Kunshan Innovation Scholarship | Duke Kunshan University

Kunshan Innovation Scholarship

In an effort to seek out bright, creative and resourceful young innovators and change agents, Duke Kunshan University is pleased to offer 10 full-tuition scholarships for Duke University undergraduates and qualified students from other accredited undergraduate institutions in the United States to participate in the Global Learning Semester program at Duke Kunshan University.  


China has long been associated with some of the world’s most important inventions.  The “Four Great Inventions” all came from China: the compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing. Today, as part of its efforts to become a more knowledge-driven economy, China is now looking to the field of higher education as a new domain for "out of the box" thinking.  The answer has been to form a very select number of joint venture universities. Opened in 2014, Duke Kunshan University is a new, highly dynamic, innovative academic institution that blends liberal arts education with Chinese tradition in a new approach to advancing the frontiers of cross border collaboration in higher education between China and the US.   

The Kunshan Innovation Scholarship Program at Duke Kunshan University aligns with the core missions of Duke University and Duke Kunshan University to cultivate and encourage creative expression, entrepreneurship, and innovative thinking.  It provides students with the unique opportunity to combine study abroad with a self-defined project.

The value of the scholarship is one semester of tuition at Duke Kunshan University (international rate). Students will be expected to cover travel, housing, dining, insurance and personal expenses. 

Students will:

Invent their project idea

Implement the project during their semester at Duke Kunshan University, and

Integrate their ideas within the Duke Kunshan community.

As a result, students will gain a unique co-curricular experience that will help to shape their future as well as those around them. 

How to Apply

Interested students must submit a completed application to the Global Learning Semester by October 1 for Spring semesters and March 1 for Fall semesters.  

To apply for this scholarship, a student must meet the following conditions:  

  1. Meet all criteria for acceptance to the Global Learning Semester.
  2. Be a second or third year undergraduate student.
  3. Be in good academic standing at their home institution.
  4. Be self-directed with a strong vision for implementing a unique project in a Chinese setting.

To apply, each candidate must submit a proposal outlining how during the student’s time at Duke Kunshan he/she will create a meaningful, focused program, activity or event that would leave a lasting impact on the Duke Kunshan campus environment and/or in the city of Kunshan.  Projects can have an academic, research, leadership, service learning or co-curricular focus, and will be defined and directed by the student in consultation with an appointed mentor. Projects will be evaluated on the originality and feasibility of the idea, the perceived impact of the project and the motivation of the student. Selected students will be interviewed prior to decisions being granted.

The project proposal should be submitted as the “Optional Essay” in the Global Learning Semester Apply Yourself application and should include the following information:

  • Title including “The Kunshan Innovation Scholarship Program”
  • Project idea
  • Perceived impact
  • Motivation for this project

Students will be notified of their acceptance and if they have been awarded The Kunshan Innovation Scholarship at Duke Kunshan University by April 1 and November 1, accordingly.  Students must accept the scholarship and sign a letter of commitment within seven days of the initial offer. 

Example of project ideas

Applicants are encouraged to seek projects that they find engaging.  Here are a few examples of project ideas:

  • Viewing China through the Virtual Reality lens.  The student will work with the Duke Digital Initiative team prior to and during the semester at Duke Kunshan to learn how to produce an effective virtual reality film.  The equipment will be provided for the student usage while in China.  A complete VR film can be presented to audiences in China, the US and online.  Click here to learn more about the Duke Digital Initiative.
  • A critical look at the Jazz scene in Shanghai in the 1920s-40s, the effect of World War II, and its rebirth today.   The student can research the cultural dynamics that led to a vibrant jazz scene in Shanghai and explore how the political effects of the war changed it forever.  Students can travel to Shanghai to conduct research, discuss findings in small groups on campus, host on-campus events such as a recreating a 1920’s jazz club, and culminate the semester by leading a group of students and faculty on an academic tour of the Jazz hot spots that can still be found in Shanghai today.
  • An academic research project.  Global Health and Environmental Policy are core academic and research areas for Duke Kunshan University and may provide a platform for students with interests in these fields.
  • Developing a student arts culture at Duke Kunshan University.  The student can develop arts programs to engage the diverse student body that has varying degrees of exposure to art.  Student can select one focus area, such as painting, or offer a look at a wide variety of visual and performing arts.  Students can hold workshops on campus, coordinate field trips to museums and art studios, and host guest speakers. 
  • A Kunshan service project.  Students can deepen their connection with the Kunshan area by identifying a service need, developing a plan, and implementing a service project.


Participation in this project will also include the opportunity to be a part of Duke’s latest initiative for sharing student achievements: the e-Portfolio.  The e-portfolio allows Duke students create an online collection of their unique and meaningful experiences that can be shared with prospective employers and graduate schools to communicate their distinctive skills.  This is an ideal mechanism to showcase the projects derived from the support for The Kunshan Innovation Scholarship Program.  Students will receive faculty and staff coaching during the semester on how to set up and manage their e-Portfolios in other venues.

At the conclusion of the semester, students will present their project to the senior level administration, faculty, staff and students at Duke Kunshan University and receive a certificate of completion.  At the beginning of the following semester, Duke University students will present their projects at an honors event hosted by the Duke University Provost.  Duke students may also choose to showcase their e-Portfolios.


Students who would like more information about the Kunshan Innovation Scholarship or any program at Duke Kunshan University, please send an email to gls@dukekunshan.edu.cn