Boren Awards

Is it for you?

Boren Awards provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. citizens to add an important international and linguistic component to their educations by studying abroad. The award focuses on geographic areas and languages that are critical to U.S. national security and underrepresented in study abroad. The Boren website offers complete lists of eligible countries and eligible languages.

Boren Scholarships are awarded to undergraduate students for various durations: summer study abroad (STEM disciplines, including Public Health Studies, only), one semester, and full academic year. Boren Fellowships are awarded to graduate students and those applying to graduate school. Preference is given to applicants proposing a full-year rather than a semester study plan.

As federal service is the cornerstone of the Boren Awards program, in exchange for scholarship funding, all Boren grantees must agree to a one-year post-graduation service requirement during which they work for the federal government in the national security arena.

What are the key dates?

Deadline for NFP draft review: January 12, 2024

To submit draft essays for review and access other resources (including sample essays), please email us at [email protected] and ask to be added to our Canvas site (please note: it is only open in the few months before the deadlines) for Boren applicants. Please include your JHED if you contact us using a non-JHU email address.

Official deadlines:

  • Boren Fellowships: January 24, 2024
  • Boren Scholarships: January 31, 2024

Are you eligible?

Candidates for the Boren Awards must:

  • be U.S. citizens at the time of application.
  • be high school graduates, or have earned a GED.
  • be at least 18 years of age or older at the time of application.
  • be matriculated for the duration of their Boren Awards-funded program in an undergraduate or graduate degree program located within the United States and accredited by a body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • be planning an overseas program in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, in a country of which they are not a citizen. Undergraduates, please contact the Global Education Office for assistance in selecting a program.

How do you work with the NFP?

To apply for this award, JHU nomination is not required. Applicants submit their own materials to the Boren, but are encouraged to work with our staff, who are available to advise applicants and read drafts of essays. Please note: SAIS applicants should work with their school’s designated Boren representative.

The timeline gives an overview of the application process and when to reach out to us. In preparation, see “have a closer look” below for more resources about the Boren.

October-NovemberContact NFP to learn more; attend/watch recording of an info session
November – mid-December*Undergrad applicants* Consult with Global Education staff to select your study abroad program/s
JanuaryWork on application essays; send to NFP for feedback
mid-JanuaryMeet the JHU campus deadline
late January – early FebruaryRevise application with NFP support; meet the Boren official deadline

Are you competitive?

Selection decisions are based on the following criteria:

  • Academic record and academic promise. Boren Scholars tend to have a GPA of 3.4 or higher.
  • Relevance to national security: Clearly state and refer back to your definition of national security. Explain how your proposed placement will allow you to learn more about national security, with the goal of advancing your future career goals.
  • Suitable selection of a study abroad program: The student’s proposed course of study should reflect a clear awareness of the faculty and facilities available. Not all study abroad programs are right for every student. Some are designed for beginning language learners while others are designed for advanced language learners. Likewise, though some are geared toward social science majors, others may be more suitable for other majors. Some include strong experiential learning, while others follow a classical classroom model. No one model is right for all students. Therefore, you should investigate many different study abroad programs and decide on the program that best meets your individual goals.
  • Serious language study: Investigate the study abroad program carefully and ask your language instructors for advice to select one with a strong linguistic component. In your application, be sure to include a plan for continuing to study the language once you return from your study abroad program. Since Boren Scholarships focus on less commonly studied languages, it is fine if you have never studied the language before. But, you should do all that you can now to at least familiarize yourself with the language.
  • Length of study abroad program: To encourage greater language and cultural immersion, preference is given to applicants proposing a full academic year or at least two consecutive semesters of study abroad.
  • Federal service: Preference is given to students who will make a commitment to work in the federal government and demonstrate long-term interest in public service. Investigate the different areas of federal service that you believe will best meet your own goals, based on your academic studies and the region of the world in which you plan to study.
  • Academic trajectory: Tie your current academic plan, proposed study abroad experience, and future career goals into one strong narrative that makes the case for your Boren Scholarship to this particular country studying a specific language.
  • Strong letters of reference: The strongest letters of recommendation come from faculty members who can comment specifically on your preparation to complete your proposed study abroad program and can link your specific area of interest to U.S. national security. The application requires two letters of reference (a third is optional). You should only include a third letter if you believe it will contribute something new and compelling to your application.

Have a closer look:

Visit the Official Website

Boren Awards

Check out  the Boren’s webinars on YouTube, including general info sessions on the full program and more targeted session on choosing programs, etc.

Explore JHU and NFP Resources

Johns Hopkins Global Education Office: Undergraduate applicants should contact GEO staff in the fall semester for information and guidance on Boren-eligible study abroad programs.

All interested applicants will be enrolled in JHU’s Boren Canvas site, which contains, among other resources, the JHU Boren Guidelines. These provide in-depth advice for completing the application and a snapshot of the entire process. Contact NFP to be added to this site in the fall/winter.

Hear from JHU Recipients

HUB article about Eduardo da Costa, 2020 Boren Scholar

HUB article about Ian Markham and Kacie Wuthrich, 2017 Boren Scholars

Peer Testimonial from Carly Greenspan (Jordan)

Peer Testimonial from Milonee Mehta (Turkey, STEM initiative)

Start Your Application

Boren Awards Application Portal