Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship: Secondary Screening and Placement

Photo of golden pavilion in Kyoto

The gold at the end of the rainbow is so close, you can taste it!
(Photo Credit: Marc Veraat, CC BY 2.0 , modified for size).

For Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholarship applicants, winter can be a nerve-wracking time. You have passed the Primary Screening, acquired your LoAs and turned them in to the Japanese Embassy or Consulate and . . . heard nothing but silence for months.

Understandably, that leaves a lot of applicants worried: Am I going to get the scholarship? Will I be placed in my first-choice university? Will I go into the Japanese language program? When am I going to hear any news?

Well, first things first:

At this point, you are practically certain to receive the MEXT scholarship!

I have never heard of any applicant that passed the Primary Screening and submitted at least one LoA that did not ultimately receive the scholarship. So you do not need to worry about that. Time to move on to the next important question: What comes next?

Secondary Screening Results

After you submitted your Letters of Acceptance to the Embassy, your application went to MEXT for the Secondary Screening. But don’t worry, this is not a competitive screening!

The Secondary Screening is only making sure that all of your paperwork has been completed correctly and there are no problems with your application. If you have passed the Primary Screening and turned in at least one Letter of Acceptance, then you should have nothing to worry about at this point.

The only way I know of to lose the scholarship at the secondary screening is if MEXT determines that your research subject is into weapons technology or dual-use technology (which should have already been caught at the Primary Screening level), or if MEXT uncovers a deliberate lie in your application materials or a criminal record that would prevent you from being able to get a visa for Japan.

Again, I have never heard of any of those things happening. You should have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Secondary Screening Results: When Are They Available?

Unfortunately, like so many other things in Japan, the answer is, “It depends.”

In 2017, applicants from several countries (Albania, Angola, India, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Turkey, US, UK) reported receiving confirmation of passing the Secondary Screening by the end of November.

If you have received your confirmation of passing the secondary screening, please share the date and your country in the comments below!

It is up to each individual Embassy or Consulate to decide when, or even if, they will tell applicants that they have passed the Secondary Screening. Some may wait and announce the Secondary Screening and University Placement results at the same time. The timing may even differ between consulates within the same country. The only way to find out when – or if – you will get notified is to check the application guidelines for your embassy and, if the answer isn’t written there, to contact them directly.

Again, it is not a competitive screening and you should have nothing to worry about, so there really is no need, but I understand that your future is on the line here and you might be a little nervous!

University Placement

After you pass the Secondary Screening, MEXT will start contacting the universities on your placement preference form to ask them to start accepting you. MEXT contacts universities one at a time in the preference order that you gave, except that if your top choice(s) are private or public universities, MEXT may contact your highest choice National University, first. There is really nothing you can do about it.

When MEXT contacts the universities, they will ask if the university will accept you, what status they will accept you as, and whether or not the university wants you to participate in the semester-long language training program, first.

Enrollment Status

By “status”, I mean, whether the university will accept you as a research (non-degree) or degree-seeking student at first. As I wrote in a previous article, the university has three opportunities to designate your status (or upgrade you from Research Student to Degree student – you will not be downgraded). The first is when it issues your LoA. The second is the University Placement phase. If you were initially given an LoA as a research student, but passed the university’s entrance exam before the placement phase, the University can upgrade your status to degree-seeking student at this point.

The third opportunity will be when you arrive in Japan. You still have a chance after the university placement to take and pass the entrance exam and arrive as a degree-seeking student.

Japanese Language Program

If you have relatively low Japanese language ability, the university may decide to assign you to spend your first semester in an intensive Japanese language program before starting your studies. This program is designed to help you learn day-to-day Japanese so that you can accomplish tasks like shopping, traveling, and communicating with your landlord, etc.

It is not an academic Japanese program. It will not help you improve your Japanese to the level that you would be able to take classes or conduct research in Japanese.

If you have a moderate level of Japanese ability already – and especially if you are enrolling in a program taught in Japanese – then you are unlikely to be enrolled in this program.

Depending on your assigned university, the Japanese language program may be held at the same university where you will study or (especially in the case of private universities) it may be at another university in the same city.

University Placement Results: When Are They Available

Once again, this varies based on each embassy or consulate.

Typically, they will not release the results for any applicants until all applicants through that embassy or consulate have been placed. That means that if everyone gets accepted by the first university that MEXT contacts, you may find out your results early. However, if even one applicant does not get places in the first university and MEXT has to contact a second or third university, everyone’s results could be delayed.

The important thing to take away is that just because your results are slower than someone else’s in another country, that does not indicate that you won’t get the scholarship or that you won’t get your first choice. There are many other factors at play!

As of the 2017 application cycle, a large number of countries saw their results released during the second week of January. For that year, at least, that seemed to be the default date if everyone got into their first choice. There were also one or two examples of consulates where the one person who handled MEXT scholarships was out sick that day, so results came later.

In the case of India, at least one embassy or consulate had announced that results would be available in February, but then ended up releasing them in late January.

University Placement Results: How Are They Released

Embassies or consulates typically contact applicants by email.

If you have received your university placement, please share the date and your country in the comments below!

University Placement: Unofficial Results in Advance

There are two ways that applicants often find out their university placement results before the official announcement (sometimes even before the Secondary Screening results announcement). Technically, neither one should happen, but if you do find out this way, you can consider the results to be correct.

On the other hand, if you do not hear unofficial results, do not take that as a bad sign (and do not ask for them). It just means that the university is actually following MEXT’s rules.

Adviser Leak

If you have stayed in touch with the professor that you asked for an LoA, then sometimes that professor will tell you directly that you have been placed in his or her lab. That could even happen before the university confirms your acceptance to MEXT, but there is no reason to think that they would change your name.

If a professor that issued you an LoA contacts you to say that you have been accepted to his or her lab, consider that to be unofficial, but accurate.

Housing Leak

In the case of students who will arrive in April, sometimes the university’s housing office will contact you before you get the final MEXT results to invite you to apply for housing.

The only reason that the housing office would have your contact information would be if you were on the university’s list of students to enroll in the spring, so you can consider this to be confirmation that you will be assigned to that university.

I also recommend that you follow up on those emails and apply for housing if you are interested. The chances are good that by the time you get the official results, you may miss the housing deadlines, so do not delay!

What To Do After Getting Your Official University Placement Results

First contact any other university or professor that you had been in touch with about letters of acceptance, tell them that you have been placed in another university, thank them for their support, and say that you still look forward to working with them in the future.

After all, you will still be a scholar in the same field in Japan, and there are a limited number of universities teaching in each field in English, so there is a good chance you will cross paths again in the future.

Preparing for Your Departure

The timing can vary significantly, depending on when you will start your timing in Japan.

If your future university has contacted you about housing and you haven’t followed up yet, do that right away.

The university will usually contact you and tell you what day that they want you to arrive. Later, a travel agency will contact you to arrange your tickets, so be sure to arrive in time for the dates assigned by your university!

You will also have to complete a visa application, but there is a special Student Visa application process for MEXT scholars, so look for instructions from the Embassy or consulate about that process.

Share Your Experience!

If you are applying for the Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship, please let us know when you got your notification, as well as the country your are applying for, in the comments below.

Of course feel free to ask any questions below, as well.

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!

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