David L. Boren Awards for International Study

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Boren Scholarship Letters of Reference

As a Boren Scholarship applicant, you are required to submit two letters of reference, and you may submit a third.

It is best if two of the letters are from academic sources. When considering who to ask, you should look at more than just who gave you good grades.  The best references are written by people who can comment 1) on your academic, linguistic, and personal preparation for the study abroad program, especially as they relate to the Boren Scholarship objectives and 2) your understanding of the relationship between your program and U.S. national security, broadly defined, as well as your career interests.  

You should only submit a third letter of reference if you believe it will strengthen your application. The third letter can come from another professor or from a non-college level language instructor, such as a high school language teacher or a private tutor.  If you have relevant work or internship experience, you can also ask a supervisor to write the third letter.  Since this person will be writing from the perspective of interacting with you in a practical manner outside of the classroom, it can add an additional perspective to the application.    

Regardless of whom you choose to write your letters of reference, there are a few things you can do to ensure that the people writing your letters of reference are well-informed and prepared to write a strong, meaningful letter of support.

  • Give the person adequate time to complete the letter.  Referees who do not have ample time may neglect valuable details when writing the letter.
  • Explain what the Boren Scholarship is and why you have decided to apply. 
  • Visit potential referees during office hours to discuss the award.  If that’s not possible, set up a phone meeting.
  • Provide a resume or short biography along with the Boren Scholarship statement of purpose. This will give your referees a clearer picture of you and your goals.  Plus, they may have feedback or questions that can help you revise your statement of purpose. 
  • Send a friendly reminder about the competition to referees, if necessary, in order to ensure that letters are completed on time.
  • Present the signed, sealed, original reference letters to your campus representative.  If you don’t have a campus representative, send them directly to IIE.