Boren Scholarship


The program awards up to $12,500 for a semester or $25,000 for a year to freshmen through seniors for  study in a non-Western country. Summer awards of up to $8,000 are also available to STEM majors. Only U.S. citizens are eligible.

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

What They're Looking For

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. Most importantly, the student's study abroad program should directly relate to both the applicant's career aspirations and his or her 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.


Boren Information Sessions

Thursday, October 24, 2024 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in 514 IUB. Information Session and discussion with former Boren Scholar.

Friday, October 25, 2024 from 9:00-10:00 a.m. CST.  ONLINE Boren Information Session Register here.

Friday, October 25, 2024 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. in 514 IUB.  Workshop on how to craft a Boren Application.

*Please note that the Graduate College Office of External Fellowships works with Graduate students interested in Boren Fellowships.

Priority Deadline

January 2, 2025 at 12:00 p.m. Noon

Students are encouraged to submit a priority application for the Boren Scholarship. Multiple reviewers who are familiar with the Boren Scholarship will review materials received by this date, while only a National and International Scholarships Program staff member will review materials submitted after this date. In either case, we will provide feedback on multiple drafts of your application both prior to the priority deadline, and from the priority deadline to final submission.

Please submit the first two items to us via email or deliver to 807 South Wright Street, Fifth Floor, MC-317, and at that time have your Boren application materials completed and uploaded online (no need to "submit" the online application):

  1. A signed Scholarship Waiver (either scanned or in hardcopy).
  2. Résumé. 
  3. Your Boren application (completed online, but not submitted). We do not need letters of recommendation.
Required Campus Deadline

January 16, 2025 at 12:00 p.m. Noon

Whether or not you turned in a priority application, a complete Boren application must be submitted for University of Illinois endorsement. The Boren program requires each campus to review and rate all applications, and this rating goes forward confidentially with your application. Thus, it is extremely important to submit a polished application for campus review. University faculty and staff who are familiar with the Boren will review materials, and our office will conduct an interview upon which your evaluation also is based. The campus Boren committee's ratings will not change, even though you may be encouraged to revise your application based on committee feedback. 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 email after you submit your application.

Required information includes:

  1. A signed Scholarship Waiver (either scanned or in hardcopy).
  2. A résumé (either scanned or in hardcopy). Note that your nationally submitted application will not include a résumé, so make sure to incorporate this information into your essays as well.
  3. Your completed online Boren application (no need to submit it). The online application includes all of the following components:
  • ​Two essays of no more than 800 words each and a study plan summary of 250 words.
  • Scanned copies of (unofficial) transcripts from all colleges attended (including community colleges). Make sure that your Illinois transcript includes both your fall semester grades and your current courses in progress. Freshmen are required to submit high school transcripts as well.
  • Two to three letters of recommendation submitted online through the Boren site.
  • A scanned copy of your study abroad description or brochure for your primary program with your name printed at the top (make sure you have spoken with a campus study abroad advisor and have met their application deadlines).
  • A completed Language Self-Assessment Form for each language you have studied.
  • If desired, a Language Proficiency Form filled out by a language instructor (this form is optional, but strongly encouraged).
Final Applicant Deadline

January 29, 2025 at 12:00 p.m. Noon

After your campus interview, you will have a few days to make any final changes to your application. Then, you will need to electronically submit your application by this date. In addition, any updated transcripts, letters of recommendation, or program descriptions will need to submitted online as well.

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 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. Last year, Illinois award winner and alternate letters were emailed on April 17.

General Application Tips

Visit our Canvas page for additional tips and samples of winning applications.

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:

  • Go Government provides an overview of federal hiring and a plethora of data about the benefits of working with the federal government.
  • USAJobs provides information about the range of opportunities available for people interested in applying to federal positions.
  • USAJobs lists common federal job titles by college major.
  • Fedscope 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 it's not user friendly.
  • FBI Jobs provides information to help students interested in careers with the FBI.

There are numerous complementary language learning programs available for students to consider as well.

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

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

Boren Website & Application

For official information and the online application for the National Security Education Program Boren Undergraduate Scholarship (which supersedes any information provided here), please visit their website.

These videos are recorded presentations similar to the ones made at campus visits. You can also check out the full schedule of webinars as well as registration information.