Luce Scholarship

History   |   Description   |   Eligibility   |    How to   |   Application   |   Recommendations |   Checklist

History and Purpose

The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China. The Foundation builds upon the vision and values of four generations of the Luce family: broadening knowledge and encouraging the highest standards of service and leadership. A not-for-profit corporation, the Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities.    

Description of the Luce Scholarship

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 in a variety of fields, including but not limited to the arts, journalism, law, medicine, science, public health, environmental studies, and international relations. The program 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. Luce Scholars receive a monthly stipend, augmented when necessary by a cost-of-living allowance and a housing allowance.

Luce Scholars gain new perspectives and cultural insights about their host countries through immersive living and working experiences in Asia. A professional placement is individually arranged for each Scholar on the basis of his or her professional interest, background, and qualifications. 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. Although placements may be made at universities, the Luce program is not for study. Rather, the “Scholar” is expected to make a professional contribution to a host organization.

Eligibility Requirements and Rules for Nomination

Applicants must have/be:
  • US citizens
  • seniors, graduate students, or young professionals who will not have reached 30th birthday by July 1st of year they enter the program
  • any major discipline of study except Asian Studies although minors and those who have taken some Asian-language courses are eligible
  • limited experience of Asia through travel – those with significant experience in Asia are not eligible; candidates may have spent up to a total of twelve weeks in countries where Luce Scholars are placed (usually a whole semester in an Asian country is too long)
  • a record of high academic achievement (GPA of at least 3.5+ highly recommended), outstanding leadership ability, and clearly defined career interests with evidence of potential for professional accomplishments
  • personal qualities such as flexibility, adaptability, creativity, humility, openness to new ideas, and sensitivity to cultural differences
  • in physical health that will not restrict them from working in a foreign environment
  • nominated by the College – Mount Holyoke may nominate up to three applicants per year

How to apply

Applications are available on the Luce website.  The application must be downloaded and filled in, then saved and printed. Interested students should contact National Fellowships Advisor to discuss their candidacy and work on preparing their application for submission to the Committee on Fellowships. The Committee, made up of faculty members and chaired by the Dean of Studies, reviews applications, interviews candidates, and decides which candidates to nominate. Nominees will then revise their materials as recommended and submit a hard copy to the National Fellowships Advisor who will send it via USPS, with accompanying materials and an endorsement letter, to the Luce Foundation. All candidates are interviewed by former Luce Scholars or Foundation Staff either in person or via Skype or phone. Senior Administrative Assistant Marianne Taylor collects application materials, maintains records, schedules appointments, and co-facilitates the application process.

Application components

  • Application form including biographical data; contact information; educational experience; schools/training programs; work experiences; major non-academic activities since high school noting significant achievements; membership in learned, scientific, professional or artistic societies; creative or published work; honors, awards, or fellowships; travel experience; language proficiencies; summary of five most valuable college courses; health/legal record disclosure; space for other relevant comments; and a personal statement (see below) – application is a text box electronic form; candidates must make sure their answers are visible on screen in text boxes or the text will not print
  • Personal Statement discussing long-range career interests and how they have developed; your understanding of leadership; your reasons for applying to the Luce Scholars Program
  • Four letters of Recommendation representing a range of academic and professional references; must be signed and on letterhead
  • Official transcripts of all college and graduate work including summer and study abroad
  • Two photos – recent passport-sized color photos with name printed on the back of each

Recommendation Letters

Recommenders for candidates applying to the Luce Scholarship should keep in mind that the Luce year is experiential, not academic, in nature. Luce selectors are interested in knowing if the candidate is likely to be a leader in her field. Certainly this includes evidence that the candidate is an outstanding thinker, but it also involves assessments of character, interpersonal skills, and leadership qualities.  Of great interest is the candidate's maturity (the Scholar will be living and working in a completely unfamiliar culture for a year). Personal qualities such as flexibility, adaptability, creativity, humility, openness to new ideas, and sensitivity to cultural differences are critical. Comments about her clearly-defined career interests and potential for professional accomplishment are important. Please also read further suggestions for writing fellowship recommendation letters.

Format and submission: Letters of recommendation for the Luce Scholarship (no word limit) should be typed on institutional/organizational letterhead and signed. Please send a hard copy, or a scanned copy of the signed letter to National Fellowships Advisor, Mary Lyon Hall 300C, Mount Holyoke College, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075, by October 24th. 

Campus Process and Checklist

Please note that for all deadlines, submission time is 12:00 noon

Timeframe Task(s) to Complete
Summer/Early Fall Make appointment to discuss candidacy with National Fellowships Advisor; solicit potential recommenders; order transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate study - have sent directly to National Fellowships Advisor
Sept Send personal statement draft and entire application to National Fellowships Advisor if feedback is desired before submission to Committee
Oct 12th Candidates submit hard copies, one-sided, or pdf of all application materials to National Fellowships Advisor
Oct 17-21 Interview with Committee on Fellowships; endorsement decisions made; candidates notified
Oct 24 Nominees submit revised materials to National Fellowships Advisor in print, one-sided, signed, or as pdf signed; submit two photos; recommenders send letters to National Fellowships Advisor in hard copy on letterhead (or scanned via email);MUST be signed
By Nov 1 National Fellowships Advisor sends hard copies of all application materials via USPS, with endorsement, to Luce
Nov/Dec Luce interviews each nominee via Skype, phone, or in person; this is part of the application process and does not signify finalist status
Early Jan 45 finalists selected from nominee pool and invited to meet with one of three selection committees in February (Luce Foundation pays travel expenses)
Mid-Feb Selected candidates typically notified via phone; non-selected notified via USPS letter; scholars announced; placement process begins
Late June Luce year begins with orientations in New York and San Francisco