Back in 2016, I wrote a post about the MEXT Scholarship Application Form, but it’s changed significantly since then. Many of the questions and comments from that post still apply, and you can find them here.
MEXT Scholarship Application Form: 2018
Beginning with the 2018 MEXT Scholarship Application, Monbukagakusho overhauled their application form. Now, it’s an Excel file and many of the questions have changed. Here’s what you need to know to complete the form, line by line.
If you’re subscribed to my mailing list, you should already have a copy of the sample form I created. If you haven’t signed up yet, click here to join and download that form. You can download the original, unfilled forms from MEXT’s official website.
Instructions: Key Points
- You should type the form using Excel, if at all possible. Not only is it easier for evaluators to read, it makes it easier for you to make corrections, if you have to. If you are going to write by hand, use black pen and write in all capital letters.
Another option is to edit the form directly as a pdf. I use GIMP (a free, open source Photoshop clone) and pdftk, both free, to edit and compile pdfs.
- The instructions say to use Arabic numerals, which means “1, 2, 3” etc. Do not write out numbers (e.g. “one”) in the application form, even if it would be grammatically appropriate to do so. You should also use numbers, not words, when writing out months. (e.g. “05”, not “May”)
- Writing year numbers: Be sure to write all numbers in the CE or AD calendar used in most of the world. Do not use the Japanese, Buddhist, Islamic, or Coptic Christian system of counting years.
- You have to write out proper nouns, including cities, states, countries, etc. Do not abbreviate. (e.g. Write “United States of America”, not “USA”)
- Even if you are filling out the form in Japanese, write all non-Japanese proper nouns (such as names, places, school names, etc.) in English. Do not try to write them in Katakana!
A note about check marks: In the sample form, I used a special character that looks like a checked box. That character is available in the Japanese font. If you don’t have access to that, you can use a filled box character (in other words, an all-black square), replace the box with an “X” or simply check boxes by hand after printing the form.
Page 1: Basic InformationPhoto:
Your photo must meet the dimensions specified in the form, be clear and no more than 6 months old, and show your upper body.
You can insert a digital image directly into the form before printing or attach a physical photo afterward. If you decide to attach a physical photo, it must be printed on photo paper and you should attach it with paste or a glue stick. DO NOT use staples, as that will damage your photo and make it useless.
1. Name: Your name (especially in the “alphabet” line) has to match your passport, exactly. You do need to fill in both lines (to be safe), even it they are identical. In general, the “Native language” line should match what is written in the top half of your passport, near the photo. The “Alphabet” line should match the computerized text at the bottom, as follows:
To find your “alphabet” name and the right order, refer to the bottom two lines of your passport. On the second-to-bottom line, you should see a three-digit country code along with your name. For example:
Everything between the Country Code (USA) and the “<<” is your surname. Everything after the “<<” is your given and middle name, in that order. It is your choice whether to list all of your given and middle names in the “given name” box or to split them between given and middle name, but you must include everything and cannot change the order, even if that’s not what you use in daily life.
If you do not have a “<<” because you do not have a legal surname or have only one legal name, then you should leave the surname block blank.
You cannot enter any special characters, such as accented letters, in the “Alphabet” line. Those should go only in the “Native Language” line.
Yeah, that’s a lot of instructions for a “name” line, but I’ve seen a shocking number of mistakes with this one in the past.
2. Gender: This refers to your biological gender, not your gender identity.
3. Marital Status: This one is pretty straightforward!
4. Nationality: Write the name of the country that issued your passport. (In Japan, your “nationality” is a noun, not an adjective. For example, you would write “Japan” not “Japanese.”) If you have multiple nationalities, choose only one. If you are applying for the Embassy-recommended scholarship, you must write the nationality of the country you plan to apply in.
5. Japanese Nationality: Japanese nationals are not eligible to apply for the scholarship, but if you have multiple nationalities and choose to give up your Japanese citizenship to apply, they you would be eligible.
Most applicants will check “No” and leave the rest of the line blank, but if you do have Japanese nationality, then you would have to check “yes” and complete the line.
6. Date of Birth: The tricky part of this line is filling in your age. You need to enter how old you will be as of April 1, 2018. In the downloadable example, you will see that the fake applicant has a birthday of Jan 1. That means that he is 25 when he’s filling in the form but will pass his birthday before April 2018, so he needs to enter “26.”
Note: In Japan, your age goes up on your birthday. It does not automatically go up on January 1 or on the lunar new year as it does in some other countries.
7. Current Address, Your address before departure for Japan, Phone number and Email: If you are living somewhere other than your permanent address, such as a college dorm, then you would fill that in in the first line. In the downloadable example, the applicant is studying abroad in Japan when he applies for the scholarship. (And, based on his address, he lives at MEXT headquarters). You would also use this line if you were living in a college dorm, etc.
In line (2), you want to fill your permanent address (e.g. Your parents’ address, etc.). That way, they have a mailing address where they can reach you even after you leave the place you’re living now.
For your phone number and email address, I recommend putting contact information that can be used to reach you at any time. If you’re living abroad, as in the example, put a phone number in your home country. You’ll be going back there to apply, anyway, for the Embassy-recommended MEXT application.
Be sure to include the country code for your phone number!
7.(5) Residing in Japan/Outside Your Home Country: You must return to your home country at some point during the application process to apply for your visa, and this section makes sure that you understand that.
There is a special visa application process for MEXT applicants. You cannot change your residence status inside Japan (if you are living there already) and you can only apply at the Embassy or Consulate closest to your home. Keep that in mind as you make your application and travel plans!
Page 1/2: Scholarship Records
8. Past awarded record: This section refers to Japanese government scholarships, only.
In most cases, if you have received a MEXT scholarship in the past, you would not be eligible to apply for one again. If you receive a MEXT scholarship, then you must complete at least 3 years of education or dedicated research activities (e.g. an advanced degree) before you are eligible to apply again.
The exceptions to this rule are:
- Japanese studies scholarships (1-year scholarships for exchange students) who have since returned to and graduated from their home universities.
- Japan-Korea Joint Government Scholarship Program For The Students In Science And Engineering Departments who have graduated or are going to graduate from universities in their home countries
- Past participants in the Young Leaders Program
If you are receiving a scholarship for your current degree, etc., that will end before your MEXT scholarship begins, you do not need to fill in that information here.
While receiving the MEXT scholarship, you are eligible to apply for and receive one-time grants that do not overlap with MEXT payments. For example, you could apply for a grant to pay the cost of travel to a conference, or for a specific research activity.
10. Other Scholarship If you do have a scholarship offer for your time in Japan already, fill in that information here. If you checked “No” in 9, you can leave this blank or write “none.”
Page 2: Academic Record
Instructions: Most of the instructions are straightforward, but there are a few items that can cause confusion, explained below.
- 3. University Entrance Qualification Examinations: This refers to an exam taken instead of graduating high school. Usually, it is for home-schooled students, students who dropped out, etc. It will not apply to most MEXT applicants.
- 5. Attended Multiple Schools: As you can see in the “Primary Education” line of the example, I have included multiple schools for the sample applicant. You can fill it out the same way for your situation. If there is not enough space, you would write “See attached” in the Name line and explain the details in an attached sheet.
If you are attaching an extra sheet, you should still write the start and end dates on the application form!
- 6. Total number of years studied: The English translation here is badly worded! When calculating total number of school years, you should include extended vacations as part of the year!
The simplest way to think about it is that you are counting “school years” not “calendar years.” If your school year goes from September to June, that is 1 full year (even though it is only 10 calendar months). You should only use the months field if you attended less than a full year at some point.
Primary Education: Typically, this would be your first 6 years of education. Do not include Kindergarten. If you attended a single school that covered elementary and middle school or elementary all through high school, be sure to separate it into the appropriate lines.
Lower Secondary Education: Typically 2 or 3 years. As with elementary school, above, if you attended the same school from Middle School through high school, be sure to separate it into the two lines.
Upper Secondary Education: This includes high school and any college prep school you might have attended, if that took place between high school and college. Do not count community college or polytech experience here, as those would be considered Tertiary education and should be in the next column.
Tertiary Education: Enter college or university undergraduate education in the first line and graduate in the second. As in the example, indicate any study abroad in here, as well.
Location: Only the city and state is required. You don’t need the full address. As you see in the example I have separated the two cities with a slash in the Elementary column.
Remember, do not abbreviate proper nouns, this includes cities, states, provinces, etc.
Dates and Duration: As you’ll see in the example, I counted full school years, not calendar years. If you are still in school, be sure to count the full amount of time that you will attend, not just the time attended so far!
Total Years of Education: This should be the total years as of the time you arrive in Japan. If you still have 6 months left in your degree, you would count those as if they were finished.
12. Field of specialization studied in the past: List your focus, major(s) and minor, plus the department, faculty, college, etc., that you belonged to during your last degree.
For example, if you got a BA in History you wouldn’t write simply “History.” You would write something like:
Majored in Japanese history, with a focus on Bakumatsu-era industrial reform. (Department of Asian History, Faculty of History, College of Arts and Sciences)
Note: There is a similar question on the Embassy version of the Field of Study and Research Program Plan form and you will want to go into more detail there.
13. Have you Ever written a thesis? This question refers to a graduation thesis at the bachelor’s or master’s level, not to shorter term papers.
14. Publications: If you have any publications, including articles or conference proceedings, or any works that have been accepted for publication but not yet published, write them here. Graduation theses do not need to be listed if they have not been published, but if your university publishes all theses online or binds them and makes them available in the university library, then you would want to list that.
Don’t worry if you don’t have anything to list. Most applicants, particularly those applying for Master’s degrees, do not at this point.
Don’t forget to attach abstracts of all papers you list here.
Page 3: Your MEXT Scholarship Plans
15. The first course you plan to take in Japan: Where do you want to start your studies? (Note: you might not always get what you want. It depends on the university that accepts you).
- “Non-regular (Non-degree) course” is sometimes called “Research student” by universities. In this status, you are not working toward a degree, but you might be able to upgrade to a degree-seeking status. There are three primary reasons you might choose research student:
1. You want/need to spend a semester taking preparatory classes before starting your degree.
2. You are arriving in the “wrong” semester and have to wait a semester before starting your degree program.
3. You are currently enrolled in a degree program outside of Japan and only want to come to Japan to complete research.
- Master’s Degree Course: This would include MA, MS, MSc, etc. In Japan, it is a two-year course and, as a MEXT scholar, you would need to finish in two years or you would lose the scholarship. If you think you need more time, go for a semester or two as a Non-regular student, first.
- Doctoral Course: PhD program. In Japan, this is a 3-year program. The same time condition as Master’s Degree applies.
- Professional Graduate Course: This covers all non-academic graduate degrees, such as MBA, MFA, JD, MD, and programs such as Teacher Training programs. These programs can be at the Master’s or Doctoral level.
16. Preferred Month of Arrival: You should base this both on your own situation as well as the program you wish to enroll in. Obviously, if you haven’t finished your previous degree, you would have to arrive in Japan after that is over.
You’ll also want to see when the semester starts for your preferred program in Japan and what semesters it is possible to start your degree. If you don’t speak Japanese yet, keep in mind that you may be placed in a semester-long survival Japanese course for your first semester after arrival. Account for that semester in your plans when deciding if it is best to arrive in the spring or fall.
17. Term you wish to study in Japan: This question does not guarantee that you’ll get the whole term you ask for – you’ll have to apply for each extension separately later. It does tell the Embassy and the Universities what your long-term plans are, though, so they have a better idea of your situation.
It is possible to start as a Non-regular student (in 15 above) at the Master’s degree level and select Doctoral degree here.
Page 3: Employment Records:
Fill in this information accurate as to the date that you submit your application. Focus on full-time, paid employment throughout this section.
If you have are still a student and have no employment history, that will not be counted against you, so don’t worry about it.
18. Do you currently have a job? You should only fill in yes if you are working full-time. A part-time student job is not relevant.
Part of the intent behind this question is for the Embassy to determine if you will be able to leave your current job to go to Japan if you are accepted. (If you’re working part-time, it’s assumed you can quit whenever you want).
19. Employment Record: List your most recent two full-time positions here. The most recent position should be in the top line.
Page 4: Language Ability20. Language Ability: You must enter an answer in each block of both the Japanese and English line here, even if the answer is “0”. Note that while the English translation for “0” is “poor”, in Japanese, the term can also mean “no ability”.
21. Japanese language qualifications: The question in Japanese specifically asks for your certifications. If you have passed the JLPT, fill in the level in the first block (N1-N5). If you have another official Japanese language proficiency test score, such as one conducted by your country’s foreign service office, you can list that in “other.”
If you’ve taken Japanese classes in undergrad, etc., but had no official test score, that would not count as a certification, but you can list it anyway. (e.g. “8 semesters of Japanese language education”)
22. English language qualifications: Similar to the question above, fill in your test scores for any official TOEFL (be sure to note the type) or IELTS test. You will probably be asked to produce the certificates from these tests when you apply to university. “Other” can include CEFR ratings, O levels, TOEIC, and country-specific tests like GEPT, but understand that those may not be accepted by all universities.
Page 4: Family
23. Accompanying Dependents: MEXT (and universities) discourages bringing your dependents with you when you first come to Japan. (In fact, in terms of visa requirements, you may find it impossible to do so.) Neither MEXT nor the universities will take any responsibility for your dependents or provide any support for them.
If you do plan to bring dependents with you, list their names and relationship to you in this table. (Relationship should be from your perspective, so a son would be “son”, not “father-son relationship”).
In any case, you’ll have to come to Japan first then apply for a Dependent Certificate of Eligibility for each family member you want to bring.
24. Emergency Contact in home country: Basically, if you were to die in Japan, who should the university call to pick up your body and bring it home to your country?
I know that sounds morbid, but MEXT wants a point of contact that is that close to you.
The person should also meet the following criteria:
- Must not be listed in the accompanying dependents question (23) above
- Must have an email address and access to a phone
- Should, if at all possible, have English or Japanese language ability
- Be an immediate family member if possible
When I was reviewing these applications, any time an applicant wrote “friend,” “boyfriend/girlfriend,” “supervisor,” or anything other than a close family member, we would encourage applicants to choose someone closer.
You must complete every item in this section (although you can leave out the fax number).
Remember to include the country in the address, the country code in the phone number, and use no abbreviations in the address.
Page 4: Past Visits to Japan
25. Past visits or stays in Japan: List your two most recent trips to Japan. In the “purpose” section, the purpose of your visa is sufficient. You do not need to go into too much detail.
Page 4: Signature Block
Hooray! You’re finished!
Before asking any questions in the comments below, please read through the MEXT Scholarship Application FAQ top page and specific FAQ pages to see what I’ve answered already and to find tips about how to get your questions answered faster.
You can ask your questions in the comments here, on the FAQ page, or by email and I will answer them by updating the FAQ and letting you know when the answers are available.
I’d also recommend signing up for my mailing list to get notified whenever I have updates to any of the FAQs or new articles about the MEXT scholarship!
You can also find dozens of questions and answers in the comments of the original article.
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