MEXT released the 2020 Embassy Recommendation MEXT Scholarship application guidelines on April 12, 2019. For veteran applicants, there are a few changes this year, but whether you are a first-time applicant or, as the Japanese say, a “repeater”, this article will describe everything you need to know about the 2020 Embassy Recommendation MEXT Scholarship application process!This article is focused on the MEXT scholarship for Graduate Students (a.k.a. Research Students, in MEXT’s terms). There is also an application process for Undergraduate Students, but I will not be discussing that in this article. Undergraduate applicants, college of technology applicants, and specialized training applicants can find this year’s guidelines on MEXT’s website.
What Degree Programs are Available?
MEXT uses the word “research student” to refer to all graduate level students. You can apply for any of the following programs:
- Non-Degree Student
- Master’s Degree Student
- Doctoral Degree Student
- Graduate-level Professional Degree Student (MBA, JD, etc.)
Fields of Study
You should apply for the field of study that you majored in at university or its related field. If you plan to change fields, you need to be able to show a concrete relationship between your past studies and what you will study in Japan. It is up to you to make this clear!
Your field of study also has to be available at the graduate level at a university in Japan in a language that you speak. If you can find at least one graduate program taught in a language that you are fluent in in Japan, you will be fine.
Programs that require practical training, such as performing arts or programs that require technical training at a factory or company are not permitted. You can study Japanese performing arts from an academic perspective, so long as no practical performance training is required.
Finally, for medical or dental fields, you would not be able to participate in any clinical training until you receive the relevant licenses from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. This essentially means that you would need native-level fluency in Japanese.
- Exemption from paying tuition, entrance examination, and matriculation fees.
*You may be required to pay entrance examination fees in advance, if your MEXT scholarship award is not yet confirmed at that time, but the fees would be refunded to you after you are selected for the scholarship
- Monthly stipend:
- Research Students: JPY 143,000/month
- Master’s Degree/ Professional Degree Students: JPY 144,000/month
- PhD Students: JPY 145,000/month
- (Undergraduate Students: JPY 117,000/month)
- Cost of Living Adjustment: JPY 2,000 – 3,000 in selected areas
- Round-trip flight ticket to Japan (covered by MEXT or the university). Note: only the international portion of the ticket is covered. You are responsible for all domestic travel costs in your home country and in Japan, plus the airport usage fees and fuel surcharges.
The maximum Scholarship period is:
- Research (non-degree program) students: Up to 24 months if you arrive in April or up to 18 months if you arrive in the fall semester (September/October).
- Master’s Students: 24 months
- Doctoral Students: 36 months
*For doctoral students in 4-year programs in medical faculties, the duration would be 48 months.
It is possible to apply to extend the scholarship if you advance to the next level degree (from Research Student to Master’s or Doctoral Degree or from Master’s to Doctoral Degree). However, you cannot extend your time as a Research (Non-Degree) student and you cannot extend the scholarship period if you fail to complete the degree within the time limit above.
Who is Eligible?
I have written a separate article that covers the Embassy Recommendation MEXT Scholarship eligibility requirements in complete detail.
Where and When do you Apply?
You apply at the Japanese embassy or consulate that serves the area where you live. You can find the list of Japanese embassies or consulates around the world at:
I recommend using a Control-F search on that page to find your country. It may not be listed under the region of the world that you are used to.
In general application deadlines are between mid-May and early June. However, each embassy or consulate sets its own deadlines, so be sure to check the embassy or consulate webpage for specific application instructions. Your embassy or consulate will explain exactly what you have to submit and how.
Your embassy or consulate may also have additional eligibility restrictions or required paperwork (for example, pre-screening procedures).
What you Have to Submit
Each of the documents below is required by MEXT. However, embassies may ask for additional documents and may ask for each document at a different time, so again, be sure to check the specific instructions for your embassy!
For each document below, you will need to submit one original as well as two photocopies and they must be numbered in the top right corner. I will include direct download links to MEXT’s documents where available. Keep in mind that these are the documents for the 2020 Embassy Recommendation MEXT Scholarship Application for Graduate Students, if you are applying for any other kind of scholarship or at any other time, do not use these links!
I will be posting separate articles soon about the Application Form for this year and about the other required documents. Be sure to subscribe to my MEXT scholarship mailing list to be the first to know when those articles are posted! I will also send you a sample of the application form as a special thanks.
- Application Form with attached photograph (Fillable PDF format from MEXT website)
As a special thanks to mailing list subscribers, I will send you a sample of the completed application form that you can use as a guide!
*As of the time of posting this article, the sample form is from the 2019 application process and has some significant differences. I will be updating that sample file next, as I write the updated article on how to fill out the form!
* The photograph must be clear, no more than 6 months old, show your upper body facing forward with no hats (except religious head ocverings), and be 3.5 cm wide by 4.5 cm tall. The photograph can be printed on photo paper or digitally inserted into the application form prior to printing.
- Placement Preference Form (Fillable PDF format from MEXT website)
- Field of Study and Research Program Plan (Word format from MEXT website)
Click here for my article about how to complete this form.
- Academic transcript for each academic year of the last university attended, issued by your university or national government. This must show the grading scale and all grades earned in each class. If enrolled in graduate school, you must also submit your undergraduate transcript. If you transferred universities or studied abroad, you will likely also be required to submit your pre-transfer transcript or the transcript from your study abroad university.
- Certificate of graduation or degree. A copy attested by an official at the university will be accepted as an original. Do not submit your original diploma as submitted documents will not be returned to you!
*Certificates of graduation are required for all university degrees earned in the past.
*Applicants who have not yet graduated must submit a certification of expected graduation, instead.
- Recommendation from the president, dean, or your academic advisor at the most recent university where you are/were enrolled in a degree program. There is a template available (Word format) on MEXT’s website, but a freeform letter is acceptable. Note: The template letter is from previous years and includes out-of-date instructions. You no longer have to submit the letter in an unopened envelope.
- Medical Certificate (Excel format from MEXT website)
- Abstracts of graduation theses or published articles, if available
- Certificate of language proficiency (English or Japanese language proficiency test scores), if available. No original is required for this item, only 3 copies are needed.
- Recommendation letter from present employer, if employed.
- Photograph(s) or digital audio recordings of applicant’s works, if applying for fine arts or music programs.
Be sure to check with the Japanese embassy or consulate in your Home Country! They may have additional requirements or may require the documents above at different times during the process.
The embassy or consulate is also your only source of information about the application deadline and the means of submitting the application!
Good luck with the MEXT scholarship application in 2020! If you have any questions I didn’t cover, let me know in the comments, below!
Be sure to sign up for my mailing list below to be the first to find out when new articles about the scholarship are available, too.
Want to know more?
My book, How to Apply for the MEXT Scholarship describes the scholarship in detail, including the purpose and coverage, the eligibility criteria, how to develop a successful applicant mindset, and how to craft your application strategy for the greatest chance of success!
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