Boren Scholarship for International Study

About the Boren Scholarship
Basic Eligibility & Selection Criteria
Application Components
Campus Evaluation and Feedback Process
Application Timeline
Applicant Resources
USC Recipients
AHF Advising


University Endorsement Required

About the Boren Scholarship

Boren Scholarships fund study abroad by U.S. undergraduate students in world regions critical to U.S. interests such as Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Boren Scholarships require rigorous language study and the majority of awardees spend a full academic year overseas. Applicants must be matriculated in a U.S. college or university upon application and throughout the Boren Scholarship.  In exchange for funding, Boren Scholarship recipients commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

Maximum awards are determined by duration abroad:

  • Up to $20,000 for 25-52 weeks (preferred)
  • Up to $10,000 for 12-24 weeks
  • Up to $8,000 for 8-12 weeks (STEM majors only)

Learn more about the Boren Scholarship

Basic Eligibility

Applicants must be:

  • U.S. citizens at the time of the national application deadline
  • A high school graduate, or have earned a GED
  • Planning an overseas program in a country outside of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand
  • Planning to study in a country of which they are not a citizen
  • 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
  • (For ROTC cadets and midshipmen and members of the military Reserves or National Guard) In inactive, non-drilling status for the duration of their Boren Awards-funded program

Learn more about eligibility

Selection Criteria

Current matriculated USC undergraduate students who demonstrate the following traits are invited to participate in the Boren campus evaluation process. Successful applicants must demonstrate the following traits:

  • Commitment to working in the federal government. Scholarship recipients must fulfill a one-year service requirement after graduation. Preference is given to applicants who demonstrate a longer term commitment to government service.
  • Focus on national security, broadly defined. Applicant offers clear and compelling explanation of the relevance of his or her country, language, field of study, and overseas study to U.S. national security.
  • Commitment to language study. Applicant demonstrates a serious commitment to language study, before, during, and after his or her overseas study, with realistic expectations for the proficiency level that can be obtained abroad.
  • Length of study abroad program. Preference is granted to students who will study abroad for longer periods of time.If applicant cannot study abroad for at least 6 months, they must provide a compelling case for shorter study abroad period.
  • Appropriate academic preparation, cultural adaptability, flexibility and maturity. 

Learn more about selection criteria

Application Components

  • Online Application 
  • Essay 1: National Security (800 word max):  Please discuss the following points in one integrated essay, giving equal attention to each point.
    • Explain the significance of your proposed country, region, 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
  • Essay 2 (Motivation & Public Service Career) Please discuss the following points in one integrated essay, giving equal attention to each point. You can discuss the points in any order.
    • Think about a previous experience that has led to growth or a personal quality. Reflect upon it and describe how it will assist you in preparing to spend significant time overseas studying a critical foreign language and culture.
    • Explain how the country and language you selected will help you achieve your career goals, including your plans to fulfill the federal service requirement. Be specific. If appropriate, you may also include relevant past academic, extracurricular, volunteer, internship, and professional experiences.
    • As you will be committing to working for the federal government for at least one year, describe what makes you interested in federal service and what you will bring as a leader in the federal workforce.

Learn more about the essays

  • Study Abroad Program Information & Budget
  • Letters of Recommendation (2-3) Who should you ask?
  • Official Transcript(s)
  • Language Proficiency Evaluation (if applicable)
  • Language Self-Assessment 

Learn more about the application components

Campus Evaluation and Feedback Process

The campus evaluation and feedback process is strongly encouraged to apply for Boren through USC and is meant to enhance the overall application.  The campus committee meeting serves two purposes:

  1. It is a chance for faculty and administrators from relevant fields to offer advice to help improve and fine-tune the overall application.  There will be time after the meeting to incorporate feedback received.
  2. The committee will complete an evaluation form addressing how the candidate meets the Boren Scholarship criteria.  The evaluation will be sent to the National Screening Committee along with the applicant’s materials.

Application Timeline

  • August 2020: Boren Scholarship Application Opens
  • September-October, 2020: Create an account and familiarize yourself with the online application. Select USC as your current institution in the Eligibility and Basic Information section > save your application so you are registered through USC. You will not need to submit your online application until the January campus deadline.
  • November 22, 2020: Preferred Campus Deadline
    • Email the following materials to Katie Capra at in one PDF document. You will be contacted to schedule an advising appointment.
      • Current Resume
      • Essay #1 (National Security)
      • Essay #2 (Motivation & Public Service Careers)
      • Name of Study Abroad Program + Start and End Dates
      • Names of your 2-3 Recommenders & Language Evaluator (if applicable)
      • Meeting Availability (i.e. Mondays 1-3pm and Thursdays all day)
  • January 3, 2021: Campus Deadline to Submit Online Application
  • Mid-January 2021: Campus Evaluation and Feedback Meeting
  • January 31, 2021:  Campus Deadline to Submit FINAL Online Application 
  • February 3, 2021, 5:00 PM (EST): Boren Scholarship National Deadline
  • Mid-Late April 2021: Boren Recipients announced

Applicant Resources

USC Boren Scholarship Recipients


Shir Attias, Jordan
Srividya Dasaraju, Indonesia
Lisa de Ràfols, Brazil
Isabelle Nazha, Senegal
Megan Smith, Tanzania


Catherine Atkinson, Senegal
Kendal Gee, Senegal
Eva Isakovic, Serbia
Leah James, China
Mia Poynor, Brazil


Lauren Brackmann, Jordan
Eunbyul Koh, China
Erin Pineda, Brazil
Amy Smerdel, Senegal


Caroline Chen, China
Edith Conn, Japan
Max Hill, India
Alexander Kil, Japan
James Luttrull, Indonesia
Kelsey Quan, China

See full list of Boren Scholarship Recipients by Year

AHF Advising

Open Advising: Mid-October – Mid-December
Request an Appointment

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