When I started writing my MEXT scholarship guides on TranSenz, my focus was on helping applicants who were already partway into the application maximize their chances. But recently, I have gotten a significant number of very basic questions about how to even get started.
I’ve addressed all of the questions I’ve received so far in a recent article on How to Get Started Applying for the MEXT Scholarship and in this FAQ, but if you think I’ve missed anything, please add your questions in the comments!
Note: This FAQ covers the graduate level scholarship, only. I will write a separate FAQ later about the undergraduate application.
A Word of Warning
If you’re at this stage of the application, you have a lot of catchup and preparation to go. The MEXT scholarship is not something you can simply make a half-hearted pass at and hope to to win. These basics will get you started, but you’ll get a lot farther by reading the in-depth guides I share in the “MEXT Scholarship” link in the header and on my mailing list.
How Can I Apply for the MEXT Scholarship?
There are two ways to apply for the Graduate Level scholarship: The Embassy-recommended MEXT Scholarship Application and the University-recommended MEXT Scholarship Application. You should choose one then contact either the Japanese Embassy/Consulate in your country or the university you want to apply to, depending on the system you choose.
I have more information on the difference between the types in my article on MEXT Scholarship Application Basics.
What do I do if there is no Japanese Embassy in my country?
Refer to the official list of Japanese Embassies and consulates. You should find an entry for your country, even if there is no physical embassy there. That should tell you how to get in touch with the official Japanese representative for your country. (It may be located in a neighboring country).
Do I have to apply to the embassy first, the university first, or both at once?
If you are applying for the Embassy-recommended MEXT scholarship, you apply to the Embassy first and once you pass the Primary Screening, to apply to universities for Letters of Acceptance. However, you should also initiate contact with your target universities well in advance to start building a relationship, even though you won’t start any official application paperwork until later.
If you apply for the University-recommended MEXT scholarship, then the embassy isn’t involved at all, except for your visa paperwork, of course.
Which universities can I apply to under the MEXT scholarship?
All Japanese universities are eligible to host MEXT scholars.
How many places are available for the MEXT scholarship?
This question isn’t really going to help you do anything other than stress yourself out unnecessarily. Pretend like there is only one and you have to do everything possible to get it.
You could look up old news articles to see how many MEXT scholars were selected from your country during the previous year (embassy-recommended MEXT scholarship), though there is no guarantee that will give you the complete picture. For the university-recommended scholarship, you can calculate the likely number of slots for the university, though the formula changes every year and isn’t announced usually until after the application deadline.
What you should do instead is spend that time making your Field of Study and Research Program Plan stronger, or trying to build a relationship with your target professor.
What are the chances of winning the MEXT Scholarship?
It all depends on how hard you work at the application and how you do relative to the competition, which is every other applicant. You have to be one of the very top applicants in order to get through.
Where can I get the MEXT Scholarship Application Form?
Get it from the Embassy or University where you plan to submit your application (get the other documents from them, too!).
When you sign up for my MEXT scholarship email list (below), I will send you a sample application form to help you fill it in, as well,
Where can I find the application instructions?
You will find them on the website of the Embassy or University where you plan to submit your application. Please note, however, that they may only be available during the application period, but you need to start preparing much earlier than that. Try to find the previous year’s guidelines on those websites to get started – they don’t change much from year to year.
If you can’t find old instructions on the Embassy website in your country or the university you want to apply for, try other Embassies and universities. Remember: Google is your friend! Seach for MEXT Scholarship Application Guidelines, or similar terms.
What else do I need to submit besides the application form?
Please refer to the application guidelines from the embassy or university where you will apply. The requirements may differ for each.
(I will cover questions about the specific documents in another FAQ article)
What is the application fee?
There is none. If anyone is charging you a fee, be wary of a scam. (Note: I charge a fee for application reviews, but that is not related to the application process itself, it is a coaching service to help improve your chances).
When is the application deadline?
It varies. Each Embassy (for the Embassy-recommended MEXT Scholarship Application) and University (for the University-recommended MEXT Scholarship Application) sets its own application period and deadline.
For the Embassies, application information is typically available around April and the deadlines are around late May or early June. (Note: your scholarship would not start until April or October of the following year).
For universities, application information usually becomes available between August and October with applications due any time between September and early December.
Be sure to constantly check the website of the embassy or university where you want to apply for updates and announcements!
How/where do I submit the application?
Please refer to the instructions from the embassy or university where you will apply.
Can I apply by email?
Can you check my application for me?
Yes, but I charge a fee for application reviews. If you are interested, you can apply for application reviews or coaching services by completing the form at: http://www.transenzjapan.com/coaching-application/.
I want to study [insert field] in Japan. What should I do?
You need to find at least one university in Japan that offers a degree in your field (taught in English) and determine if they have a professor that can supervise your research. Then you need to apply the same way as anyone else!
It is mandatory to know Japanese before arriving?
It depends on your field of study. If you can find a university that offers the degree you want in English, then no, Japanese language ability is not required.
Of course, it is helpful to have some Japanese language ability before you come live here, and having language ability will make you stand out more as having serious interest in Japan.
How long is the degree program>
Two years for a master’s degree and three years for a PhD.
What happens if I missed the deadline? Is there another chance?
If you missed the embassy deadline, you should have enough time to apply for the University-recommended scholarship for the same year. Otherwise, you have no choice but to wait a year and try again.
Are there other full scholarships to study in Japan if I don’t get the MEXT scholarship?
There may be, in some specific cases, based on your nationality and field of study, but I do not have any information about them.
A Guide to the Basics of Applying for the MEXT Scholarship
I have written a separate article on How to Get Started Applying for the MEXT Scholarship, so I recommend you read through that, as well, for a more linear explanation of the process.
Want to know more?
My new ebook, 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!
More Questions Coming
The questions above represent the common themes from scores of emails I received over the summer. I’m sure there will be more in the future, so I will update this page again when I catch up on the other FAQs and have enough new questions to circle back.
If you have any questions about this article, please add them in the comments below! I will update this page with more questions and answers as soon as I can!
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