Boren Scholarship: An Overview

At A Glance...

Official Name: 
Boren National Security Education Scholarship & Graduate Fellowship
Campus Deadline: 
Thursday, January 4, 2024
Who Should Apply?: 
Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, as long as they are enrolled at UMass Amherst; U.S. citizens
What It's For: 
Study abroad (one semester or full year) in specific geographic areas and languages
Fields of Study: 
Any field relevant to U.S. national security


Boren Scholarship supports students interested in spending one, preferably two, semesters in a non-western country in order to promote long-term linguistic and cultural immersion. These awards provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded. Boren Scholars represent a variety of academic backgrounds, but all are interested in studying less commonly taught languages, including but not limited to Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Swahili.

Boren Scholarships focus on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security. Applicants identify how their study abroad program, as well as their future academic and career goals, will contribute to U.S. national security. National security is broadly defined to include not only the traditional concerns of protecting American well-being, but also areas such as sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness. Recipients of the scholarship agree to work in the federal government and serve national security interests for at least one year after completing their study abroad.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • U.S. citizen at time of application
  • Enrolled in a degree program at time of application and during study abroad
  • Must be able to complete Boren-funded program before graduation
  • Applying to a full-semester or academic year study abroad program in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand
  • Must plan to study a less commonly taught language in an eligible world region for full semester or (preferred) academic year. Intermediate/Advanced French will be considered for study under the African Flagship Languages Initiative (AFLI). A limited number of undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields may be funded for summer programs of at least 8 weeks.

Candidate Profile:

  • Commitment to national security (broadly defined) and a desire to work in government service in an area pertaining to national security after graduation
  • Academic background and preparation commensurate with future career goals (e.g., independent projects or other study abroad experience, language learning, internships, volunteer experience, etc.)
  • Study abroad program that prioritizes language learning and immersion
  • Clear connections among one's chosen study abroad program, desire to pursue language learning, and future goals in relation to national security
  • Cultural knowledge and adaptability, flexibility, and maturity

Application Components:

  • Online application
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Two essays, which are detailed here
  • Certified transcript (or transcripts)
  • Language self-assessment form
  • Language proficiency form (optional)
  • One of the following:
    • One-page study abroad program description with cost information.
    • If you set up a direct enrollment or individually arranged a 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.

Application Procedure:

If you wish to receive comprehensive advising support, including feedback from ONSA staff and a formal endorsement of your application, you need to meet the campus application deadline of January 4, 2022.

Students who do not follow these campus deadlines will not be eligible to receive feedback and the endorsement, but may still apply independently to the Boren scholarship.