MEXT Scholarship Eligibility Criteria – 2024/2025 Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship

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Do you meet the eligibility criteria for the 2024/2025 Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholarship?

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

As I write this, MEXT has just released the application guidelines for the 2024/2025 Embassy Recommended MEXT Scholarship (apply in 2024/scholarship starts in 2025). This article covers everything you need to know about those requirements.

Embassy Recommendation MEXT Scholarship Eligibility Requirements: Research Students

The requirements below are for the Embassy Recommended 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 have published another article about the eligibility requirements for the University Recommendation MEXT Scholarship.

These are also the eligibility requirements for the MEXT Scholarship for Research (Graduate) Students. I do not cover the requirements for undergraduates below. If you want to know about the MEXT Scholarship for undergraduate students, I recommend reading the official application guidelines.

In the article below, I will list the requirements from the official guidelines as well as my explanation of what they mean in simple terms.

A Word of Caution

The eligibility requirements I describe below are the requirements set out by MEXT. However, when you apply to universities for Letters of Provisional Acceptance* after passing the primary screening, the universities may have their own higher eligibility requirements, as well. If you find that the university you are applying to specifies higher or additional requirements compared to what I describe below, you must meet both sets of requirements. Do not bother trying to argue with the university that MEXT’s standards are lower. That won’t work!
*The article linked above is from last year’s application cycle, but I will update it as soon as possible.

You may also find additional requirements unique to your country. For example, there may be a GPA requirement established in your country’s GPA system, a limitation on fields of study, or other rules. Be sure to check the application guidelines on the homepage of the Japanese Embassy for your country!

Minimum GPA

This first requirement is not listed in the official guidelines, but the GPA requirement applies to every type of Japanese government scholarship that I have ever encountered. I think they don’t list it as an official eligibility requirement because in that case, they would have to “refuse” your application and return all documents to you if you didn’t meet it. Instead, it is a screening requirement, which means if you don’t meet it, your application will simply be “rejected” and they don’t have to return your documents or explain why you didn’t pass.

So, it’s important to calculate your grades on your own, first, to make sure that you are eligible! You must have a minimum 2.3 / 3.0 GPA on MEXT’s scale over the course of your most recent degree, including all grades shown on your transcript at the time of application.

For more information on how to calculate your GPA, I have a separate article dedicated entirely to that process.

Even though the minimum requirement is 2.3, you can assume that a large number of applicants will have close to a perfect 3.0 converted GPA. So, frankly speaking, if your converted GPA is even close to that minimum standard, you are going to be facing an uphill battle to get this competitive scholarship!

Okay, with that out of the way, all of the remaining requirements come directly from the guidelines!

Field of Study

The requirement:

Applicants should apply for the field of study they majored in at university or its related field. Moreover, the fields of study must be subjects which applicants will be able to study and research in graduate courses at Japanese universities. The fields of study may be restricted to particular fields by the Japanese Embassy or Consulate (hereinafter referred to “Japanese diplomatic mission”) in the applicant’s country.
Traditional entertainment arts such as Kabuki and classical Japanese dances, or subjects that require practical training in specific technologies or techniques at factories or companies are not included in the fields of study under this scholarship program.
A student who studies medicine, dentistry or welfare science will not be allowed to engage in clinical training such as medical care and operative surgery until he/she obtains a relevant license from the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare under applicable Japanese laws.

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What it means:

  • Related Field: I have discussed the meaning of a “related field of study” in past articles and in my book, How to Apply for the MEXT Scholarship, but here is a 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 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 acceptable.
    Do not worry about the specific name of the major or graduate school, all that matters is if the contents of the degree program are related.
    If there is no obvious relationship between your fields, then you have to establish and prove 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. For example, if you can show that you are researching the same subject matter from a different perspective, that can be successful. I have often seen that approach work for applicants who want to pursue a business degree in Japan after completing a degree in another field during their previous studies. If they can justify that they want to explore the business development opportunities for their previous field of study, that can be considered to be related.
  • Able to study at Japanese universities: Your field of study must be available at the university you are applying to and taught there in a language that you are competent in (English or Japanese). I have another article (and book) all about how to find degree programs taught in English in Japan. The book also goes into detail about how to determine which professor would make the best advisor for your studies and how to contact them.
  • Limitations by Country: MEXT allows the embassy in each country, in consultation with the local government, to limit the fields of study in which you can apply. Please check the website of the Japanese Embassy in your country to see if this applies to you.
  • Prohibition of performing arts and technical training fields: The MEXT Scholarship does not permit study of traditional Japanese performance arts that require studio training. You could study kabuki, etc., from the perspective of literature or history, but not take part in a program to train performers. Similarly, the scholarship does not cover programs that require technical training at factories, etc.
  • Additional requirements for medical degrees: Medical, Dental, and Social Welfare degrees typically require clinical training, but students cannot take part in such training until obtaining the required licenses from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. These licenses must, of course, be obtained via testing in Japanese, so unless you are already highly fluent in Japanese, any degree that requires clinical training is essentially going to be impossible.

OK, that was a long first requirement. They get simpler after this point. I promise!


The requirement:

Applicants must have the nationality of a country that has diplomatic relations with Japan. An applicant who has Japanese nationality at the time of application is not eligible. However, persons with dual nationality who hold Japanese nationality and whose place of residence at the time of application is outside of Japan are eligible to apply as long as they choose the nationality of the other country and renounce their Japanese nationality by the date of their arrival in Japan (the acquisition of student status). The First Screening must be conducted at the Japanese diplomatic mission in the country of which the applicant chooses the nationality.

What it means:
If there is an embassy of Japan in your country (or for your country), then that country has formal relations with Japan. There are very few countries that do not meet this requirement, but North Korea and Taiwan are two examples. (There is a separate, essentially identical scholarship for Taiwan though.)

If you currently hold Japanese nationality as a dual national and you live primarily in the other country of nationality, you must give up your Japanese nationality prior to arriving in Japan. If you have dual nationality (or more) but do not have Japanese nationality as one of them, then you can ignore the statements about dual nationality throughout the application guidelines. You will use the nationality of your primary country of residence throughout the application.

You must apply for the scholarship via the Japanese embassy in the country where you have nationality. That also means that you must be present at the embassy in person at certain stages of the application.

Age (Date of Birth)

The requirement:

Applicants, in principle, must have been born on or after April 2, 1990. Exceptions are limited to cases in which MEXT deems that the applicant could not apply within the eligible age limit due to the situation or circumstances of the applicant’s country (military service obligation, loss of educational opportunities due to disturbances of war, etc.) Personal circumstances (financial situation, family circumstances, state of health, circumstances related to applicant’s university or place of employment, etc.) will not be considered for exceptions.

What it means:
The birthdate requirement changes each year. The important thing to note is that you must be age 34 or younger as of April 1 on the year you arrive in Japan to start the scholarship (not the time of application).

While MEXT lists a few exception to the age requirement, I have never heard of any country qualifying for this exception. If you find out that yours has been, please let me know in the comments below!

MEXT will not consider personal circumstances, such as your job, family, health, etc., for an exception. It must be a nationwide reason, acknowledged by the Japanese government.

Academic Background

The requirement:

Applicants must satisfy any one of the following conditions for admission to either a master’s or doctoral course at a Japanese graduate school in which they wish to first enroll. (Applicants who will certainly satisfy any of the following conditions by the time of enrollment are eligible.)
(a) Master’s course / Doctoral course (first phase)
① Applicants who have completed 16 years of school education in countries other than Japan.
② Applicants who have completed a program with the standard study period of three years or more at universities or equivalent educational institutions in countries other than Japan and received a degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.
③ Other than the above ① and ② conditions, applicants who are eligible for enrollment in a master’s course
/doctoral course (first phase) at a Japanese graduate school.
(b) Doctoral course (second phase)
① Applicants who have been awarded with an overseas degree equivalent to a master’s degree or professional degree.
② Applicants who have graduated from universities and have been involved in research study at universities or research centers (including overseas universities and research centers) for two years or more, and recognized as having academic competency equivalent to persons with a master’s degree by the graduate school.
③ Other than the above ① and ② conditions, applicants who are eligible for enrollment in a doctoral course (second phase) at a Japanese graduate school.
(c) Doctoral course (faculties of medicine, dentistry, veterinary sciences, and certain parts in pharmaceutical fields)
① Applicants who have completed 18 years of school education in countries other than Japan.
② Applicants who have completed a program with the standard study period of five years or more at universities or equivalent educational institutions in countries other than Japan and received a degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.
③ Applicants who have completed 16 years of school education in countries other than Japan and have been involved in research study at universities or research centers (including overseas universities and research centers) for two years or more, and recognized as having academic competency equivalent to university graduates in medicine, dentistry, veterinary sciences or certain parts in pharmaceutical fields by the graduate school.
④ Other than the above ①, ② and ③ conditions, applicants who are eligible for enrollment in a doctoral course (faculties of medicine, dentistry, veterinary sciences and certain parts in pharmaceutical fields) at a Japanese graduate school.
※ For (c) above, you must confirm necessary academic background details on the websites of the universities in which you wish to enroll since the academic background needed for admission may vary according to university. [For example, (c)-① stipulates that applicants must graduate from an undergraduate program in medicine, dentistry, veterinary or pharmaceutical sciences.]

What it means:
This is another long one, but the important thing is to focus on the section that applies to you.

You must meet the eligibility criteria as of the time you enroll in the Japanese university. So, you do not need to meet the criteria before applying. You can apply while you are still studying for your previous degree, as long as you graduate on time!

  • Master’s Degrees:
    • In Japan, it takes 16 years to earn a bachelor’s degree, starting from elementary school. Kindergarten and pre-school do not count toward this requirement. It’s important to note that merely attending school for 16 years is not sufficient. The original Japanese text makes it clear that you must complete your period of study. So, if you have studied 16 years, but have not yet graduated from your undergraduate degree, you would not be eligible. On the other hand, if you finished a 16-year program of study in less than 16 years, because you skipped a grade, etc., you would still be eligible.
    • If it takes less than 16 years to earn a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in your country, then as long as the university education portion is three years or longer and equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, you are eligible. The reference to “standard study period”, refers to what the university says should be the length of study. If you graduated early because of high ability and credit loading, that would not make you ineligible. For example, graduating from a 3-year program in 2.5 years still means that you completed a 3-year program.
    • I have never heard of any example of a person meeting criteria 3, so you can ignore that one.


  • Doctoral Degree (Non-Medical Practitioner Degrees*)
    *This is the set of criteria that apply to almost all doctoral degrees. There are separate criteria for doctoral degrees in medicine, dentistry, veterinary sciences, and certain pharmaceutical faculties, as listed below.
    • Basically, the most relevant criteria here is earning a master’s degree or equivalent.
    • The second criteria could apply in situations where you were enrolled in a 5-year doctoral degree that did not award an interim Master’s degree and have completed two years of study in that program (equivalent to what would have been a Master’s)


  • Doctoral Degree (Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Sciences, and Certain Pharmaceutical Fields)
    These are fields there the usual course of study is a 6-year bachelor’s degree followed directly by a doctorate, at least in Japan.
    • The 18-years of school could end with a 6-year bachelor’s degree, as in Japan, or it could be a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. However, this degree must be in the same field that you will apply for your doctorate in.
    • If your country has a shorter period of study to earn the same degree and your university education was at least 5 years (a 5-year bachelor’s or a 3-year bachelor’s and 2-year master’s), you would meet criteria 2. As above, your degree would need to be in the same field.
    • Criteria 3 could apply in situations where you were enrolled in a longer doctoral degree that did not award an interim degree equivalent to the Japanese 6-year bachelor’s but you have completed enough years of study that you would have earned that degree if it existed.

(Japanese) Language Ability

The requirement:

Applicants must be willing to learn Japanese. Applicants must be interested in Japan and be willing to deepen their understanding of Japan after arriving in Japan. Applicants must also have the ability to do research and adapt to living in Japan.

What it means:
There is no specific language proficiency requirement and you can’t really measure this (although having JLPT scores or proof of past Japanese language studies would help). The important thing is to indicate that there is a reason that you want to study in Japan besides just the scholarship offer. You can do that easily in the essay question in the application form.

While it is not a specific eligibility requirement, you will need to take language proficiency tests during the Primary Screening and perform well enough to indicate that you have the language ability to complete your degree. Please see my article about the Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholarship Exams for more details.

The last sentence refers to having the necessary language ability for your degree program.

Universities may ask for language proficiency test scores when you apply for a Letter of Provisional Acceptance. Universities don’t get to see your performance on the Embassy’s tests, so they have no other way to judge your ability. This is particularly true for programs taught in Japanese! I recommend you check the websites for the universities that you want to apply to in advance.

It would be safe to assume that you cannot apply for a program taught in Japanese if you do not have at least N2-level Japanese language ability at the time of application. To apply for a program taught in English, you should have at least B2 level English ability on the CEFR scale.

CEFR B2 Equivalency Table

Here are the scores that MEXT has determined to be equivalent to the CEFR B2:

  • 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 N2/B2 suggestions above are not official minimum requirements. You may find that the requirements are higher or lower depending on the program that you want to apply to.


The requirement:

Applicants must submit a health certificate in the prescribed format signed by a physician attesting that the applicant has no physical or mental conditions hindering the applicant’s study in Japan.

What it means:
A pre-existing medical condition will not disqualify you, as long as your doctor says that you are still fit to study in Japan. If your condition is self-managed, or you can manage it under the continuing care of a Japanese doctor, you should be fine. (If you need continuing care, though, that might limit your choices for universities in Japan, as you will need to be close to a doctor that can treat you in English.)

Ability to Arrive in Japan on Designated Date

The requirement:

Applicants must choose and fill in the Application Form either of the following arrival periods ① or ②. In principle, a change in the arrival period is not permitted after the submission of the Application Form.
① April term: In principle, applicants must be able to arrive in Japan between April 1, 2025, and April 7, 2025. Departure from the home residence should be on or after April 1, 2025.
② October term: In principle, applicants must be able to arrive in Japan during the period specified by the accepting university within two weeks before and after the starting date of the university’s relevant academic term (September or October) for that year.
Excluding cases in which MEXT deems as unavoidable circumstances, the applicant must withdraw from this scholarship program if the applicant cannot arrive in Japan by the end of the specified period above which is decided by MEXT or the accepting university. If the applicant arrives in Japan not in the specified period for personal reasons, travel expenses to Japan will not be paid.

What it means:
In the application form, you will specify whether you want to arrive in Japan for the April or September/October term in 2025. Note that this is when you will arrive in Japan, not necessarily when you will start your degree or your studies at your university (you may spend the first semester in an intensive language program). Once you select your month of arrival, you cannot change your preference, but the university might issue a different month on your Letter of Provisional Acceptance. If they do, that will take precedence, so be sure to check that document carefully.

  • April Arrival: You must leave your country of residence on or after April 1, 2025, and arrive at your university in Japan between April 1-7, 2025.
  • September/October Arrival: You must be able to arrive on the dates specified by your accepting university, which should be within a 2-week window around the start of the Fall 2025 Semester there. Note that you do not get to choose, the university will designate the arrival period.

If you arrive after the specified period, you will lose the scholarship. It may be possible to arrive before the specified period, but in that case, MEXT would not pay for your flight to Japan and your stay in Japan prior to the mandatory arrival dates would be on your own responsibility.

Visa Requirement

The requirement:

Applicants shall, in principle, newly obtain a “Student” visa at the overseas establishment of Japan located in the applicant’s country of nationality, and enter Japan with the status of residence as “Student.” If the applicant resides in Japan exceptionally before acceptance, the applicant must change or renew his/her status of residence to as “Student” by the end of the month prior to the installment of the first scholarship payment.
Even if the applicant originally held a status of residence such as “Permanent Resident” or “Long-term Resident”, he/she should be aware that the original status might not be necessarily regranted after the expiration of the status as a MEXT Scholarship student

What it means:
For most applicants, those who are living in their country of residence at the time of application, the only thing to worry about is applying for a “Student” visa at the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country. In general, you will only be able to apply at the embassy or consulate that serves the area that you indicate as your place of residence in the application form. (So, if you are from the US, for example, and will be traveling overseas in Europe during the months before your studies, you would not be able to apply at the Japanese embassy in Paris, etc.)

There is a special visa application process for MEXT scholars, so wait for the instruction from the embassy before you apply.

If you are already living in Japan with a Residence Status prior to the scholarship, you will need to apply for a “Change of Status of Residence” if your status is anything other than “Student” or an “Extension of Period of Stay” if your current residence status is “Student.” If that situation applies to you, be sure to check with the embassy as early as possible for instructions.

The second paragraph only applies if you have one of the two residence statuses listed. You would not automatically qualify for those residence statuses again if you apply after the end of your MEXT Scholarship. For Permanent Residents, you may need to re-qualify for the status (which can involve a 10-year wait on another status and proving some contribution to Japan during that time). For Long-Term Residents, you may not be able to regain eligibility at all, if you have “outgrown” your original eligibility criteria. For example, if you were a Long-Term Resident as a minor child, but reached your age of majority during your studies, you would not be able return to your former status.

Of course, if you are a Permanent Resident or Long-term Resident, you should think hard about whether or not it is worth it to give up your status just to apply for this scholarship.

Note that if you change your residence status before completing your scholarship/studies, you would instantly be disqualified and lose the scholarship, as discussed in the “Disqualification Criteria” below.

Disqualification Criteria (“Non-eligibility” in the MEXT Guidelines)

Anyone meeting any of the “Non-eligibility criteria” below is ineligible to apply for the scholarship. If a scholar is found to meet any of these criteria during their studies, they would be forced to withdraw from the scholarship immediately.

Please note that while all the previous criteria were conditions that you have to meet. These are criteria that you must avoid.

1. Military affiliation

The requirement:

Those who are military personnel or military civilian employees at the time of their arrival in Japan or during the period of the payment of the scholarship;

What it means:
Self-explanatory, really. You must not be a military member or employed by the military at any time during your studies.

2. Late arrival

The requirement:

Those who cannot arrive in Japan by the last date of the period specified by MEXT or the accepting university;

What it means:
We covered this above. If you cannot arrive by the MEXT or university deadline, you lose the scholarship.

3. Previous MEXT Scholarship receipt

The requirement:

Those who are previous grantees of Japanese Government (MEXT) scholarship programs (including those who withdraw from the scholarship program after acquisition of student status). This does not apply to: those who have educational or work experience exceeding more than three years from the following month of the period of the previous scholarship to the estimated first month of the payment of this scholarship; and the past grantees of Japanese Studies Students program who have graduated or are going to graduate from universities in their home countries, Japan-Korea Joint Government Scholarship Program for the Students in Science and Engineering Departments and Young Leaders’ Program. The Monbukagakusho Honors
Scholarship for Privately-Financed International Students is not included in the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship Programs;

What it means:
If you have received a MEXT Scholarship in the past, excluding the three types (and the Honors scholarship, which does not count) listed above, then you are not eligible to receive another MEXT scholarship until you have completed 36 full months of education and/or research since the month after the last month you received a scholarship payment. You must meet this requirement as of the end of the month before you arrive in Japan.

For example, if you received an undergraduate MEXT Scholarship and graduated in March 2022 (that was your last month of scholarship payment), then you would only be eligible to apply for the 2024/2025 scholarship with an April arrival date if you had been employed from April 1, 2022 through to the end of March 31, 2025 (36 total months). If you started your employment in May 2022, then you wouldn’t have the requisite months.

4. Concurrent MEXT Scholarship application

The requirement:

Those who are currently also applying to another program under the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship system. This includes the programs for which scholarship payments will begin in FY2024, although their final selection results have not been decided yet, and the programs for which scholarship payments will begin in FY2025;

What it means:
If you have an active MEXT Scholarship application (such as for the University-Recommended MEXT Scholarship for 2023/2024) at the time of application for which you have not received your final results, or if you apply for another MEXT Scholarship (such as the University-Recommended MEXT Scholarship for 2024/2025) during the Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholarship screening, you lose your eligibility.

Really, this should never be a problem. If you applied for the University-Recommended MEXT Scholarship in the previous year and haven’t received your final results by this point, it is because the university nominated you to MEXT. If you have made it that far in the application process, then you are essentially guaranteed to receive the scholarship.

Similarly, by the time the next University-Recommended MEXT Scholarship application process starts, the Primary Screening and Letters of Provisional Acceptance process for the Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholarship would already be complete. If you pass the Primary Screening and get at least one Letter of Provisional Acceptance, it is essentially guaranteed that you will receive the scholarship.

So, in either of the cases above, there is no point in applying for another scholarship type.

5. Current enrollment in Japanese university, etc.

The requirement:

Those who are already enrolled in a Japanese university or other institution with a residence status of “Student,” or who are to be enrolled, or plan to be enrolled, in a Japanese university or other institution as a privately-financed international student from the time of application to the MEXT scholarship program in the applicant’s country until the commencement of the period for payment of the MEXT scholarship. However, this stipulation does not apply to privately-financed international students who, are enrolled, or are planning to be enrolled, in a Japanese university or other institution but verifiably complete their studies before the start of the scholarship payment period and newly acquire the “Student” residence status, or change his/her status to, or renew his/her status as, “Student”.

What it means:
Essentially, this requirement means you cannot be enrolled in a Japanese university, language school, etc., intending 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. This would have to be shown in a Certificate of Expected Graduation, etc.

6. Intended receipt of other Japanese government scholarships/fellowships

The requirement:

Those who are planning to receive other scholarships or fellowships from Japanese government, a Japanese government-related organization and others after the start of the scholarship payment period;

What it means:
You cannot receive the MEXT scholarship concurrently with any other Japanese government scholarship or fellowship, such as the Monbukagakusho Honors Scholarship, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship, etc. Note that this does not apply to research grants. You can still apply for grants to cover specific research activities.

7. Failure to graduate from previous degree

The requirement:

Those who are expected to graduate at the time of application and cannot satisfy the condition of academic background by the deadline given;

What it means:
If you have not yet completed your qualifying degree at the time of application and subsequently fail to graduate before the start of your MEXT Scholarship, you would be disqualified.

If you submit a “Certificate of Expected Graduation” during the application process, you will later be required to submit proof of your graduation before you start your scholarship in Japan.

8. Failure to renounce Japanese nationality

The requirement:

Holders of dual nationality at the time of application who cannot verify that they will give up Japanese nationality by the time of the arrival in Japan (the acquisition of student status);

What it means:
This only applies if you hold dual (or more) nationality and one of them is Japan. You must prove that you have renounced your Japanese citizenship prior to the start of the scholarship. If you have multiple nationalities, but they do not include Japan, you can ignore this.

9. Changing residence status

The requirement:

Those who change their residence status to that of other than “Student” after their arrival in Japan;

What it means:
You must remain on a “Student” residence status throughout the duration of your studies. Even if you married a Japanese national during your time in Japan, you must not change to a “Spouse” residence status until after you complete your degree and receive your last scholarship payment.

10. Long-term activities outside Japan

The requirement:

Those who plan to, from the time of application for the MEXT scholarship program, engage in long-term research (such as fieldwork or internship) outside Japan or plan to take a long-term leave of absence from the university;

What it means:
During your MEXT Scholarship period, you must remain in Japan and you have to appear at your university on the designated day each month to show your Residence Card, proving that you are still in Japan and still have a “Student” residence status, in order to receive your scholarship stiped for that month. If you do not show up as required, then you will not receive your scholarship stiped for that month. If you miss three months in a row, you will forfeit the scholarship entirely.

It is acceptable to leave Japan for short periods (less than a month), such as to attend a conference or participate in short overseas fieldwork, or to visit family, etc., as long as that does not interfere with your studies.

If you take a leave of absence during your studies, then it would essentially become impossible to complete the degree in time and you would lose your scholarship at that point.

12. Cheating on the Exam

The requirement:

Those who have no intention to obtain a degree in Japan;

What it means:
This means that you cannot apply as a “non-degree student” with no intention to move on to the degree program and earn a degree. It could also apply in cases if you fail the entrance exam to the degree program or fail to submit the application to extend your MEXT scholarship for the last possible date. (For example, for applicants for the 2024/2025 Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholarship, the last possible month to be a non-degree student is March 2027. If you failed the entrance exam to start the degree program in April 2027, then you would lose the scholarship as soon as that failure was confirmed.)

Really, though, this should never be a problem!

11. No intent to earn degree in Japan

The requirement:

Those who are found to have attempted or actually committed any kinds of cheating prohibited by the examiner during the written examination of the First Screening.

What it means:
Don’t cheat on the Primary Screening exams.

End of the Disqualification/Non-eligibility criteria

Remember, for the numbered criteria above, if you meet the criteria, you are ineligible.

For the next criterion, you must meet it in order to be eligible.

Willingness to Participate in Intercultural Interaction

The requirement:

MEXT Scholarship will be granted those who are willing to contribute to mutual understanding between Japan and their home country by participating in activities at schools and communities during their study in Japan while contributing to the internationalization of Japan. They shall also make efforts to promote relations between the home country and Japan by maintaining close relations with the university attended after graduation, cooperating with the conducting of surveys and questionnaires, and cooperating with relevant projects and events conducted by the Japanese diplomatic mission after they return to their home countries.

What it means:
Of course, this is not measurable, but stating your willingness/excitement to take part in such activities during the application process, where possible, would help you application. The essay questions in the application form and the interview are both good opportunities to mention your willingness to engage with the community.

Scholarship Revocation Criteria

Any of the following, if discovered during your application or during your scholarship award period, will cause you to lose eligibility, be disqualified from the scholarship, or lose the scholarship in progress (including losing your paid ticket back to your home country). Students who have already started receiving the scholarship may be asked to pay back all or part of the stipend received. If any of the items below are in question, then MEXT may suspend payment of your stipend until the issue is resolved.

  1. You are determined to have made a false statement on your application.
  2. You violate any article of your pledge to the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
  3. You violate any Japanese law and are sentenced and imprisoned for an indefinite period or for a period exceeding 1 year.
  4. You are are punished under the regulations of your university or preparatory education institution in Japan and receive a punishment of expulsion, suspension, admonitory warning, or equivalent.
  5. It has been determined that it will be impossible for you to complete the course within the standard period of study because of poor academic grades, suspension, or absence from the university or preparatory educational institution.
  6. You come to Japan without newly acquiring a “Student” residence status, or change your residence status to one other than “Student” after arrival.
  7. You receive another scholarship from the Japanese government or a Japanese government-related organization (excluding those specified for research expenditures).
  8. You proceed to a more advanced level of education without receiving approval for an extension of the period of the scholarship.

Of the criteria above, 5 is really the only one that most applicants are at any risk of encountering. Essentially, if you were to fail a class and, because of that, not be able to earn the credits you need in time to graduate, you could not continue your studies. As soon as it was determined that you could not graduate on time, you would forfeit the scholarship, including your ticket home. Really, though, all of these situations are perfectly avoidable!

Pledge Form

Item 2 above mentions the “articles of your pledge to the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The Pledge Form is something that you sign after arrival in Japan, and the 2025 version is not yet available, but you can find the 2024 version on MEXT’s website. This document has not changed significantly in the 14 years that I have been working with the scholarship, and I do not expect changes in the future. Here is a summary of the items you must pledge:

  1. To obey the rules set by the university or the enrolling institution and devote yourself to your study and research in order to accomplish the aims of the Scholarship.
    Obeying the rules set by the university is clear and understandable, but part of the meaning of “devote yourself to your study and research” means that you should not engage in any other activities, including part-time work.
  2. To not violate Japanese laws and regulations.
    Sounds obvious, but I actually had a MEXT Scholar at my past university get arrested and lose his scholarship for shoplifting and for falsifying records of tutoring sessions he offered through the university to collect additional pay.
  3. To not bring the MEXT Scholarship program into disrepute.
    The Japanese statement here actually goes further and says that you will do nothing to cause distrust in the acceptance of international students by Japanese universities.
  4. To accept responsibility for any expenses incurred beyond those covered by the Scholarship awarded by MEXT.
  5. To accept responsibility for payment of any debts you might incur in Japan.
  6. To not receive other scholarships (excluding those specified as being for research expenditures.).
  7. To acknowledge that the scholarship awards will be tenable during the period stated in the notice of selection.
    This item means that you understand that the scholarship period cannot be deferred or changed. (It is possible to apply for an extension later, such as when progressing from research student status to a degree program or from a Master’s degree to a PhD, but that would entail an additional scholarship award for that program.)
  8. To acknowledge that information (name, gender, date of birth, nationality, accepting university/graduate school/undergraduate school, field of specialty, period of enrolment, career path after completion of scholarship, contact information [address, telephone number, e-mail address]) regarding the MEXT Scholarship recipient may be shared with other relevant government organizations for the purpose of utilization for overseas students programs implemented by the Japanese Government (support during the period of overseas study, follow-up support, improvement of the overseas student system).
    In addition, to acknowledge that information regarding the recipient other than date of birth and contact information may be made public in materials produced by the Japanese Government as publicity information for promoting the acceptance of overseas students in order to introduce the activities of recipients in countries around the world after their study in Japan.

End of the Eligibility Criteria

You can find the original eligibility requirements for 2024/2025 in English and Japanese in the application guidelines on the Study in Japan website, below

Want to know more?

My book, How to Apply for the MEXT Scholarship describes the scholarship in detail, including the eligibility criteria, purpose and coverage, how to develop a successful applicant mindset, and how to craft your application strategy for the greatest chance of success!

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