National Security Education Program


In December 1991, the President signed the National Security Education Act into law. The Act established the National Security Education Program, the National Security Education Board, and the National Security Education Trust Fund. Today, the National Security Education Program, under the guidance of the National Security Education Board, continues to carry out its mission to serve as a leader in developing the national capacity to educate United States citizens to:

  • Understand foreign cultures
  • Strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness
  • Enhance international cooperation and security

  • To equip Americans with an understanding of less-commonly taught languages and cultures and enable the nation to remain integrally involved in global issues related to U.S. national security.
  • To build a critical base of future leaders, both in government service and in education, who have cultivated international relationships and worked and studied alongside experts of other countries.
  • To develop a cadre of professionals with more than the traditional knowledge of language and culture who can use this ability to help the U.S. make sound decisions on and deal effectively with global issues related to U.S. national security.
  • To enhance institutional capacity and increase the number of faculty who can educate U.S. citizens toward achieving these goals.

The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the 13-member National Security Education Board (NSEB), provides program policies and direction. The NSEB is comprised of seven senior federal officials, most of Cabinet rank, and six senior non-federal citizens appointed by the President. The NSEB determines the criteria for the awards and recommends critical areas that the Program should address. Supporting the NSEB is a Group of Advisors (GOA) composed of distinguished Americans in the field of higher education who have international expertise.

The Institute of International Education (IIE), a non-profit organization, serves as NSEP’s administrative agent. IIE administers the David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships, The Language Flagship Fellowships, and the English for Heritage Language Speakers (EHLS) Scholarships.

The NSEP Office is responsible for administering NSEP and serves as the executive secretariat to the NSEB. To date, NSEP has made over 4,000 awards to students from across the United States.

NSEP Components

The four components of the NSEP are:
  1. David L. Boren Scholarships, which provide financial support for U.S. undergraduate students for study abroad in world areas critical to U.S. national security. In exchange, Boren Scholars commit to a federal service requirement.
  2. David L. Boren Fellowships, which provide financial support for U.S. graduate students to add an international component to their studies or research. In exchange, Boren Fellows commit to a federal service requirement.
  3. The Language Flagship is for U.S. students to develop "superior" proficiency in languages critical to U.S. national security, including Arabic, Central Asian Turkic languages, Chinese, Hindi/Urdu, Korean, Persian/Farsi, and Eurasian languages, including Russian. These are generally two-year programs at designated institutions of higher education. Fellowships are available for financial support and are coupled with a federal service requirement.
  4. The English for Heritage Language Speakers (EHLS) Program provides support to U.S. citizens to undertake intensive study of the English language. This program is for adults who already possess high levels of proficiency in a critical needs language but need additional support to reach professional proficiency in English. Scholarships are available for financial support and are coupled with a federal service requirement.
To Apply

David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships
To learn more about a Boren Scholarship or Fellowship, visit To apply for an award, visit Applications are available online, and deadlines are in late January and early February. Undergraduates must apply through a campus representative, who may set an earlier deadline. Awards are made in the spring for study in the summer, fall, and spring of the following year.

The Language Flagship
To learn more about the language immersion program under The Language Flagship, and to apply for a specific program, visit . Each Language Flagship program is listed on this site with links to the individual language programs. Each program requires a separate application. If interested in funding through NSEP, apply for The Language Flagship Fellowship at All applications are available online, and deadlines are due in January annually. Awards are offered each spring for programs beginning in the next academic year.

The English for Heritage Language Speakers (EHLS) Program
To learn more about English language instruction under the 6-month EHLS Program, and to apply, visit If interested in funding from NSEP, submit a scholarship application along with a regular application. All applications are available online. The deadline for the EHLS program is in early fall for programs beginning in late winter or early spring of the following year.

For More Information

Institute of International Education
1400 K Street NW, Suite 650
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (800) 618-NSEP (6737)
Fax: (202) 326-7672

National Security Education Program
4800 Mark Center Drive
Suite 08G08
Alexandria, VA 22350-7000
Phone: (571) 317-3701
Fax: (703) 692-2615

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