MEXT is a commonly known shorthand for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of the Japanese Government. You may also know it by its Japanese name monbukagakusho.

MEXT offers the Japanese Government Scholarship program to international students coming to Japan. The benefits of the MEXT Scholarship make it the most famous Japanese scholarship among international students wishing to come to Japan. After all, who doesn’t want to have a monthly stipend on top of a completely waived university tuition?

→ Check the community page for MEXT scholarship!

7 Types of Scholarships 

Under the Japanese Government Scholarship program, there are seven types of MEXT scholarships available; Young Leaders’ Program (YLP) Students, Research Students (Graduate School Students & Research Students), Teacher Training Students, Undergraduate Students, College of Technology Students, Specialised Training College Students and Japanese Studies Students. 

1. Young Leaders’ Program (YLP) Students 

Who : University or college graduates who have practical work experience

Monthly Stipend : ¥242,000

Duration : 1 year

Application Period : Check your country’s deadline here

The Young Leader’s Program (YLP) is one of the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship Programs with the aim to produce future national leaders in Asian and other countries. By forming a network among national leaders and deepening their understanding of Japan, the YLP establishes a friendly relationship among countries and students targeting young public administrators, etc who are expected to play active role in Asia and other countries.

Young Leader’s Program (YLP) is a specially organised program for students aspiring to study in the following fields : (1) School of Government (2) Business Administration, (3) Law, (4) Local Governance, (5)Medical Administration. MEXT provides scholarships for approximately 80 students on the YLP annually.  

Details for each courses of application are on MEXT’s official website as well as the Application Guidelines for YLP can be found through this link. 

2. Research Students (Graduate School Students & Research Students)

Who : University or college graduates (or prospect). Those who have academic ability equal to that of a university graduate

How much : ¥143,000 〜 ¥145,000 (Depending on degree)

Duration : Maximum 2 years for non-regular students 

Application Period : Check your country’s deadline here

With this scholarship program, international students can study in graduate courses or conduct research on specialised field as Research Students (non-regular students). Although you start as non-regular students, it’s possible for you to apply for scholarship extension if you wish to continue to a regular course in graduate school or advance to doctoral course. With approximately 2,500 graduate school students and research students receiving this scholarship, the amount and period of scholarship differs based on what type of student you are. Non-regular students receive 143,000 yen per month for a maximum of two years (including six-month period of Japanese language training). Regular students in master’s course receive 144,000 yen per month and regular students in doctoral course receive 145,000 yen per month for the amount of time needed to complete the regular program of the respective courses. For more information on Research Students, here are the 2019 Guidelines

Research Student in a Laboratory

3. Teacher Training Students

Who : University or teacher training college graduates who have over 5 years of experience as (1)teachers in active service of primary or secondary schools in their home countries, or (2)teachers on teacher training schools (excluding universities) in their home countries 

How much : Non-degree students: ¥143,000 Master’s course: ¥144,000 Doctoral course: ¥145,000 (Additional stipend for designated area)

Duration :  Up to 1.5 years

Application Period : Check your country’s deadline here

This scholarship is eligible for international teachers who would like to experience training based on Japanese school education as Teacher Training Students at specified Japanese universities. You can access the list of these universities for 2019, along with each university’s course guide. The period of scholarship follows the necessary period for completion of the training course in the accepting university and you will not be able to apply for extension. Through this period, those accepted, around 100 students annually, will receive allowance of 143,000 yen per month. For information on the application guidelines, check the Teacher Training Students Guidelines PDF file

 

4. Undergraduate Students

Who : Those aged 17-22 who have completed 12 years of school education or prospect, must have qualifications deemed to be suitable for enrollment in a Japanese university at the time of application

How much : ¥117,000 (Additional stipend for designated area)

Duration :  5 years (7 years: Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary, Pharmaceutical Sciences of 6 year system)

Application Period : Check your country’s deadline here

If you apply for this scholarship through MEXT, you will need to undergo a one-year preparatory study before you can enroll in a university. The scholarship period for this case will be five years; one year for preparatory study and four years for undergraduate study (one plus six years for pharmacy, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine). However, if the undergraduate course at your destination university doesn’t need Japanese language proficiency, you may be able to bypass the preparatory study. In this case, the period of scholarship will be four years (six years for pharmacy, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine). The amount of monthly allowance granted will be 117,000 yen per month, plus 2,000 or 3,000 yen if you study in specially designated regions. Approximately 150 students receive scholarships annually.  For more information, see Guideline for Undergraduate Students 2019.

5. College of Technology Students

Who : Those ages 17-22 who have completed secondary school (11 years or longer curriculum starting at elementary school) or prospect

How much : ¥117,000 (Additional stipend for designated area)

Duration :  4 years (4.5 yrs: Marine Eng.) 

Application Period : Check your country’s deadline here 

If you are aspiring to specifically study at Japanese colleges of technology as a College of Technology Student, you may be interested in this scholarship. You can choose a field of study from the following choices:

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Information, Communication
  • Network Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Civil Engineering
  • Maritime Engineering

The period of scholarship will last for four years, including one-year preparatory study. Similarly to the previous two scholarships, the amount of monthly allowance will be 117,000 yen if you receive this scholarship. After that, if you have an outstanding academic achievement when you graduate from a college of technology, you may be eligible for a scholarship extension upon successful examination by MEXT. Guidelines for College of Technology Students 2019 are available here. 

6. Specialised Training College Students

Who : Those ages 17-22 who have completed secondary school (11 years or longer curriculum starting at elementary school) or prospect

How much : ¥117,000 (Additional stipend for designated area

Duration :  1 year

Application Period : Check your country’s deadline here

If you are an international student who would like to study in Japanese specialized training colleges, or the equivalent of vocational schools, this scholarship is for you. You can choose a field of study from the following choices:

  • Technology
  • Personal Care and Nutrition
  • Education and Welfare
  • Business
  • Fashion and Home Economics
  • Culture and General Education

The period of scholarship will last for three years, including one-year preparatory study. As with the other scholarships, the amount of monthly allowance will be 117,000 yen if you receive this scholarship. Similar to the College of Technology Scholarship, if you have an outstanding academic achievement when you graduate from a specialised training college, you may be eligible for a scholarship extension upon successful examination by MEXT. Approximately 50 students receive this scholarship annually. Guideline for Specialised Training Students 2019 can be found through this link.

 

7. Japanese Studies Students

Who : Applicants aged 18-30, must be undergraduates at foreign(non Japanese) universities majoring fields related to the Japanese language or Japanese culture at the time of arriving and leaving Japan.

How much : ¥117,000 (Additional stipend for designated area)

Duration : 1 school year

Application Period : Check your country’s deadline here

If you are an international student desiring to acquire a more in-depth knowledge and understanding of Japanese language, affairs, and culture, Japanese Government offers this scholarship for you. To be eligible for this scholarship, you must be already enrolled at a university in your country as an undergraduate student. The period of scholarship follows the necessary period for completion of the study course at the accepting university. This period should be within a year and any application for extension will not be available. After the end of the scholarship period, you will receive a certificate for completing the specified course and should resume your study of Japanese language and culture at your home university. The monthly allowance you will receive through this period will be 117,000 yen per month and an average of 500 students receive this scholarship annually. Guidelines Studies for Japanese Studies Students 2019 is available here. 

MEXT Japanese Studies Alumni
https://www.uk.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/mext_undergrad_int02.html

For more information on scholarships for Studying Abroad in Japan, here’s their 2018-19 Pamphlet for application.

 

Application Process 

There are four main stages during the application process, as stated below:

1. Document screening
2. Written exams
3. Interview
4. Final document screening by MEXT

1. Document Screening

Source: http://factsuite.com/blog/documents-required-background-screening/

Download and prepare the documents via the website of the Embassy of Japan in your country. There are three documents you have to prepare in total: the Application Form, the Certificate of Health, and the Recommendation Form (unless you wish to skip the one-year preparatory course and want a direct placement at a university. If so, you will have to prepare four documents). For my case, I was told to prepare three copies of each document and I had to obtain a stamp from my school to certify that the copies I made were true copies. (This information is based on the Embassy of Japan in Singapore.)

2. Written Exams


Source: https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/cambridge-may-end-written-exams-due-to-bad-handwriting/464956.html

The written exams differ depending on your major (arts or science). Students majoring in Social Sciences and Humanities (arts) will have to take English, Japanese and Mathematics while those majoring in Natural Sciences have to take English, Japanese, Mathematics as well as two sciences. If you applied with a major under the category of Natural Science A, you will have to take Physics and Chemistry and if you applied under Natural Science B or C, you will have to take Biology and Chemistry. There are several past year papers available online so do try them out before the actual exam.

3. Interview


Source: https://www.hotcoursesabroad.com/india/get-your-visa/how-to-prepare-for-a-visa-interview/australian-student-visa-interview-and-processing-time/

This is the toughest stage out of the four. It will be good to arrive at least fifteen minutes prior your interview, and to dress well (Either your school uniform or a suit). Most frequently asked questions are “Why did you choose (insert: the universities you chose) as your top three choices?”, “Why did you choose (insert: the majors of your choice) as your top three choices?”, “What will you do if you do not receive the major of your choice?”, “Why do you want to study in Japan?”, “How proficient are you in Japanese?” and “Can you introduce yourself? (In English and/or in Japanese)” Prepare the answer to these questions  and remember to show a humble attitude throughout the interview.

4. Final document screening by MEXT

Now all you have to do is wait! All your documents from stage one to three will be sent to MEXT (in Japan), and they will make the final decision. If you pass, you will be notified via email and a letter, and they will tell you which preparatory course you have been assigned to; it will be either Osaka University (Minoh campus) or the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (unfortunately, you will not be able to choose which university you want to go to).

 

MEXT Key Statistics 

According to 2016 result of Basic Student Survey from MEXT, a great number of students who receive MEXT scholarships study in engineering. Based on Japan’s technological advancement, it was not surprising that many students look upon Japan to study in this field. If you are one of these students, know that you have a good chance of success!

As of May 2020, there are 9,423 international students who receive these government-funded scholarships, 3.2% of the total of 298,980 international students in Japan (data acquired from MEXT). Although technically MEXT scholarship is eligible for any countries allied with Japan, a great number of its recipients hail from countries in Asia. Thailand and Indonesia hold first and second place respectively for the ratio of its international student who receives MEXT scholarships to its total number of students in Japan.

Students from Pakistan receive research & undergraduate MEXT scholarships
https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/03/18/japan-awards-mext-scholarships-to-11-pakistani-students/

My MEXT Experience

Currently, I am receiving MEXT Scholarship for Undergraduate Students for my four years of Undergraduate study at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech). The MEXT Scholarship really helped me throughout the two years I have spent in Japan. Not only does it allow me not to worry about my school tuition but the monthly stipend is also enough for me to live comfortably in the city. I’m able to fully concentrate on getting my degree and enjoy my campus life with new schoolmates.

My application process for receiving the MEXT Scholarship was through a special course program GSEP at Tokyo Tech, which made the procedure very simple with clear guidelines provided by my university with less competition. 

If you are thinking about attending university in Japan or applying for MEXT scholarship, start with research as there are some university programs which offers MEXT scholarship as a feature. 

To answer commonly asked questions, take a look at this report by MEXT.

Source:

https://www.studyjapan.go.jp/en/toj/toj0302e.html

http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/toukei/chousa01/kihon/1267995.htm (for statistics)