Luce Scholars Program (seniors & graduates)

Direct application deadline: October 16, 2023

*Note that as of 2022, no prior campus endorsement is required - but we're still delighted to offer help and advice to Wellesley applicants!

The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship that offers early career leaders immersive, professional experiences in Asia. The program aims to forge stronger, more informed, more compassionate relationships across geographic borders by creating opportunities for young Americans across diverse sectors and interests to deepen their ties and understanding of the countries, cultures, and people of Asia.

Established in 1974, the Luce Scholars Program is experiential in nature, rather than academic.  It 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.  

The Luce Scholars Program was created to honor the late Henry R. Luce, who believed that his experiences growing up in China gave him unique perspectives that set him apart from his contemporaries and attributed to his successes. Today, there are just under 800 Luce Scholars alumni living around the world, making invaluable contributions as global leaders and citizens, and building lifelong professional relationships that began with this program. Their experiences demonstrate that there is no better way to build mutual understanding and a sense of common purpose than through sustained, immersive, in-person engagement with others.

Did you know? Camara Jones '76, 2018 Alumnae Achievement Awardee, was a Luce Scholar, and Zoe Sobel '14 won in 2019!


Application Planning

Timeline overview for application process:

  • By May 30: opt-in to Postgraduate Fellowship Summer Support program by submitting this Getting Started worksheet to this form to help plan and build your applications (outlining, essay review, choosing recommenders, etc.) - and gain access to additional check-ins to help you stay on-track and craft strong applications with minimal stress!

  • June: Start to plan for your application, including talking with people you might ask to write letters of reference. (Pro-tip: folks travel over the summer, whether for work or vacation, and may be hard to reach, so don’t wait to reach out. Fall is busy!)

  • July 18Optional Draft Deadline for postgraduate fellowships—submit drafts to guarantee draft review appointment before relevant fall deadline.

  • October: Follow up with your recommenders to ensure that they can submit their letters before the mid-October direct application deadline  (via the official online application system, accessible to applicants via the Luce website).

  • October 15, 2023: Submit your required application materials via the official online application system.

  • November:  Semi-finalists are invited to do virtual interviews with Luce Scholar alumni.

  • January: Luce Scholar finalists take part in interviews; finalists are announced.

  • February: Luce Scholars are announced.


Who is eligible?

  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents;
  • Graduates and seniors who will obtain their bachelor’s degree before the start of the grant on July 1 following application;
  • Applicants under the age of 32 (or if older, within 3 years of earning the bachelor's degree: Davis Scholars, take note);

What makes a strong applicant for this fellowship?

  • The ability persuasively to answer the central questions: “Why you?”, “Why Asia?”, and “Why now?”
  • Individuals who have a clear career objective and who already have a record of achievements in their field will be at an advantage.
  • Note that the Luce website says:
    • "Luce Scholars are open-minded, curious, and engaged in the world. They are open to new ideas and new perspectives. They are individuals from a wide range of fields and come from a variety of backgrounds, but all share a common objective—to make the world a better place.”  
    • Note that “the Luce Scholars Program is experiential rather than academic in nature. 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.”
    • “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 considered neither a negative nor positive factor in selection."


How do I apply?

While you apply directly for the Luce Scholars Program, not through Wellesley, prospective Wellesley College applicants for the Luce Scholars Program are warmly encouraged to seek out advice, including feedback on draft materials and interview prep, from the Wellesley Fellowships team: drop in virtually or in person to Fellowship Pop-Ups (see events listings for details), and/or to book a Fellowships advising appointment via Handshake.


Application checklist

See the official instructions and online application found via the Luce website.  Applications include:

  • Essays: short answer questions, personal statement, 400-word (max) bio
  • Two letters of reference (ideally at least one of these will come from outside “the Wellesley bubble”)
  • Transcripts (unofficial transcripts are accepted)
  • A photo
  • Brief introductory video
  • Optional submission of original work to supplement application (for example, artists' portfolios, podcast episodes, publications or media clips)