Field of Study and Research Program Plan: MEXT FAQ


MEXT Scholarship Field of Study FAQ
This page is where you can find the answers to all the questions I’ve gotten in blog comments and emails about the Field of Study and Research Program Plan. If you want to know whenever there are updates to this (or any of the FAQs), I recommend that you join my MEXT Scholarship Mailing list.
I’ll also send you a copy of my sample Embassy-recommended MEXT scholarship application form (2018).

Here are the questions:

Is a Field of Study and Research Program Plan required if I want to apply for a taught Master’s instead of a research Masters?

All Masters degrees in Japan require research (and most require coursework, as well), so, yes.

What applicants have to fill out a Field of Study and Research Program Plan?

All graduate-level applicants, regardless of whether you are applying to be a research student, Master’s student, or PhD student.

How long should the Field of Study and Research Program Plan be?

The form is two pages, so that’s a good target. I have a detailed template, including length requirements for each section available here!

If you have graphs, tables, diagrams, etc. that are absolutely necessary, then it can go a little longer, but I would still try to keep it within 3 pages.

Your list or references does not count toward the page limits mentioned above.

Should I write my Field of Study and Research Program Plan in English or Japanese?

You should write it in the language that you intend to write your thesis in.

What should the Field of Study and Research Program Plan include?

I have published a detailed Field of Study and Research Program Plan template in another article, so please review that for details!

Is the “Present Field of Study” (Embassy-Recommended Application Process) what I studied in my last degree, or what I hope to study in Japan?

It’s your subject from your last degree. Your field of study in Japan should build out of your past studies, so use this section of the form to connect the two.

Does the Research Program Plan need to include a timeline?

Yes.

How long of a time should my Research Program Plan timeline cover?

Two years for a Master’s, three years for a PhD, and the length of time you intend to stay in Japan as a research student if you’re applying for just that status (up to 1.5 years)

Even if your program has you doing coursework for the first year and focusing on your thesis research in your second year, your plan should cover two years. Of course, your plan should take that focus into account!

If I’m applying to be a research student for a year and then continue into a Master’s degree, should my research program plan cover two years or three?

It depends on why you want to apply to be a research student first.

If you want to research one subject as a research student then another as a Master’s student, then you would write your initial research plan for just the research student year.

If you are applying for research student status because you cannot enter the degree program directly at your chosen university (e.g. it starts in a different semester), then write your research plan for the entire intended duration of your studies.
If you’re applying for research student status because you’re not confident that you can go straight in as a Master’s student, I would recommend that you focus on preparing yourself and hold off on your application until you’re ready to apply for the degree. The MEXT scholarship is highly competitive and it’s going to be harder to get the scholarship than it is to get in to the degree program. Either go for it all or nothing.

How do I determine a Field of Study or Research Question?

Think about your past research on the same subject and what gaps you found in the field. Then decide how you could help fill those gaps with a specific, detailed project.

If you need help with your specific field or situation, I am available for limited paid consultation. Please contact me if you are interested.

Is it OK if my field of study is different from what I studied in my last degree?

The application guidelines state: “Applicants should apply for the field of study they majored in at university or its related field.” You do not necessarily have to be within the exact same field, but you should be able to explain clearly and concisely how the two are related.

Does my research specifically have to relate to the needs of Japan or my home country?

No, but it would be beneficial to your selection chances, especially for the Embassy-recommended application. You do need to be able to do your fieldwork in Japan for whatever your field is.

Is it possible to study (Insert Field Name Here) in Japan?

If you can find a university that teaches it, yes. (If you would like me to search for universities that teach for you, please contact me to ask about paid consulting services).

Note: If you are applying via the Embassy-recommended scholarship, the fields available to your country may be limited. Please consult with the Japanese embassy in your country for details.
Note: If you are applying via the University-recommended scholarship, not all fields may be available under the scholarship. Please refer to the application guidelines for your specific university.

Will (Insert Field Name Here) be received positively by the review committee?

Unfortunately, there is no way to know. Every committee is made up of different individuals with different perspectives and there are too many variables that go into the review to know what becomes the deciding factor.

If you are passionate about a particular field, go for it. Ultimately, all you can control is how well you write and present your Field of Study and Research Program Plan.

Is it OK to choose a Field of Study if I can’t find a university in Japan that teaches it?

No. One of the requirements of the scholarship is that you have to be able to complete your studies in Japan. Also, you would never be able to get a letter of acceptance if no university teaches that field.

I recommend that you consider alternative names for your field of study or a related general field when searching, then try to narrow down to your specific field. (If you would like me to search for universities that teach for you, please contact me to ask about paid consulting services).

Is it advisable to enter a specific university, course, or professor name in the Field of Study and Research Program Plan?

Yes, if you are applying for the University-recommended MEXT scholarship or you are applying for the Embassy-recommended MEXT scholarship and only writing one university in the Placement Preference Form.

Otherwise, no.

Can you send me a sample field of study and research program plan?

No, I don’t have any samples of successful plans at this time. I do have a template available with recommendations on how to write yours, though.

If you want to contribute a successful field of study and research program plan, please let me know!

For the Embassy-recommended MEXT scholarship application, we are supposed to select three universities. Should I write three separate Field of Study forms?

No, you should be targeting three programs/professors that are similar enough that you can write one Field of Study and Research Program Plan that would apply to all three.

Is it possible to submit one Field of Study and Research Program Plan to three professors in different fields?

No, you should be looking for three professors at different universities in the same field who can supervise the same research topic.

For the Embassy-Recommended MEXT application, can I revise my Field of Study and Research Program Plan after the primary screening?

No. You are required to submit the exact same documents to the university. In some cases, the documents will be stamped with the embassy’s seal to verify that they are unaltered.

You can add supporting material, but it may or may not be accepted.

Do you have questions about the Field of Study and Research Program Plan that I haven’t answered above?

Ask them in the comments below and I will update this page as soon as possible. (Please keep in mind that it may take some time for me to catch up).

I’d also recommend signing up for my mailing list, below, to get notified whenever I have updates to any of the FAQs or new articles about the MEXT scholarship!

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