MEXT Scholarship Eligibility FAQ

Entrance Exam

What does it take to meet the eligibility criteria and rise above the rest?

There’s no point to starting the MEXT scholarship application if you aren’t eligible. But the criteria listed by MEXT (and the criteria they don’t make public) are difficult to understand. Here is some clarification. Feel free to ask your own questions below, as well!

MEXT Scholarship GPA Requirements

My country uses a 6-level grading system, not 5- or 4- like the ones in your chart. How do I convert those grades?

If there are multiple failing grades (e.g. “E” and “F”), then group those together as one level. All failing grades convert to “0”. In many cases, that should solve the problem! You may also have to group non-failing grades together depending on the range available. For more information, see my article on calculating your GPA.

How will they calculate my GPA if I haven’t finished my degree?

Your GPA will be calculated based on the last 2 years (4 semesters) of grades/credits that you have on your transcript.

My GPA does not meet the requirements. Is there any way I can still get a scholarship?

Unfortunately, no. Not at this time.
My best advice would be to return for another degree in your home country, earn a better GPA in that degree, then try for the MEXT Scholarship again later. That’s going to take time and is not for everyone, but it’s the only option.

Does my GPA meet the eligibility requirements?

I get this question a lot, but you cannot simply convert a cumulative GPA from one system to another. You have to do it course-by-course, or the results will not be accurate.
See my article about calculating your GPA for how to do that.

MEXT Scholarship Language Ability Requirements

What is the minimum TOEFL score required by MEXT?

As of the 2019 University Recommended MEXT Scholarship, MEXT has finally released language proficiency guidelines! However, these guidelines are only for MEXT and universities (for the University Recommended MEXT Scholarship or applying for LoAs) have the right to demand a higher score.

MEXT now requires a minimum English proficiency equal to B2 on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment). For common tests, that equates to:
TOEFL iBT: 72 (minimum)
IELTS: 5.5 (minimum)
You can find MEXT’s complete chart, including TEAP, TOEIC L&R, GTEC, and others at:
The chart is in Japanese, but the numbers should be self-explanatory!

To find the university’s minimum requirement, I recommend looking up the specific university’s website and looking for their application guidelines for fee-paying students at your level. They may list specific requirements there.

Can I use my GCE O-level results as proof of English Language Proficiency? (Embassy-recommended application)

You can list them in your application, yes. For the Embassy-recommended application process, you are not necessarily required to submit proof of English language proficiency. You will take a language proficiency test at the embassy during the application.

Please note that this answer pertains only to the Embassy-recommended application process. For the university-recommended MEXT Application process, the answer will vary by university.

If I graduated from a degree program taught in English, am I exempt from submitting proof of English language ability? (University-recommended MEXT Scholarship)

MEXT will accept this as proof of English language proficiency, but individual universities can also set their own requirements, so you will have to ask them directly for the final answer.

Can I submit an alternative form of proof of English Language Ability?

For the Embassy recommended scholarship application, you aren’t required to submit any form of proof, but you can write in your scores from any official, internationally recognized test.

For the University-recommended MEXT scholarship, this is going to vary from university to university, since it is up to th euniversiy’s discretion. In most cases, official, internationally accepted tests will work, such as TOEFL iBT (but not ITP), IELTS, official tests than can be measured on the CEFR scale (B2/C1 or better is the usual target).

Unofficial tests, such as language center “TOEFL prediction tests,” Institutional tests (TOEFL ITP), and tests that are not internationally recognized or comparable to a TOEFL iBT score (CET, etc.) will not generally work.

One form of alternative proof that I have seen work in the past is to get a personal language ability evaluation from the head of your university’s English language department or a native English-speaking English department faculty member. That faculty member should evaluate you based on all four skills and relate your ability to a score on the TOEFL or IELTS test. Merely writing “student has sufficient ability to complete a degree in English” is not going to work.

If you don’t have any test scores that your university will accept, you could propose this as an alternative. There is no guarantee that every university will accept it, however.

If I passed the JLPT N1, can I apply for degree programs in Japanese language and culture?

In terms of the language requirements, yes. However, you still need to meet the field of study requirements (relevance to field studied in the past).

Residency Requirements

Can I apply while I am living in Japan? (University-recommended scholarship)

Yes, but you will need to return to your home country before you start the scholarship.

Additionally, your return to your home country must not be solely for the purpose of meeting the eligibility requirement to return home. That’s a little confusing, but here’s the simple explanation:

You must have a reason other than applying for the MEXT scholarship to return to your home country. For example, if you are currently studying in Japan and will go home as soon as your degree ends, that’s a good enough reason. If you are working in Japan and will quite your job and go home, that’s a good enough reason.

I earned my master’s degree in Japan. Can I apply for the MEXT Scholarship for a PhD?

If you earned your master’s degree as a self-financed student (or if you were financed by any scholarship scheme other than MEXT, then yes. Also, if you were a MEXT scholar, but you have spent more than three full years as a student or researcher since the end of your last scholarship, then you are eligible to apply again.

Have an eligibility question I didn’t answer here?

Let me know in the comments below!

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