History of NSEP

NSEP was established by the David L. Boren National Security Education Act of 1991 (U.S. Code 50, 90 et seq.). NSEP represents an investment in vital expertise in languages and cultures critical to U.S. national security. The program is implemented by the Secretary of Defense, who has delegated his authority to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Learn more about NSEP Administration.


Legislative History

The National Security Education Program (NSEP) was established by the David L. Boren National Security Education Act (NSEA), as amended, P.L. 102-183, codified at 50 U.S.C. 1901 et seq. It was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on December 4, 1991. The NSEA mandated the Secretary of Defense to create the National Security Education Program (NSEP) to award:

  1. Scholarships to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas critical to U.S. national security.
  2. Fellowships to U.S. graduate students to study languages and world regions critical to U.S. national security
  3. Grants to U.S. institutions of higher education to develop programs of study in and about countries, languages and international fields critical to national security and under-represented in U.S. study.

Also mandated in the NSEA was the creation of the National Security Education Board (NSEB) to provide overall guidance for NSEP.


Senator David L. Boren

As a U.S. Senator from Oklahoma from 1979 to 1994, David L. Boren served on the Senate Finance and Agriculture Committees and was also the longest serving chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He is author of the National Security Education Act, which established NSEP. Senator Boren currently serves as the 13th president of the University of Oklahoma.

David L. Boren "When I was chairing the Intelligence Committee we brought in all the old pioneers: those [who] were there from the beginning with intelligence, helped start the CIA [and] helped us win World War II...They said the most important thing you can have is a group of highly intelligent people who are extremely well educated, who understand the cultures and speak the languages, who can go into [other] countries and be advocates for the United States.... It's human talent that is key to our national security."

— U.S. Senator David L. Boren (D–OK), National Security Education Program, Breaking the Language Barrier (DVD)