Please Read the Updated Version!
Update! I have written an updated article for the 2021/2022 application cycle, and much of the information below is no longer valid. Please read the updated version at this link.
Congratulations on Passing the Embassy’s Primary Screening!
If you are reading this article, I assume you have passed the primary screening (or are preparing to pass in the near future). That’s a tremendous step! The vast majority of applicants do not make it that far.
In fact, almost all applicants who pass the Primary Screening and obtain at least one Letter of Acceptance from one university in Japan, end up receiving the MEXT Scholarship. The good news is that the screening to get a Letter of Acceptance is significantly less severe than the Embassy’s Primary Screening and, as long as you avoid the major causes for rejection that I discuss below, you should have no problems at this stage.
Note: In the 2019/2020 application cycle, there was a situation where several applicants were rejected even after passing the Primary Screening and obtaining a Letter of Provisional Acceptance. This was the first year I had heard of that happening in the 9 years that I have been working with this scholarship. I suspect it was because of MEXT budget constraints (that was the year that higher education became free in Japan for low-income families) and a late notification about reduced slot numbers that year and do not expect it to happen again, but I can no longer say that your scholarship is practically guaranteed, like I used to.
(If you are not yet at that stage, you can find my guides to applying for the Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship, the Embassy Interview, and identifying professors and universities in Japan on the MEXT Scholarship Information Page!)
So, what do you need to know about getting that letter of acceptance? Let’s get started.
Note: This Article is About the Application Process in 2020
If you are applying in 2020 for the MEXT Scholarship to begin in 2021, then this article is for you.
If you are applying in a later year, please understand that the entire Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholarship was thrown off schedule by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, so there were significant changes to the dates and some other parts of the process. I suspect that most of these changes are a one-time issue, to account for the pandemic and the late start this year. So, I would also recommend reading my article from last year that covers the “normal” application, just in case.
Three Ways to FAIL to Get a Letter of Provisional Acceptance
Let’s get this out of the way first. There are three, completely avoidable ways to get rejected by a university. Almost every Letter of Provisional Acceptance (LoA) rejection I ever processed was for one of these three causes:
- Missing the Deadline: As of the 2020/2021 Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship Application Cycle (which occurs in 2020), the deadline to apply to universities for an LoA is Friday, November 20, 2019 (Japan time). If you do not have your application completely submitted by that time, you’re out. Be aware of time differences and don’t wait until the last minute. An application that hits the Japanese university’s inbox at 1:00 am on November 21 is not going to be accepted, even if it was still November 20 where you are.
You also want to avoid the possibility that your email isn’t delivered at all because it is too large or the university’s inbox is full. Submit it as early as you can!
- Not Having the Language Ability: For some reason, every year I saw applicants to programs that were taught only in Japanese who had no Japanese language ability. Of course, they were all rejected. You need to have the requisite language ability as of the time you apply for the LoA or you don’t have a chance. (No, the one semester of Japanese language training that is offered will not improve your language ability that much. It’s not even intended to be academic Japanese in the first place, it is to help you develop enough ability for day-to-day interactions, only.)
This is an easily avoidable problem if you followed my advice in my article about how to find universities and professors in Japan.
- Applying to a University Where No Professor Can Supervise Your Research: This was probably the single-most common reason for rejections at my former university. The rejection letters would say, “Great student, great research plan, but we don’t have any doing research in that field that can supervise you.”
This is mostly avoidable if you follow the advice in the article I listed above. The only part that is beyond your control is retirements and personnel changes. That’s one of the strongest arguments for trying to get in touch with prospective professors in advance.
If you can avoid those three pitfalls, you should have no problems securing two Letters of Provisional Acceptance. Here is the process you need to follow to make sure you get everything done.
Choosing Your Universities
By this point, you should already have selected up to three universities and professors that you want to apply to. If not, I have another guide to help you locate universities and professors in your field of study.
If you have already been in contact with the professors for networking, that is to your advantage, but even if you have tried to contact the professors and gotten no response, do not let that hold you back. Many universities will not respond at all until after you have passed the Primary Screening – it’s nothing personal. In fact, it might just be university policy!
Changing the Universities on your Placement Preference Form
If you have a list of universities and professors but want to change it from the information you entered on the Placement Preference Form, that should still be possible. This might be the case if you found a better university/professor after submitting your Placement Preference Form, or if the universities on your list reject your application and you need an alternative.
To find out for sure about changing the universities on your list, you should contact the Japanese embassy or consulate in Japan for more details on their policies. Usually, you will have to submit the Placement Preference Form again after acquiring the Letters of Provisional Acceptance and, at that time, you will have to make sure that the universities on that list are all universities that have offered you a Letter of Acceptance (or are still processing your request, but have not rejected your request outright). So, most applicants have to change the list on their form.
Applying to Universities for a Letter of Provisional Acceptance
After you have passed the primary screening and received your documents back, as well as the Passing Certificate of the Primary Screening from the Japanese Embassy or Consulate, you should contact the universities in Japan that you want to apply to immediately!
The deadline to contact universities to request a Letter of Provisional Acceptance for the 2021 scholarship application cycle is Friday, November 20, 2020 Japan Time. MEXT has instructed all universities in Japan that they are to refuse any applicant that contacts them on or after November 21. Keep in mind that Japan is ahead of most countries in terms of time zones. Do not wait until the last day! An emailed application sent on the 20th in your time zone that arrives after midnight in Japan will not be accepted.
Since you are sending your application by email, and that message is likely to have several large attachments, there is a chance that your application email might not be delivered. It could look like spam, be filtered because it is too large, or it could be rejected because the recipient’s email inbox is too full to accept it. If that happens, you might never know that your application didn’t arrive. I recommend sending two emails: The first one with no attachments that states your intent to apply and informs the university/professor that you will send a follow-up email immediately with the attachments. That way, even if the attachment email doesn’t get through for some reason, the first message should arrive and they will know that you have tried to apply.
How Long it Takes to Get a Letter of Provisional Acceptance
November 20, 2020 is your deadline to contact the universities. It is not the deadline for universities to issue the Letter of Provisional Acceptance.
MEXT has instructed universities to reply to applicants with the final results within approximately one month of receiving the request. This is not an immediate process and you should not expect instant results. Make sure you submit your application to the university and give them enough time (at least a month) to process it, make their decision, and issue the letter.
Do not start insistently contacting the university if they don’t send you a letter right away. That is not going to get you a positive response. However, if a month has passed since you contacted the university and you have not heard back from them, then it is OK to contact them and politely ask about the status.
Keep in mind that it might take a few days before universities can get to your email. Universities will also be extremely busy processing applications right around the deadline, so expect delays in replies at that time, too. In some cases, I have also heard of universities that do not acknowledge receipt of your application email and do not send any reply until they have made their final decision.
Submitting Letters of Provisional Acceptance to Your Embassy/Consulate
Each embassy or consulate will set the deadline for you to submit your Letters of Acceptance and final Placement Preference Form, so please refer to the embassy or consulate where you have applied for their submission deadlines.
How Many Universities to Contact
According to the application guidelines, you may contact a maximum of two universities at one time to request a Letter of Provisional Acceptance. This is a change from last year, when you allowed to have three applications/Letters of Acceptance, so if you see any articles (including on this site) saying that three or four letters is OK, it’s old!
Even though you might have three universities in your Placement Preference Form, you can still only contact two at once. (In past years, it was three, but this has changed in 2020!) If one of the two universities you contact rejects your application and it is still before the deadline, then you can contact an alternate, but you should never have more than two active applications at any time and you should not obtain more than two Letters of Provisional Acceptance.
Applying for a Letter of Acceptance: Who To Contact
Per MEXT’s instructions, you should reach out to the International Office at the university where you intend to apply, not directly to a faculty member. (Though if you are already in touch with a faculty member, you can let them know that you are submitting the application at the same time.)
Your embassy or consulate should have a list of staff members responsible for accepting MEXT scholarship applications at various Japanese universities. If you already know which universities you want to contact (see my article on how to identify the best Japanese universities and professors for your field of study, then the embassy staff may be able to help you.
If you cannot get the information from the embassy or consulate, you will need to find it on the universities’ websites. The best way I have found to do this is to search Google for your university name and the words “embassy mext”. For example “University of Tokyo Embassy MEXT.”
You may find that the universities do ask you to contact a faculty member as part of your application. In that case follow the university’s instructions.
I tried this researching the application process at 7 different universities using the Google method above and in almost every case, the top result was the page with the instructions on how to apply for a letter of acceptance.
Despite MEXT’s instructions that applicants should contact the international offices at their target universities, you can see from the list below that the actual practice can vary significantly from university to university.
Just for reference, the universities I tried and their results were as follows:
- University of Tokyo: Contact the administrative office of the graduate school where you want to enroll
- Tohoku University: Contact the professor, directly
- Kyoto University: Contact the professor, directly, or the administrative office of the professor’s graduate school
- Osaka University: Contact the address listed on the website. You can also contact professors to talk about your research plan
- Waseda University: Complete their online form and upload the documents directly
- Keio University: Complete their online form and upload the documents directly
*Note: Apparently, their online application includes a question about whether or not you have contacted your desired advisor for informal acceptance, and if you have not, they will not issue the Letter of Acceptance.
- Ritsumeikan University: Contact the international office
Applying for a Letter of Acceptance: What to Send
If you found the website with the Letter of Acceptance application procedures for your university, you should have seen a list of required documents there. Follow those guidelines over the instructions below, as they may contain additional requirements that you do not want to miss. The information I have provided below is from the MEXT guidelines, so it is more general.
You will be sending all of your application documents by email attachment to the university or uploading them directly, depending on the instructions.
As mentioned above, I recommend that you do not attach them all in your first email. Your application document scans may have a very large file size and many university email accounts in Japan have size limits. If your attachments exceed the limit, your mail will not be delivered. So, you want to contact the university first to let them know to expect your application. A text-only email should not have any problems with size limit filters!
Before sending your documents, you should reach out to the office or professor you have identified, let them know that you plan to apply and that you will send your application documents in a subsequent email. If you got the name and contact information from one of the sources I mentioned above, then there is nothing rude about sending your application documents to that person without waiting for their reply.
I recommend that you scan all of your documents together in a single pdf file. This is easy enough to do if you have a scanner available and you can even scan documents as a pdf from a smartphone using the free Adobe Scan app. There is no excuse for sending your documents as individual jpeg files for each page. Don’t do it!
In order to request a Letter of Acceptance from a university, you are required to send the university the following documents. These should be the documents that you submitted to the embassy and had returned to you after the primary screening
- Application Form
- Field of Study and Research Program Plan
- Certified grade transcript for each academic year
- Graduation certificate or degree certificate of the last university attended
- Recommendation letter from the president/dean or the advisor of the last university attended or the university currently attending
- Abstracts of theses (only if submitted to the diplomatic mission)
- Certificate of language proficiency (only if submitted to the diplomatic mission)
- Recommendation letter from the present employer (only if submitted to the diplomatic mission)
- Photograph(s) showing applicant’s own works of art or a digitally recorded media of musical performance (only if submitted to the diplomatic mission)
- Copy of a passing Certificate of the First Screening issued by the diplomatic mission
Notice that the Placement Preference Form and Medical Certificate are not on that list! Per the application guidelines, you are not to send those documents to the universities. Furthermore, universities have been instructed that they cannot request those documents from you.
If a university requests that you send either of those documents, politely tell them that your instructions from MEXT were that you are not allowed to submit them to universities. You can send them a link to the application guidelines in Japanese saying so as well. Here is that link:
The university may also ask you to submit additional documentation. As long as it is not the Placement Preference Form or Medical Certificate, then you are required to submit it. That includes submitting language proficiency certificates, other test scores, etc., regardless of whether you had previously submitted them to the embassy or consulate.
Caution: Arrival Date in Japan and Status in the Letter of Provisional Acceptance
There are a few things you will want to pay particular attention to in your Letter of Provisional Acceptance. The first is your status. In your application form, you had the opportunity to fill in whether you wanted to arrive as a research student or a degree-seeking student (in the master’s doctoral, or professional program).
In order for the university to issue you a letter of acceptance as a degree-seeking student, you would have had to have passed their entrance examination prior to them issuing the letter. Unless the university considers a screening of your application documents to be a sufficient entrance exam, the chances are high that you would not have passed it yet. In that case, the university would issue you a letter of an acceptance as a research student.
This can change!
The university will have 2 opportunities later to “upgrade” you to a degree-seeking student before your arrival:
- During the placement phase: After you submit your letters of acceptance and final placement preference form to the Embassy, MEXT will conduct a secondary screening of your application. After that secondary screening, MEXT will contact the universities on your Placement Preference Form one-by-one to ask them to accept you. If you have passed the university’s entrance exam in the meantime, then when the university replies to MEXT to confirm that they will accept you, they can change your category at that time to degree-seeking student.
- Upon arrival in Japan: If the university agrees to accept your placement as a research student, but you then pass their entrance exam prior to arriving in Japan, then the university can send a notice of change of status and change of scholarship payment period to MEXT and you would be able to start as a degree-seeking student immediately on arrival in Japan.
If you do end up arriving in Japan and starting as a research student, there is no problem with that course of action, either. You will have the opportunity to take the entrance exam while in Japan and apply for an extension of your scholarship to cover the full degree program.
The second thing to check is whether or not the university plans to assign you to the Japanese language program. In general, they will send you to that program if you are studying in English and need to learn some basic Japanese to survive daily life. If your Japanese is already good enough that you can study for a degree in Japanese, you will most likely not be sent to the Japanese language program.
Submitting Your Letters of Provisional Acceptance and Placement Preference Form to the Embassy
MEXT requires that you turn in every Letter of Provisional Acceptance that you receive to the Embassy and that you list those universities in your placement preference form. It used to not be mandatory, so you might see comments from past students that they applied for more Letters than they turned in at the end. That is no longer allowed. Submitting fewer letters would constitute lying on your application and could result in your being rejected.
Each embassy or consulate controls its own deadline for when you should submit Letters of Provisional Acceptance, so be sure to consult with them. MEXT has asked universities to return letters of acceptance within one month of the application, so the embassies’ deadlines should not be earlier than that, but there are always miscommunications between the two. There is no substitute for checking directly on your own!
*In the past, MEXT required universities to produce Letters of Acceptance within a month. This is no longer a requirement, but your local Embassy might think that it is and set their deadline accordingly. If your embassy has given you a deadline, it is not rude to provide that information to the university, provided you are not demanding when you address them.
When you submit your Letters of Provisional Acceptance, you will also likely have to submit an updated Placement Preference Form. You are not allowed to list universities on your final Placement Preference Form that refused to issue you a Letter of Provisional Acceptance. You are, however, allowed to list universities that have not yet replied to you as well as those that have issued you a Letter of Provisional Acceptance (even if the hardcopy of that document has not yet arrived). You should also be able to re-order your university preferences at this point, but that is also something you should confirm with the embassy.
As of the 2020 Scholarship application process, it is now mandatory to list all universities that have issued you a Letter of Provisional Acceptance. The old tactic of acquiring emergency back-up Letters of Acceptance but only submitting the one letter from your first-choice school is no longer allowed.
Secondary Screening and University Placement
Once you have submitted the Letters of Provisional Acceptance and the final Placement Preference Form, the application process is essentially over for you. All you have left to do is wait for your placement assignment, sometime between November to February.
Prior to 2019, I had never heard of an applicant getting rejected for the scholarship after passing the Primary Screening and submitting at least one Letter of Provisional Acceptance. However, in 2019, it did happen to several people that I heard from. In that year, it seems that MEXT reduced the number of places available to each country during the Primary Screening. Some countries seemed to have gotten the information in time and reduced the number of students who passed that screening, but others did not, so the applicants were eliminated during the Secondary Screening to get down to the required number.
Once thing that all of the applicants I heard from had in common was that they had all left the Japanese Language Proficiency Test blank during the Primary Screening!
2019 was the first, and so far only, time I have heard of this happening. I do not anticipate it happening again, but I can no longer be sure.
It will take a long time to the embassies to confirm that you have passed the Secondary Screening and to announce your university placement, but do not let that bother you. That is just normal, slow bureaucracy, not a reflection on your application. For the 2020/2021 application cycle, the final results and placement information is expected in June 2021.
In some cases, you may end up hearing from the universities even before the embassy gives you the final approval. If you hear from your professor or housing office at one of the universities on your list, you can consider that an unofficial confirmation.
Once you have your final confirmation, you should reach out to the other university that issued you a letter of provisional acceptance to let them know that you were placed in another university and thank them for their support. You never know when you might end up interacting with them after arriving in Japan!
For more about what to expect from the secondary screening and placement, I have another article entirely about that process.
Let me know in the comments below!
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I want to know whether a study program, associated with the MEXT Scholarship, can be deferred from one semester to another or not.
But, the MEXT Scholarship should be utilized from the starting month and year for which it has been awarded. In other words, it cannot be transferred or deferred to another term or semester which is later than the intended start date, right?
Or, is it that, the embassy may consider such a deferral request on a case-by-case basis?
In general, once the date of your scholarship start is determined it cannot be changed.
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when it was not possible for new students to enter Japan, I think MEXT had offered the opportunity to defer a semester. I do not know if that offer is still valid, though. If not, then I’m afraid you would not be able to change the date, but you can always check with the Embassy.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you Travis for this really helpful article!
I have passed the Embassy screening and now I have to obtain a Letter of Acceptance.
I have only two questions:
1. The Japanese Embassy in my country has sent me a list with contact details of the universities in order to request a LoA. But the contact details for requesting a LoA are different from the ones in the university’s website. So, to which e-mail should I send my documents? To the e-mail in the Embassy’s list or to the e-mail at the university’s website?
2. This year I have to obtain a LoA from only 2 universities. In your article you write that I cannot contact more than 2 universities at the same time. So, when should I contact the 3rd university, if the second one does not reply at all to my e-mail, without violating the MEXT rules?
Thank you in advance for your help!
I say your questions on another article and answered them there first.
– Travis from TranSenz
A while ago I commented on one of your articles, asking about the interview and application process for a phd candidate. Now I can say I have been selected as an embassy-recommended research student! 😀 Thank You for all the help!
I am now in the first screening phase, where I am supposed to contact the universities. I am still waiting for the documents to be sent back by the embassy but I have already received via mail a blank form ‘letter of provisional acceptance’. Now my question is: do I also attach this to my application to universities? Do I fill it out? I am not sure if I will be a regular or non-regular student (I understand it depends on the uni?) Whether I’m only a research student or already a diploma phd seeking.. I also don’t know the exact date of enrolment (spring/autumn) – this also depends on the uni.. The same goes for preparatory Japanese classes – I’m not sure if they are necessary for me. Or should I send the form blank? In which case where do I inform the university about the preferred professor, department (if i’m not supposed to send the placement preference form)?
I am thrilled to hear that you have passed the Primary Screening.
For the Letter of Provisional Acceptance, you should send a blank copy to the universities when you apply for a Letter of Provisional Acceptance. If they decide to accept you, they will fill it in and send it back. The university will know all of the details and will also decide whether to accept you as a regular or non-regular student.
It is not rude to send it blank, that is expected.
How you inform the university about your preferred department and professor depends on each university’s process. Some will have their own form for you to fill out with that info, some will ask you to contact the professor directly. But if they do not offer any specific instructions, then I recommend writing it in the body of your email when you send the documents.
– Travis from TranSenz
I am a MEXT applicant 2020 (Non-regular Research program) from India, waiting for the second screening results. I got three LoA from three Profs. from three different universities. Though many people are getting the final results, but I have not heard anything from Indian Embassy and I am very much worried about it. Few days back I came to know from the Prof. of the university (my 2nd preference in the placement application) that MEXT have rejected my application. But the university office with 1st preference (Hiroshima University) informed that they are waiting to hear from MEXT about the final results!
I want to know:
a. Whether this rejection is applicable for all the three universities as one of the university has got rejection from MEXT?
b. When can I expect the final result?
Waiting to hearing from you.
Thanks a lot.
Hi Jadupati Nag,
I’m surprised that you haven’t heard the results yet. Have you tried contacting the Embassy?
If MEXT attempted to place you in your first choice university and they accepted, then MEXT never would have reached out to your second choice university in the first place. So, from the perspective of the second-choice university, it might look like you were rejected.
a. No – only the university where MEXT decided to place you would get the final results.
b. I would call and ask the embassy now. It is already well past when I would have expected the results, based on the feedback from other applicants.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you very much for your response.
I contacted Embassy, and they suggested to contact the university office for the final results. They told it’s taking longer time for the official procedure, but I think it should not take so longer time.
I am really upset and worried. The university with 1st preference asked me to submit pre-enrolment checklist in the early May. I thought I would get the good news in June only, but it seems negative this time also.
Hi Jadupati Nag,
If your first choice university has already been asking you to submit pre-enrollment paperwork, then that sounds like a good sign to me. Unfortunately, I have no idea why the official results might be taking so long to verify.
But no answer does not mean “no”, so do not give up hope!
– Travis from TranSenz
Have you received any update from the Embassy regarding the delay in final selection results? I tried to contact the Embassy, but they aren’t clearly telling anything about my acceptance or rejection! They suggested to contact the university. I mailed the university officials, they told they are waiting for the results from MEXT! I am really disappointed and worried at this point. I want to be clear whether I am selected or not? But unfortunately, I have received any update neither from the university nor the embassy. Could you please help me regarding this?
Also just to mention, the Prof. from the 2nd university preference told me earlier ” By the way, I heard from my University staff that unfortunately, you did not pass the MEXT program. Did you receive anything from MEXT?”
Should I consider this as the overall results? If yes, I really wonder how I am rejected when I have received three LoA?!
I am very much upset for the things. Need your help.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Thanks a lot.
Hi Jadupati Nag,
I don’t have any way of getting updates from the embassy about the results delays.
If you applied for the Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship, they should be the ones to know your results, nobody else. You would not receive any notifications directly from MEXT. The information that you have been getting from the embassy and university are both quite confusing to me, since they don’t make sense for the usual application process.
You should certainly get an official notification one way in the other. I would suggest that you keep contacting the embassy where you applied and submitted your Letters of Acceptance last year.
– Travis from TranSenz
I received an email from my local consulate yesterday, and am a little confused–I was hoping you could clear up some of the confusion.
They said that I did great during the interview (yay!) and they will be recommending me to the embassy. However, they mentioned that I could still be cut at this phase. How often do people get cut at this stage? My impression was that after interviewing (if you pass) the very next step is getting LOAs, but this seems to be the step before that and after the interview. They said that embassy results will not come out until mid to late July and with LOAs being due late August I’m a little concerned about timing.
I reached out to professors at two universities prior to submitting my application but never received a reply (even after sending follow-up emails). I listed them on my PPF anyways since their research was directly related, and since the deadline was approaching I thought I might hear from them later. Do you recommend reaching out to professors at this stage, and if so how do you recommend reaching out? Would your 3rd book be helpful in this regard (my impression after reading the sample is that the book should be read before or as you’re finalizing your application–not after your interview)? Basically: what would you recommend to someone in this situation?
Thank you as always for your tremendous help!
It sounds like in your country, the consulates conduct the primary screening, and each most likely has a certain number of candidates that they can recommend out of the whole pool for the country. But then the Embassy does a final review and the have the ultimate say about who gets nominated. Honestly, I have not heard of this system before. Usually, if the consulates are reviewing candidates separately, then they should have final say over the slots allotted to them.
About the timeline they described, late August is the deadline for you to apply to universities for LoAs. Embassies/Consulates should not be setting their deadlines that early – especially since they should know that August is a holiday month and it is difficult for universities to process applications then. There should be some flexibility if you describe your situation, I hope.
I do not recommend contacting professors now. Wait until you have the Passing Certificate of the Primary Screening. My book includes advice on how to contact professors if you are reaching out to them for the first time after passing the Primary Screening and need a response/LoA in a hurry, including email templates, but the basic principle is the same as what I describe in this article: Make sure you know how that university wants you to apply and follow their directions precisely.
For now, I would recommend that you make sure you know the procedures for your two universities and prepare as much as you can so that you can apply for the Letter of Provisional Acceptance immediately after you receive your documents.
*I am working on an updated version of this article and plan to release it this weekend, but I do not expect significant changes, except for the application timeline.
– Travis from TranSenz
It’s me again! I still haven’t heard back from them yet but have a feeling that I will soon since it’s the middle of July already. From your reply it sounds like there’s not much else for me to do but wait, right? One of my universities does not have the MEXT procedure on their website for my particular graduate school, even though I still don’t know the results do you think it would be ok to email them asking what the procedure would be if I did pass? Or should I wait until the actual results have come out?
Additionally, on a separate note: one of my universities requires (normal/regular grad school) applicants send a GRE score with their application. I have not taken the GRE yet and wasn’t planning on doing so for a while since I know with MEXT you can go as a research student first. Do you think this would be an issue? It doesn’t look like they ask for test scores to provide an LOA with MEXT but I’m wondering if this would be a problem later down the line.
Thank you so much for all your help as always Travis!
I’m sorry to hear that it is taking so long to get the results.
You could contact the university now to say that you have notified that you passed the screening at your consulate and are waiting on your final documentation, but in the meantime you want to know about the procedures to apply for Letter of Acceptance so you can get started right away.
If the university doesn’t ask for the GRE from MEXT Scholars, it should not be an issue if you do not have the score. If they want you to complete it before you formally enroll in the degree program, you’ll have plenty of time between when you get the Letter of Acceptance and when you start the program.
– Travis from TranSenz
I’m a bit concerned about the likelihood of me getting a letter of provisional acceptance. My research is on Japanese women’s language and whilst there are supervisors in the sociolinguistics field, only a few have completed research on gendered language. How likely/unlikely are supervisors to take on research students despite their research not perfectly aligning with the students’?
I’m also concerned about my Japanese ability. I have N3 though I believe I read somewhere on your blog that universities typically require the student to have N2 or higher if they wish to take courses in Japanese. What are the chances of a university overlooking Japanese language proficiency?
Thank you and I hope this all makes sense. Have a good day!
In social sciences fields, usually there is more tolerance for difference between the student’s research topic and the professor’s. If you have found professors who have done related research, particularly if it is recent, then you there should be a good chance of getting one to accept your research proposal.
The language issue seems like it would be more problematic, though, especially in a linguistics program. I recommend that you check the usual admission requirements for the programs that you want to enroll in to find their minimum language requirements. If they require Japanese, I do not think that N3 will be sufficient, particularly in your field and the possibility of overlooking a requirement is practically non-existent. I think you would need to find a program that only requires English language ability.
– Travis from TranSenz
I wanted to know whether the outcome of the MEXT Scholarship for Research Students 2021 will be posted on the Embassy website or will the successful candidates be intimated by email only.
I have applied for the MEXT scholarship at the Japanese Embassy in India.
Is it that the results will be declared within the month of June’21 or can it extend over to July’21?
Is it true that the universities and concerned advisors, whose names have been mentioned in the Pre-placement form, are always intimated prior to informing the candidate about the outcome?
In my case, I am supposed to submit an application for the degree program at the first preference university mentioned in the placement form between the last week of June’21 and the first week of July’21. If I get to know about the outcome of the scholarship before the application period, and if it is a positive outcome with respect to this university, then, I need not pay for the application fees for the program application.
But, since by 2nd week of June’21, there has been no information about the outcome of the scholarship, so that’s why I am a bit worried about it.
So, has it happened previously, that, some scholarship applications eventually get rejected after the final screening, even if one goes through the First Screening and obtain LoAs?
From what I have heard from other applicants, the embassies have started reaching out to successful applicants over the past few days, so I would expect that applicants in all countries should be hearing soon. (Check your spam email, if you haven’t recently. The announcement could be there!)
Each embassy might do their announcements differently. I have seen some embassies post the list of successful scholars on their website, but as far as I know, most contact applicants by email.
Universities are always contacted before the final announcement, since MEXT needs to confirm that the university is willing to accept you and the university needs to complete official paperwork to do so. Sometimes professors know the results, too, but sometimes it is just the admin office that knows.
If the university has contacted you to ask you to fill out the application paperwork, then it is likely because they know that you will be assigned there as a MEXT scholar.
It is almost unheard of for applicants to get rejected after passing the Primary Screening and getting LoAs. The last time I saw that happen in significant numbers was during a budget cut. But this year, I have not heard anyone from other countries reporting on applicants being rejected, so you should be fine!
– Travis from TranSenz
Thanks for your reply.
By now, I have received a positive outcome on my MEXT scholarship.
But, I do have the following queries regarding the outcome.
1.) I am supposed to submit the Pledge Form asap. So, is the Pledge Form a written consent of my acceptance of the scholarship?
2.) Is the Pledge Form a legally binding contract?
3.) After submitting the Pledge form, if someone is still not able to pursue studies in Japan, for whatever reason that may be – visa delays, pandemic, or personal reasons, will that create an issue for the embassy or the university or any stakeholder in the MEXT scholarship? Under such conditions, will it be a legal issue, if someone is not able to go to Japan under a MEXT scholarship? Will that someone is liable to pay off the scholarship amount in such a case? In the worst-case scenario, if such a case happens (i.e. not able to go to Japan to pursue studies under MEXT), will someone be blacklisted from pursuing higher studies in Japan any further in the future?
4.) Is the MEXT Scholarship amount for non-regular students and that for regular students sufficient to cover tuition fees and mandatory living expenses, in whichever part of Japan I plan to study?
5.) Now that, I have received the scholarship, will it be correct to mention the scholarship on any of my professional networking web portals or on my CV/Resume? Or, should I first submit the Pledge form and commence the Ph.D. program and then only make a reference about the scholarship on my CV/Resume? But, if I am not able to start my studies using the scholarship, even though I did receive the scholarship offer, in such a case, it is not correct to make a reference about the scholarship either in CV/Resume or in the professional networking web portals?
6.) Finally, for the conversion of Non-regular to Regular student status, the mode of entrance exam is dependent on the university, am I right? And, will there be further chances of such exams, if I am not successful in my first attempt in changing my student status? If I take multiple attempts in gaining regular student status, then, will there be a reduction in the MEXT scholarship amount?
Congratulations on earning the MEXT Scholarship! I am thrilled to hear that.
I will try to answer your questions as best as possible below.
1. Yes, you could consider it like that. Submission of the Pledge Form is required to confirm your willingness to accept the scholarship.
2. It is a contract, though I am not sure about the legal enforceability, since I am a lawyer. I have seen the Pledge Form used as the basis to cancel a student’s scholarship in the past and to compel that student to pay back the stipend previously received. (The student in question had committed crimes).
3. It all depends on the reason and whether or not it is within your control. Pandemic/Visa delay reasons are beyond your control and would not hurt you in the future. But if you reject the scholarship later for personal reasons or other reasons within your control, it could hurt you in the future. It also negatively impacts the embassy and your home country, since it means that they lost a scholarship slot for that year, so they may not be willing to consider your application if you apply again in the future. If you avoid rejecting the scholarship for personal reasons, you should be fine.
4. As a MEXT Scholar, you are exempt from tuition. The scholarship stipend is sufficient to cover living expenses, even in Tokyo, though you may have to live frugally, particularly in large cities/expensive locations.
5. I think it is fine to mention that you were selected for the scholarship, but if it was me, I would not claim to be a scholarship awardee until I had received some benefit from the scholarship. (Even if you are not able to travel to Japan in September to start your studies in person on time, you would still be able to start remotely, and at that point, you would be enrolled at the university under a tuition waiver that is part of the scholarship, so you could say then that you are receiving the award.)
6. Yes, the entrance exam depends on the university. My understanding is that you can take it multiple times (though only once for each semester that it is offered), provided that you do not exceed the period of your non-degree student scholarship during that time. There would not be a reduction in your scholarship award amount if you fail the entrance exam.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thanks for your latest replies.
1.) May I know what do you mean by the following statement of yours – “But if you reject the scholarship later for personal reasons or other reasons within your control, it could hurt you in the future.”? So, how such an action can hurt my future? Does it mean that I will never be allowed to go to Japan in the future for whatever reason that may be? The context here is that I accept the scholarship now by submitting the Pledge Form but before the start of the program in Fall 2021, I reject the scholarship, for whatever reasons that might be – personal reasons or reasons beyond control.
2.) Are you indicating that if the scholarship is rejected in the above manner, my future academic prospects may get adversely affected, even if I decide not to go to Japan any further? Or, is it that, If I continue my studies in my home country, OR, if I decide to apply for government scholarships organized by embassies of other countries, then also, my future academic prospects may get adversely affected?
3.) Just to confirm that I am not liable to pay any portion of the scholarship amount until I start receiving the amount, even if I reject the scholarship after initially accepting it, right?
In my case, the issue is that I have alternative offers of study, in other countries, and that’s why I am in a dilemma as to which one to choose finally.
Since the processing of the MEXT scholarship takes almost a year, there may be a possibility that other candidates may also have alternative offers and may be in a dilemma.
In my case, the alternative offer is from a US-based university in the area of Statistics, which has been my subject of study in my previous academic qualifications as well. But, the global ranking of the said university (which is around 500) is far beyond the Japan-based university (which is in the top 100, globally, as per QS World Rankings 2022). The area of study in Japan will be in the area of Information Science/Reliability of Software Systems, where Statistics may be applied to solve problems, but, my previous academic background is not exactly around Information Science.
Now for both cases, I need visas and travel restrictions are also applicable for both cases. But I am in a dilemma because of this – on one hand, there is the global ranking of the two universities and on the other hand – there is the subject area that may or may not be closely aligned with my academic background. Also, it depends on my post-study career plans, whether I would prefer to stay back or return back to my home country.
So, regarding the study program in Japan, it has been said that it will be conducted in English including thesis writing.
4.) Even though, the program will be in English, is it still recommended to learn basic Japanese in my home country before departing for Japan? My prospective advisor has suggested focusing on my study program in the first 6 months, instead of engaging in the Japanese Language Learning program offered by MEXT.
5.) Even with MEXT Scholarship, is it advisable to have an alternative source of income from side-jobs while in Japan to cover living expenses or a backup financial plan? Is it something that most international students under MEXT scholarship follow in order to cover living expenses? Are the expenses really high in all the locations of the Japanese universities which are in the top 100 globally? In the full-time research program under MEXT, it is not allowed to even have part-time jobs, is it?
6.) Regarding the recognition of Ph.D. degrees, which are conducted in the English language, is it recognized/accredited by any university outside Japan for the purpose of securing a Post-Doc position / securing a career in academia or even for industry jobs? For example, the 1-year Master’s degree from the UK is not recognized everywhere in the world. So, is there any such restriction with Ph.D. degrees earned from a Japanese university?
7.) Finally, do you have any last-minute suggestions regarding which option (or, university) will be suitable for me given my circumstances? Regarding my post-study career plans, my preference is towards securing a Post-Doc position in a relevant study area, followed by a career in academia.
Given my academic background has been in Statistics, will it be worthwhile to continue my studies in Statistics at the US-based University, even though its ranking is lower compared to the other universities mentioned above? After pursuing a Ph.D. from the US-based university (whose ranking is around 500, globally), are there decent chances of securing Post-Doc positions in the top 100 / 200 universities in the world?
Or, will it be better to do my Ph.D. at the allocated university in Japan under MEXT scholarship, considering my intention to build a career in academia, although, the subject area at the Japanese university is not purely in statistics but is more along the lines of application of statistical methodologies to assess the dependability of software systems (basically in the broad area of Information Science and Software Testing)?
That’s a really set of questions, but I will try to address them below.
1. It can hurt you if you try to apply again for the MEXT Scholarship or to the university that accepted you, but only if the people there remember. It’s not like there’s some international blacklist that your name goes on! If you reject the scholarship after arriving in Japan (or possibly after receiving any benefit), then you would be considered someone who started receiving the scholarship and then cancelled, so you would be prohibited from applying again until at least three years had passed.
2. Same as 1
3. If you decline the scholarship before you have received a payment or any other benefit, such as your flight ticket, you should have nothing to pay back.
If you reject the scholarship now, no alternate candidates would be able to receive it. It is much too late for that.
If you are looking at the global rankings of universities, I recommend that you look for the rank in your specific subject area!
4. Yes, it is still recommended to learn basic Japanese. Your research will be in English, but in your daily life, most people will speak only Japanese. Dealing with landlords, bills, public transportation, grocery shopping, etc. will be a lot easier with Japanese ability. It will also help you communicate better with your lab mates.
5. In general, it is highly discouraged for MEXT Scholars to work part-time jobs. The point of the MEXT Scholarship is to give you enough funding that you can focus entirely on your studies. Your living expenses will depend on your lifestyle, but it is possible to live on your MEXT stipend, even in major cities.
6. Yes, all degrees taught in Japan in English are internationally recognized the same as degrees taught in Japanese.
7. I recommend that you find the professor/lab that is best suited to your particular research plan. In most cases, I think university rankings are worthless, but for a career in Academia, it can make a difference. If you are aiming for that career, you should already have an idea who the top researchers in the field are in Japan, so aiming to work with them makes the most sense to me.
I’m afraid I do not know much about the international possibilities of securing post-docs or the field of statistics, in general, so I can’t really comment on how your location would impact that search. If you have a connection with active professors/researchers in the field, they might be better able to help with that question!
– Travis from TranSenz