What is MEXT Scholarship?

As the name suggests, MEXT scholarship is sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan (commonly abbreviated as MEXT). The MEXT Scholarship is an initiative by the Japanese government to support international students who study in higher education institutions in Japan. MEXT Scholarship is given to international students from all around the world through one of two routes: Embassy Recommendation or University Recommendation .

What Benefits Does MEXT Scholarship Offer?

MEXT Scholarship is a high-value scholarship dedicated to the pursuit of higher education in Japan. Hence, it is very competitive to become a scholarship recipient. The scholarship covers all of your academic fees (tuition fees, entrance examination fees, and matriculation fees), gives you a monthly stipend for living expenses that varies based on your education level, and offers round trip flight tickets to Japan. A condition you have to fulfill in order to be sponsored airplane tickets is that you must fly in and out of your home country using the airport closest to your university in Japan.

How Can I Apply for MEXT Scholarship?

There are two ways to apply for the MEXT scholarship as an international student. The first way is through Embassy Recommendation. Applicants are responsible for contacting the Japanese embassy or consulate in their country of residence and submitting their application. Scholarship recipients are recruited and initially screened by the Japanese embassy (or consulate general, depending on the country). After the applicants pass the screening round by the respective embassy, they will be allowed to contact the university of their choice.

The second way is through University Recommendation. Applicants will apply directly to Japanese universities of their choice with the condition that those universities are sponsored by MEXT. Universities will evaluate the applications not only for the purpose of the admission decision, but also for scholarship recommendations to MEXT. After receiving recommendations from the respective universities, MEXT will conduct a selection of outstanding students to become the recipients of the scholarship.

What Makes a MEXT Application Complete?

As the MEXT scholarship is offered to undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and research students, the application package also differs based on the level of higher education that you apply for.

Regarding applications for the graduate program, candidates need to explain their research topic that they plan to conduct during their graduate studies.

The graduate level application package is as follows, containing few differences from the undergraduate application package:

  1. Application Form 
  2. Direct Placement Reference Form 
  3. Field of Study and Research Program Plan (a prescribed form)
  4. Academic transcript(s) for all school years of school/university attended
  5. Certificate(s) of graduation of school/university attended (in case the applicant is yet to graduate from said school/ university, a certificate of prospective graduation in required)
  6. Recommendation letter from either principal or teacher of last school attended (free format with sample available on MEXT official website)
  7. Recommendation from the present employer (if applicant is currently employed)
  8. Medical certificate on the prescribed form issued by the medical institution
  9. Certificate of enrollment (only applicable for individuals who are currently enrolled in university) 
  10. Abstracts of theses

How Can I Increase My Chance of Receiving the MEXT Scholarship?

As with any other scholarship application, it is important to plan well in advance and strategize in order to maximize your chance. In order to create a lasting impression on the judge panel, you should pay attention to the cohesiveness and the depth of your overall application package. 

The most crucial part of your application is the form for Field of Study and Research Program Plan. When you apply for a graduate program, you have to clearly indicate the theme of your field of research, your reasons for choosing that topic, and the possible outcomes and goals of the research. It is advisable that you highlight why you chose Japan to conduct your research and your motivation behind applying for the MEXT scholarship.

Another important part of the application that is often overlooked by many candidates is the Letter or Recommendation. As you have to ask your teacher, academic advisor, or principal to write the letter for you instead of preparing it yourself like other documents, you should prepare to ask them a few months in advance before the deadline. A one to two months notice is recommended, just in case the person is busy or unavailable to write a letter for you. Regarding the content of the letter, it is advisable that you offer your resume or curriculum vitae, your academic transcripts, and/ or your past achievements. With at least one of these documents, your recommender can refresh their memories about you and write a relevant and positive letter in your favor.

After passing the initial round of the document screening, you will get to proceed to the online interview with the admissions board. Make sure that all the information that you give in your Application Form and Research Program is accurate and consistent, as you will be asked about your study plan and research plan in detail in this round. Prior to the interview, when you write your personal statement, you should highlight the key arguments in your research plan, as well as your strongest past achievements. Based on this, you will be able to be prepared to articulate about your application in the interview. Similar to other kinds of interviews, it is important that you explain your ideas in a logical manner with reasons and examples to back them up. Be confident, smile at the camera, and ask the judges to repeat the questions if you did not catch them the first time.

Conclusion

The application for the MEXT scholarship can be a challenging and time-consuming process that requires a great deal of preparation beforehand, but the rewards can be very fulfilling to students who dedicate themselves to the goal. With a detailed understanding of the scholarship, its conditions, and its application procedures, you will have a higher chance to become a scholarship recipient!

References

“FAQs about the MEXT Scholarship.” Tokyo Institute of Technology, www.titech.ac.jp/english/graduate_school/international/scholarships/faq.html.

“Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship.” Kyoto University, www.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/education-campus/procedures/scholarships/mext.html.