Luce Scholars

Luce Scholars

Program on Pause

The Luce Scholars Program will not be recruiting a cohort for the 2022–23 year. 

We apologize for any inconvenience but expect to launch a revised admissions process and resume the competition next summer in 2022. If you have any questions, please send them to

Application Overview

75 colleges and universities are invited to participate in the Luce Scholars Program and each has designated a member of its faculty or administration to serve as the campus liaison for this program. A nominating institution may submit three nominations for each year’s Luce Scholars competition. The Luce Scholar liaison on each campus will establish an internal application deadline (e.g. early September or mid-October), as well as procedures for internal candidate review. Each nominating institution must make its nominations no later than November 1st or the nearest Monday if November 1st falls on weekend.

Interested candidates not affiliated with a nominating institution are eligible to apply. Their applications will be reviewed by the Luce Scholars program staff. Strong candidates will advance to the first-round interview as semi-finalists and participate in the Luce Scholars competition along with candidates put forward by nominating institutions.

Eligibility Requirements

The Luce Scholars Program is open to:

  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Graduating seniors, recent graduates and young professionals under the age of 30. By June 20th of the year they enter the program, candidates must have received at least a bachelor’s degree and will not have reached their 30th birthday.
  • Candidates with limited exposure to Asia, i.e. those who have not majored in Asian studies and who have spent less than an accumulated total of 18 weeks in one or more Luce Scholars placement countries in Asia since graduating from high school.

The intent of the program is to provide an immersion experience in Asia for an outstanding group of young Americans who would not otherwise have the opportunity to come to know Asia intimately. Candidates however may have taken Asian language or Asia-focused courses (without majoring in Asian Studies).

Application Documents

Once the online application portal is live, each applicant must first complete an Eligibility Form online. If eligible, the applicant will be prompted to complete the application and upload several documents listed below.

  • Luce Scholars Program Application. Personal Statement is one of the most important parts of the application. Use Personal Statement to convey a sense of who you are, and reflect on, among other things, (a) your personal journey; (b) your long-range professional interests, and how they have developed; (c) how you have embodied your own kind of leadership; and (d) how a year in Asia with Luce might be transformative.
  • Request Forms for Four Letters of Recommendation. Letters will be uploaded separately by the recommenders. They should be signed on official letterhead and, whenever possible, represent a range of academic and professional references.
  • Academic Transcripts. Transcripts of all college and graduate work.
  • A Photo. A simple head shot. It will be used to facilitate in-person interviews.

Selection Process and Criteria

Each participating institution can nominate up to three semi-finalists by November 1. Candidates who are not affiliated with a nominating institution will have their applications reviewed by Luce Scholars program staff who will advance strong applicants into the next round. Each semi-finalist will be interviewed over Zoom in November or December. Approximately 48 finalists will be chosen in early January and each will participate in three one-on-one Zoom interviews with different members of our independent selection committee. The new cohort, consisting of 15 to 18 Luce Scholars, will be named by mid-February. All candidates will receive timely notification.

Successful candidates should have a record of high achievement, outstanding leadership ability, and clearly defined interests with evidence of potential for professional accomplishments. All fields will be considered.

The Luce Scholars Program is experiential rather than academic in nature. Personal qualities such as resilience, flexibility, adaptability, humility, maturity, creativity, openness to new ideas, and sensitivity to cultural differences are as important as academic achievement.

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 not considered as either a negative or positive factor.

We strive for diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of the Luce Scholars Program; they are critical to our mission of developing young leaders and to the future of American society. Diversity in any given class of Luce Scholars enriches each Scholar’s learning in Asia and enhances the Luce “cohort effect.” In the selection process, we broadly consider candidates’ unique perspectives and experiences, including but not limited to those of marginalization, disadvantage, or hardship, and how they faced or overcame such challenges, which may be rooted or reflected in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender expression, economic status, disability, and/or religious belief, as well as family background (e.g. first-generation American, or first-generation to college).

Carat Up

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