Mission and Objectives

The David L. Boren National Security Education Act of 1991 mandated that the Secretary of Defense create and sustain a program to award scholarships to U.S. undergraduate students; fellowships to U.S. graduate students; and grants to U.S. institutions of higher education. These awards are for study or program development in languages and regions critical to national security. Based on this legislation, the National Security Education Program (NSEP) was established.

NSEP was created to develop a much-needed strategic partnership between the national security community and higher education, addressing the national need for experts in critical languages and regions. NSEP is one of the most significant efforts in international education since the 1958 passage of the National Defense Education Act, and it continues to play a critical role within the Department of Defense. The David L. Boren National Security Education Act outlines five major purposes for NSEP, namely:


  • 1.To provide the necessary resources, accountability, and flexibility to meet the national security education needs of the United States, especially as such needs change over time,
  • 2.To increase the quantity, diversity, and quality of the teaching and learning of subjects in the fields of foreign languages, area studies, and other international fields that are critical to the Nation's interests,
  • 3.To produce an increased pool of applicants for work in the departments and agencies of the United States Government with national security responsibilities,
  • 4.To expand, in conjunction with other Federal programs, the international experience, knowledge base, and perspectives on which the United States citizenry, government employees, and leaders rely, and
  • 5.To permit the federal government to advocate the cause of international education.