Fund Details
Boren Undergraduate Scholarship
Competition Type
Global/National - Yale Endorsement


The National Security Education Program (NSEP) David L. Boren Scholarships provide up to $25,000 to US 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 & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. (The countries of 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. See the lists of preferred countries, languages, and fields of study on the Boren website. (See also, below, the "Restrictions to Use of Award.")

Boren Scholarships are funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), which focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to US national security. So applicants should identify how their study abroad program, as well as their future academic and career goals, will contribute to US national security, broadly defined. NSEP 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, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness.

The NSEP service requirement stipulates that an award recipient work for the Federal Government in a position with national security responsibilities for an amount of time equal to the duration of assistance provided under the program, but in no case less than one year. Service should begin within three years of graduation, but is deferrable for graduate school. 

Application Information:

The deadline by which to apply for the Boren Scholarships is February 1, 2023Applicants must apply directly to the program via the official website.

*Official informational webinars about the Boren are offered each year between October and January; see the schedule on their website. The official website also offers helpful advice on what makes for a competitive application.

Application for the Boren Scholarship is coordinated through Fellowship Programs at the Yale Center for International & Professional Experience.  Interested applicants, after doing some research of their own, may refer questions about the Boren Scholarships to Fellowship Programs (meetings by appointment); however, meeting with an adviser is not mandatory.

**Questions about choosing the study abroad program that's right for you and about receiving Yale credit for study abroad are best addressed by a Study Abroad Adviser.

Applicants must apply online via the official Boren website for the national competitionSee the official website for full application information and eligibility requirements. The completed application is comprised of the following: 

  1. Application form with academic and employment histories along with extra-curricular activities information. 

  2.  Two or three letters of recommendation (two letters are required, a third is optional).*

  3. Description and details for both the preferred and alternate study abroad programs proposed and associated budget.

  4. Two essays (800 words max) - (1) National Security and (2) Motivation & Public Service Careers

  5. A language self-assessment form

  6. language proficiency form (optional; if applicable, to be completed by an applicant's language instructor; send the form to your language evaluator via the recommender link in the application. You can find more information about the evaluation on the official Boren Awards website)

  7. A scan of each of your official transcripts: request an official Yale College transcript, as well as official transcripts from any other institution attended for post-secondary studies. (Freshmen must also submit an official high school transcript.) You will need to scan and upload digital copies of any transcripts (like those for Yale College) not available in digital format. (Tip: Yale College transcripts are easier to read if you scan them in color; don't worry that the scan says "copy" across it. If you need help obtaining scans of transcripts, please stop by the Fellowships office during normal business hours, in advance of the application deadline.) 

*Advice from the Boren on whom to ask for letters: "Recommenders should be people who know you well. This is far more important than their rank within their university/organization. Recommenders may be academic contacts who can speak to your academic, linguistic, and personal preparation for your overseas study or future career, or professional contacts from a job or internship relevant to your future career plans. 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 on 1) 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 US national security, broadly defined, as well as your career interests."

Special Eligibility Requirements:

Applicants must be US citizens.

NSEP/Boren scholarships can only be applied to study abroad in countries outside Western Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. Appropriate and integrated study of a foreign language is required for all proposals. Preference will be given to applicants who are studying fields identified by the NSEP as critical to national security (see further here).

Students who have never studied abroad and need financial assistance to do so are especially encouraged to apply.

Selection will be based on merit with particular emphasis on evaluating whether the applicant's plans for studying abroad complement his or her own academic and career goals in the US. Other factors considered will include academic record, letters of recommendation, potential to succeed in the proposed study abroad program, language aptitude, and the quality and appropriateness of the proposed program.

Undergraduate students may apply for study in Summer, Fall, Spring, or the entire academic year (the longer, the better).

  • Summer study programs must be 12+ weeks in duration to be eligible. Programs of 8+ weeks are only available to students majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. 
  • Seniors may only apply for NSEP assistance provided they will not graduate from Yale before or during the period of study abroad. Since they will no longer be enrolled at Yale following graduation, they are ineligible for an award for the summer after senior year.
Students who are Pell Grant recipients might also like to consider applying for the Gilman International Scholarships (applications for spring study abroad due early the October before; applications for summer and for the following academic year due early March).

Restrictions to Use of Award:

The Boren does not fund study in western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.

Awards for summer study are only available to students proposing 12+ week programs; students majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) may propose summer programs of 8+ weeks. (An alternative option for summer language study might be US Department of State Critical Language Scholarships, applications for which are usually due in early November of the year prior to study.)

Yale seniors are NOT eligible for this fellowship due to matriculation requirements during the award term. 

*Students wishing to receive Yale credit for study abroad must propose a program for which Yale credit is eligible and must meet all requirements. See the Yale study abroad website for further information.

**All interested applicants must review the Yale International Travel Policy. Study in some countries on the Boren list may not be possible for Yale undergraduates, based on the Yale International Travel Policy.

Links to Additional Information:

  1. Official NSEP/Boren Scholarship website
  2. Fellowships application advice
  3. Book a Fellowships advising appointment (even during much of winter break, via phone/Skype)
  4. Study Abroad information for Yale College students
  5. Yale College International Travel Policy

Contact Information:

For questions about this application, please contact Mya Fisher at

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          • U.S. citizens are eligible