Luce Scholars Program


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 including arts, journalism, law, medicine, science, public health, environmental studies, and international relations. 

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, and learns some of the many things that Asia has to teach.


  • US citizens or U.S. permanent residents
  • seniors, graduate students, or young professionals who will not be age 30 by June 20 of the year they enter the program
  • seniors must have received their bachelor’s degree by June 20 of the year they enter the program
  • any major discipline of study except Asian Studies (students with minors or coursework Asian-language courses are eligible)
  • limited experience in Asia through travel; Candidates who have spent 18 weeks or more (since beginning college) in one of the countries where we place Luce Scholars are eligible to apply to be placed in a country where they do not have significant experience.
  • a record of high academic achievement (minimum GPA of 3.5+ highly recommended)
  • physical health that will not restrict them from working in a foreign environment


To be successful, candidates must demonstrate an outstanding capacity for leadership, have a record of high achievement, and have mature and clearly defined career 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 flexibility, adaptability, creativity, humility, openness to new ideas, and sensitivity to cultural differences are as important as academic achievement.

Candidates are not judged on the basis of whether or not they have developed specific plans for their Asian experience. A candidate may have general ideas about the kind of placement preferred, but this is not considered as either a negative or positive factor.


The Luce Scholars Program no longer requires institutional nomination from BU.  Applicants apply directly, but please know that the BU Fellowships Office remains committed to supporting you in the application process, so please reach out! The following materials should be submitted to Luce’s Online Portal by October 16, 2023 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

  • Luce Scholars Application Form.
  • Resume. 2 pages max
  • Transcripts. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable for the institutional review.
  • 2 Recommendations.
    • Recommenders should keep in mind that the Luce year is experiential in nature, not academic. The letters should address the qualities highlighted in the selection criteria noted above. LORs can be from academic, professional, or collegial references. They should come from people who know the candidate well and can speak to their skills, abilities, and potential. LORs should be signed on official letterhead whenever possible.