Luce Scholars Program
Established in 1974, the Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship that offers early-career leaders immersive, professional experiences in Asia. We aim to forge stronger relationships across geographic borders by creating opportunities for young Americans to deepen their ties and understanding of the countries, cultures, and people of Asia.
The Luce Scholars Program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for 18 Luce Scholars each year. In any given year, Luce Scholars are living and working throughout Northeast, Southeast, and South Asia. They are in big cities and small villages, working in such diverse fields as public health, the arts, economic development, environmental science, and many more. The Scholars contribute their talents to NGOs, government agencies, private companies, universities, think tanks, and museums.
Luce Scholars are active in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Timor Leste.
The intent of the program is to provide an in-depth experience in Asia to young Americans who would not otherwise have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the country where they are placed.
- Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
- Candidates may be graduating seniors, recent graduates, or young professionals under the age of 32 or, no more than three years out from receiving bachelor’s degree.
- Candidates who have majored in Asian Studies are now eligible to apply.
- Candidates who have spent 18 weeks or more (since beginning college) in one of the countries where we place Luce Scholars are eligible to apply to be placed in a country where they do not have significant experience.
Successful candidates will have demonstrated significant leadership ability, intercultural competence, and evidence of potential for professional achievement. Reviewers will consider academic accomplishments; however, the Luce Scholars Program is experiential rather than academic in nature. Personal qualities such as resilience, flexibility, adaptability, maturity, humility, creativity, openness to new ideas, and sensitivity to cultural differences are as important as academic performance.
Candidates are not judged on the basis of whether or not they have developed specific plans for their year in Asia. A candidate may have general ideas about the kind of placement preferred, but this is considered neither a negative nor positive factor in selection.
Luce Scholars are selected through a rigorous process over three rounds of evaluation:
- In the first round, applications are reviewed and evaluated by distinguished teams of readers and program staff to determine a group of 45-50 semi-finalists.
- Candidates selected as semi-finalists are invited for a virtual interview with an experienced Luce Scholar in early November. Those interview comments will help us determine a pool of 30 finalists.
- The 30 finalists are invited to a finalist weekend consisting of interactive programs, workshops, and one-on-one interviews. It is a competitive process but also a learning experience and a time of growth for all finalists, even those not selected as Luce Scholars. Scholars are announced immediately after our finalist weekend.
Candidates must first complete an eligibility questionnaire. If eligible, they will be prompted to complete the application which includes the following:
- Written Application – Candidates provide biographical and contact information, respond to short answer questions, and write a personal statement and 400-word-max bio.
- Request Forms for Two Letters of Recommendation (LOR) – Candidates complete a form for each recommender. Once a form is submitted, an email is triggered to the recommender. Letters must be uploaded separately by the recommenders. LORs can be from academic, professional, or collegial references. They should come from people who know the candidate well and can speak to their skills, abilities, and potential. LORs should be signed on official letterhead whenever possible.
- Academic Transcripts – Candidates upload transcripts of all college and graduate work.
- A 1-3 Minute Video – Candidates record and upload a 1–3-minute video based on the provided prompt. The video gives program administrators a chance to get to know the candidate beyond the page.