How to Extend Your MEXT Scholarship


Pathway lined with torii gates representing MEXT scholarship extension

Once you start down the MEXT Scholarship path, you may want to keep going, so you’ll need to know about the scholarship extension application process.

If you started your MEXT Scholarship Award as a Research Student and want to join a degree program, or when you complete one degree and want to move on to the next, you have to apply for a scholarship extension.

In many cases, no information is available about the extension application before it is time to apply, so scholarship winners worry about this extension. Here are just a few of the questions I often receive in blog comments and by email:

  • It is easy (or guaranteed) to extend your scholarship?
  • Is it possible to extend my scholarship to move up to the next degree?
  • Can I extend my scholarship and move to a different university?
  • What are the requirements to extend a MEXT Scholarship?
  • Am I eligible to extend my MEXT scholarship?
  • How/when do I apply to extend my MEXT Scholarship?

In this article I will explain how the MEXT scholarship extension application system works, who is and is not eligible to extend their scholarship, and everything you need to know about eligibility and requirements. I will explain each type of extension separately, so scroll down to the scholarship extension type you are most interested in for more details. (But read the next section first!)

These guidelines are current as of 2022, for students extending their scholarship with the new program to start in 2023.

When is it Impossible to Extend your MEXT Scholarship?

There are a few situations where it is impossible to extend your scholarship. Fortunately, these situations will apply to a very, very small number of students, but let’s get them out of the way first:

  • If you will not be moving on to a new level. (For example, you cannot extend your scholarship award time as a research student or Master’s student beyond 2 years, or your time as a Doctoral student beyond 3 years.)
     
  • If you are already a doctoral degree student.
     
  • If you are in a degree program and want to become a research student.
     
  • If you are a University Recommended MEXT Scholar and want to change universities.
     
  • If you are a PGP Scholarship Winner, but your university has no PGP scholarship slots in the next degree level for the year you would advance.
     
  • If you require permission from your employer or home country government to extend your MEXT scholarship and fail to obtain it.
     
  • If you intend to conduct fieldwork or participate in an internship outside of Japan after extending your scholarship.
     
  • If you fail to obtain acceptance to the degree program at the next level that you plan to apply for.

If you are not in any of the situations above, you should be able to apply to extend your scholarship in order to move up to the next degree level. Read on for the instruction!

Who Can Extend Their Scholarship?

Here is a list of the different scholarship extension types and who is eligible. You can find more details about each extension in the sections below’

Started As Current Status Extending To Notes
Research Student Research Student Masters or Doctoral Degree Program (including professional degree programs)
  • Start of the degree program must be within 2 years of starting research student status (including Japanese language education period), or 1.5 years, if you started your studies in Japan during the fall. There cannot be a gap between the end of your current scholarship award period and when you would start the new degree.
  • University Recommended MEXT Scholarship Students may only enter the degree program at their current university
  • Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship Students may select up to two universities that they would like to enroll in for the next degree level.
Non-PGP:
Research Student or
Master’s Degree Student
Master’s Degree Student (including professional degree programs) Doctoral Degree (including professional degree programs)
  • Students in a PGP Program should refer to the separate category below
  • University Recommended MEXT Scholarship Students may only enter the degree program at their current university
  • Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship Students may select up to two universities that they would like to enroll in for the next degree level.
Non-PGP: Bachelor’s Degree Student Bachelor’s Degree Student Master’s Degree (including professional degree programs) or Doctoral Degree, in the case of a 6-year undergraduate program in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, or veterinary studies
  • University Recommended MEXT Scholarship Students may only enter the degree program at their current university
  • Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship Students may select up to two universities that they would like to enroll in for the next degree level.
Non-PGP:
Bachelor’s Degree Student
College of Technology Student
Specialized Training College Student
Master’s Degree Student Doctoral Degree (including professional degree programs)  
College of Technology Student College of Technology Student Bachelor’s Degree Student (3rd year transfer enrollee) or advanced course at the College of Technology  
Specialized Training College Student Specialized Training College Student Bachelor’s Degree Student (3rd year transfer enrollee)  
College of Technology Student
Specialized Training College Student
Bachelor’s Degree Student Master’s Degree  
PGP: Master’s Degree Student (including professional degree programs) Master’s Degree Student (including professional degree programs) Doctoral Degree
  • Program must have been originally approved for both master’s level and doctoral level slots and must either still be accepting new students in the year that the student would extend or be approved to extend students even after the conclusion of the PGP program approval.

MEXT Scholarship Extension Application Requirements

Here are the requirements, conditions, and number of slots available for each type of extension.

1. Extending from Research to Degree Program

In order to extend from Research Student Status to a Degree Program, applicants must:

  • Be expected to receive admission in the appropriate degree program
  • Be strongly recommended by their advising professor
  • Be appropriate for recommendation, as determined by the president of the university or Dean of the Graduate School
Changing Universities

For Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholars, it is possible to change universities when moving from research student to degree-seeking student status. You can fill in up to two choices of university/graduate school for your next degree. However, the student’s current advising professor must clearly explain the need for the change in the adviser’s section of the extension application form if you list another university or graduate school as your first or second choice. If you end up pursuing your next degree at a university/graduate school other than one of the ones on your list, you would lose the MEXT Scholarship.

University-Recommended MEXT Scholars (including PGP scholars) will lose their scholarships if they change universities.

Slots

There is no limit to the number of scholars that universities can nominate in this category. However, that does not mean that all nominees will automatically be accepted for extension by MEXT. The number of successful nominees will be determined by the contents of the nomination and MEXT’s budget.

In practice, I have never heard of anyone in this situation being unsuccessful in their extension application. The caveat about MEXT’s budget is always there because they are not allowed to commit to any spending in advance of the fiscal year. It is nothing to worry about.

2. Extending from Master’s to Doctoral or Bachelor’s to Master: Non-PGP

This category does not include students who started as undergraduate MEXT scholars, previously extended to a Master’s degree, and are now applying to extend to a PhD. Please see below for that category.

Both of these categories have the same requirements and share a combined slot limit, so I am addressing them together.

In order to extend to the next degree level, applicants must:

  • Have a GPA of 2.50/3.00 in their current degree program
  • Be expected to receive admission in the appropriate degree program
  • Be strongly recommended by their advising professor
  • Be appropriate for recommendation, as determined by the president of the university or Dean of the Graduate School
  • Be expected to complete their current degree within the standard years of enrollment*

*The standard years of enrollment is 4 years for a bachelor’s degree and 2 years for a master’s degree. If you take longer than that to earn your degree, you would lose your scholarship at the end of the standard years (or as soon as it became apparent that you would not finish within the standard years) and would not be able to extend your scholarship.

Changing Universities

The same condition applies as to research students extending to the degree program.

For Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholars, it is possible to change universities when moving from research student to degree-seeking student status. You can fill in up to two choices of university/graduate school for your next degree. However, the student’s current advising professor must clearly explain the need for the change in the adviser’s section of the extension application form if you list another university or graduate school as your first or second choice. If you end up pursuing your next degree at a university/graduate school other than one of the ones on your list, you would lose the MEXT Scholarship.

Slots

The base number of students a university can nominate for these two types of extension combined is equal to the average number of nominees for the two types combined over the past three years, rounded up (e.g. 2.01 would be rounded up to 3).

In addition to the base slots calculated above, each university receives additional slots as determined by the table below:

Number of MEXT Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree Scholars finishing their studies in AY 2023 Number of additional slots for the extension application
1-2 1
3-4 2
5-9 3
10-15 4
16-20 5
21-25 6
26-30 7
31-35 8
36-40 9
41-45 10
46-50 11
51-55 12
56-60 13
61-65 14
More than 65 15

*This chart applies to the extension application in AY2023 and may change in future years.

If a university has not nominated any students for extension in either category over the preceding three years, the number of nominees is capped at two. (The additional slots calculation does not apply in that case.)

Unlike the condition for research students advancing to the degree program, above, there is no statement about not all nominees being accepted.

If you are applying to change universities when you advance to the next degree level, you would still need to be nominated by the university that you are currently attending and you would count toward their limit of nominees.

3. Former Undergraduate MEXT Scholar Extending from Master’s to Doctoral Program

In order to extend to a doctoral degree, applicants must:

  • Have a GPA of 2.80/3.00 in their current master’s degree program
  • Be expected to receive admission in the appropriate doctoral degree program
  • Be strongly recommended by their advising professor and the dean of their graduate school or president of the university
  • Be expected to complete their current degree within the standard years of enrollment

The standard years of enrollment for a master’s degree program is 2 years. If you fail to complete your degree within 2 years, you would lose your scholarship at that point (or as soon as it became apparent that you would not graduate within 2 years) and would not be eligible to apply to extend your scholarship.

Slots

There is no limit to the number of scholars that universities can nominate in this category. However, that does not mean that all nominees will automatically be accepted for extension by MEXT. The number of successful nominees will be determined by the contents of the nomination and MEXT’s budget.

In practice, I have never heard of anyone in this situation being unsuccessful in their extension application. The caveat about MEXT’s budget is always there because they are not allowed to commit to any spending in advance of the fiscal year. It is nothing to worry about.

4. College of Technology MEXT Scholar Extending to Bachelor’s Program or Advanced Courses at the College of Technology

In order to extend to a bachelor’s degree transfer student or to advanced courses at the College of Technology, applicants must:

  • Have a GPA of 2.80/3.00 in their current program with a class attendance rate of 95% or better
  • Be expected to receive transfer admission into the third year of the appropriate bachelor’s degree program or to the advanced program at the college of technology
  • Be strongly recommended by their advising professor
  • Be appropriate for recommendation, as determined by the president of the university or Dean of the Graduate School
  • Have a clear connection between their current field of study and the field of study to be pursued in the bachelor’s degree
Changing Universities

Allowed (required if transferring to a bachelor’s degree). Applicants may select up to two universities, two advanced courses at colleges of technology, or one of each, that they want to proceed to. Only national universities or colleges of technology are eligible (you cannot apply to private or local public universities ).

If you end up pursuing your next degree at a university other than one of the ones on your list, you would lose the MEXT Scholarship.

Slots

In general, up to 1 nominee per College of Technology. If the College of Technology determines that there are two or more equal applicants, they may nominate more than one, but must indicate their order of priority. Not all nominees will automatically be accepted for extension by MEXT. The number of successful nominees will be determined by the contents of the nomination and MEXT’s budget.

5. Specialized Training College MEXT Scholar

In order to extend to a bachelor’s degree transfer student, applicants must:

  • Have a GPA of 2.80/3.00 in their current program with a class attendance rate of 95% or better
  • Be expected to receive transfer admission into the third year of the appropriate bachelor’s degree program
  • Be strongly recommended by their advising professor
  • Be appropriate for recommendation, as determined by the president of the university or Dean of the Graduate School
  • Have a clear connection between their current field of study and the field of study to be pursued in the bachelor’s degree
Changing Universities

Required. Applicants may select up to two universities that they want to proceed to. Applicants may only select national universities. (It is not possible to extend to a private or local public university).

If you end up pursuing your next degree at a university other than one of the ones on your list, you would lose the MEXT Scholarship.

Slots

Up to 2 nominees per Specialized Training College. However, if the Specialized Training College determines that there are more than two equal applicants, they may nominate one additional applicant, but must indicate their order of priority. Not all nominees will automatically be accepted for extension by MEXT. The number of successful nominees will be determined by the contents of the nomination and MEXT’s budget.

6. Former College of Technology MEXT Scholar or Specialized Training College MEXT Scholar Extending from Bachelor’s (or advanced courses at a College of Technology) to Master’s Program

In order to extend to a master’s degree, applicants must:

  • Have a GPA of 2.80/3.00 in their current bachelor’s degree program
  • Be expected to receive admission in the appropriate master’s degree program
  • Be strongly recommended by their advising professor and by the dean of their faculty or president of the university
  • Be expected to complete their current degree within the standard years of enrollment

The standard years of enrollment for a bachelor’s degree program is 4 years. If you fail to complete your degree within 2 years, you would lose your scholarship at that point (or as soon as it became apparent that you would not graduate within 4 years) and would not be eligible to apply to extend your scholarship.

Changing Universities

The same condition applies as to research students extending to the degree program.

For Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholars, it is possible to change universities when moving from research student to degree-seeking student status. You can fill in up to two choices of university/graduate school for your next degree. However, the student’s current advising professor must clearly explain the need for the change in the adviser’s section of the extension application form if you list another university or graduate school as your first or second choice. If you end up pursuing your next degree at a university/graduate school other than one of the ones on your list, you would lose the MEXT Scholarship.

Slots

There is no limit to the number of scholars that universities can nominate in this category. However, that does not mean that all nominees will automatically be accepted for extension by MEXT. The number of successful nominees will be determined by the contents of the nomination and MEXT’s budget.

In practice, I have never heard of anyone in this situation being unsuccessful in their extension application. The caveat about MEXT’s budget is always there because they are not allowed to commit to any spending in advance of the fiscal year. It is nothing to worry about.

7. Extending from Master’s to Doctoral: PGP Scholarship Recipients

In order to extend to the next degree level, applicants must:

  • Have a GPA of 2.50/3.00 in their current degree program
  • Be expected to receive admission in the appropriate degree program
  • Be strongly recommended by their advising professor
  • Be appropriate for recommendation, as determined by the president of the university or Dean of the Graduate School
  • Be expected to complete their current degree within the standard years of enrollment

The standard years of enrollment is 2 years for a master’s degree. If you take longer than that to earn your degree, you would lose your scholarship at the end of the standard years (or as soon as it became apparent that you would not finish within the standard years) and would not be able to extend your scholarship.

Changing Universities

It is not possible to change universities as a PGP Scholarship recipient.

Slots

A university can only nominate students for scholarship extension if the PGP program was originally able to nominate students at both the Master’s and Doctoral level and is still able to nominate Doctoral students in the year that you apply for the extension.

The rules about when it is possible to extend have changed several times and are subject to future change depending on the year that the PGP program was approved, so ultimately you are going to have to check with the university that you want to apply to to see if it will be possible to extend or not.

Since PGP programs are approved to accept new students over a three-year program, if you enroll as a Master’s student in the program’s first year, you would be eligible to apply for extension at the conclusion of your degree, since the program would still be in its third year of approval and accepting new students. (Though you would be competing with those new Doctoral level students for a slot).

If you enroll in the Master’s degree in the PGP program’s second or third year, though, the possibility of extension can vary, so you would need to contact your university to find out for sure. In past years, it has not been possible in some cases, possible in all cases, or possible only if the university applied for an extension of the PGP program period as a whole (regardless of whether that extension was approved or not).

(Thanks to reader Alex who pointed out that the handling of extensions started changing from year to year after programs approved in 2019!)

Payment of Application and Matriculation Fees

If you are applying to extend your MEXT scholarship fees, you would be responsible for paying all application and matriculation fees for the programs that you want to apply to. However, the fees would be refunded to you as follows, based on the success of your applications.

If your application to extend your MEXT scholarship is successful, the application and matriculation fees to the university you enroll in would be refunded. (In the case of Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholars, MEXT will refund your fees. In the case of University-Recommended MEXT Scholars, the university will refund your fees.)

If you apply to multiple universities (Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholars are allowed to apply up to two during the extension process), then your fees for the university that you do not end up attending would not be refunded.

Your fees would also not be refunded if you failed to pass the entrance exam or if your MEXT scholarship extension application was not approved.

Application Timeline

In 2022, MEXT released the application guidelines for the Extension application in mid-December and the deadline to submit the final application is January 26, 2023. This is the application period for students who want to extend in either April or October 2023. There is no separate application period later for the October extension, so this is you one and only chance to apply for that year.
*The only exception to the timeline is for applicants who start their scholarships in April as research students and then apply to extend to a degree program starting in that October.

Your university should let you know when it is time to apply, but if you do not hear from them by the beginning of December, it would be a good idea to contact your university’s Center for International Affairs to follow up.

Application Documents

You will receive the forms from your current university, but they should not pose any difficulty.

Application Form

The application form itself is similar to the initial application form, but shorter and simpler. Since you have already completed the application form once, it will be no trouble.

Research Plan or Research Status Report

The second form you have to submit is a Research Plan or Research Status Report. If you are applying to advance to the next degree, your Research Plan would be similar to the type of document you submitted for your initial Field of Study and Research Program Plan, except simpler. In this case, you would not be submitting your application for a competitive evaluation to professors/a university that is unfamiliar with your performance. So, your plan can be a simpler explanation of what you plan to research. Your current adviser should be willing to help you write it, as well.

If you are extending from research student status to degree status, and continuing your ongoing research, then you would write an update on your progress.

Essay (Former undergraduate, college of technology, or specialized training school applicants, only)

Former undergraduate or college of technology MEXT scholarship winners extending from Master’s to Doctoral degrees and former college of technology students extending from a Bachelor’s to Master’s degree must also submit a short essay. However, MEXT’s application guidelines have no instructions for this essay, so please follow up with your host university for more details (and let me know in the comments below!)

Proof of Language Ability (University-Recommended MEXT Scholarship applicants only)

This requirement only applies to applicants who were initially accepted as University-Recommended MEXT Scholarship “Research Students” (i.e. Non-Degree Students) and who did not submit documentary evidence of their language proficiency, such as language proficiency test scores showing CEFR B2 level English or N2 level Japanese or proof of completing their qualifying degree in English/Japanese at the initial time of application.

If the university accepted you under the condition that they judged your language ability to be “equal to a person with B2 level English or N2 level Japanese” without any documentary evidence, you would be required to submit test scores in order to extend to a degree program.

Special Thanks

Special thanks to the TranSenz supporters on Patreon, who help keep this site running through their generous contributions, especially to my newest Samurai patron, HiC, Daimyo-level supporters Dũng Phạm Quang and Alessia M, and to everyone who has been supporting the sight for months or years. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your continued support! If this site has helped you in your application process and you want to “pay it forward” to keep the site running to help future applicants, every contribution helps!

If you want to show your support but Patreon is out of reach, I’d appreciate it if you say hi on social media or in the comments below to let me know if you appreciate these posts. You can find me on facebook at @TranSenz or on Twitter at @tagsenzaki. I look forward to saying hi!

Questions?

Let me know in the comments below!

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