Boren Fellowship

Please consult the program website to confirm details, including applicable deadlines.

Visit Program Website Here

Program Purpose and Description: 

Boren Fellowship provides U.S. master's and doctoral students with the resources to acquire foreign language skills and experiences in areas of the world critical to future U.S. national security, in exchange for a commitment to seek work in the federal government. Awards are available to students of all proficiency levels who are committed to enhancing their skills. Applicants have the option to apply for a Regional Flagship Language Initiative program or to select/design their own language study program.

Boren Fellows from diverse fields of study immerse themselves in the cultures in world regions underrepresented in study abroad (Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East) and study a wide range of critical and less commonly taught languages, including but not limited to Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and African, Indic, Iranian, and Turkic family languages.

Study of Spanish or French is only permissible at an advanced level of competency. In such cases, coursework should focus on academic subjects rather than language acquisition. Applications will also be considered at intermediate levels of Spanish and French from students in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Language study should be proposed in a preferred country where it is spoken by a significant portion of the population. For a complete list of preferred countries, see Boren Awards "Preferred Countries" at

In very few cases, Boren Awards may be granted to applicants studying non-preferred languages indigenous to preferred countries. Applicants seeking such awards must make an especially strong argument for the value of their language study to U.S. national security and public service in their application essays.

For a complete list of languages, see "Boren Awards Preferred Languages" at

Boren's Flagship Language Initiatives offer structured Summer/Fall instruction, in the U.S. and abroad, respectively, for accelerated language study in one of its supported languages. For a list of Boren Flagship Language Initiatives, see "More Information" below, or visit:

Supported Fields: 

Boren Awards are available to students in the following Preferred Fields of Study: Agricultural & Food Sciences - STEM; Anthropology; Archaeology; Area Studies; Astronomy - STEM; Biology - STEM; Business; Chemistry - STEM; Computer & Information Sciences - STEM; Criminal Justice; Cybersecurity - STEM; Economics; Engineering - STEM; Environmental Studies - STEM; Geography; Geology - STEM; History; International Affairs; International Development; Languages; Law; Linguistics; Mathematics - STEM; Medical Sciences - STEM; Military Science; Nursing - STEM; Physics - STEM; Political Science; Psychology; Public Administration; Public Health - STEM; Social Sciences; Social Work; Sociology.

Applicants from fields of study other than those listed above (and at will need to explain clearly in their second application essay how they will make competitive applicants for specific public service careers.

Program Benefits: 

The Program provides up to $30,000 for overseas or domestic study, or a combination of both, for a minimum of 1 semester and a maximum of 2 years. Actual funding level is determined by Fellow's project budget and project length. Boren Fellows must remain enrolled in their graduate programs for the entire fellowship period.

Summer Domestic Option: Domestic study is optional, but may be useful preparation for Boren Fellows whose overseas program requires that they arrive in country with strong language skills. Funding of up to $12,000 for intensive language study in the U.S. is limited to the summer immediately before the applicant’s proposed program overseas. If requested, the maximum total combined domestic and overseas award amount is $30,000.

Application Process: 

Graduate-Level Research: Boren Fellowships are designed to give graduate students maximum flexibility to pursue their academic goals alongside their study of the target language, and Boren Fellows with sufficiently advanced skills in the target language are encouraged to conduct research related to graduate theses or dissertations while abroad.

Boren Fellows may elect to concentrate only on language study during their time abroad -- and such an application will be given equal consideration.

Language study throughout the duration of the grant may be supplemented with any or all of the following activities.

Classroom Study: Boren Fellows may enroll in or audit courses in their academic disciplines at host-country institutions while abroad.

Academic Internship:

Boren Fellows may conduct internships related to their degree programs while abroad. Internships conducted during the period of a Boren Awards grant may not be remunerated, nor may they be conducted with the U.S. or a foreign government. If you have questions about an internship with an organization with ties to the U.S. or a foreign government, please contact Boren at or 1-800-618-NSEP (6737).

Boren Fellows also may not work as journalists while abroad, even if the work is freelance or unpaid.

Applicants proposing internships, other classroom study, or research are strongly advised to secure letters of affiliation from overseas host institutions or faculty and attach them to their applications.

All elements of the proposed Boren Fellowship -- language study, internships, other classroom study, or research -- should be tied to U.S. national security and public service in the application essays.


If fellowship applicants elect to include research as an element of their program proposals, they are encouraged to describe their research and its methodology in greater detail, in order to verify the feasibility of the overseas study plan. The Research Abstract & Methodology Section allows applicants to describe their research in more detail than is required in the first essay on national security or the second essay on public service. Information in this section should complement, not contradict, those essays.

At the beginning of the essays section of the Boren Fellowships application, three boxes may use to describe the applicant's proposed research: (1) Study Plan Title (25 words maximum); (2) Research Abstract (300 words maximum); and (3) Research Methodology (300 words maximum) -- applicants should use this space to describe the institutional affiliations and/or official authorizations that will permit them to conduct their research.

Applicant Profile: 

Primary factors in selection of Fellows are: academic excellence; a comprehensive, feasible proposal; demonstrated commitment and a clear plan to develop, maintain, or advance language competence; ability to adapt to a different cultural environment; explanation of proposed study's relevance to US national security; commitment to federal service.

Veteran Preference:

Veterans of the U.S. armed forces have demonstrated a strong commitment to public service and have a unique perspective on national security issues. They are encouraged to apply for Boren Awards, and selection preference will be given to veterans when other factors are equivalent.


Graduating seniors applying to a U.S. graduate program in a supported field, master's and doctoral students currently enrolled in a graduate program in a supported field who will return to their graduate programs following the Boren Fellowship period.


Each Boren Fellow must remain enrolled in her or his U.S. graduate programs for the duration of the fellowship, and return to graduate from that program following the Boren study abroad period. The Boren Awards do not require grantees to receive academic credit at their home institution for their overseas study. To prove matriculation, grantees will be required to submit a letter from a dean or registrar at their home institution stating that their graduation date will occur after the completion of their Boren Fellowship.

There is a one year service requirement associated with the Boren Fellowship: Within 3 years of completing their graduate program, Fellows must seek work with the federal government in a position with national security responsibilities. Priority agencies are the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, or any element of the Intelligence Community. While the service requirement is a one-year of employment with one of these priority agencies, please note that Boren is seeking applicants who want to work in the federal government for more than the minimum period. This commitment and long term career goal should be expressed and elaborated upon in Essay 2 ("Motivation & Public Service Careers").

Even students who would not want to work in a defense-related position should consider applying for the Boren. The Department of State includes many agencies that would provide satisfying employment for one or more years.

A sampling of Offices in the Department of State include: Civil Rights; Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Economic and Business Affairs; Educational and Cultural Affairs; Energy Resources; Global AIDS; Global Criminal Justice; Global Food Security; Global Women's Issues; Global Youth Issues; Medical Services; Mission to the United Nations; Near Eastern Affairs; Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; Population, Refugees, and Migration; Resource Management Science and Technology; South and Central Asian Affairs; Trafficking in Persons; and Western Hemisphere Affairs.

To explore careers in the federal government, see:

Selection Criteria: 

The following are the specific selection criteria for the Boren Fellowship:

  1. Does the applicant provide a clear and compelling explanation of the relevance of their country, language, field of study, and overseas study to U.S. national security? The Boren Awards recognize a broad definition of national security, but the applicant should make a specific, detailed, and focused argument.
  2. In exchange for funding, Boren Awards recipients commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation. Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate a longer term commitment to government service. Does the applicant describe how they might fulfill the service requirement, and does the applicant demonstrate a longer term commitment to the federal government? To explore careers in the federal government, see:
  3. Does the applicant possess the appropriate academic preparation, cultural adaptability, flexibility, and maturity required to succeed abroad? Consider a proven or steadily improving academic record, on- or off-campus evidence of cultural adaptability and maturity, and other factors that warrant comment.
  4. If proposing research in addition to language study, does the applicant have a comprehensive, clear, and feasible study plan?
  5. Does the applicant demonstrate a serious commitment to language study, before, during, and after their overseas study? Does the applicant have realistic expectations for the proficiency level that can be obtained abroad, and is the applicant in the right overseas program to support these expectations? The Boren Fellowships prefer long-term (over 25 weeks) overseas study. If the applicant cannot study abroad for at least 25 weeks, do they make a compelling case for shorter study abroad?
  6. Has the applicant proposed a study plan in a country and language preferred by the Boren Awards? Is the applicant's major field of study preferred by the Boren Awards. ​If the applicant is proposing a country, language, or field of study not on the preferred lists, have they made a compelling argument for Boren Awards funding on the basis of U.S. national security?

Veteran Preference:

Veterans of the U.S. armed forces have demonstrated a strong commitment to public service and have a unique perspective on national security issues. They are encouraged to apply for Boren Awards, and selection preference will be given to veterans when other factors are equivalent.


U.S. citizens only.

Program Deadline: 

The national deadline is usually in January. SF State applicants are encouraged to apply through the University by the campus deadline. This allows for feedback on materials and a campus evaluation to support the Boren Fellowship application.

University Deadline: 

November 15 annually. If this date falls on a weekend, then noon on the following Monday.

More information: 


Applications for the Regional Flagship Language Initiatives use the same form as all other Boren Awards applications. Applicants begin by selecting a country and language where an initiative is offered on the first page of the application. They will then be asked whether they want to participate in the applicable initiative in the Program Information section of the Boren Fellowships application. Guidelines for filling out the Budget section of the application differ slightly depending on the initiative -- see links below for further guidance.

African Flagship Languages Initiative (AFLI)

AFLI offers Boren Scholars and Fellows the opportunity for intensive language study through domestic and overseas language programs in French, Portuguese, Swahili, Akan/Twi, Wolof, or Zulu.

Indonesian Flagship Language Initiative (IFLI)

IFLI offers Boren Scholars and Fellows the opportunity for intensive study of the Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia) through a combination of domestic and overseas programs.

South Asian Flagship Languages Initiative (SAFLI)

SAFLI offers Boren Scholars and Fellows the opportunity for intensive study of either Hindi or Urdu through a combination of domestic and overseas programs.

 Turkish Flagship Language Initiative (TURFLI)


How To Apply: 

Boren Fellowship applicants may apply directly to the program. Students enrolled at San Francisco State who would like support from the Fellowships Office, however, must apply by the campus deadline. To apply through the campus and receive feedback on your application materials, email Dr. Joy Viveros, Director of the Fellowships Office and Boren campus representative, for an appointment. Please wait until you are enrolled and attending classes at the University before you reach out to Dr. Viveros. Let her know at that time, all your available times to meet for two weeks out.

Resources for Applicants

Why Should You Apply for a Fulbright?

Quick Links

Fellowships Office

Dr. Joy Viveros

Phone: 415.405.2128
Reception: Grad Stop, ADM 250 
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132