The Japanese government offers one of the most generous scholarships for international students to study abroad in Japan. However, like any other kind of scholarship, one has to consider the eligibility requirements. One of the basic requirements is that the applicant must not be a Japanese citizen and should reside in a country that has diplomatic relations with Japan. 

Another important factor to consider is the age limit. Generally speaking, depending on what category of scholarship you are applying for, applicants aged 17 to 35 years old can apply under specific categories. This article will discuss the details of the MEXT scholarship, including these different categories, as well as the corresponding age limit for the applicants.

The MEXT Scholarship

The Monbukagakusho Scholarship is a fully-funded government scholarship that covers tuition and school fees and includes a monthly stipend to cover basic housing and living expenses. The scholarship is awarded to foreign students (non-Japanese citizens) by the government’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Technology or “Monbukagakusho” (文部科学省) in Japanese. The scholarship is also often shortened as “MEXT Japan” or the “MEXT scholarship.” The scholarship has many categories and is open to over 160 nationalities. The only challenge with this scholarship is that slots are limited and thus can get highly competitive. 

The MEXT Scholarship has two main categories: Undergraduate Level and Graduate Level. There are two subcategories for the Undergraduate Level and four for Graduate Level.

  • Undergraduate Level
    • Undergraduate Student (Bachelor’s Degree)
    • Japanese Studies Student (Short-term Study Exchange)
    • College of Technology Student (Associate Degree)
    • Specialized Training College Student (Diploma, Advanced Diploma)
  • Graduate School Level
    • Research Student (Non-Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate Degree)
    • Teacher Training Student (Short-term / Certificate Course)

The Graduate Level students receive ¥143,000 – ¥147,000 as their living allowance. This includes an additional monthly allowance of ¥2,000 to ¥3,000 if the student is studying in a major city like Tokyo where prices are higher than the rest of Japan. Meanwhile, undergraduate level students receive ¥117,000. Tuition and school fees are also paid for by MEXT, as well as the plane ticket to and from the scholar’s home country at the beginning and at the end of the scholarship period.

The scholarship application process is conducted through the Embassy of Japan in the applicant’s home country. The Embassy of Japan conducts the first screening of the applicants through submitted application documents, a written examination (Japanese Language Exam and English Language Exam) and interviews. Note that the results of the Japanese Language Exam only matters if the university and the program or course that you are applying for requires a particular level of Japanese language proficiency. After the first screening, the Embassy then recommends selected applicants to MEXT, which then conducts the second screening.

MEXT Scholarship Age Limit

MEXT publishes the different age eligibility criteria for each category of the MEXT scholarship. Here is the official information from MEXT:

  • Undergraduate Level
    • Undergraduate Student (Bachelor’s Degree)
      • Applicants must be between 17 and 22 years of age and have completed 12 years of education or have completed courses in a school comparable to a high school. Individuals who have not yet graduated at the time of application must receive their high school diploma before the date of departure for Japan as a scholarship recipient.
    • Japanese Studies Student (Short-term Study Exchange)
      • Applicants must be between 18 to 30 years of age. They must be enrolled as undergraduate students in institutions outside of Japan prior to being a scholarship recipient and they must return to this home institution upon completion of the MEXT scholarship. Individuals applying for this scholarship must be enrolled in a major in Japanese language and/or Japanese culture. Students enrolled in a major other than Japanese language or Japanese culture, who wish to study particular aspects of Japan (engineering, economy, agriculture, architecture, art, etc.) as part of their major studies, should apply to JASSO for admission to the Student Exchange Support Program (Scholarship for Short-term Study in Japan).
    • College of Technology Student (Associate Degree)
      • Applicants must be at least 17 and under 25 years of age and have completed school education comparable to a high school (a minimum of 11 years beginning in primary school) education (includes prospective graduates).
    • Specialized Training College Student (Diploma, Advanced Diploma)
      • Applicants must be between 17 and 22 years of age and have completed 12 years of education or have completed school education comparable to a Japanese high school. Individuals who have not yet graduated at the time of application must receive their high school diploma before the date of departure for Japan as a scholarship recipient.
  • Graduate School Level
    • Research Student (Non-Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate Degree)
      • Applicants must be under 35 years of age and a college graduate or have completed 16 years of schooling in order to be eligible. Individuals who have not yet graduated at the time of application must receive their degree before the date of departure for Japan as a scholarship recipient.
    • Teacher Training Student (Short-term / Certificate Course)
      • Applicants must be under 35 years of age and a graduate of a college or teacher training college. You must have at least five years of active experience as a teacher in a primary, secondary or teacher training college in your country. (Please note that college and university teachers currently in active service are not considered for this scholarship).

Check-in with The Japanese Embassy in Your County

Note that there are exceptions to these age limitations if MEXT considers that the applicant could not apply within the eligible age limit if the applicant had experienced extraordinary circumstances such as military service obligation or disruption of studies due to war. Check with the Japanese diplomatic missions or the Japanese Embassy in your home country if you have more questions, especially if you think that you might qualify for the exception.


Looking for the right scholarship can be quite tedious. If you see yourself studying in Japan, and if you are eligible for the MEXT Scholarship age limit, then definitely consider applying. 

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