University of Illinois

Boren Undergraduate Scholarships



Open to freshmen through seniors for semester or year long study in a non-western country. U.S. citizens only.

Who They Are Looking For



Boren Scholars Andrew Barr and Chris Olen share their experience in applying for the scholarship.

The Selection Committee rates candidates based on their study abroad program preferences, including countries, languages, and field(s) of study; length of time abroad; and commitment to work in the federal government. The strongest candidates have a solid academic record and the potential to succeed in their proposed study abroad experience, a commitment to international education to fulfill academic and career goals, and language interest and aptitude. Moreover, the student's study abroad program should directly relate to both the applicant's career aspirations and their envisioned work in the federal government in the Departments of Defense, State, or Homeland Security or in the Intelligence Community. Read more about recent Illinois Boren Scholars.

*2-day information event:

December 5th & 6th 3:30-5pm @ Illini Union Bookstore, 5th Floor, room 514


Early Review

Students are encouraged to submit drafts of their application to the National and International Scholarships Program well in advance of the campus deadline in order to receive feedback. Applicants should strive to submit a first draft prior to winter break, as the program directors are willing to work with students through numerous revisions. Submit the application online (an electronic submittal comes to the National and International Scholarships Program), and then email our office with a few potential meeting times to receive feedback.

REQUIRED Campus Deadline: January 21, 2014 at 12:00 noon

The undergraduate Boren program requires that our campus reviews and rates all applications, and this rating goes forward confidentially with your application. Thus, it is extremely important to turn in a polished application to the National and International Scholarships Program for the campus review committee by this date. The campus committee's ratings will not change, even though you are encouraged to revise your application based on committee feedback. University faculty and staff who are familiar with the Boren will review materials, and the National and International Scholarships Program will conduct an interview upon which your evaluation also is based. Regardless of the rating you earn from the campus committee, all applications are forwarded to a regional panel (however, lower rated applications rarely receive much attention at this level). Click here to obtain an idea of the types of questions your application should address and that may come up in an interview. Your 20-minute interview will be scheduled by e-mail after you submit your application.

Required information:

  1. A signed Scholarship Waiver (either scanned or in hardcopy).
  2. Official transcripts from all colleges attended (including community colleges). Make sure that your Illinois transcript includes both your fall 2013 semester grades and your current courses in progress. Freshmen are required to submit high school transcripts as well.
  3. 2-3 signed letters of recommendation on the Boren forms you provide to your referees. The letters may also be written on letterhead and handed in with the completed Boren reference form with a "see attached" noted on it. Students may either hand deliver these letters in signed, sealed envelopes, or they may be submitted to the National and International Scholarships Program directly by the referee.
  4. A complete Boren application submitted online (no hardcopy needed), including application form and both essays.
  5. Photocopies of your study abroad description/brochure for both primary and alternate programs with your name printed at the top of them (make sure you have spoken with a campus study abroad advisor and have met their application deadlines).
  6. A completed Language Self Assessment Form for each language you have studied.
  7. If desired, a Language Proficiency Form filled out by a language instructor (this form is optional, but strongly encouraged!).
  8. A résumé. Note that your nationally submitted application will not include a résumé, so make sure to incorporate this information into your essays as well.

Final Applicant Deadline: February 3, 2014 at 12:00 noon

After the National and International Scholarships Program receives committee member comments on your application submitted for campus review, you will have a few days to make any final changes to your application. Then, you will need to electronically resubmit your application by this date. In addition, any updated transcripts, letters of recommendation, or program descriptions will need to be handed in to the National and International Scholarships Program at this time.


The Final Stages

The Institute of International Education processes your application and distributes it to regional screening panels for review. The geographic area panels will be evaluating applications and recommending candidates to be reviewed by the national nominating panel. If your application is forwarded to the national committee, you will be contacted by IIE in late March/early April and asked to provide updated financial information for the final, national review panel. Please let us know if you are contacted--this is good news! Last year, our finalists were contacted on March 25. If you are selected to be forwarded to the national panel, from there you may be designated an award winner or an alternate, or you may not receive an award. All students will be notified of their status in late April or early May. Last year, Illinois award winner and alternate letters were emailed and postmarked on April 25.

General Application Tips



Boren Scholars Andrew Barr and Chris Olen share tips to becoming competitive applicants.

A critical component of a Boren application is a student’s demonstrated depth of understanding of federal government positions and hiring procedures. You should spend time investigating the following websites for in-depth information about federal government positions: provides an overview of federal hiring and a plethora of data about the benefits of working with the federal government.
provides information about the range of opportunities available for people interested in applying to federal positions. lists common federal job titles by college major.
provides up to date quantitative data on the federal workforce, including numbers of positions by job title and geographic area of work. The site has a ton of detailed information, but is not user friendly.

Click here
for additional application tips the University of Illinois has put together for you.


Boren Website and Application

For official information and the online application for the National Security Education Program Boren Undergraduate Scholarship, visit their website.

Videos: These videos are recorded presentations similar to the ones made at campus visits.

Webinars: Follow this link for the full schedule as well as registration information.