The Monbukagakusho Scholarship is an academic scholarship for international students offered by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). While the long title may make it seem quite daunting, this program is simple and accessible for most international students, equipped with generous benefits and financial assistance that makes the application process worth the while!
Part 1: Get to Know the MEXT Scholarship
Before getting into the specifics of the MEXT Scholarship offered by the University of Tokyo, let us discuss some basic aspects of the scholarship.
The scholarship is open to research students, teacher training students, undergraduate students, Japanese studies students, college of technology students, and specialized training college students, all with their specific application criteria and benefits. There are two methods to apply for the MEXT Scholarship:
- By Embassy Recommendation
- By University Recommendation
While the Embassy Recommendation is open to all 6 types of students, the University Recommendation option is available only to those who are research students, Japanese studies students, or the college of technology students.
The MEXT Scholarship covers full tuition for all types of programs. For national universities and the Institute of National College of Technology, the tuition is waived for all recipients. As for public and private universities, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology will pay for the entire cost of tuition.
The benefits don’t stop there! A round-trip fare for air travel between the student’s home country and Japan is also provided for!
The variance by program comes in the monthly stipend, which is
¥143,000～145,000 per month for graduate students and ¥117,000 per month for undergraduate students.
Part 2: Get to Know the University of Tokyo
As one of the oldest, largest, and prestigious national universities in Japan, the University of Tokyo ranks as among the best research institutes in the world. Approximately 3,000 of the 30,000 students at the University of Tokyo are from foreign countries, which gives its student unique and global education experience.
There are two undergraduate English-degree programs offered by the University of Tokyo. The Bachelor of Arts program PEAK (Programs in English at Komaba) is a liberal arts program that provide concentrations in either Japan in East Asia studies or Environmental Sciences. TheBachelors of Science program GSC (Global Science Center) is open to foreign students who are entering their 3rd year of undergraduate studies. For the duration of two years, the students will engage in interdisciplinary sciences and collaborative research.
As for graduate programs, the MEXT Scholarship is applicable only to international students of the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Sciences. There are many fields with English-based programs, offered by the Departments of Physics, Astronomy, Earth and Planetary Science,Chemistry, and Biological Sciences. Other specialized English taught programs can be found under the Global Science Graduate Course (GSGC) .
MEXT Scholarship at the University of Tokyo
The University of Tokyo only accepts students as “Research students” and “Undergraduate students”. The application process and benefits also vary between these two programs.
While the MEXT scholarship is geared more towards graduate studies at the University of Tokyo, there is an option for undergraduate level students as well.
In order to attend the University of Tokyo on the MEXT scholarship, the student must first attend a preparatory school designated by MEXT to take one year of intensive Japanese-language and other necessary prerequisite courses. At the end of that year, MEXT will administer an exam for these students. Depending on these exam results and other preliminary screenings, MEXT will decide which university’s entrance exam the student should take. If successfully admitted, the student will receive funding by the MEXT scholarship.
This pool includes students of Master’s, Doctorate and Professional Degree Programs (regular graduate student) or graduate international research programs. The University of Tokyo offers a wider range of application methods and scholarships for these graduate-level students.
The eligibility criteria requires applicants to have a Grade Point 2.30 (out of 3.00) in two of their most recent years of study, and they are expected to maintain this standard through the course of their funded studies at the University of Tokyo.
Additionally, the language criteria states that applicants must have a English proficiency test score above or equivalent to B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale, have had completed an educational program whose primary language of instruction is English, OR have a Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) with a score of N2 or higher.
There are also nationality criteria to keep in mind, which requires the applicant to be a national of a country that has diplomatic relations with Japan. Furthermore, the University of Tokyo’s website states under the MEXT scholarship page that MEXT requires 75% or more of all nominees be of the specified priority nationalities.
Methods of Application:
The most common and recommended method of application is through Embassy Recommendation, in which the applicant must contact a Japanese Embassy in their home country to obtain eligibility requirements and necessary forms. After passing the preliminary screening in Japanese embassy, the student must contact the appropriate Graduate School at the University of Tokyo to confirm the conditions and documentation needed for the application.
The University Recommendation method is specific to the University of Tokyo, and all application procedures are conducted directly with the university. The student must obtain a strong recommendation letter from a professor at the University of Tokyo, which is sent with an Application form, Application Form for Your Choice of Program, Field of Study and Research Plan, proof of language proficiency and other official documents to the university. From these, the university and its designated graduate school select and recommend research students directly to MEXT as candidates for the Japanese government scholarship.
Is It Worth Applying?
Yes! While the application process may seem daunting at first glance, the scholarship is designed in a way that is suitable and accessible to international students, like you! Thanks to its generous funding and widely accepted legitimacy, the MEXT scholarship is one of the first options to always pop up on the “financial aid” page of any Japanese University website. If or when you feel confused within the application process you can contact the University of Tokyo’s support system or the MEXT scholarship organization (firstname.lastname@example.org) for personal assistance. Through this scholarship, the Japanese government and the University of Tokyo are reaching out to international students to study in Japan without the worry of financial strains. So what are you waiting for? Let’s make studying in Japan affordable!