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Frequently Asked Questions

For a list of FAQs in the form of a Word document, click here.

Why are Asian Specialists excluded from the program?

The Luce Scholars Program and the Asia Program at the Luce Foundation share the same mission of enhancing American capacity to understand Asia, but take different approaches. While the Asia Program specifically works to strengthen Asian Studies in higher education, the Luce Scholars Program is directed instead at recent graduates and young professionals from a wide range of fields who have had limited exposure to Asia, and who might not otherwise have an opportunity to come to know Asia.

Would a candidate be considered ineligible if he or she has traveled in Asia?

Not necessarily. A candidate may have spent up to a total of twelve weeks, or have participated in a university-organized summer program, in one or more countries where Luce Scholars are placed.

Does an elective course or two in Asian history, religion, language, or art disqualify a candidate?

No. Candidates may have taken Asian language or Asia-focused courses on a U.S. campus (without majoring in Asian Studies).

What is the maximum age for a candidate?

To be eligible, a candidate may not have reached his or her 30th birthday by July 1st of the year he or she would enter the program. To put it another way, Scholars must be under thirty when they depart for Asia.

Is there a minimum age?

No, although candidates must have earned a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent before taking part in the program. Moreover, candidates will be assessed on their overall maturity.

What are the most important considerations for selection?

The single most important consideration is that a candidate demonstrates potential for leadership and accomplishment. It is worth noting that we look for evidence that a candidate will be a leader both within his or her profession and as a member of the broader community. Initiative, creativity, maturity, humility, sensitivity, and strength of character: all these are characteristics that typify successful candidates.

Does a graduating senior stand as much chance in this competition as an older candidate with advanced degree or work experience?

Yes. Some of the most successful Luce Scholars have come into this program immediately after receiving their bachelor’s degrees. Candidates are expected to demonstrate clear leadership potential and professional ambition, which do not always have a direct correlation with age and experience.

How are Asian placements developed for Luce Scholars?

Since the inception of the program, the Luce Foundation has worked with The Asia Foundation, a non-profit non-governmental organization with 18 offices throughout Asia. Through a grant from the Luce Foundation, The Asia Foundation assists in the operation of the program in Asia, including developing professional placements and providing administrative support for Luce Scholars in Asia. A senior member of its staff serves as the Luce Scholars program coordinator. Once the Scholars are chosen in February, the program coordinator contacts them individually to discuss in detail their interests and expectations and to relate those interests to work opportunities in Asia. The coordinator travels throughout Asia later in the spring and, in collaboration with the foundation’s representatives, explores specific placement opportunities and makes arrangements with host institutions. This process is normally completed in May, and involves extensive correspondences with the Scholars. In spite of many obvious obstacles, we make every effort to match the individual Scholar’s background, experience, training, and aspirations with an appropriate placement in Asia. The individually tailored placement is perhaps the most unusual feature of the program.

Are Luce Scholars expected to assist in locating their placements in Asia?

Not under normal circumstances. In some rare instances, particularly in highly technical fields, a Scholar’s advisers can be helpful in providing names of individuals or institutions in Asia with whom The Asia Foundation may wish to discuss possible placements. The initial direct contact, however, is the responsibility of The Asia Foundation.

Should candidates have specific projects in mind for their year in Asia?

No. The specifics of a Scholar’s work in Asia will depend on the assignment negotiated with his or her host institution.

Can a Scholar use the fellowship to pursue his or her Ph.D. research?

No. The Luce Scholars Program is experiential rather than academic in nature. Scholars will find that their job assignments leave them little time to pursue independent research.

May a Scholar specify the Asian country to which he or she wishes to be assigned?

It is appropriate for a candidate to express a particular interest, but that interest cannot be the determining factor. Flexibility is essential. Many factors will influence a Scholar’s placement in Asia. Political situation may limit placement possibilities. Legal restrictions in some countries prohibit foreigners from engaging in certain activities or from practicing certain professions. And purely practical considerations may argue against some kinds of placement. In every instance, the Scholar must be willing to consider geographic alternatives.

In which specific countries/regions are the Luce Scholars placed?

The Luce Scholars Program operates throughout most of East and Southeast Asia: Japan, South Korea, China, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia. At this point, placement is not a practical possibility in Burma or North Korea. Since 2010, India has been added to the list of placement countries.

Can a placement be “split”? That is, can a Scholar spend half the year in one county and then move on to another for the remainder of the term?

No. The program provides for a single ten-month professional placement in one country. Scholars often find that ten months is scarcely sufficient time to begin to understand one Asian culture, let alone attempt to assimilate two.

Can placements be found for an accompanying spouse?

No. The development of dual placements is not practical. Whenever possible, however, The Asia Foundation’s local representative will make introductions or referrals to assist a spouse in making effective use of his or her time in Asia.

How is a Scholar’s housing arranged?

In a few instances, institutional housing is provided by a Scholar’s host institution in Asia. More often, working with the advice and assistance of The Asia Foundation’s local office, the Scholars seek out their own housing once they have arrived in their country of placement. In either instance, The Asia Foundation arranges temporary lodging, usually in an inexpensive guest house or hotel, for those first few days or weeks. Many Scholars prefer to occupy their own apartment during their year in Asia, and that is a realistic option in most urban areas. Some have chosen to live with a local family for the additional language and cultural dimension that such an arrangement can provide. Still others have found more inventive options, such as “house-sitting” for a family that would be out of the country for a prolonged period, or even lodging in a local monastery. The choice is essentially the Scholar’s. However, The Asia Foundation’s local office will provide guidance in this and other aspects of the settling-in process.

Is the stipend sufficient for a Scholar to survive in Asia, given the cost of living now found in many Asian capitals?

Yes. In addition to the basic stipend, a cost of living allowance and a housing allowance may be provided to Scholars living in areas where such costs run high. Though Scholars should be able to survive comfortably without recourse to personal savings or other income sources, they may not be able to replicate precisely the living conditions they have enjoyed in the United States.

Is extensive travel possible while a Scholar is in Asia?

Not really. The Luce Scholars Program is not a traveling fellowship and is not meant to enable recipients to travel throughout Asia for purposes of observation and comparison. Though weekend travel within the country of a Scholar’s assignment is encouraged and short trips are often arranged by Scholars, extensive trips to explore more distant parts of Asia must be planned by Scholars independently after the termination of the program year.

May the scholarship be postponed?

No. Awards made in February of one year are only available to the recipients for the program year commencing in the summer of the same year. Similarly, participation for less that the full term of the program is not permitted. Each Scholar is expected to participate fully from the orientation program in late June to the wrap-up meeting in Asia in July of the following year.

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To download the program overview, click here.