Boren Undergraduate Scholarships


This award is open to freshmen through seniors for semester- or year-long study in a non-Western country. 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.

Two Day Boren Information Event

Thursday, October 25, 2018: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Illini Union Bookstore, 5th Floor, Room 514-Information Session and discussion with former Boren Scholar

Friday, October 26, 2018: 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. in Illini Union Bookstore, 5th Floor, Room 514-Workshop on how to craft a Boren Application.

*Please note that the Graduate College Office of External Fellowships will host a Boren Fellowship workshop for Graduate students on Wednesday, October 18, 2017: 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. in #304 Coble Hall

Priority Deadline
January 3, 2019
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 following requested information to us via email or mail at 807 South Wright Street, Fifth Floor, MC-317:

  1. A signed Scholarship Waiver (either scanned or in hardcopy).
  2. A draft of your Boren Application submitted online (letters of recommendation are not needed)
  3. Résumé.

Required Campus Deadline

January 17, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. (noon)

Whether or not you turned in a priority application, a complete Boren application must be submitted to us in order to be considered for University of Illinois endorsement. The 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 us for the campus review committee by this date. The campus committee's ratings will not change, even though you may be encouraged to revise your application based on committee feedback. 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. 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. A complete Boren application submitted online (no hardcopy needed).  The online application includes all of the following components:
  • ​Two essays of no more than 800 words each.
  • Scanned copies of your official 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

February 8, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. (noon)

After we receive 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 us 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 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 17.

General Application Tips

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.

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.