Luce Scholarship Overview

Bes Young '11

History and Purpose: The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry 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

Award description: The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship program 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 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, and learns some of the many things that Asia has to teach. See where Luce Scholars were placed last year. Read Notes from the Field by Luce Scholars.

Funding details: Luce Scholars receive a monthly stipend, augmented when necessary by a cost-of-living allowance and a housing allowance.

Eligibility: must be US citizens or permanent residents; seniors, graduate students, or young professionals who will not be age 30 by June 20th of the year they enter the program; have engaged in any major discipline of study except Asian Studies (minors and some Asian-language courses are eligible); limited experience of Asia - must 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; a record of high academic achievement (GPA of 3.7 or higher is highly recommended); outstanding leadership ability; and clearly defined career interests with evidence of potential for professional accomplishments. They should also possess personal qualities such as flexibility, adaptability, creativity, humility, openness to new ideas, and sensitivity to cultural differences, and physical health that will not restrict them from working in a foreign environment.

How to apply

Seniors and alumni must apply through the Amherst campus process, which includes receiving guidance from the Office of Fellowships on essays and other materials; and requesting recommendation letters to be submitted all by the internal deadline. All candidates then are interviewed by the campus Committee on Student Fellowships, who will decide whom to endorse as Amherst College nominees to the Luce Foundation. Endorsed candidates will have a brief period to revise their application materials as advised within the Luce application portal. The Director of Fellowships will upload an endorsement letter to the application in the portal, and submit the application by the national deadline. Endorsement: Amherst may endorse three candidates.

Application materials: The Luce application includes a personal statement, a short "open" essay, and some questions. Activities and work experience are also entered into the application. See Luce Application page for details.

For Recommenders

Content: Luce candidates should have clearly-defined career interests and potential for professional accomplishment. The Luce year is experienctial, not academic, in nature. Selectors are interested in knowing if candidates are likely to be a leaders in their field.  Evidence that the candidate is an outstanding thinker is welcome, but reviewers will also be interested in 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 his clearly-defined career interests and potential for professional accomplishment are important. Recommenders may find helpful these Suggestions for Writers of Recommendations.

Format and submission: There is no word limit. Letters for Luce must be printed on institutional letterhead and signed. They will not accept letters that are not signed by hand. Please then scan the letter into a pdf, which you will upload to the Luce Online Application. You will receive an email from the Luce application system requesting your letter and the AC Office of Fellowships will be able to retrieve it from there. If the candidate is named a finalist, we may have to ask you to provide a hard copy to send to Luce. Please upload your letter by the internal deadline, October 13, 2021.

Foundation website:

Christine Overstreet, Director of Fellowships
212 Converse Hall, 413-542-2536,
Eric Myers, Associate Director, Fellowships
Office of Fellowships, Amherst College, 213 Converse Hall, Amherst, MA 01002

Amherst College Luce Winners

Amherst's most recent Luce Scholars are Bessie Young '11, and Jamila Trindle '02. Recent finalists include Hanna Krueger '17, David Lander '17, and Claire Castellano '16. Read about former Luce Scholars from all partnership schools here.