The MEXT Scholarship, also known as the Monbukagakusho Scholarship, is one of the most generous yet widely available scholarships for studying in Japan. Continue reading to find out how you can apply for the MEXT Scholarship as a research student in 2020!

What is a research student? 

MEXT uses the term “research student” to refer to any type of graduate students. Research students can be one of the following: 

  1. Non-Degree Student 
  2. Master’s Degree Student 
  3. Doctoral Degree Student 
  4. Graduate-level Professional Degree Student (e.g. MBA, JD).

Who is eligible to apply? 

Students from any country with a diplomatic relation to Japan are able to apply. 

When applying for the Master’s level, students much have completed a bachelor program and 16 years of school education outside of Japan. 

When applying for the Doctoral degree, students much have, in principle, earned a master’s degree outside of Japan.

What are the benefits? 

The MEXT Scholarship is a full merit-based scholarship that should cover everything from tuition, travel expenses, and living costs for the duration of your degree. Specifically, the scholarship will provide financial assistance in the form of:  

  1. All academic-related fees (including Tuition fee, entrance examination fees, matriculation fees, etc) 
  2. Monthly Stipend
    1. Research students: JPY 143,000/month
    2. Master’s Students: JPY 144,000/month
    3. Doctoral Students: JPY 145,000/month
  3. Cost of Living Adjustment: JPY 2000 – 3000/month in selected areas 
  4. Round-trip flight from Japan and home country 

What is the application and selection process like in 2020?  

The application procedure for the MEXT Scholarship for 2020 is broken down into the following timeframes 

Around Apr. to May 2020 

Call for applications opens at each Japanese diplomatic mission. Students need to submit the first round of documents to the diplomatic mission of their home country. This consists of academic transcripts, recommendation letters, and a research proposal. English and Japanese examinations may also be necessary depending on the host country. 

Around Jun. to Oct. 2020 

The first screening of the documents is conducted. The announcement of screening results will vary depending on each diplomatic mission. 

Until Nov. 20, 2020 

Students must now request a provisional acceptance into a Japanese university. Those who have passed the first screening are required to individually contact Japanese universities in which they wish to enroll and request provisional acceptance based on their research proposal. 

Around early Jan. 2021 

Submission of the Placement Reference Application Form. Students who have passed the first screening must now submit a completed Placement Reference Application Form to the Japanese diplomatic mission. The deadline for submission of this form varies depending on each diplomatic mission. 

From Feb. 2021 

MEXT conducts a second screening and determines university placement. This process is usually conducted to check whether the student has completed all the above necessary steps. Seldom do applicants who have completed all required steps get rejected during the second screening phase. 

From Jun. 2021 

Notification of results of selection and university placement. Students who pass the second screening and have an accepting university will be accepted as a MEXT Scholarship grantee as a research student. Students will most likely start their studies in Japan from Sep. 2021. 

Please note: students should keep in mind that in many nations, the first screening procedures are currently on hold or delayed due to COVID-19. The actual deadlines will differ depending on each country and diplomatic mission. Amidst these times of uncertainty, it is especially recommended for students to directly contact their diplomatic missions individually. 

What do you need to submit? 

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Although slight details may differ between countries and diplomatic missions, students generally need to submit the following items. 

  1. Application Form (provided by MEXT)
  2. Placement Reference Form (provided by MEXT)
  3. Field of Study and Research Program Plan (provided by MEXT) 
  4. Academic transcripts – all years of the last university attended 
  5. Certificate of graduation or degree 
  6. Recommendation letter (template provided by MEXT) 
  7. Medical Certificate (template provided by MEXT) 
  8. Abstract of graduation thesis or published articles (if available) 
  9. Certificate of language proficiency (English or Japanese, if available) 

3. Field of Study and Research Program Plan is going to be the single most important form of the MEXT application. In it, students must indicate their research background, research goals, research plans, and research methodologies in a concise two-page document. It goes without saying that the greater relevance to Japan the research has, the greater the chance of acceptance. Students should really think about how their research can contribute to Japan and the international community afterward – and that is why the research should be funded by the Japanese Government. 

The takeaway 

The MEXT Scholarship is an extremely generous scholarship provided by the Japanese government’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in an attempt to increase the internationalization of Japanese Universities. Although the application procedure is either on hold or delayed this year (2020), the general timeline has been officially released by MEXT. Therefore, it is never too early to start preparing. I encourage anyone who is interested in applying to individually contact their respective Japanese diplomatic missions in order to gain