Boren Scholarships Preferences

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.

The program will give preference to applicants planning to study in one of the emphasized countries in green.  We do not anticipate sending students to the countries in blue in 2019. You may still apply for 2019 Boren Awards to study in one of these countries; however, you must include a viable alternate plan in another appropriate country for the same language of study.  Please visit our list of preferred countries of study for more information.


All Boren Scholars must study a foreign language appropriate to the country in which they are studying abroad. The program will give preference to applicants studying one of the following emphasized languages:

  • African Languages
  • Akan/Twi
  • Albanian
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Azerbaijani
  • Bambara
  • Belarusian
  • Bengali 
  • Bosnian
  • Bulgarian
  • Cambodian 
  • Cantonese
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Gan
  • Georgian
  • Haitian 
  • Hausa
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Indonesian
  • Japanese
  • Javanese
  • Kanarese 
  • Kazakh
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Kurdish
  • Kyrgyz
  • Lingala
  • Macedonian
  • Malay
  • Malayalam
  • Mandarin
  • Moldovan  
  • Nepali
  • Pashto
  • Persian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Punjabi 
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Sinhala
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian
  • Swahili
  • Tagalog
  • Tajik
  • Tamil
  • Telegu 
  • Thai
  • Turkmen
  • Turkish
  • Uighur
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Uzbek
  • Vietnamese
  • Wolof
  • Yoruba
  • Zulu

Fields of Study

The program will give preference to applicants planning to study in one of the following fields of study:

  • Agricultural and Food Sciences
  • Area Studies
  • Business and Economics
  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Foreign Languages
  • Health and Biomedical Science
  • History
  • International Affairs
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Sciences and Engineering
  • Social Sciences
  • Political Science and Policy Studies

As we cannot list all countries, languages, and fields that are critical to U.S. national security, we are interested in applications that fall outside the preferences, if the candidate can make a compelling case that such study can contribute significantly to U.S. national security and the goals of the program.

Length of Study

Boren Scholarships promote long term linguistic and cultural immersion, and therefore study abroad proposals for two or more semesters are strongly encouraged. Preference will be given to undergraduate applicants proposing a full-year (6 months or more) academic study. Summer-only programs must be eight (8) weeks or more and are limited to science, technology, engineering and mathematics students.

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. These applications would then be considered together, and if the total length of study exceeds six months, they receive preference as a year-long proposal. Applications for two different consecutive study abroad programs must entail study of the same language. Applicants should go to  How to Apply for information about completing the application correctly.

Commitment to Government Service

Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate a desire for a career in the Federal Government.  In exchange for scholarship and fellowship funding, Boren Awards recipients commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation. Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate a longer term commitment to government service.

The NSEP Service Requirement stipulates that an award recipient work in the federal Government in a position with national security responsibilities. The Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, or any element of the Intelligence Community are priority agencies. If an award recipient demonstrates to NSEP that no appropriate position is available in one of these agencies, the award recipient must seek to fulfill the requirement in a position with national security responsibilities in any Federal department or agency. Approval of service outside of a priority agency is contingent upon satisfactory demonstration of a full and good faith effort in accordance with conditions established by NSEP. If an award recipient demonstrates to NSEP that no appropriate position is available in the Federal Government, the award recipient may petition NSEP to fulfill the requirement in an education position directly related to the language[s] or area[s] studied by the individual under NSEP support or to another language or area where the individual has demonstrated competency. The education option is available only after exhausting all opportunities to fulfill the requirement in the Federal Government in accordance with conditions established by NSEP.

The duration of the NSEP Service Requirement is one year or the duration of assistance provided under the program, whichever is longer.

Boren Scholars must begin fulfilling the service requirement within three years of graduation. 

For more details and a list of Frequently Asked Questions please visit the Service Requirement FAQ's.

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