Note: This article is intended for those wishing to apply to MEXT as a graduate student. If you are looking to apply for the MEXT undergraduate scholarship, check out the Schoolynk article below: 

Studying in Japan as a MEXT Undergraduate Scholar

The MEXT scholarship for graduate students (research students) can be obtained from one of two methods. The first is the Embassy recommended scholarship. Students must apply via their respective Japanese embassies or consulates. The second option is the university recommendation. Students apply directly to their university of choice. 

Although there are various options for receiving the MEXT scholarship, which of these is the best for you? 

This article will look at the pros and cons of both the MEXT  Embassy Recommended Scholarship and the MEXT University Recommended Scholarship! Continue reading to find out more! 

For more information about MEXT, check out our ultimate guide to the MEXT Scholarship below: 
MEXT Scholarship 2021 | Master the Basics with This One Article

The MEXT Embassy Recommended Scholarship

The MEXT Embassy Recommended Scholarship is provided by the Japanese Embassy or Consulate of one’s respective country. As long as the country has a diplomatic relationship with Japan, applicants will be able to apply for the MEXT Embassy Recommended Scholarship. 

Advantages of Embassy Recommended Scholarship  

As a rule of thumb, it is always recommended that students should begin applying for the Embassy Recommended Scholarship FIRST. 

This is because the application period for the MEXT Embassy Recommendation starts earlier than that of the University Recommendation. Embassy Recommendations usually begin in the summer (June – August) of the year before one’s enrollment. On the other hand, the University Recommendation usually starts in the fall to winter (Oct – Jan) of the prior year. 

This means that by applying for the Embassy Scholarship first, students will have more time to begin working on their Statement of Interest and Research Plans.

Furthermore, with the Embassy Recommendation, students can apply to up to three Japanese Universities at the same time. This can further increase one’s chances of getting accepted and is a good way to begin researching the different public and private universities throughout Japan. 

Disadvantages of Embassy Recommendation 

As MEXT allocates a certain number of scholarships to each Embassy or Consulate, there is a certain quota that cannot be exceeded. This means that during years where there is a large number of qualified candidates, it will be more difficult to receive the MEXT Scholarship. 

Furthermore, students will be evaluated by a placement test designed by MEXT. For humanities students, a Japanese test is required and the result of this test could also affect your chances – especially if the other candidates have proficient Japanese language ability. 

The MEXY University Recommended Scholarship 

The MEXT University Recommended Scholarship is a MEXT Scholarship sponsored directly from the student’s home university. During the application screening, if one’s application is seen to be as very strong, the university will recommend and sponsor the student to MEXT in order to receive this scholarship.

Advantages of University Recommendation 

The main advantage of the University Recommendation is that upon acceptance, students will know exactly what University he or she will be attending. As one must apply directly to the home university, students will know exactly what faculty they will be in, what professor they will be studying under, and what city they will be living in. 

This means that during the application process, students can really zone into one university and one research field, and even get into touch with professors before applying. 

Furthermore, there are fewer application procedures that students will have to go through. The University Recommendation will consist generally of a review of written documents and one interview. There is no need to take the examinations conducted by MEXT. 

Disadvantages of University Recommendation 

The disadvantage of the University Recommendation is that it is conducted quite late in the application cycle.

For students enrolling in the fall, applications will be about 10 months before one’s expected enrolment. This means that students will not get a second chance.

Therefore it is advised that students apply to the University Recommendation after they have finished applying for the Embassy Recommendation. There is nothing stopping students from applying to both MEXT scholarships at the same time and seeing which way their results may fall. 


I hope this article has helped answer the common MEXT question: What are the differences between the MEXT Embassy Scholarship and University Scholarship? 

Happy studying!