The David L. Boren Scholarship is part of the National Security Education Program, or NESP, which was set up in order to help the national security of the United States by preparing a workforce that will be well-trained to interact with foreign cultures and understand foreign languages. The NESP is made up of nine different initiatives: the Boren Scholarship, the Boren Fellowship, the Language Flagship, English for Heritage Language Speakers, the National Language Service Corps, Project Global Officer, the African Language Initiative, the Pilot Flagship/ ROTC Initiative, and Language Training Centers. All of these initiatives provide tuition assistance to students who will then graduate college prepared to join the workforce in possession of foreign language and international diplomacy skills. Recently, the National Security Education Program merged with the Defense Language Office to form the new Defense Language and National Security Education Office. The National Security Education Board (NESB) is a panel consisting of 13 members that evaluates students and then awards merit-based NESP scholarships for the most academically successful and career-minded applicants. Specifically, the David L. Boren Scholarship targets students who, in addition to showing a commitment to academics, have an interest and experience in public service. Students receiving a Boren Scholarship commit to spending at least one year following graduation working in a national security position and study a foreign language that is not commonly taught or studied at universities but is vital to U.S. interests in other parts of the world that are not typically a part of study abroad programs.
The Boren Scholarship is set up to focus on areas of the world that are deemed critical to the United States’ national security, including the Middle East, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Eurasia. Students participating in the program are strongly encouraged to study abroad in one of these areas for two semesters and are placed in cultural and linguistic immersion programs to aid in their education. If selected for the Boren Scholarship, students may receive up to $20,000 a year for tuition or up to $10,000 for a semester. STEM students can also receive up to $8,000 for participating in a summer program. The deadline to apply for a Boren Scholarship is usually in early February with the application released in August. Applicants must submit transcripts from all colleges or universities they have attended and select a study abroad program. The most important part of the application process is the writing of two essays, one explaining how the country or language chosen is important to national security as well as explaining how the chosen language will help in the achievement of career goals, and the other describing the study abroad program and any experience with the language or culture that the student has. Two letters of recommendation are also required, as is an online language self-assessment of every language the student speaks. Students are encouraged to find their campus representative to discuss the date of the university’s on-campus deadline.