Why Pursue a PhD in Japan?

Pursuing a postgraduate doctoral degree, the highest academic honor a student can obtain, is an important decision that should be taken very seriously. As a result, the question of where one should start their PhD journey is one that should most definitely be taken into account. For all aspiring PhD candidates, attending a university in Japan should be at the top of your checklist for multiple reasons. For one, top Japanese universities are known for their outstanding PhD programs that have classes of the highest quality and an abundance of one-of-a-kind research opportunities. Not to mention, it’s of utmost importance that PhD students are provided with a well-rounded education that will undoubtedly benefit them in the long-run by ensuring that they will be able to effectively contribute to and influence their chosen fields of study. However, it’s no secret that choosing to become a PhD student is a dream that does not come for free. Nevertheless, the price of a PhD shouldn’t discourage one from continuing their studies. The good news is that there are specific scholarship opportunities for PhD students studying at Japanese universities that one can apply for. The following scholarships will surely cover a major portion of one’s expenses that will aid in allowing one to fully focus on their PhD studies by eliminating at least some financial-related worries.


3 Best Scholarships PhD Students

Japanese Government (MEXT) Postgraduate Scholarships

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan offers various types of scholarships to international students. For those who want to study in graduate courses at Japanese universities as Research Students, including being a Research Student for a doctoral course, under the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship Program, there are several requirements to be met. First, applicants must be a national of a country that has diplomatic relations with Japan. There are also an age limit and academic qualifications that must be satisfied. In order to get the MEXT scholarship when one is in a doctoral program, one must have been “awarded with an overseas Japanese degree equivalent to a master’s degree or professional degree, completed graduate programs at education institutions in Japan recognized as having overseas graduate programs or have obtained a degree equivalent to a master’s degree or professional degree, have graduated from universities and have been involved in research study at universities or research centers (including overseas universities and research centers) for two years or more, and recognized as having academic competency equivalent to persons with a master’s degree by the graduate school.” Students also need to possess academic abilities equivalent to or better than master’s degree or professional degree holders in an individual entrance qualification examination held by the graduate school, and who have reached 24 years of age.

Regarding the rewards of the MEXT scholarship, payment varies depending on the course enrolled in. However, due to the current state of the Japanese Government’s budget, the amount of money given out may be different each fiscal year. For regular students enrolled in master’s courses or degree courses in professional graduate schools, 144,000 yen per month is handed out. Regular students taking doctoral courses will be given 145,000 yen per month. For those residing in certain regions, recipients will be given an additional regional allowance of 2,000 or 3,000 yen per month. Furthermore, education fees such as the entrance examination, matriculation, and tuition will be paid by MEXT. MEXT will also generously cover transportation to and from Japan.

Scholarships By JASSO: Monbukagakusho Honors National Scholarship for Privately-Financed International Students

The Monbukagakusho Honors National Scholarship for Privately-Financed International Students is a scholarship program for privately-financed international students with excellent academic, of at least a 2.30 GPA, and character records. A total of 7,870 of both these 12-month and 6-month scholarships are given out each year. For those at the graduate level, the stipend is 48,000 yen per month. The Monbukagakusho Honors National Scholarship lasts for 12 months, from April in the academic year of selection until the following March.

The application process is very simple. One must apply through the educational institution they are enrolled in, but it’s important to keep in mind that how many students an educational institution can recommend is entirely dependent on the amount of international students in its student body. In order to be eligible for the stipend, the candidate needs to have a student visa and must not currently be receiving the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship or any Foreign Government Scholarship. Furthermore, an enrollment confirmation must be signed at the designated registration site every month at their university. Last but not least, the candidate must be either enrolled as a full-time student in a graduate school in Japan and should be enrolled as a research student at the graduate level. After the scholarship is granted, the candidate must fill out and submit a career path survey. One’s allowance cannot be more than an average of 90,000 yen per month, if the student has a financial supporter in Japan, then their yearly income must be less than 5 million yen, the recipient must also not be receiving a scholarship that can’t be given along with other scholarships, and the student must not be getting help from JASSO’s international students support program.

YKK Leaders 21

The YKK Leaders 21 scholarship grant, also known as the Scholarship Grant for Foreign Students, is a special program made for foreign students specializing in the field of natural science while studying at a graduate school in Japan. Yoshida Scholarship Foundation (YSF), which gathers candidates to be selected as recipients of the YKK Leaders 21 scholarship, keeps an eye out for students who have “a high level of academic research capabilities, a clear objective of studying in Japan, the spirit of giving back to society through their fruit of study/research; and the qualities of a leader.” Students eligible to receive this grant must hail from the Southeast Asian countries, South Asian countries, West Asian countries, Central Asian countries, African countries, or Mongolia and attend The University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Nagoya University, Kyoto University, Osaka University, Kyushu University [Private] Keio University, Waseda University, Doshisha University, or Kwansei Gakuin University.

YSF will pay for living expenses amounting to 200,000 yen per month throughout the term of scholarship, graduate school fees of up to 2,500,000 yen in total during the term of scholarship, and family allowance, if necessary. The term of scholarship will not exceed more than three years for students enrolled in the last three years of a doctoral course from the month of being admitted to a graduate school in Japan. In order to be eligible for YKK Leaders 21, “the candidate must be a national of a country within the scope of the Scholarship Grant, the candidate must be a graduate of a university in a country within the scope of the Scholarship Grant or have higher academic qualifications, the candidate must have been enrolled during the last three years of a doctoral course or be transferred in the third year of an integrated doctoral course, the candidate must specialize in the field of natural science in the Japanese university, and the candidate must not have arrived in Japan yet at the time of filing an application to YSF. Also, a candidate who hopes to enroll in the last three years of a doctoral course cannot be older than 35 years old. If necessary, YSF will pay for “travel expenses to Japan, entrance examination fee; and travel expenses and accommodation expenses in Japan for up to three nights.” If an entrance examination needs to be taken, YSF will take care of those fees as well. Once the the Managing Director of YSF reviews every candidate’s application documents, scholarship approval will be given to the recommended candidates. Through the Japanese university, YSF will inform students of scholarship approval.

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With assistance from these helpful scholarships, potential PhD students can look forward to extending their academic careers. There shouldn’t be any reason for an aspiring PhD candidate to not apply for any of these major scholarship opportunities for the upcoming school year.