Demonstrate your commitment to serious language study.
All Boren Fellowships proposals must include a serious
language component. For beginning to intermediate language learners, this
should include some form of classroom-based study. It should not be limited to
the classroom, however, and you should look for opportunities to learn the
language outside of the classroom as well. Since the Boren Fellowships focus on
less commonly studied languages, it is okay if you have never studied the
language before. Regardless of how much experience you have in that language,
you should explain why you have selected the language and demonstrate that you
are committed to learning the language. Be specific about your language goals
and include a plan for continuing to study the language once you return from
Clearly address national security.
You must explain the significance of your studies to U.S.
national security. We apply a broad
definition of national security. So, you should not feel compelled to limit
your focus or concentrate your essays in an area in which you are not truly
interested. Keeping in mind the Boren
Awards’ emphasis on national security, you must tie your current academic plan,
your study abroad experience, and your future career goals into one strong
narrative that makes the case for your Boren Fellowships application.
Give specific and realistic career goals.
Your application will be more competitive if you can be
specific about how you would like to fulfill the service requirement. Explain how the Boren Fellowships will
contribute to your career aspirations and how those, in turn, will contribute
to broader U.S. security interests. If
you are unsure about your future career goals, investigate different areas of
federal service that you believe will best meet your goals, based on your
academic background and the region of the world in which you plan to
study. Visit your institution’s career
center and the websites of government agencies that interest you. You should also demonstrate that you have an
understanding of the actual selection process and the skills that are required
for the position.
Make sure your essays clearly answer the questions provided.
There are two statements of purpose, both of which include
several questions. Do not answer these
questions one by one. Instead, you
should write two integrative and comprehensive essays that clearly answer all
of the questions asked. When you finish writing your essays, take a break. Then, go back, read each question, and see if
your essay provides a sufficient response.
You should also have your campus representative and recommenders read
your essays. Additional professors who
have experience in the location you plan on studying or who are interested in
national security may have additional insight.
Listen closely to their suggestions.
If any of them have questions, our panelists will also have questions.
Ensure your course of study is feasible.
The best source of advice on overseas study and research is
most often your faculty adviser. Have
your faculty adviser and others from your discipline read over your
proposal. In addition, discuss your
proposal with faculty in other disciplines who have experience in the region
you will be studying. You should also
check if your university has a campus representative for the Boren Fellowships who can assist you.
Use their feedback to strengthen your proposal and make sure that it is
Ensure your reference letters are meaningful and arrive on
Two letters of recommendation are required, and a third
letter is optional. If your letters have
not been submitted yet, visit the people you have asked to write your letters
of recommendation during their office hours.
Remind them of your request, discuss your Boren statements with them,
and make sure that they have been able to access the online application system. Read advice for obtaining strong letters of
Avoid spelling, grammatical, or syntax errors.
This should go without saying, but applications with
spelling, grammatical or syntax errors go in the “do not recommend” pile quite
quickly. Not all problems can be solved
by the spell check function on your computer. If your campus has a writing center, utilize
it. If not, have multiple people
proofread your essay to look for any mistakes.
The application deadline for the Boren Fellowship is only two weeks away! As you work on your essays and collect you application materials, please keep in mind the following points that will help you create a competitive application.