Luce Foundation Fellowships

Logo - The Henry Luce Foundation


The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship program. It was launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. The program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for 15-18 Luce Scholars each year, and welcomes applications from college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals in a variety of fields who have had limited exposure to Asia.  It places young scholars from a wide variety of intellectual fields in 10-month internships in 15 different countries in East, Southeast and South Asia. “The Luce Scholar Year” involves a commitment of about thirteen months, from mid-June until late July of the following year.

The program, open to both US citizens and permanent residents, is unique among American-Asian exchanges in that it is intended for young leaders who have had limited experience of Asia and who might not otherwise have an opportunity in the normal course of their careers to come to know Asia. Those who already have significant experience in Asia or Asian studies are not eligible for the Luce Scholars Program.  On the other hand, candidates may have taken Asian language or Asia-focused courses (without majoring in Asian Studies). They may have spent up to a total of eighteen weeks or have participated in a university-organized summer program, in one or more countries where Luce Scholars are placed.

Luce Scholars have backgrounds in virtually every field other than Asian studies, including but not limited to the arts, journalism, law, medicine, science, public health, environmental studies, and international relations.  Placements can be made in the following countries or regions: Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Specific placements have included an architect’s atelier in Tokyo; a public health program in Banda Aceh; a Gobi regional initiative in Ulaanbaatar; a dance theatre in Kuala Lumpur; an agricultural and environmental center in Hanoi; a human rights commission in Seoul; a pediatric hospital in Bangkok; a TV network in Beijing; a national museum in Siem Reap; an international arbitration centre in Singapore; and English-language newspapers, local governmental agencies and NGOs in diverse fields throughout East and Southeast Asia.

If in doubt as to whether your prior experience disqualifies you, please contact Amalia Teglas. CIS will contact the Luce Foundation to seek clarification.

Eligibility Requirements:

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. MIT's Center for International Studies is the MIT designated nominating institution and may submit up to three nominations for each year’s Luce Scholars competition.

The Luce Foundation has decided not to recruit a cohort of Luce Scholars for  2022–23. Therefore, no admissions competition in 2021–22. The program is expected to launch a new recruitment cycle with a revised admissions process next Summer in 2022.

The Luce Scholars Program is open to:

  • US citizens or permanent residents.
  • Graduating seniors, recent graduates, alumni from recent classes, junior faculty 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.

Full information is available on the Luce Foundation website.

Application Process:

The application process is online on the Luce Foundation website. Potential candidates can go to the FluidReview site directly to create an account and start an application and list MIT as their affiliated institution. 

Even though the actual application is through Luce, MIT is allowed to submit up to 3 candidates and CIS is notified when someone begins the application process and will review and must approve the submission before it actually goes to Luce.  The first few questions on the application portal are about previous experience and are meant to help candidates determine if they are qualified to apply. The executive director of CIS, John Tirman, has been administering the Luce program at MIT for many years and is able to meet to discuss the program further and answer any questions you might have specific to your application.  CIS can also connect applicants with past Luce scholars at MIT who can be great resources.  Please contact Amalia Teglas with any questions.

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. (Transcript must be unencrypted file)
  • A Photo. A simple head shot. It will be used to facilitate in-person interviews.

Nomination Process:

When a nominating institution decides to nominate a candidate, he or she will be prompted to complete a Contact Information Sheet with detailed information about his or her whereabouts from November through early February. A first-round interview with each nominee will be held in November or December either in person or via skype. Early in January, approximately 45 finalists will be selected from the pool of nominees. They will be invited to appear, at Foundation expense, before one of three independent selection committees that meet in late January and early February. The members of a selection committee will each personally interview the 15 finalists appearing before that committee, from whom five to six Luce Scholars will be chosen. All 15 to 18 Luce Scholars will have been named by early 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.

Henry Luce Foundation website