Boren Graduate Fellowships

Website: Boren Graduate Fellowship


Boren Fellowships provide up to $30,000 to U.S. graduate students to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study, or increased language proficiency. Boren Fellowships support study and research in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests, 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.  For a complete list of countries, click here.

Boren Fellows represent a variety of academic and professional disciplines, but all are interested in studying less commonly taught languages, including but not limited to Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Swahili. For a complete list of languages, click here.

Boren Fellowships are funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), which focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security. Applicants should identify how their projects, as well as their future academic and career goals, will contribute to U.S. 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.

To view the Program Basics of the Boren Fellowships, click here.


Boren Fellowships are for graduate students. You are eligible to apply for a Boren Fellowship if you are:

  • A U.S. citizen at the time of application
  • Either matriculated in or applying to a graduate degree program at a U.S. college or university located within the United States and accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  Boren Fellows must remain matriculated in their graduate programs for the duration of the fellowship and may not graduate until the fellowship is complete.
  • Planning an overseas program that meets home institution standards in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.  Boren Fellowships are not for study in the United States.

Fellowship award recipients will be selected on the basis of merit with consideration for:

  1. Boren Awards preferences:
  2. a clear explanation of the relevance of the applicant’s country, language, and proposed program of study to U.S. national security, broadly defined;
  3. a demonstrated academic excellence;
  4. a clear plan to develop and/or advance foreign language competency while overseas and upon return home;
  5. a comprehensive, clear, and feasible study proposal;
  6. evidence of cultural adaptability, flexibility, and maturity required to succeed abroad.
Student Type
  • senior
  • graduate
Citizen Type
  • US Citizen

Submit the online application, which includes the following items. Before starting the online application, remember to read the application instructions. In addition, add to your safe sender list. All automatic emails from the system will come from this address, including submission confirmation, password resets, and login information for your referees.  

  1. Three mandatory essays. For more information about developing a proposal for the Boren Fellowship, click here.
  2. A detailed budget section.
  3. Transcripts – The applicant must upload transcripts for all colleges and universities where a degree was obtained or pursued. For more information on uploading transcripts, click here.
  4. Three online reference forms. If your application includes a research component, one of the letters must be from your research advisor. If you are not currently enrolled in graduate school, you are strongly encouraged to include a letter of recommendation from a professor or advisor at your future graduate program in order to demonstrate feasibility. Click here for advice about getting strong letters of reference. Remember to tell your referees to add to their safe sender lists.
  5. Optional online language proficiency form.
  6. Letter of overseas affiliation - If possible, applicants should upload a letter from an academic institution, research institute, non-governmental organization, and/or an individual who is aware that the applicant is planning study and/or research in that country and is willing to assist the applicant in coordinating his or her plans. Applicants should remember that the letter of affiliation is not required at the time of application, and the lack of this letter should not stop one from applying.  

All application components must be submitted by the application deadline.

Service Agreement

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 Fellows must begin fulfilling the service requirement within two years of graduation.  

For more details and a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the NSEP Service Requirement, click here.

Contact Information

UW Campus Contact 

Michelle Drapek,

Fellowships & Awards, Graduate School



Boren Scholarships and Fellowships
Institute of International Education
1400 K Street, NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20005-2403

Telephone: 1-800-618-NSEP1-800-618-NSEP FREE (6737)
Fax: 202-326-7672