David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad

Congratulations to Honor Leahy, Boren Scholar to China!

Boren Scholarship pre-application deadline: 12 p.m. on December 1. If December 1 falls on a weekend, the pre-app is due by noon the Friday before.

Email the following documents, in Word format, to fellowships@wm.edu by that time:

  • drafts of the two required essays - you are strongly encouraged to work with the Peer Scholarship Advisors on these drafts
  • a Banner transcript (copy and paste into a Word document)
  • a completed pre-application questionnaire - request one here

Want to talk about your ideas?  See a Peer Scholarship Advisor!


What are Boren Scholarships?

The Boren Scholarships were designed to provide American undergraduates with the resources and encouragement they need to acquire skills and experience in countries and areas of the world critical to the future security of our nation. As a student of another culture and language you will begin to acquire the international competence you need to communicate effectively across borders, understand other perspectives and analyze increasingly fluid economic and political realities. The goal of NSEP is to enhance the capacity of the federal sector to deal effectively with the challenging global issues of the 21st century. NSEP David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholars represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena. NSEP strongly emphasizes the importance of award recipients seeking and gaining employment in federal government organizations whose missions and functions are most directly related to national security.

Maximum scholarship awards are: $10,000 for a semester, $20,000 for a full academic year

Who is eligible to apply?

These competitive scholarships are available to undergraduates who are studying abroad in summer 2018 (STEM students only), fall 2018, and/or spring 2019 in any country outside of  Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  Click here to see a list of preferred countries. Foreign language study is required of all applicants. Click here to see a list of preferred languages.

Students from all majors are encouraged to apply.  Click here to see a list of preferred fields of study.

Note from Boren on Exceptions to Countries, Languages and Fields of Study:
As we cannot list all countries, languages, and fields that are critical to U.S. national security, we are interested in applications for non-preferred areas where the candidate can make a compelling case that such study can contribute significantly to U.S. national security and the goals of the program.

What's the length of program requirement?

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 are limited to science, technology, engineering and mathematic students. Applications for summer-only programs will be considered if the program is eight (8) weeks or more.

Special note: In some cases, applicants may not be able to find appropriate full academic year programs. If full year opportunities in the same program are unavailable, students may submit two separate, but related, applications for study on two different programs. we encourage consecutive programs of study; these applications could be for summer and year programs; fall and spring semesters; or for summer and fall semesters. These applications would then be considered together and receive preference as a year-long proposal. Applications for two different consecutive study abroad programs should entail study in the same region and in the same language. Successful applicants for study on two programs in the past have included: two semester-long programs in Vietnam, one in Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Minh City; two separate semester-long programs in China, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai; and a summer intensive language program in Russia, followed by a fall semester program of coursework in Russian.

Applicants proposing study in two different regions or two different languages will not be funded.

NOTE: Only students in STEM fields may apply for summer-only programs lasting a minimum of eight weeks. STEM = science, technology, engineering, mathematics. All other students must apply for a minimum of one semester of study abroad.

Tell me more about the national security focus.

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.

What is the service requirement?

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.

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 about the NSEP Service Requirement, click here.

What is the campus application process?

The pre-application is due to the Charles Center by 12 noon on December 1. This consists of drafts of the two required essays, a Banner transcript, and a completed questionnaire.  Applicants will be assigned to Peer Scholarship Advisors to continue working on their applications over winter break.

Complete applications, including a) letters of recommendation and b) high school transcripts, if required, must be submitted online by 12 noon on Friday January 19, 2018.

Note: applicants should request official W&M transcripts be issued to them that include spring 2018 course registration. Put in your request as early as possible (even though you won't get the transcript until after the drop period ends) to avoid having to pay for a expedited transcript.

Interviews follow.

What are the Boren Essays?

The essays are the most important part of the application. Each essay has a maximum length of 800 words. Essays should be single spaced, except when spaces separate paragraphs.

Essay One: 
Please discuss the following points in one integrated essay, giving equal attention to each point:

  1. Explain the significance of your proposed region, country, and language to U.S. national security. The Boren Awards recognize a broad definition of national security, but you should make a specific, detailed, and focused argument.
  2. Describe how the country, language, and overseas program you selected will help you achieve your career goals, including your plans to fulfill the service requirement. If appropriate, you may also include relevant past academic, extracurricular, volunteer, internship, and professional experience. Be specific.

Essay Two: Study Abroad Program Description (both the preferred and alternate programs, if applicable) 

  1. Describe the study abroad program’s course of study and related cultural activities, as well as the administrative and support services provided (i.e., facilities, housing, resident director, etc.). 
  2. Describe the language component in as much detail as possible, including the number of classroom contact hours and informal language study opportunities outside of the classroom.
  3. Describe your past experience in studying or speaking the language (or another language if relevant), as well as your plans for continuing to study and/or speak the language following your Boren Scholarship.
Anything else I should know?

** If you set up a direct enrollment or individually arranged study abroad program, you will need to 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. **

This is a GREAT opportunity for students interested in careers with the federal government.

Visit the Boren website to start the application process www.borenawards.org

Click here to see a list of William and Mary's previous Boren recipients.