MEXT Scholarship Eligibility Criteria – 2019 University Recommendation MEXT Scholarship



eligibility criteria checklist

Do you meet the eligibility criteria for the University Recommended MEXT Scholarship?

Are you eligible to apply for the Japanese Government Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship?

As I write this, the application guidelines for the 2019 University Recommended MEXT Scholarship have just been released, and there have been some significant changes – particularly to the language ability section. Here is a complete explanation of the most recent requirements.

University Recommendation MEXT Scholarship Eligibility Requirements

The requirements below are for the University Recommendation MEXT Scholarship. As I detail in my book, How to Apply for the MEXT Scholarship, there are differences between the eligibility requirements for University and Embassy Recommendation. I will publish another article about the eligibility requirements for the Embassy Recommendation MEXT Scholarship when thoe guidelines come out for 2020.

These are also the eligibility requirements for the MEXT Scholarship for Research (Graduate) Students. I do not cover the requirements for undergraduates below.

Disclaimer

The eligibility requirements I describe below are the requirements set out by MEXT. However, universities may have their own, higher eligibility requirements, as well. If you find that the university you are applying to specifies higher requirements than what I describe below, you have to meet both sets of requirements. Do not bother trying to argue with the university that MEXT’s standards are lower. That won’t work!

You may also find requirements below that are higher than what the universities require, or completely new. Even if there is some discrepancy, if you do not meet the MEXT requirements, the university cannot recommend you for the scholarship, period.

Minimum GPA

You must have a minimum 2.3 / 3.0 GPA on MEXT’s scale over the most recent two years of your degree-seeking studies. For more information on how to correctly calculate your GPA, refer to my previous article.

Nationality

You must have the nationality of a country that has formal relations with Japan (e.g. not Taiwan or North Korea) and must not have Japanese Nationality, including dual nationality. If you currently hold Japanese nationality as a dual national, you must give up your Japanese nationality prior to arriving in Japan.

Priority Countries

MEXT requires that no more than 25% of a university’s nominees come from a non-priority country. Since the maximum number of nominees per university is less than 8 in almost all cases (I will cover the number of scholarship slots in another article), this means that each university can recommend up to one applicant from a non-priority country. All other nominees would need to be from a country listed in the table below.

Africa
Algeria Angola Benin
Botswana Burkina Faso Burundi
Cabo Verde Cameroon Central African Republic
Chad Comoros Cote D’Ivoire
Democratic Republic of the Congo Djibouti Egypt
Equatorial Guinea Eritria Ethiopia
Gabon Gambia Ghana
Guinea Guinea-Bissau Kenya
Lesotho Liberia Libya
Madagascar Malawi Mali
Mauritania Mauritas Morocco
Mozambique Namibia Niger
Nigeria Republic of the Congo Rwanda
Sao Tome and Principe Senegal Seychelles
Sierra Leone Somalia South Africa
South Sudan Sudan Swaziland/eSwatini
Tanzania Togo Tunisia
Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe
Americas
Argentina Bolivia Brazil
Chile Colombia Ecuador
Guyana Paraguay Peru
Suriname Uruguay USA
Venezuela    
Asia
Bangladesh Bhutan Brunei
Cambodia India Indonesia
Laos Malaysia Maldives
Mongolia Myanmar Nepal
Pakistan Philippines Singapore
Sri Lanka Thailand Vietnam
CIS and Russia
Armenia Azerbaijan Belarus
Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Moldova
Russia Tajikistan Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan    
Europe
Albania Austria Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus
Czech Republic Greece Hungary
Kosovo Liechtenstein Macedonia
Montenegro Poland Romania
Serbia Slovakia Slovenia
Switzerland Ukraine  
Middle East
Afghanistan Bahrain Iran
Iraq Israel Jordan
Kuwait Lebanon Oman
Palestine Qatar Saudi Arabia
Syria Turkey UAE
Yemen    

Age

As of the application for the 2019 scholarship, applicants would need to have been born on or after April 2, 1984.

Exceptions

There are only two exceptions to the date of birth above

  1. Inability to apply during the ages when you would have been eligible due to the situation in your country, such as compulsory military service or the total suspension of higher education due to war, as approved by MEXT. (Exceptions will never be granted for personal reasons such as family reasons, financial difficulties, health, etc.)
  2. Applicants who are graduates of the Young Leaders Program and applying for a Doctoral-level program that will start within 5 years of the end of the YLP.

Academic Background

For the University Recommendation MEXT Scholarship, MEXT requires only that you meet the admissions requirements established by the university recommending you.

Field of Study




You must be applying within the same field that you studied previously at university or a related field. Your field of study must be available at the university you are applying to.

I have discussed the meaning of a “related field of study” in detail in past articles as well as in my book, How to Apply for the MEXT Scholarship, but here is a brief summary:

A “related field” is a field of research that falls within the same discipline as something you majored in previously. If your past and future fields could conceivably be majors in the same faculty, or if one is a subset of another, they are related. For example, international relations and political science are clearly related. The same could be said for media studies and communication, or mechanical engineering and robotics. If you come from a multidisciplinary field, such as area studies, then any of the related fields are fair game.

If your fields are not so obviously related, then you have to sell the connection in your Field of Study and Research Program plan by clearly showing how research in your past field provided you with a natural transition to the future one.

Language Ability

This is the big change this year!

For both Japanese and English, the requirement is now that you have to meet the language ability requirement at the time of formal enrollment into the degree program, not at the time of application as in the past. However, if you fail to meet the language ability requirement when you progress to the degree program, you would forfeit the scholarship. So, my guess is that regardless of MEXT’s relaxed timing, universities are still going to want to see that you have the requisite language ability at the time of application, in general. They do not want to lose one of their scholarship recommendees later!

Here are the standards you have to meet for MEXT. You only need to meet the language requirement for the language that your program will be taught in!

Japanese Language Ability Requirement

You must meet one of the following (in addition to meeting the admission requirements for your degree program, of course).

  1. JLPT N2 or higher at the time of starting the degree program
  2. Completed your qualifying degree* in Japanese
  3. Have equivalent or higher ability in Japanese language to a person meeting criteria 1 or 2 above, as determined by the nominating university.

*Your “qualifying degree” is the degree that you earned as a prerequisite to the degree you are applying for. If you are applying for a master’s degree, your qualifying degree would be your bachelor’s degree. If you are applying for a doctoral degree, then your qualifying degree would be your master’s degree.

English Language Ability Requirements

You must meet one of the following (in addition to meeting the admission requirements for your degree program, of course).

  1. Have a formal language proficiency test score in English equivalent or higher to B2 on the CEFR scale at the time of starting the degree program.
  2. Completed your qualifying degree* in English
  3. Have equivalent or higher ability in English language to a person meeting criteria 1 or 2 above, as determined by the nominating university.

*Your “qualifying degree” is the degree that you earned as a prerequisite to the degree you are applying for. If you are applying for a master’s degree, your qualifying degree would be your bachelor’s degree. If you are applying for a doctoral degree, then your qualifying degree would be your master’s degree.

CEFR B2 Equivalency Table

Here are the scores that MEXT has determined to be equivalent to the CEFR B2, based on the PDF linked above:

  • Cambridge English (Preliminary, First, Advanced, Proficiency): 160 or higher
  • Eiken (Jun-1 kyu, 1 kyu): Any passing score
  • GTEC (Advanced, CBT): 1190 or higher
  • IELTS: 5.5 or higher
  • TEAP: 309 or higher
  • TEAP CBT: 600 or higher
  • TOEFL iBT: 72 or higher
  • TOEIC L&R/TOEIC S&W: 1560

The requirements above are only MEXT’s minimum requirements. Universities are well within their rights to establish higher standards.

Health

Must be fit to study in Japan as determined by the nominating university. In general, this means that each university will have a medical form that they require you to have completed.

Even if you have a pre-existing medical condition, in general you would only be disqualified for medical reasons if your home country doctor was unwilling to sign off that you are fit to study abroad in Japan. If your doctor agrees that you can continue your care or medication regimen in Japan, then there should be no problem.

Ability to Arrive in Japan on Designated Date

You must be able to arrive in Japan during the period specified by the nominating university, no more than 2 weeks before or after the official start of the semester. Failure to arrive by the end of the designated period will be considered voluntary withdrawal from the scholarship. In the event that nominees arrive prior to the designated period, their travel fees will not be paid.

Essentially, you need to follow the arrival dates designated by your university. The “2 weeks” mentioned above is an instruction for the university’s reference as to when they are allowed to set your arrival date. Arriving late will mean that you lose the scholarship. Arriving early is possible, but you would forfeit the travel benefits.

Visa Requirement

In principle, you must apply for and obtain a “Student” visa at the Japanese diplomatic mission in the country where you hold nationality then arrive in Japan using that visa. Applicants who already hold other residence statuses in Japan, such as “Permanent Resident”, “Long-term Resident”, etc., must give up that status, apply for a “Student” visa, and return to Japan with that visa. After completion of your degree, it is not guaranteed that you would be able to reobtain a “Permanent Resident” or “Long-term Resident” status again, even if previously held.
Applicants who arrive in Japan without a student visa will have their scholarships suspended.

Disqualification Criteria

Anyone meeting any of the criteria below is ineligible to apply for the scholarship:

  1. Active duty military or military-employed civilian at the time of arriving in Japan or at any point during the scholarship award period.
     
  2. Unable to arrive in Japan by the deadline determined by MEXT or the nominating university.
     
  3. Previous recipient of the Japanese Government MEXT Scholarship (including those who withdrew from the scholarship in the past after arriving in Japan). However, applicants who have over 3 years of education or employment history between the month after the end of the previous scholarship award and the commencement of the new award are eligible to apply. Past recipients of the Japanese Studies MEXT Scholarship who returned to their home universities and graduated after receipt of that scholarship (including those expected to graduate before the start of the new scholarship), past recipients of the Japan-Korea Joint Government Scholarship Program for the Students in Science and Engineering Departments, and past recipients of the Young Leaders’ Program scholarship are eligible to apply. Past receipt of the MEXT Honors Scholarship does not disqualify applicants.
     
  4. Applicants who are simultaneously applying for any other Japanese Government (MEXT) scholarship to begin in fiscal year 2019.
     
  5. Applicants who are already enrolled at a Japanese university with a residence status of “Student” at the time of application or who will enroll in a Japanese university prior to the start of the scholarship award period. However, applicants who are currently enrolled in a Japanese university (or who will enroll in a Japanese university) as fee-paying students and who have definite plans to complete their studies, return to their home countries, and obtain a new student visa before returning to Japan are eligible.
    Essentially, this requirement means that you cannot be enrolled in a Japanese university with the intent to quit if you receive the MEXT Scholarship. The exception applies to students who enrolled in Japanese university (or language programs) and will complete their course of studies/graduate before the start of the scholarship.
     
  6. Applicants who have not yet graduated from their qualifying degree at the time of application and who fail to graduate before the start of the scholarship award period.
    If you have not graduated, you are still eligible to apply and would have to submit a “Certificate of Expected Graduation” instead of a Certificate of Graduation. However, if you do not graduate as expected, you would lose the scholarship.
     
  7. Applicants who have dual nationality, including Japan as one of the nationalities, at the time of application and who fail to renounce their Japanese citizenship prior to the start of the scholarship.
     
  8. Applicants who intend to conduct fieldwork or internships outside of Japan or take a leave of absence during their studies for a long period of time.
    “Long period of time” is undefined, but I would interpret this as meaning any period of time that interferes with coursework during the semester. Fieldwork outside the country could be possible during vacation periods, for less than a month, but if you fail to sign in at your university each month, you would forfeit the monthly scholarship payment for the months that you do not sign.
     
  9. Applicants who have already obtained a doctoral degree and are applying as a research student.

Willingness to Participate in Intercultural Interaction

During your studies in Japan, you must be willing to actively participate in interaction events with schools and communities to contribute to the strengthening of relationships between your home country and Japan. After graduation, you must remain in contact with your university, participate in follow-up surveys and studies, and join in activities conducted by the Japanese diplomatic mission in your home country to promote relations with Japan after returning home.

Of course, this is unmeasurable, but stating your willingness/excitement to participate in such activities during the application process where possible would help you application.

Relationship between Universities

Universities are only able to nominate applicants who meet one of the following requirements:

  1. Applicants whose qualifying degree was earned at a university that has a student exchange or other partnership with the nominating Japanese university and who were formally recommended by their home university.
  2. Applicants whose qualifying degree was earned at a university that has a history of interaction with the nominating Japanese university outside of a formal partnership and who have been formally recommended by their home university.
  3. Applicants whose qualifying degree was earned at a university that has no partnership or history of interaction with the nominating Japanese university but who have been determined and formally recommended by the president of the nominating Japanese university to be someone who can contribute to the improvement of the university’s education and research.

Technically, this criteria does not eliminate any applicants, but it makes it much more likely that applicants from a partner university will be able to earn nomination. Many Japanese universities will only accept nominations from partner university students, and some will require that the students go through an application and nomination process at their home universities, first.

For this reason, I highly recommend that you apply to a university that has a partnership with your current university!

End of the Eligibility Criteria

You can find the original eligibility requirements for 2019 in Japanese on MEXT’s website, below
http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/koutou/ryugaku/1412214.htm

Special Thanks

Special thanks to the TranSenz supporters on Patreon, especially Daimyo Supporter Kenzo who pledges $10 per month to show his support! You can show your support for TranSenz on Patreon for as little as $1 (0.08% of a MEXT monthly stipend) per month. If TranSenz has helped you in your application process and you want to “pay it forward” to keep this 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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