Luce Scholars

Luce Scholars


Are Asian specialists excluded from the program?
No. In the early years of the program, young people who had majored in Asian Studies were not eligible to apply for the Luce fellowship; however, since the Luce Scholars Program is focused on supporting young professionals from a wide range of fields who have had limited exposure to Asia—and who might not otherwise have an opportunity to come to know Asia intimately—we now feel that this should include candidates who have majored in the field of Asian Studies.

What types of fields are successful candidates interested in?
Luce Scholars have had backgrounds in a variety of fields, including but not limited to the arts, journalism, law, medicine, public health, science, business, environmental studies, and international relations. However, candidates are not judged on the basis of their professional interests. The Luce Scholars Program will make every effort to find a placement relevant to each Scholar’s field.

Does time spent in Asia as a young person make a candidate ineligible?
No. Time spent in Asia prior to college is not counted.

Would a candidate who has spent significant time (more than an accumulated total of 18 weeks) in only one of the Luce placement countries still be eligible to apply for the Luce fellowship?
Yes. Recognizing the enormous diversity of Asia, we have recently relaxed this restriction to allow candidates who may have had significant exposure in one of the countries where we place Scholars to pursue the Luce for placement in a different country where they have not lived, worked, or studied, and where the dominant language is new to them.

What is the maximum age for a candidate?
Candidates may be graduating seniors, recent graduates, or young professionals under the age of 32 at the time they depart for Asia, OR if older than 32, candidates must have received their bachelor's degree within the past three years. 

Is there a minimum age?
Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and have earned a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent by the start of the Luce Scholars orientation in late June.


What do I do if I miss the application deadline? 
All application materials must be submitted no later than October 16 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Late applications or application materials, including transcripts and letters of recommendation, will not be accepted. 

What happens if I am rendered ineligible? 
If you think you answered a question incorrectly on the eligibility form, please contact the program administrator at

I have submitted my application. What happens now? 
Applications are reviewed by program staff and teams of readers in October and November. All applicants will be notified in mid-to-late November of the status of their applications.  

Do I need any special equipment for the video component of the application? 
No. We encourage you to use a cellphone or other mobile device to record your video. We are not interested in the production quality of this video. This video is a chance for you to jump off the page so that we might get to know you beyond your application materials.  


What are the most important considerations for selection?
The single most important consideration is that a candidate demonstrates potential for leadership and accomplishment. It is worth noting that we look for evidence that a candidate will be a leader both within his or her profession and as a member of the broader community. Initiative, creativity, maturity, humility, sensitivity, and strength of character are characteristics that typify successful candidates.

Does a graduating senior stand as much chance in this competition as an older candidate with an advanced degree or work experience?
Yes. Some of the most successful Luce Scholars have come into this program immediately after receiving their bachelor’s degrees. Candidates are expected to demonstrate clear leadership potential and professional ambition, which are not always directly correlated with age or experience.

Does every candidate get an interview? 
No. Only those candidates selected as semi-finalists will receive a one-on-one virtual interview with a Luce Scholar alumnus.  

Do I need to cover my own travel to the finalist weekend? 
No. All expenses associated with the selection process (travel to the finalist weekend, lodging, food, etc.) will be covered by the program.  

What if I cannot make the finalist weekend? 
Attendance at the finalist weekend is required for all applicants selected as finalists.


How are work placements in Asia determined for Luce Scholars?
The individually tailored placement is perhaps the most unique feature of the program. Once Scholars are chosen in January, the Luce Scholars Program team contacts them individually to discuss their interests and expectations and to relate those interests to work opportunities in Asia. The Luce Scholars Program team explores specific placement opportunities in the Spring and makes arrangements with host institutions. This process is normally completed in May and is based on ongoing conversations with each Scholar. We make every effort to match each individual Scholar’s background, experience, training, and aspirations with an appropriate placement.  

Are Luce Scholars expected to assist in locating their placements in Asia? 
Yes, Scholars are expected to play an active role in researching potential placement institutions, particularly in highly technical fields. The Luce Scholars Team works individually with each Luce Scholar guiding them through the process and offering placement organization suggestions and options. A Scholar’s adviser or own contacts can be helpful in providing names of individuals or organizations in Asia with whom The Asia Foundation may wish to discuss possible placements. The initial direct contact with potential host institutions, however, is the responsibility of The Asia Foundation. 

Do candidates have any say in where they are placed? 
Yes. Once selected, candidates complete an on-boarding form and engage in a series of conversations with the Luce Scholars Program team.  

Should candidates have specific projects in mind for their year in Asia? 
No. The specifics of a Scholar's work in Asia will depend on the assignment negotiated with his or her host institution. 

Can a Scholar use the fellowship to pursue his or her Ph.D. research? 
No. The Luce Scholars Program is experiential rather than academic in nature. Scholars will find that their job assignments leave them little time to pursue independent research. 

Where are Luce Scholars placed? 
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. 

Can a placement be "split"? That is, can a Scholar spend half the year in one country and then move on to another for the remainder of the term? 
No. The program provides for a single, ten-month professional placement in one country. Scholars often find that ten months is scarcely enough time to begin to understand one Asian culture, let alone attempt to immerse themselves in two. 

Can placements be found for an accompanying spouse? 
No. The development of dual placements is not practical. Whenever possible, however, we will make introductions or referrals to assist a spouse in making effective use of his or her time in Asia. 

Additional Questions

I have a disability. Will this impede my chances of being selected as a Luce Scholar? 
No. We welcome applicants of all abilities. In our selection process, we broadly consider candidates’ unique perspectives and experiences. 

I have an ongoing health condition; can I still apply?
Yes, Scholars with physical and mental health conditions are eligible. As long as you are able to travel to Asia, we will work to support you to succeed as a Luce Scholar.

How is a Scholar's housing arranged? 
In a few instances, institutional housing is provided by a Scholar’s host institution in Asia. More often, working with the advice and assistance of The Asia Foundation’s local office, the Scholars seek out their own housing once they have arrived in their country of placement. In either instance, The Asia Foundation arranges temporary lodging, usually in a guest house or hotel, for those first few days.  

Many Scholars prefer to rent an apartment during their year in Asia, and that is a realistic option in most urban areas. Some have chosen to live with a local family for the additional language and cultural dimension that such an arrangement can provide. Still others have found more inventive options, such as lodging in a local monastery. The choice is essentially the Scholar’s. However, The Asia Foundation’s local office will provide guidance on this and other aspects of the settling-in process. 

Is the stipend sufficient for a Scholar in Asia, given the cost of living now found in many Asian capitals? 
Yes, stipends are based on a three-tier system taking into account the U.S. Department of State's Cost-of-Living Index and housing costs for each country. Scholars should be able to live comfortably without recourse to personal savings or other income sources, regardless of where they are placed.  

Can the fellowship be postponed? 
No. Awards made in January of one year are only available to the recipients for the program year commencing in the summer of the same year. Similarly, participation for less than the full term of the program is not permitted. Each Scholar is expected to participate fully from the orientation program in late June to the wrap-up meeting in Asia in July of the following year. 

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