Boren Scholarship

The Boren Scholarship

To apply, or for more information contact Dr. Jason Marsh, Co-Director of External Fellowships and Scholarships.


Boren Scholarships 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 & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin American, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded. See the complete list of countries. Boren Scholars come from 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 complete list of languages.

Maximum scholarship awards are $8,000 for a summer, $10,000 for a semester, and $20,000 for a full academic year. 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 academic study. Summer-only programs must be eight weeks or more and are limited to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students. Boren-funded programs can begin no earlier than June 1.

Special Notes:

National Security Requirement: 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. The website provides more details and a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the NSEP Service Requirement.

The program focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security. It 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. All applicants must demonstrate how their study programs and future goals are connected to this broad understanding of national security.

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. 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.


Maximum scholarship awards are:
• $8,000 for a summer program (special initiative for STEM students only; 8 weeks minimum)
• $10,000 for a semester
• $20,000 for a full academic year


You are eligible to apply for the Boren Scholarship if you are:

  • A U.S. citizen at the time of application.
  • A high school graduate, or have earned a GED, and are matriculated in an undergraduate degree program in a U.S. post-secondary institution, including universities, colleges, and community colleges accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Applying to engage in a study abroad experience in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand that meets home institution standards.
  • Planning to use the scholarship for study abroad, and the study abroad program ends before you graduate. Boren Scholarships are not for study in the United States.

Program 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. 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.

St. Olaf’s Application Process:

Boren requires that materials be submitted by St. Olaf College. It is therefore mandatory that applicants submit the following application materials to the Boren Embark Online Application System by the initial campus deadline. Note: the “Signed Permission Form and Waiver” should be submitted directly to Dr. Heather Campbell (

After the final application is submitted, there will be a short interview conversation with the Boren campus representative. The interview is meant to provide additional context for the writing of the Boren on-campus evaluation form.

Materials Due By Initial Campus Deadline

  • Signed Permission Form and Waiver (email Dr. Jason Marsh, Co-Director of Fellowships ( to obtain a copy of the “Permission Form and Waiver”). This form will represent your commitment to apply and will also make it possible to obtain a copy of your official transcript (due by the final campus deadline) free of charge.
  • A 200 word statement that addresses where you would like to go and why. The program you choose at this point may change by the final deadline. This brief essay will guide initial conversations between you, the fellowships advisor and the staff from International and Off-campus Studies.
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • Resume

Materials Due By Final Campus Deadline:

  • At least two—but no more than three—letters of recommendation. These should be submitted via the Boren Embark Online Application System. Directions for how to submit these letters are available in the portal.
  • An official hardcopy transcript, which can be obtained from the Registrar’s Office. Please note that official transcripts often take a few days to obtain. If you have attended other colleges or universities, you must also provide transcripts from these institutions. Request a “Permission Form and Waiver” from the Fellowships Co-Director (Dr. Jason Marsh). After signing, the Fellowships Co-Director will submit the form to the registrar on the applicant’s behalf. The applicant may then collect his/her transcript from the registrar free of charge.
  • A one-page study abroad program description with cost information. (This may be a page from the program’s website or a photocopy of part of the program brochure.) Or, if you set up a direct enrollment or individually arranged 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.
  • Language Assessment Form. Boren offers this advice on completing the Boren scholarship form.
  • (Optional) A Language Proficiency Form, completed by a foreign language instructor or other qualified evaluator.
  • A completed Boren Scholarship application (submitted online). The application has three sections (click on the following for advice on completing each section):
    • study abroad program section
    • budget section
    • And two statements of purpose (which they call essays). NOTE: You do not need to print out this application; when you submit the application electronically, it will become accessible to Dr. Jason Marsh, St. Olaf’s Boren Scholarship & Fellowship campus representative. He will also be able to “unsubmit” the application, returning it to you and allowing for further revisions prior to the national deadline.
  • In addition to the many links above to advise on completing the Boren Scholarship application, the foundation also offers these tips on what makes a competitive application.

Applicants are notified of their final status during the later part of April.