The National Security Education Program (NSEP)

The National Security Education Program (NSEP) is a Federal program that will enable one to identify critical expertise to augment a staff with uniquely qualified students for potential internships and short-term employment.

In 1992, the United States Congress established a program designed to improve the capabilities of the Federal government to engage in international issues related to U. S. national security. The NSEP awards scholarships to U. S. undergraduate students and fellowships to U. S. graduate students to internationalize their curriculum with the study of less commonly taught languages and cultures deemed critical to U. S. national security. The NSEP award recipients represent a diverse set of fields and disciplines ranging from the social sciences to economics, buisness, engineering, and the sciences. The students are all outstanding individuals who have not only achieved success in their studies but who have also developed an appreciation for global environment of the 1990s and beyond.

Each NSEP award recipient incurs a service requirement, with emphasis on seeking employment with a Federal agency or office with "national security responsibilities." Consequently, students funded through NSEP have already expressed an interest in working with the Federal government. The Department of Army (DA) and others have been identified by NSEP to automatically meet the requirement. Should Federal employment not be offered, the award recipient may fulfill the service requirement by working in higher education. However, since many of the outstanding NSEP Scholars and Fellows are motivated by possible employment with the Federal sector, the hope is to place as many of them as possible in meaningful positions.

The NSEP is in a position to promote opportunities for both the award recipients, and the DA and others through an electronic job search system and the establishment of a new Federal rule that greatly enhances DA's and other's opportunities to hire them.

Effective immediately, federal hiring restrictions no longer apply to NSEP award recipients. A new Federal rule -- 5 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 213.3102(r) -- developed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) -- gives all Federal agencies and offices authority to hire NSEP award recipients without regard to other hiring restrictions. This authority is for four-year term non-career appointments.

The NSEP has also completed the development of a state-of-the art electronic search system that includes resume information on each award recipient, updated on a regular basis, and made available to all Federal organizations with national security responsibilities, like DA and others. The system -- called NSEPNET -- is administered by OPM. NSEP undergraduate scholars and graduate fellows will input resume and experience data directly into the system one year from their anticipated date of graduation and availability for full-time employment. Meanwhile, most students whose resumes are in the system are available for compensated, and in some cases, uncompensated internships. Many of the undergraduates are particularly interested in short-term positions. The database can be accessed to identify NSEP award recipients with skills to meet DA's and other's requirements.

NSEPNET affords the opportunity for DA and others to augment their capabilities by employing these outstanding scholars.


The NSEP, the National Security Education Trust Fund, and the National Security Education Board are the result of the National Security Education Act (P.L. 102-183, as amended), December 1991.

All expenditures for the NSEP are derived from a U.S. Treasury Trust Fund created by a one-time appropriation in 1991. No additional funding is currently required to support the NSEP.

NSEP formally began operations in September 1993 when it announced the first competition for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.

Program policy and direction are provided by the Secretary of Defense in consultation with the 13-member National Security Education Board, chaired by the Secretary of Defense or his designee. The Board is comprised of six senior non-Federal officials appointed by the President, who serve with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate, and seven senior Federal officials. The Federal members of the Board represent: the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Education, and State; the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities; and the Director of Central Intelligence and Director of the United States Information Agency.


The objective of the NSEP is to address the future national security and economic competitiveness of the U.S. by increasing the national capacity to deal effectively with critical foreign cultures and languages. Integral to the NSEP is the objective to produce a significantly strengthened pool of applicants for work in departments and agencies of the U.S. government to help guide and implement an effective U.S. national security policy. NSEP provides funds to U.S. students only.

NSEP awards Scholarships to Undergraduates to study aboard in areas critical to U.S. national security and under-represented by U.S. students

NSEP awards Fellowships to Graduate Students to study less commonly studied foreign areas, languages and other international fields critical to U.S. national security.

NSEP awards Grants to U.S. Institutions of Higher Education to build and/or enhance programs of study in foreign areas, languages, and other international fields critical to U.S. national security.

The NSEP is the only program of its kind that is tied directly to the priorities and emphasizes those needs critical to U.S. national security. These critical needs are expressed each year in the program's application guidelines which include a list of geographic areas, languages, and fields of study critical to U.S. national security.


All recipients of NSEP undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships incur a service requirement. They are required to work, in order of priority, either for a federal agency or office with national security responsibilities or in the field of higher education, in an area related to the study funded by NSEP. Recipients incur a requirement that is generally equal to the length of time of the NSEP support although the graduate student requirement is generally no less than one year.


All Federal agencies have Schedule A Hiring Authority to employ any recipient of an NSEP Scholarship or Fellowship. NSEP award recipients may be hired without regard to other federal hiring restrictions. This authority is for four-year term non-career appointments.

NSEPNET, a state-of-the-art electronic search and retrieval system, managed for NSEP by OPM is operational and available to all Federal agencies. NSEPNET provides key information on all NSEP award recipients since 1996 including anticipated dates of graduation and resume data.

Each NSEP scholar entered in the NSEPNET resume bank may be hired under a blanket excepted appointment hiring authority; has studied in a field or discipline determined to be important to U.S. national security; has documented foreign language capabilities; has studied extensively about other countries or regions; is a prospect for full time term employment or an internship; is available for employment immediately or within the next 12 months; is a U.S. citizen; and is actively seeking employment.


OPM 1-888-749-NSEP National Security Education Program

The National Security Education Program, 1101
Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1210, Rosslyn, VA 22209
Telephone No. (703) 696-1991/Fax No. (703) 696-5667

Content last reviewed: 6/8/2006-SWL

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This page was last revised: 1/10/2011