Updated Version Available (2021/2022 Application Cycle
I released an updated version of this article in September 2021 for the 2021/2022 application cycle, so please refer to that article in the future!
Previous Article Continues
If you want to keep reading the old version for some reason, please carry on below.
The 2020 University-Recommended MEXT Scholarship application form is almost identical to the 2019 Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship Application Form. This article was originally written about the Embassy form, but it well help you for the university form, as well!
If you’re signed up to my mailing list, I’ve already sent you a sample copy of this year’s form. If not, then you can get your sample copy by signing up here. I’ll also write you as soon as I have any new articles or resources about the MEXT scholarship available.
In general, the form is much cleaner and easier to use this year, but there are still a few confusing areas, so here’s a step-by-step walkthrough on how to complete it!
By the way, you can download the fillable application form in Microsoft Excel format from MEXT’s website at:
This article is about the application form for the Graduate-Level Scholarship Application. I have not reviewed the form for undergraduate scholarship applicants, but you can download it here if you are looking for it.
Instructions: Key Points
- You should type the form using Excel, if at all possible. Not only is it easier for evaluators to read, it makes it easier for you to make corrections, if you have to. If you are going to write by hand, use black pen and write in all capital letters.
Another option is to edit the form directly as a pdf. I use GIMP (a free, open source Photoshop clone) and pdftk, both free, to edit and compile pdfs.
- The instructions say to use Arabic numerals, which means “1, 2, 3” etc. Do not write out numbers (e.g. “one”) in the application form, even if it would be grammatically appropriate to do so. You should also use numbers, not words, when writing out months. (e.g. “05”, not “May”)
- Writing year numbers: Be sure to write all numbers in the CE or AD calendar used in most of the world. Do not use the Japanese, Buddhist, Islamic, or Coptic Christian system of counting years.
- You have to write out proper nouns, including cities, states, countries, etc. Do not abbreviate. (e.g. Write “United States of America”, not “USA”)
- Even if you are filling out the form in Japanese, write all non-Japanese proper nouns (such as names, places, school names, etc.) in English letters. Do not try to write them in Katakana and do not translate terms into English. (For example, if your language uses words that mean “city” or “district” in addresses, write the original word in your language, in English letters, do not translate it to the English word).
A note about check marks: In the sample form, I used a special character that looks like a checked box. This is from the font Segoe UI Symbol, which is standard with Excel. You can insert it using the “Insert symbol” command in excel. For more information, check out this article.
Page 1: Basic InformationPhoto: Your photo must meet the dimensions specified in the form, be clear and no more than 6 months old, and show your upper body.
You can insert a digital image directly into the form (insert photo) before printing or attach a physical photo afterward. If you decide to attach a physical photo, it must be printed on photo paper and you should attach it with paste or a glue stick. DO NOT use staples, as that will damage your photo and make it useless.
1. Name: Your name (especially in the “alphabet” line) has to match your passport, exactly. You do need to fill in both lines (to be safe), even it they are identical. In general, the “Native language” line should match what is written in the top half of your passport, near the photo. If your country uses a language other than English, or uses English with special characters, use the appropriate characters from your language in this box.
The “Alphabet” line should match the computerized text at the bottom of your passport, as follows:
To find your “alphabet” name and the right order, refer to the bottom two lines of your passport. On the second-to-bottom line, you should see a three-digit country code along with your name. For example:
Everything between the Country Code (USA in the exampe) and the “<<” is your surname. Everything after the “<<” is your given and middle name, in that order. It is your choice whether to list all of your given and middle names in the “given name” box or to split them between given and middle name, but you must include everything and cannot change the order, even if that’s not what you use in daily life.
If you do not have a “<<” because you do not have a legal surname or have only one legal name, then you should leave the surname block blank.
You cannot enter any special characters, such as accented letters, in the “Alphabet” line. Those should go only in the “Native Language” line.
Yes, that’s a lot of instructions for a “name” line, but I’ve seen a shocking number of mistakes with this one in the past.
2. Gender: This refers to your biological gender, not your gender identity. Do not expect special treatment or even official acknowledgement of alternate gender identities in Japan. Individual people might by understanding, but institutions are not likely to be.
3. Marital Status: This one is pretty straightforward!
4. Nationality: Write the name of the country that issued your passport. (In Japan, your “nationality” is a noun, not an adjective. For example, you would write “Japan” not “Japanese.”) If you have multiple nationalities, choose only one. If you are applying for the Embassy-recommended scholarship, you must write the nationality of the country you plan to apply in.
5. Japanese Nationality: Japanese nationals are not eligible to apply for the scholarship, but if you have multiple nationalities and choose to give up your Japanese citizenship to apply, they you would be eligible.
Most applicants will check “No” and leave the rest of the line blank, but if you do have Japanese nationality, then you would have to check “yes” and complete the line.
6. Date of Birth: The tricky part of this line is filling in your age. You need to enter how old you will be as of April 1, 2019. In the downloadable example, you will see that the fake applicant has a birthday of Jan 1. That means that he is 22 when he’s filling in the form but will pass his birthday before April 2019, so he needs to enter “23.”
Note: In Japan, your age goes up on your birthday. It does not automatically go up on January 1 or on the lunar new year as it does in some other countries. Your age at birth in Japan is “0”. I am aware that in other countries, newborn babies are considered to be “1” at birth, but use the Japanese system for this form.
7.(1). Current Address: Your address as of the day you submit the form. If you will move between when you submit the form and when you travel to Japan to start the scholarship (for example, if you will graduate from college and move home), you will fill in your address after the move in 7.(2). In the downloadable example, the applicant is studying abroad in Japan when he applies for the scholarship. (And, based on his address, he lives at MEXT headquarters). You would also use this line if you were living in a college dorm, etc.
If your current address in is Japan, you need to fill out your current visa status (residence status), too. This is important for confirming how you conform to the eligibility criteria.
In line (2), you want to check the box saying that your current address is your permanent address or fill your permanent address (e.g. Your parents’ address, etc.), if you plan to move between when you submit the application and when you come to Japan. That way, MEXT and the embassy has a mailing address where they can reach you even after you leave the place you’re living now.
You also need to acknowledge that you will not receive a plane ticket to Japan paid by MEXT if your permanent address (7.(2) or 7.(1) if you checked same as above) is not in your country of nationality.
For your phone number and email address, I recommend putting contact information that can be used to reach you at any time. If you’re living abroad, as in the example, put a phone number in your home country. You’ll be going back there to apply, anyway, for the Embassy-recommended MEXT application.
Be sure to include the country code for your phone number!
Page 2: Scholarship Records8.(1) Past awarded record: The JASSO scholarship and MEXT Honors scholarship do not count for this question. If you are not sure about your past scholarship type, you can ask the embassy or consulate for more guidance.
If you check “No”, you can skip to question 9. If you answered “Yes”, you have to fill out 8.(2) and 8.(3)
In 8.(2) fill in the start and end dates of your scholarship award and the name of the university in Japan. Then check the scholarship program in the section below.
If you checked scholarship types 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 in 8.(2), then you need to complete 8.(3) as well. If you checked scholarship types 5, 7, or 8, then you can skip to question 9. Your past scholarship award is not in conflict with receiving another award.
In 8.(3), if required, you would need to fill in your research and education experience since the end of your last MEXT scholarship award. Typically, you would have to show that you have spent 36 total months enrolled in degree programs since your last scholarship award. Experience as a professional researcher should also be accepted. The “year” field in each of these lines is three cells wide, while years clearly have four digits. Feel free to combine the cells so that you can insert the answer correctly.
For the purpose of this table, count the actual years and months you spent in the program or employed, not the “standard years of study” as we will discuss for the Academic Record, below.
9. Applying for Other MEXT Scholarship for 2019: During the application period for the Embassy Recommendation MEXT Scholarship, there should not be any other application processes ongoing for the MEXT scholarship for 2019, so there should be no reason for your answer to be “Yes”. If you are applying for the University Recommendation MEXT Scholarship that would begin in fiscal year 2018 (fall 2018), that wound not count. (But if you’re still taking part in that application process, your scholarship receipt is practically guaranteed at this point, so why are you applying for the 2019 Embassy?)
10.(1) Overlapping receipt of other scholarships: MEXT does not allow concurrent receipt of other scholarships, so you verify that you are not receiving other scholarships that will cover the same period as the MEXT scholarship or that you will withdraw from any others upon receipt of MEXT.
If you are receiving a scholarship for your current degree, etc., that will end before your MEXT scholarship begins, you do not need to fill in that information here.
While receiving the MEXT scholarship, you are eligible to apply for and receive one-time grants that do not overlap with MEXT payments. For example, you could apply for a grant to pay the cost of travel to a conference, or for a specific research activity.
10.(2) Other Scholarship If you do have a scholarship offer for your time in Japan already, fill in that information here. If you checked “No” in 10.(1), you can leave this blank or write “none.”
Page 3: Academic RecordInstructions: Most of the instructions are straightforward, but there are a few items that can cause confusion, explained below.
- 3. University Entrance Qualification Examinations: This refers to an exam taken instead of graduating high school. Usually, it is for home-schooled students, students who dropped out, etc. It will not apply to most MEXT applicants.
- 5. Attended Multiple Schools: As you can see in the “Primary Education” line of the example, I have included multiple schools for the sample applicant. You can fill it out the same way for your situation. If there is not enough space, you would write “See attached” in the Name line and explain the details in an attached sheet.
If you are attaching an extra sheet, you should still write the start and end dates on the application form!
- 6. Attaching an Additional Sheet: If you attach an additional sheet because you attended multiple schools and cannot fit them in in the same column, then the additional sheet should include a full duplicate of the column you are replacing, with all fields. In that case, still include the overall start date, overall end date, and total years of study in the form, itself.
- Total number of years studied: When calculating total number of school years, you should include extended vacations as part of the year!
The simplest way to think about it is that you are counting “school years” not “calendar years.” If your school year goes from September to June, that is 1 full year (even though it is only 10 calendar months). You should only use the months field if you attended less than a full year at some point.
Primary Education: Typically, this would be your first 6 years of education. Do not include Kindergarten. If you attended a single school that covered elementary and middle school or elementary all through high school, be sure to separate it into the appropriate lines.
Lower Secondary Education: Typically 2 or 3 years. As with elementary school, above, if you attended the same school from Middle School through high school, be sure to separate it into the two lines.
Upper Secondary Education: This includes high school and any college prep school you might have attended, if that took place between high school and college. Do not count community college or polytech experience here, as those would be considered Tertiary education and should be in the next column.
Tertiary Education: Enter college or university undergraduate education in the first line and graduate in the second and third (if applicable). As in the example, indicate any study abroad in here, as well.
Location: Only the city and state is required. You don’t need the full address. As you see in the example I have separated the two cities with a slash in the Elementary column.
Remember, do not abbreviate proper nouns, this includes cities, states, provinces, etc.
Dates and Duration: As you’ll see in the example, I counted full school years, not calendar years. If you are still in school, be sure to count the full amount of time that you will attend, not just the time attended so far!
Status (*As of Arrival in Japan): This entry appears for the tertiary education only. Check the appropriate box. If you have not yet graduated, you should check “Expected to complete” and fill in the expected graduation date for your graduation date and the total years you will have completed upon graduation.
Degree: Fill in the name of the degree you have earned.
Total Years of Education: This should be the total years as of the time you arrive in Japan. If you still have 6 months left in your degree, you would count those as if they were finished.
Page 4: Academic Background (Continued)12. Field of specialization studied in the past: List your focus, major(s) and minor, plus the department, faculty, college, etc., that you belonged to during your last degree.
For example, if you got a BA in History you wouldn’t write simply “History.” You would write something like:
Majored in Japanese history, with a focus on Bakumatsu-era industrial reform. (Department of Asian History, Faculty of History, College of Arts and Sciences)
Note: There is a similar question on the Embassy version of the Field of Study and Research Program Plan form and you will want to go into more detail there.
13. Have you ever written a thesis? This question refers to a graduation thesis at the bachelor’s or master’s level, not to shorter term papers.
14. Publications: If you have any publications, including articles or conference proceedings, or any works that have been accepted for publication but not yet published, write them here. Graduation theses do not need to be listed if they have not been published, but if your university publishes all theses online or binds them and makes them available in the university library, then you would want to list that.
Don’t worry if you don’t have anything to list. Most applicants, particularly those applying for Master’s degrees, do not at this point.
Don’t forget to attach abstracts of all papers you list here.
Page 4: Your MEXT Scholarship Plans
15. The first course you plan to take in Japan: Where do you want to start your studies? (Note: you might not always get what you want. It depends on the university that accepts you).
- “Non-regular (Non-degree) course” is sometimes called “Research student” by universities. In this status, you are not working toward a degree, but you should be able to upgrade to a degree-seeking status. There are three primary reasons you might choose research student:
1. You want/need to spend a semester taking preparatory classes before starting your degree.
2. You are arriving in the “wrong” semester and have to wait a semester before starting your degree program.
3. You are currently enrolled in a degree program outside of Japan and only want to come to Japan to complete research.
- Master’s Degree Course: This would include MA, MS, MSc, etc. In Japan, it is a two-year course and, as a MEXT scholar, you would need to finish in two years or you would lose the scholarship. If you think you need more time, go for a semester or two as a Non-regular student, first.
- Doctoral Course: PhD program. In Japan, this is a 3-year program. The same time condition as Master’s Degree applies.
- Professional Graduate Course: This covers all non-academic graduate degrees, such as MBA, MFA, JD, MD, and programs such as Teacher Training programs. These programs can be at the Master’s or Doctoral level.
16. Preferred Month of Arrival: You should base this both on your own situation as well as the program you wish to enroll in. Obviously, if you haven’t finished your previous degree, you would have to arrive in Japan after that is over.
You’ll also want to see when the semester starts for your preferred program(s) in Japan and what semesters it is possible to start your degree. If you don’t speak Japanese yet, keep in mind that you may be placed in a semester-long survival Japanese course for your first semester after arrival. Account for that semester in your plans when deciding if it is best to arrive in the spring or fall. You can also leave the choice up to the universities, if you do not have a strong need to choose one semester or the other.
17. Term you wish to study in Japan: This question does not guarantee that you’ll get the whole term you ask for – you’ll have to apply for each extension separately later. (More about that in a separate article) It does tell the Embassy and the Universities what your long-term plans are, though, so they have a better idea of your situation.
It is possible to start as a Non-regular student (in 15 above) at the Master’s degree level and select Doctoral degree here.
Page 4: Employment Records:
Fill in this information accurate as to the date that you submit your application. Focus on full-time, paid employment throughout this section.
If you have are still a student and have no employment history, that will not be counted against you, so don’t worry about it.
18. Do you currently have a job? You should only fill in yes if you are working full-time. A part-time student job is not relevant.
Part of the intent behind this question is for the Embassy to determine if you will be able to leave your current job to go to Japan if you are accepted. (If you’re working part-time, it’s assumed you can quit whenever you want).
19. Employment Record: List your most recent two full-time positions here. The most recent position should be in the top line.
Page 5: Language Ability20. Language Ability: You must enter an answer in each block of both the Japanese and English line here, even if the answer is “0”. Note that while the English translation for “0” is “poor”, in Japanese, the term can also mean “no ability”.
21. Japanese language qualifications: The question in Japanese specifically asks for your certifications. If you have passed the JLPT, fill in the level in the first block (N1-N5). If you have another official Japanese language proficiency test score, such as one conducted by your country’s foreign service office, you can list that in “other.”
If you’ve taken Japanese classes in undergrad, etc., but had no official test score, that would not count as a certification, but you can list it anyway (e.g. “8 semesters of Japanese language education”).
Attach a copy of your test results to the application, if available.
22. English language qualifications: Similar to the question above, fill in your test scores for any official TOEFL (be sure to note the type) or IELTS test. You will probably be asked to produce the certificates from these tests when you apply to university. “Other” can include CEFR ratings, O levels, TOEIC, and country-specific tests like GEPT, but understand that those may not be accepted by all universities, so the universities may ask you to submit formal test results when you apply for a Letter of Acceptance.
Attach a copy of your test results to the application.
Page 5: Family
23. Accompanying Dependents: MEXT (and universities) discourages bringing your dependents with you when you first come to Japan. (In fact, in terms of visa requirements, you may find it impossible to do so.) Neither MEXT nor the universities will take any responsibility for your dependents or provide any support for them.
If you do plan to bring dependents with you, list their names and relationship to you in this table. (Relationship should be from your perspective, so a son would be “son”, not “father-son relationship”).
In any case, you’ll have to come to Japan first then apply for a Dependent Certificate of Eligibility for each family member you want to bring.
24. Emergency Contact in home country: To put it bluntly, if you were to die in Japan, who should the university call to pick up your body and bring it home to your country?
I know that sounds morbid, but MEXT wants a point of contact that is that close to you.
The person should also meet the following criteria:
- Must not be listed in the accompanying dependents question (23) above
- Must have an email address and access to a phone
- Should, if at all possible, have English or Japanese language ability
- Be an immediate family member if possible
When I was reviewing these applications, any time an applicant wrote “friend,” “boyfriend/girlfriend,” “supervisor,” or anything other than a close family member, we would encourage applicants to choose someone closer.
You must complete every item in this section (although you can leave out the fax number).
Remember to include the country in the address, the country code in the phone number, and use no abbreviations in the address.
Page 5: Past Visits to Japan
25. Past visits or stays in Japan: List your two most recent trips to Japan. In the “purpose” section, the purpose of your visa is sufficient. You do not need to go into too much detail.
Page 5: Signature Block
You want to sign by hand. A typed signature is never acceptable.
Hooray! You’re finished!
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Before asking any questions in the comments below, please read through the MEXT Scholarship Application FAQ top page and specific FAQ pages to see what I’ve answered already and to find tips about how to get your questions answered faster.
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