Funding Opportunity: Luce Scholars Program

The Luce Scholars Program provides a year-long internship in an Asian country related to the scholar’s interests. The program is designed to provide an extended period of exposure to an Asian country for highly qualified young Americans who lack extensive knowledge of Asian affairs and who would not gain this knowledge through their normal career trajectories. Any professional field will be considered, except Asian Affairs/Asian Studies. Graduating seniors, recent alumni, graduate students, and junior faculty are encouraged to apply.

Am I eligible?

  1. Are you a U.S. citizen or permanent resident? The Luce Scholars Program is open to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  2. Will you have reached your 30th birthday by June 20th next year? The Luce Scholars Program is open to recent graduates and young professionals under the age of 30.
  3. Will you have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree by June 20th next year? An applicant needs to be at least a graduating senior to apply to the Luce Scholars Program.
  4. Have you spent more than an accumulated total of 18 weeks in one or more Luce Scholars placement countries in Asia since graduating from high school? The Luce Scholars Program is open to candidates with limited exposure to Asia. Those who already have significant experience (over 18 weeks) in Asia are not eligible. Only time spent in Asia since graduating from high school counts towards the 18-week limit. Even if you lived in Asia as a child or teenager, Luce only counts time in Asia since college toward the 18-week limit.
  5. Do you have or expect a degree in Asian studies? The Luce Scholars Program is open to candidates with limited exposure to Asia. Those who have MAJORED in Asian studies, such as a major in East Asian Languages and Literatures, are not eligible. Minoring in Asian studies is fine, as is language study, even when it’s significant and has last many years.

Successful applicants have demonstrated:

  • A strong motivation and potential for accomplishment within their chosen field;
  • A record of outstanding academic achievement, particularly in their specialty;
  • An outstanding capacity for leadership;
  • Greater openness to new ideas and sensitivity to their fellow human beings.

The application should provide some indication about how well the applicant might function in an Asian setting, noting such qualities as flexibility, adaptability, maturity, etc.

Applications must be submitted through institutional nomination; the Henry Luce Foundation does not accept direct applications. The IRIS Awards Office follows a selection process to select three applicants to forward to the Henry Luce Foundation on November 1 each year. The national review process is rigorous and can involve several interviews with Foundation staff.

For detailed information, visit the Henry Luce Foundation website:

The online application is usually available by early spring. Letters of recommendation are submitted through the online system. If you would like to see what the application entails, please contact the UW-Madison’s LSP liaison, Mark Lilleleht.

To discuss the competition and/or get feedback on a Luce proposal, contact:

Mark Lilleleht
Assistant Director for Awards
Institute for Regional and International Studies
328 Ingraham Hall

Deadlines & timeline for 2021-2022 award cycle:

  • Sprinf 2020: online application opens
  • Immediately after starting an application all applicants applying through the UW-Madison should make an appointment to discuss the program and their application with the campus LSP liaison, Mark Lilleleht, in-person or via phone, Skype, etc
  • Campus deadline: October 8, 2020, 10 am
  • Campus interviews with short-listed applicants: October 12-21, 2020
  • Applicants will be informed by October 21 whether their application will be sent on to the Luce Foundation as one of the UW’s institutional nominees. Nominees will have a little more than a week to make any suggested and/or desired edits. Revised, final applications of nominees must be submitted by October 30 @ 4pm
  • National deadline: November 1 (or the nearest Monday, if November 1 falls on a weekend)

By the campus deadline, applicants must submit a complete application through the online application system and all letters of recommendation should be included.