Career Strategy Fellowships Study Abroad

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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TOC: Light Fellowship FAQs 

Applying to the Light Fellowship

Which terms can I apply for? 

First-Year students are only eligible to apply for the summer term after their first year at Yale. Students must be a full-time enrolled student during the time of application submission to be eligible. Students who graduate in December may apply to study in the spring after they graduate during the Late Fall Competition and may also submit a new application for study in the summer and academic-year following that spring. If this applies, students must meet with Light Fellowship staff to discuss plans. 

I am considering applying for a Light Fellowship in both the Early and Late Fall competitions, is there anything I should take into consideration?

If you are considering applying for a Light Fellowship in both competitions, please make an appointment with a Light Fellowship adviser to discuss the details and logistics of your applications.

What do I do if my recommender has not submitted my recommendation form?
We ask all students to request the recommendation form at least three weeks in advance of the recommendation letter deadline.  We encourage all students to meet with your recommender in person to discuss your Light Fellowship proposal in advance and ensure that your recommender is able to complete and submit the form by the deadline.  It is your responsibility to follow up with your recommender and ensure that your form is submitted by the deadline.  If you have met with your recommender and regularly followed up, but your form is not submitted by the deadline for reasons outside of your control, please let us know as soon as possible. Any issues related to the application are best brought to the light fellowship's attention before the deadline. 

Am I allowed to change the length of my proposed time abroad if I am awarded the Light Fellowship?
Your application is evaluated taking timing and length of study into consideration. While proposals to shorten the length of study are sometimes approved, extensions are generally not due to funding limitations. If you must modify the length of your study, please contact us as soon as possible to begin the petition process.

Can I participate in research, online coursework, internships or other fellowships during my time on program?
The Light Fellowship provides opportunities for fully funded intensive language study and cross-cultural exchange. Students who accept are making a commitment to dedicate their time exlusively to this purpose. If you are interested in pursuing other projects, such as research or internships abroad, we encourage you to search the student grants database and apply to other fellowships that may be a better fit for these goals. If you're having trouble deciding, feel free to make an appointment with a Light Fellowship adviser.

What does the Light Fellowship award fund?
Your Light Fellowship Award Budget will include item lines for Tuition, Application/Transcript Fee for the program you ultimately choose, Airfare stipend, Housing stipend, Food stipend, Airport Transportation from the destination airport to your program, Local transportation stipend, Books/Supplies as indicated by your program, Visa costs (non-expedited), Miscellaneous, and COVID-related expenses item line. Light Fellows may need to prepare for additional expenses not included in the aforementioned list. This budget is calculated yearly by the Light Fellowship. 

What are the selection criteria for the Light Fellowship?

Successful Light Fellowship applications typically demonstrate exceptional motivation and goals for language progress, a demonstration of interest in intercultural understanding and community engagement, a plan for future engagement, potential and interest for personal growth and development, exceptional performance in the language classroom, and an understanding of the commitment required for success living and learning in an abroad program.

How can I be the most competitive applicant?

All students should accurately reflect themselves and their learning goals in the Light Fellowship application.
Seniors, graduate, and professional students applying for post-graduate fellowships are strongly encouraged to propose programs of study that include at least an academic year.Preference will be given to applicants whose language abilities would undergo significant improvement (as opposed to relatively minor advances to already proficient language skills) and who would utilize these improved language abilities as part of a coherent, long-term plan.

When will I be notified on whether or not I have been awarded the Light Fellowship? 

Late Fall competition applicants will be notified in mid to late February. There is a waitlist for the fellowship. 

If I am awarded, but I have another plan, can I decline the fellowship? 

Yes, students who have made other plans are able to decline the fellowship. Students who are weighing two options should notify the Light Fellowship office immediately if they are declining the Light Fellowship so that  the opportunity may be offered to a student on the waitlist. 

If I decline the fellowship, will that work against me in a future competition? 

No! Students are encouraged to consider a bredth of opportunities and are welcome to apply in future years should their plans change in this competition cycle. 

I took two semesters of another language. Can this count toward the eligibility requirements? 

While we appreciate your desire to learn multiple languages, you can only count coursework taken in the language you intend to study during your experience toward the Light Fellowship eligibility requirements. 

Can I apply to other scholarships and external funding? 

You can apply to as many forms of funding as you would like, however, the Light Fellowship is considered full- funding, therefore, the funding agreement that all awardees sign stipulates that students do not accept other sources concurrently to the Light Fellowship. If you receive other funding and are confused about which one to accept, you can speak to a Light Fellowship adviser. 

I am eligible for the ISA, why would I apply for the Light Fellowship? 

ISA funding is connected to your financial aid percentage and is different for each person. It may not fund your experience fully, so you should carefully consider your options when making decisions for your summer. Remember that each person's situation is different! You may consider applying your ISA funding to another study abroad opportunity, such as a YSS program or a Non-Yale program outside of East-Asia. Additionally, many students consider using their ISA for a summer experience on a Light Fellowship approved program and then apply for the Light Fellowship for term-time or post-graduate study. Please see the ISA page and/or meet with a Light Fellowship adviser if you have further questions! (Note: The program for which you use the ISA must be credit-bearing and you may only transfer a total of 2.00 credits from outside of Yale across all three summers and leaves of absence). 

Applying to a Language Program 

Does the Light Fellowship office forward my application to the language programs? 

No. Some programs accept the Light Fellowship language evaluation in place of a separate recommendation letter. Programs do not see any other components of your application. 

Do I need to pay the application fee and will it be covered by the Light Fellowship? 

The Light Fellowship award will include the application fee for the program which you ultimately attend. 

Do I need to apply to a separate language program in addition to completing the Light Fellowship application? 

Yes. The Light Fellowship is a funding source. The language programs exist independently of Yale and you must apply and be accepted in order to participate. 

Could you give me advice about X, on the program application?
The Light Fellowship is 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.

How many language program applications should I complete?
We recommend that applicants apply to two for each term you are interested in studying abroad so that you have a backup in case your first choice falls through. The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the volume of students applying to each program, especially for students studying Chinese. Please keep this in mind when considering your applications. 

I need a study abroad adviser recommendation for my language program application. How should I go about this? 

Please refer to the Light Fellowship Website's individual program pages for any special instructions on how to complete this portion of the program application. 

Does the language program accept the Light Fellowship language evaluation in lieu of a recommendation? 

Please refer to the Light Fellowship Website's individual program pages for any special instructions on how to complete this portion of the program application. 

I decided to apply to a language program that I had not previously indicated on the Light Fellowship application. Can the Light Fellowship office send my language evaluation?

You may e-mail the light fellowship at to make this request. Please note that you must do this well in advance of the deadline and allow for ample time for the office to complete this request. 

How do I send an official transcript to a program? 

The Registrar's Office has a process for this

My first choice program was canceled, will this affect my application?
No, Light Fellowship applicants can confirm final choice programs after knowing whether they've been awarded. Given the uncertainty surrounding the on-going pandemic, students must confirm closer to the potential departure date. We recommend that students come up with a back up plan should international travel to the host community be unlikely.

My first choice program went virtual, can I apply to other options? 

If your first-choice program is no longer your first choice, you may e-mail us to ask us to send your language evaluation to a program other than the ones indicated on your application. The programs you choose on the application are not binding and you may make a more informed decision as the outcomes of the pandemic become clearer. 

What if I get into my program but I am not awarded the Light Fellowship? 

All Light-Fellowship approved programs that are eligible for credit are also eligible programs to which you can apply the International Study Award. Please note that you must complete your program for credit in order to apply the ISA and you may only transfer a total of 2 credits across all three summers and leaves of absences. In order to apply the ISA, you need to complete the application for Non-Yale Summer Abroad Credit by April 1, the program application, and the application for the International Study Award by April 1. You may also explore other options on our Resources page. 

I was admitted into my program before knowing whether I will be awarded a Light Fellowship, what do I do? 

Please contact your program to let them know you are a Light Fellowship applicant awaiting award notification. Most of our program partners are aware of our notification date and will be willing to be flexible with you until you know whether or not you've been awarded. 

Re-applying as a Former Light Fellow

I was previously awarded a Light Fellowship. Can I apply again? 

The Light Fellowship encourages students to submit applications multiple times throughout their Yale careers; however, Light Fellowship funding will normally be granted to a particular student for no more than four terms, with a summer counting as a term.

Is there anything I need to do  as a returning applicant? 

Former Light Fellows who are applying for another Light Fellowship must have completed all prior reporting requirements (program reporting, survey, program transcript). 

If I was previously awarded, does this mean I will be awarded again in this upcoming cycle? 

Each cycle is treated separately from previous cycles. This means that if you were awarded in one year, it does not necessarily mean you will be awarded in the next. 

If I am applying again, can I just submit the same application materials I previously submitted? 

In general, while you could submit the same personal statement as you have in previous years, we do not recommend that you do so. As your language education has progressed, it is expected that your goals and plans for future Light Fellowships have changed. We recommend that you reflect on your experience and make updates as necessary. Submitting the same materials does not necessarily yield the same results. 

How can I return to the region and build on my Light Fellowship experience? 

We encourage you to explore the Student Grants Database to explore other fellowship opportunities. You can also explore our resources for returned fellows. 

Credit Transfer - Learn More About How Credit Works

Should I submit a Study Abroad application to transfer credit for my Summer Light Fellowship Experience?
Summer students who intend to transfer credit should submit a Non-Yale Summer Abroad application by the relevant deadline (usually early March) in order to be able to transfer 2 credits towards the 36.00 upon completing the program and meeting the requirements. Transferring credit is not a requirement for accepting a Light Fellowship, and in some cases, is not necessary for applying coursework taken abroad toward your major, distributional requirements, or language requirements. You can contact the DUS for your department to find out more about how to do this, if applicable.Please note that once these 2 credits appear on a transcript, they can not be adjusted unless you are looking to replace them with Year-long Study Abroad credits in the future. 

If I get credit for my summer Light Fellowship-supported study, will I be able to get an ISA (International Study Award) for future summer experiences? 

If you transfer 2 credits for a Non-Yale Summer Abroad program supported by the Light Fellowship, you will not be able to remove those credits in order to participate in another Non-Yale Summer Abroad program with the ISA. This is because you may only transfer 2 credits towards the 36.00 from outside Yale across all three summers and Leaves of Absence. If you have already transferred those 2 credits, you could consider participating in a Yale Summer Session Program Abroad or Yale in London in order to use the ISA. 

Should I submit a Year or Term Study Abroad application to transfer credit for my term-time or yearlong Light Fellowship experience?
It depends on your goals for your Light Fellowship experience. Transferring credit is not a requirement for accepting a Light Fellowship. You can think of the aforementioned application as a way of replacing one semester or year at Yale with credits earned abroad and therefore your time abroad would replace the equivalent time at Yale. You should speak to your Study Abroad Adviser for more details about credit transfer. 

You can find the relevant deadline for the YTA credit application here. If you previously transferred 2 credits from non-yale study abroad or a summer experience and are looking to transfer the full 9 from an academic year abroad, you can petition to remove the 2 credits. 

Should I take a leave of absence to accept my Light Fellowship?
Many Light Fellows choose to take leaves of absences in order to embark on their experience and pause the clock on their time at Yale. Either way, you should discuss your plan for Study Abroad with your Light Fellowship Adviser, DUS, and Residential College Dean in order to come up with a plan that works with your course of study. You must file the appropriate paperwork by the deadlin in order to take a Leave of Absence. Your Dean can help you with this. If you plan on transferring credit from your leave of absence, you may do so after returning. You do not necessarily need to transfer the 2 credits toward the 36.00 in order to apply coursework to your major, distributional, or language requirements.

Are virtual courses eligible for credit toward graduation? 

Students may no longer transfer credit from virtual programming. 

For Waitlisted Students 

I am on the waitlist for the Light Fellowship, but I have been admitted by my program. What do I do? Does this affect my chances?

While we appreciate you keeping us informed, we do not take program acceptance into account when admitting students off of the waitlist.  Some students in the past have been able to receive extensions of program deadlines by letting the programs know they are on the waitlist for the Light Fellowship. We do not recommend that any students pay deposits unless they have a back up plan to fund their enrollment in the program. In general, if you are on a waitlist for anything, you should always prioritize the options that are 100% instead of relying on an uncertain possibility. 

When will the Light Fellowship waitlist close? 

While it is possible that you will be notified throughout the late Winter and early Spring, the latest day you will be notified is April 30th. We will inform all waitlisted students when the waitlist is closed. 

Should I still apply to language programs?

It is up to you. We recommend doing so if you are planning on applying the ISA or other external funding if you are not awarded the Light Fellowship. 

I have another opportunity lined up, but the Light Fellowship is my first choice, what should I do? 

While we appreciate your enthusiasm for language study, please note that the Light Fellowship waitlist is not a guarantee of full funding. You must carefully consider other opportunities and make a decision based on the offers you have. 

COVID - 19 and Safety Information for Study Abroad in East Asia 

Use the links below to find the current U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisories, the CDC’s COVID-19 Notices, International SOS’s Travel Global Risk Rating, and country-initiated travel restrictions for Light Fellowship destinations. Please refer to the Yale College Travel Policy for more information.

Dept. of State CDC ISOS Travel Restrictions
China China China China
Japan Japan Japan Japan
South Korea South Korea South Korea South Korea
Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan

How has the on-going coronavirus pandemic affected the Light Fellowship? 

South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China maintained some degree of border closure and/or entry restrictions during the height of the pandemic. It is important to stay informed as it is always possible that one or more of the countries that Light Fellows travel to re-implements long quarantines, testing, and vaccine tracking requirements for entry. While you are considering applying for the Light Fellowship, you should also consider how these countries handled their borders during the pandemic, including whether or not they are issuing visas and how this might impact your decisions for the upcoming year. It is each student's responsibility to research visa and entry requirements, stay up to date with changes, and complete any required paperwork to obtain a visa. 

Awardee FAQs

What does the Light Fellowship award fund?

Your Light Fellowship Award Budget will include item lines for tuition, application/transcript fee for the program you ultimately choose, airfare stipend, housing stipend, food stipend, airport transportation from the destination airport to your program, local transportation stipend, books/supplies as indicated by your program, visa costs (non-expedited), and miscellaneous. Light Fellows may need to prepare for additional expenses not included in the aforementioned list. The fellowship will be disbursed to you directly and it is your responsibility to pay your tuition and manage the funding. 

When will the funding be disbursed?

The Light Fellowship can only disburse funding after students have attended a mandatory post-award session, attended a pre-departure session, and completed all myCIPE registration documents. 

Can Light Fellows participate in research, online coursework, internships, part-time work or other fellowships during their time on program?

The Light Fellowship provides opportunities for fully funded intensive language study and cross-cultural exchange. Students who accept are making a commitment to dedicate their time exlusively to this purpose. Students who are interested in pursuing other projects, such as research or internships abroad are encouraged to search the student grants database and apply to other fellowships that may be a better fit for these goals. If you're having trouble deciding, feel free to make an appointment with a Light Fellowship adviser.

Can the Light Fellowship be deferred?
No, the Light Fellowship cannot be deferred for any reason. All students must apply again in subsequent years. Future Light Fellowship applications will not be impacted by the decision to decline the award. 

Will declining the award affect future Light Fellowship applications?
No, declining the Light Fellowship will not affect any future Light Fellowship applications.

Should fellows start making program payments or travel reservations related to my Light Fellowship?
Once you have completed your myCIPE registration and you feel comfortable doing so, you may begin the payment process.

If a program's deadline to make a deposit is before funding will be disbursed, what is the next best course of action? 

Students are encouraged to inform programs if they were awarded the Light Fellowship, that they intend to commit to the program, and are awaiting funding to be disbursed. We kindly ask that fellows do not commit to programs in which they do not intend to participate in order to allow programs to release spots to other students. If you feel comfortable paying the deposit before your funds are disbursed, you may, however, please note that the Light Fellowship will only cover the deposit for the program you ultimately attend. If you do not feel comfortable or are unable to pay the deposit before receiving your Light Fellowship funding, work further with your program to discuss this. 

What is the Light Fellowship’s policy for students who initially accept their award but ultimately decide not to attend an intensive language program?

1) Students who accept the award and decline before receiving their award funding will not face any monetary penalties. However, accepting means these funds will be reserved for that award, resulting in other highly qualified applicants on the waitlist losing this opportunity. If the award is declined too late, it may be too late for a waitlisted applicant to get a spot in eligible program causing this funding to remain unused for this cycle with no guarantee that it will be carried over to the following year. Students should keep this in mind and contact the Light Fellowship office as soon as possible to communicate any changes in the decision to accept the award. 

2) Students who accept the award and subsequently decline after receiving their funding will have their declined term count toward the total terms of permitted awards for the Light Fellowship (a maximum of four), and will also need to reimburse the Light Foundation in full for the funds given. This means that any sunk costs, like application fees, program deposits, travel bookings, etc. will be the student's responsibility.

My program requires a verification letter or funding letter - who do I contact? 

Please write to with your request. Allow 5 business days for your request to be completed. 

Does the Light Fellowship help me obtain my visa? 

It is your responsibility to understand the requirements associated with obtaining a visa and completing the process for receiving it. In some cases, your program will support your visa process and provide the necessary documents. If you have questions relating to visas, please contact your program or the consulate of the country to which you are traveling. 

Passport and Visa Concerns 

All students should defer to program instructions on how to obtain a visa, if relevant, to study in your country of choice. Please note that it is the student's responsibility to understand the requirements and abide by the laws of the host country. Failure to do so may negatively impact a student's ability to re-enter the country at a future date and may jeopardize your fellowship funding. 

Should I renew my passport? 

Some countries require that your passport is valid within 6 months of your arrival date. If your passport is expiring within the next 6 months, or within 6 months for your departure date, we highly recommend that you visit the State Department's website on passport renewal.