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The Luce Scholars Program provides an in-depth experience in Asia to emerging leaders 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.
  • The program welcomes diverse candidates, including seniors, recent graduates, or young professionals under 32. For those older than 32, we also consider candidates who have received their bachelor’s degree within the past three years.
  • Candidates who have spent a significant amount of time (18 weeks or more since beginning college) in more than one of the countries where we place Luce Scholars are not eligible to apply for the Luce.
  • Candidates who have spent 18 weeks or more since beginning college in only one of the countries where we place Luce Scholars are eligible to apply but will not be placed where they have spent significant time.  

Eligibility FAQs

  • 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 supports 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.

  • Luce Scholars have 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 based on their professional interests. The Luce Scholars Program will try to find a placement relevant to each Scholar’s field.

  • No. Time spent in Asia before college is not counted.

  • 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.

  • Candidates may be graduating seniors, recent graduates, or young professionals under the age of 32 when they depart for Asia. If older than 32, candidates must have received their bachelor’s degree within the past three years.

  • 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.

  • No. We welcome applicants of all abilities. We broadly consider candidates’ unique perspectives and experiences in our selection process.

  • 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 your success as a Luce Scholar.

Competition Timeline

  1. April 2024 April 29th: The online application portal opens in April each year and remains open through October 1.
  2. October 2024 All application materials must be submitted by the deadline date.
  3. Mid- November 2024 Semi-finalists are invited for virtual interviews with a Luce Scholars alumnus.
  4. Early December 2024 Finalists are notified of their status and invited to Finalist Weekend.
  5. January 2025 Finalist Weekend—From Thursday to Saturday, 34 finalists will attend programming, workshops, and interviews at an in-person selection in San Diego, California. Attendance at Finalist Weekend is required for all applicants selected as finalists. The program will cover all expenses associated with the selection process (travel to Finalist Weekend, lodging, food, etc.).
  6. Early February 2025 Cohort of Luce Scholars is publicly announced.

The Luce Experience

The Luce Scholar Year is a 13-month commitment beginning with the orientation in June through the Scholars' Symposium in July of the following year.

Learn More


Thank you for considering our program. We value your time and have designed an eligibility questionnaire to ensure that you meet the basic requirements before starting the application process. If you are eligible, you will be prompted to complete the application, which includes 6 required tasks and if you choose, 1 optional task:

  • Written Application – This includes biographical and educational information.
  • Three Short Answer Questions – 250 word max for each question.
  • A Personal Statement – The 1,000 word max personal statement is particularly important as it allows you to share your unique perspectives and aspirations.
  • Request forms for Two Letters of Recommendation (LORs) – You will complete a form for each recommender. LORs can be from academic or professional references who know you well and can speak to your skills, abilities, and potential. Once you submit a form, an email is sent to the recommender. The recommenders must upload the letters separately and sign them on official letterhead whenever possible. 
  • Academic Transcripts – You will need to upload transcripts of all your college and graduate work as well. 
  • A 1-2 Minute Video – Candidates record and upload a 1–2 minute video based on the provided prompt. The video allows program administrators to get to know the candidate beyond the page.
  • Supplemental Materials Upload (optional)

The 2025-2026 cohort application is now open. The deadline is October 1, 2024. We will not accept late applications, including transcripts and letters of recommendation. You can save your application progress at any point and as frequently as necessary, but once submitted, you will no longer have access to it. We recommend printing a copy for your records before submitting.

Application FAQs

  • All application materials must be submitted by October 1 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Please note that late applications or application materials, including transcripts and letters of recommendation, will not be accepted, and this may result in your application being disqualified.

  • If you think you answered a question incorrectly on the eligibility form, please get in touch with the program administrator at

  • Rest assured, your application is in good hands. It will be reviewed by our dedicated program staff and teams of readers in October and November. You can expect to hear back from us in mid-to-late November regarding the status of your application.

  • No. In fact we require that you record your video using a nothing more than a cellphone or laptop camera as a recording device. Do not use professional equipment or editing tools. We are not interested in the video’s production quality.  Focus on the content. Be creative, honest, funny, or whatever way you think best conveys your interest and your personality. Be yourself, as let your personality shine through!


Luce Scholars are selected through a rigorous process over three rounds of evaluation:

  1. In the first round, applications are reviewed and evaluated by distinguished reader teams and program staff to determine 45-50 semi-finalists.
  2. Candidates selected as semi-finalists engage in two virtual interviews with two experienced Luce Scholars in early to mid-November. The insights from these interviews will help us determine a pool of 34 finalists.
  3. We invite the 34 finalists to a weekend of interactive programs, leadership workshops, and finalist interviews. It is a competitive process, 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.

Selection FAQs

  • The most important consideration is that a candidate demonstrates potential for leadership and accomplishment. 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. Watch our 50th anniversary video to learn more from current and former Luce Scholars.

  • Yes. Some of the most successful Luce Scholars entered 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.

  • No. Only semi-final candidates will receive a one-on-one virtual interview with a Luce Scholar alumnus.

  • No. The program will cover all expenses associated with the selection process (travel to the finalist weekend, lodging, food, etc.).

  • Attendance at the finalist weekend is required for all applicants selected as finalists.

  • 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 entire program term is not permitted. Each Scholar is expected to participate fully from the orientation program in late June to the Scholars’ Symposium in July of the following year.

Review Criteria

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, focusing on learning through real-world experience rather than traditional classroom settings. 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. 

We do not judge candidates based on whether or not they have developed specific plans for their year in Asia. We understand that you may have general ideas about the preferred placement, and we assure you that this is neither a negative nor positive factor in selection. Your openness to possibilities and readiness to embrace new experiences are what we value, respecting your individual preferences and aspirations.

Can I Speak to Someone to Ask Questions? Attend a Virtual Info Session

We host several info sessions every year after the application is made live. Some are tailored for prospective Scholars, others are geared towards fellowship advisors, and some are for a general audience. Attend to answer your questions or learn more about the Program.

See All Scheduled Info Sessions

Take the Next Step into Your Future!Apply Now!

Are you open-minded and curious? Open to new ideas and new perspectives, beliefs, and modes of living? The Luce Scholars Program may be for you!

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