Process
The application process takes time. You cannot begin at the last minute. You must give your application a great deal of thought. The essays alone will require research and they will go through many drafts. You will seek advice from faculty advisers and from Prof. Bell. You must meet the Campus Deadlines stipulated on the Timeline or your application will not be recommended.
Even if you do not receive a grant, the process is worth your time, as you will gain a great deal of valuable experience in the process of writing a grant application. If you are successful and win an award, the benefits to your future career are considerable. You will gain invaluable, extended exposure to a foreign country, culture, language, and community. You will pursue your academic research and enrich your intellectual life. You will make contacts for an exciting career.
Previous MMC Boren Award Recipients
Read up on some of the amazing things our previous Boren Scholars have accomplished.