Career Strategy Fellowships Study Abroad Summer Session

FAQs for Applicants

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Are you preparing an application or have you recently submitted one? Browse these frequently asked questions.

Applying to Program Sites Abroad

Unfortunately, we are not in a position to give advice on program applications. We encourage you to contact the program's administrative staff. You may also want to contact the Light Fellowship Student Advisory Committee (SAC). Additionally, we can give the names of current or prior Light Fellows who can share their experiences.

Start by exploring the programs' websites to see if you are eligible to apply. Narrow your choices by reading former Fellows' student blogs and program reports on the fellows' bulletin board. Discuss your language-related goals with your language teacher, who may have suggestions for what program is right for you.  If you are still unsure after taking these steps, you should meet with us. We can also put you in contact with former Light Fellows who have completed the programs.

You should apply to at least two, so that you have a backup in case your first choice falls through. Students studying Chinese should apply to three summer programs.

We cannot intervene in a program's decision to admit or reject an applicant. If they have follow-up questions or if there is some question regarding your ability to pay, they can contact our office.

No. Unless a program contacts our office with follow-up questions relevant to your application, we will not intercede on an individual applicant's behalf. To offer or deny you a spot in their program is each program's right and responsibility.

It is different for each language and each program. Almost all Light Fellows are admitted to at least one Light-approved program if they apply to several. You will want to make sure that your program application is as strong as possible and that you take advantage of the rolling admissions process.

Applying to the Light Fellowship

In general, the answer is no. Your application is evaluated taking timing and length of study into consideration.  If you plan on modifying the length of your study, please submit a petition to

While we are available to discuss your proposal and provide general feedback, we encourage you to reach out to the Writing Center, mentors, and peers for more specific feedback on your personal statement.

Yes! Every year, our procedures and timelines change a little, so it's important that you are aware of such changes.

No. Your entire application can be completed and submitted through Yale Student Grants. Applicants are encouraged to start and submit applications early in order to avoid last-minute technical problems.

There are no additional application requirements for the Light Fellowship application, but you will need to meet with Yale's International Tax Office. Please ensure that you will be able to obtain a visa for entry to China, Japan, Korea, or Taiwan and that the programs to which you apply have no extra requirements for non-US students.

You can track the status of your application materials in Yale Student Grants, under the "My Applications" tab. The program office will check off each item as it is completed or received.

Yes. It's encouraged! Many choose to do one program for the summer and another in the fall term. Students who wish to apply for a spring + summer must apply for the Light twice - in the Early Fall Competition for spring study and again in the Late Fall Competition for summer study. However, summer + fall applicants can apply for both terms during the Late Fall Competition.

Yes. In fact, most students will likely be waiting to hear back from programs by our application deadline.

Please notify the Light Fellowship staff immediately.

We will announce results of the Early Fall Competition in early November. The results of the Late Fall Competition are announced in February. Winners will have one week to accept or decline the award.

Credits and Grades

Yes and no. You can bring back credit from outside Yale for both one summer (2 credits) and one Yale Term Abroad (4 credits; fall or spring), for a total of 6 outside credits. You cannot combine credit from a summer and a Year Abroad. If you get transfer credit from a Year Abroad (9 credits) you will forgo the previously earned 2 summer credits.

Yes. To receive credit for summer studies you must apply for credit by the study abroad credit deadline, typically the first week of March. Credit is not automatically approved, but most fellows returning from Light-approved summer programs receive two credits. Grades will not appear on the transcript. 

Yes. Students who want to transfer credit from time abroad must earn grades of at least C. Additionally, if you fail to complete your program in good standing (C- or below), you may be asked to return part or all of your Light Fellowship award.  We and your Residential College Dean will be receiving an official copy of your transcript from each program you attend, and weak grades may reflect poorly on your ability to handle an intensive language program and/or to live overseas. If you decide to apply for another Light, your grades at previously attended language programs will affect your application. Moreover, future employers and graduate schools sometimes want to see these grades. 

These credits are listed on your transcript with grades of "CR" (Credit) and are not counted toward your GPA. These credits are also not part of the calculation for graduation honors or distinction in the major. They are not considered "non-A" grades like the Cr/D/Fail option in Yale classes. The same goes for Phi Beta Kappa - you are considered based solely on grades earned at Yale, or at Yale programs like Summer Session or Yale-in-London. However, some Residential College honors may factor in grades earned abroad.

No. In order to use International Summer Award (ISA) funding towards a designated non-Yale program, Yale requires students to do the program for Yale credit. The total amount of outside credits you can earn during all your summers as a Yale student is two. If you transfer in two credits for your work at a summer Light-approved program, you can no longer transfer in any more outside credit for programs done during future summers or on a leave of absence. This means that you would not be able to use the ISA for a future summer study on a non-Yale program. This regulation does not affect use of an ISA for future participation in Yale Summer Session programs abroad (which are taken for Yale credit, not transfer credit) or the non-credit International Bulldogs internships.

Check out the Study Abroad website, and then schedule an appointment with a study abroad adviser.

The majority of Light-approved programs give grades, but they will not appear on your Yale transcript. If you get transfer credit from your program, the course name and number and a mark of "CR" will appear on your Yale transcript, but will not affect your GPA or graduation honors.


Yes. However, you must still meet all deadlines. You should start an application in the Student Grants Database as soon as possible because we send occasional updates to registrants. Please tell us about your situation, and send all email correspondence to We will waive the information meeting attendance requirement for you.

You may apply, but you must have studied one full year of the target language at Yale or at an equivalent program by the time you embark on your studies abroad. Also, applicants must have completed at least one semester in a Yale language classroom by the competition's final deadline. Contact your most recent Yale language instructor regarding completing your Light Fellowship Language Evaluation.

No. Applicants must have taken a Yale language class in the language they are proposing for their fellowship. Applicants must have completed at least one semester at Yale by the competition's final deadline.

You may not apply for a Light Fellowship to study a language in which you are already fluent. The Light Fellowship's judgment of fluency is being able to listen to the evening news in that language and understand every word and also being able to read a newspaper in that language and fully comprehend the content. However, even if you are not considered fluent by our standards, there must still be a Light-approved program that would allow your language skills to significantly improve.

Students in graduate and professional degree programs are eligible to apply if they are auditing a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean course. Auditing applicants will receive special attention in the review process, so it is especially important for them to demonstrate a strong effort in that class. Yale College students are eligible only if taking the language course for credit.

No. However, you will need to address poor grades in your personal statement. While the Light Fellowship is not GPA-focused, lapses in your academic record will raise questions about your commitment to and ability to excel in an intense academic program abroad...which these language programs certainly offer!

General Information About the Light Fellowship

While longer immersion abroad is preferable to shorter stays in most respects, we discourage students from applying for longer than a summer before the timing is right to do so. Graduating seniors and graduate students, however, must have compelling reasons why they would not apply for a period of at least an academic year. If you are not sure about which term or terms to apply for, you should schedule an appointment to discuss your situation.

The Light Fellowship awarded 130 students in the 2015-2016 academic year competitions, but that number is subject to fluctuation.  Since the percentage and number of students awarded changes each year based on available funding, number of applications, and length of proposals, we do not disclose the percentage of students awarded each year.  Each year, there are students who are waitlisted as well as students who do not receive the Fellowship outright.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for other fellowships/funding sources for which they are eligible (e.g. ISA, CEAS language mini-grants, Fulbright Fellowships, Parker Huang Fellowships, etc.). It is harder to win a Light Fellowship for study after graduation. A list of Yale-administered fellowships can be found on the Student Grants Database. NOTE: Applying to other funding sources will NOT impact students' applications for a Light Fellowship.

Please notify the Light Fellowship staff immediately.

Light Fellowship Funding

Yes! There are dozens of Yale and national fellowships and grants available to undergraduate and graduate students. Many are geared specifically toward study or research in East Asia. We encourage you to look at options on the Student Grants Database, CEAS, and MacMillan Center websites. You can also consider using your International Summer Award (for undergraduates receiving term-time financial aid).

No. The Light Fellowship only supports study at Light-approved language programs in East Asia.