Fund Details
Luce Scholars Program
Award Amount
transportation, insurance, and a monthly stipend through the period of their participation sufficient to meet all normal expenses in Asia
Competition Type
Global/National - No Yale Endorsement

Brief Description:

Established in 1974, the Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship that offers early-career leaders immersive, professional experiences in Asia. It aims 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.  
Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, the Luce Scholars Program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for 18 Luce Scholars each year. Applications from college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals in a variety of fields, with a range of backgrounds and experiences, and who have had limited exposure to Asia, are welcome. 


Note: As of June 15, 2022, the Luce Scholars Program competition has resumed. Eligibility and components of the application are different than in the past. A few noteable changes are listed below: 

  • Institutional (Yale) endorsement is no longer required. Applicants must apply directly to the program via the official website.
  • 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.

All application materials must be submitted by October 16, 2023 by 5:00PM ET. 

The Luce Scholar Program is a cultural and experiential fellowship program built around individual internships and work/study arrangements developed by representatives of the Asia Foundation and based on the participants' career interests, qualifications, and experience.  The "Luce Scholar Year" involves a commitment of thirteen months from mid-June to late-July of the following year.  The program starts with a week long orientation in NYC followed by in-country language study in July and August.  Individual placements commence in September and last until July of the following year.  Rather than offer training for future Asia specialists, the program concentrates  on providing an intensive cultural experience in Asia to young Americans from other fields who would not otherwise expect to have such an opportunity during the normal course of their careers.  The Luce Scholars Program operates throughout Northeast, Southeast and South Asia with placements in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

While some Scholars have been affiliated with Asian universities in teaching or research capacities, none of the participants is formally enrolled as a student in a college or university and no academic credit is offered.  The range of assignments is extraordinarily broad.  Although each Scholar's placement provides a professional venue and perspective, the assignments themselves should be viewed as a mechanism through which to gain a broader understanding and appreciation of the culture in which one is living.  Specific placements have included an architectural firm in Tokyo, a forestry project in Indonesia, a training facility for public administration in Malaysia, apprenticing under a master gardener in Kyoto, a community medicine project in the Philippines, and working for a banking authority in Singapore.

Luce Scholars receive from the Luce Foundation transportation, insurance, and a monthly stipend through the period of their participation sufficient to meet all normal expenses in Asia.  Additional cost-of-living and housing allowances may be provided to participants in certain locations.  Although they may occupy professional positions in Asian institutions or agencies as part of their assignment, Luce Scholars receive no compensation from their local sponsors.

Application Information:

Note: As of June 15, 2022, the Luce Scholars Program competition has resumed. A Yale endorsement is not longer required. Applicants must submit an application direclty to the program via their official website. Eligibility and components of the application are different than in the past. 

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 (*new*) – 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. 

The application deadline is October 16, 2023 at 5:00PM EST. Late applications—including transcripts and letters of recommendation—will NOT be accepted. You do not have to complete your application in one sitting; you can save your work at any point as frequently as necessary. Once you submit your application, you will no longer have access to it, so be sure to print a copy for your records prior to submitting.

Detailed information, resources and the official application are available on the Luce Foundation website.

Interested applicants should, after doing some research of their own on the program and application process, schedule an appointment with (Dr. Mya Fisher, from the Office of Fellowships, who advises on the Luce Scholars.

Special Eligibility Requirements:

Eligible are graduating seniors, graduate/professional students, and alumni.

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  

  • Eligible are graduating seniors, recent graduates, or young professionals under the age of 32, OR if older than 32, candidates must have received their bachelor's degree within the past three years. 

  • Applicants that have taken extensive coursework in Asian language or Asia-focused courses, majored in Asian studies, or have spent more than a total of eighteen weeks in one or more countries in Asia since starting college are now eligible for this program.

Applicants should have a record of high achievement, outstanding leadership ability, and clearly defined interests with evidence of potential for professional accomplishments.  They should demonstrate evidence of being a leader within their profession and as a member of the broader community.  Personal qualities such as initiative, creativity, maturity humility, sensitivity, and strength of character typify successful applicants.

Applicants will not be judged on the basis of whether they have developed specific plans for their Asian experience, although they may have general ideas about the kind of placement preferred. Financial need is not a criterion for selection.

Semi-finalists are invited for interviews by representatives of the Luce Foundation in November. Those selected as finalists are invited to a finalist weekend in January. The cohort of Luce Scholars will be publicly announced by early-February.

Restrictions to Use of Award:

(none provided)

Links to Additional Information:

  1. Official Luce Scholars Website
  2. Application advice

Contact Information:

For questions about this application, please contact Mya Fisher at

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