“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

~Nelson Mandela

If shared prosperity is the ultimate recipe towards a peaceful global society, education would be its main ingredient. Higher education and its subsequent development of human resources are what lead the community towards a sustainably fruitful future, and the correlation between a nation’s inaccessibility to education and its financial degradation becomes evidently undeniable. Fortunately, this emphasis on universal higher education has been circulating across international borders, and various global powers have taken the initiative to make undergraduate education widely accessible.

Then does a graduate degree become the new cut-off line, with the financially privileged above and the underprivileged below? Moreover, would receiving it abroad be a feat accomplishable only for a handful of those who can afford it? Contrary to popular misconceptions, graduate study abroad is not a luxury as it is a necessity for thriving in the current globalized society. Graduate education in a foreign environment opens students’ eyes beyond the status quo, placing academic discipline into a global context and proactive thinking. But pursuing graduate education, especially abroad, means withdrawing another two to four years of college fees from our bank account, and this global ideal meets an unattainable reality.

The World Bank realizes this difficult situation, and through the World Bank Scholarship Program, it strives to make universal education a reality. Moreover, it targets working professionals in the field of development to further widen their intellectual capacity by pursuing graduate and post-graduate education. Through its funding for graduate studies in development-related fields for mid-career professionals and researchers, the World Bank creates a financial bridge between a student’s potential and his or her success.

The Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (JJ/WBGSP)

If you are either a Japanese national or a developing country national who wants to deepen their understanding of the field of development, then this is a funding option perfect for you!

The Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (JJ/WBGSP) aims to nurture professional students in the field of development by funding their graduate studies in development-related programs.

The JJ/WBGSP approaches the funding process from two perspectives: one from outside the developing nations and the other from within. It opens its applications to both developing country nationals and Japanese nationals, each with its own eligibility criteria. In the long run, recipients of the scholarship will cooperatively work from their respective countries, all for the same purpose of bringing financial stability and sustainable prosperity to developing nations.

Are You Eligible?

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of this scholarship, let’s make sure that you are eligible for the funding.

Japanese Nationals

The JJ/WBGSP provides scholarships to a limited number of Japanese mid-career professionals in a field or project that contributes to the alleviation of poverty and the installation of shared prosperity in developing nations. As stated by the World Bank Group, are you or do you…

  • a Japanese national?
  • not an employee of the World Bank Group?
  • not a “close relative” of any employee members of the World Bank Group? (defined by the scholarship committee as Mother, Father, Sister, Half-sister, Brother, Half-brother, Son, Daughter, Aunt, Uncle, Niece, or Nephew)
  • hold a Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent university degree) earned at least three years before the date of the Application Deadline?
  • not employed by the Government of Japan or any of its related agencies?
  • have at least 3 years of paid development-related employment acquired since earning a Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent university degree) AND acquired within the past six years from the date of the Application Deadline?
  • admitted unconditionally (except for financing) or currently enrolled full-time in a graduate program outside of Japan in an area of study related to development /OR/ employed full-time in development-related work pertaining directly to developing countries?

If you answered YES to the questions above, then Congratulations! You are eligible for the JJ/WBGSP as a Japanese national!

Developing Country Nationals

The JJ/WBGSP offers funding for developing country nationals who plan to pursue a master’s degree program in a development-related topic and possess relevant professional experience of supporting their countries’ development efforts. As for the specific qualifications taken from the World Bank Group, are you or do you…

  • a national of a World Bank member developing country ?
  • not hold dual citizenship of any developed country?
  • in good health?
  • hold a Bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree earned at least 3 years prior to the Application Deadline date?
  • have 3 years or more of recent development-related work experience after earning a Bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree?
  • employed in development-related work in a paid full- time position at the time of submitting the scholarship application?
  • admitted unconditionally (except for funding) for the upcoming academic year to at least one of the JJ/WBGSP partner or preferred university master’s programs located outside of the applicant’s country of citizenship and country of residence?
  • not an employee of the World Bank Group?
  • not a “close relative” of any employee members of the World Bank Group? (defined by the scholarship committee as Mother, Father, Sister, Half-sister, Brother, Half-brother, Son, Daughter, Aunt, Uncle, Niece, or Nephew)

If you answered YES to all of the questions above, then you are eligible for the scholarship! Congratulations!

What Would I Get?

For anyone still confused on why being eligible for the JJ/WBGSP scholarship is such an exciting news, here’s the list of benefits posted by the World Bank Group that will get you dancing for joy:

  • one economy class air travel from his/her home country to the host university at the start of graduate degree program and a USD500 travel allowance.
  • one economy class air travel from the host university to the scholar’s home country or a developing country where the scholar has secured employment and a USD500 travel allowance.
  • Tuition for your graduate program (two years or duration of the program, whichever is shorter) and the cost of basic medical insurance obtained through the university.
  • a monthly subsistence allowance to cover all living expenses (accommodations, food, etc., including books)

Great! Now What Should I Do To Prepare?

The scholarship program is highly selective, and there are certain qualification points that the selection committee looks for when choosing its recipients.

For nationals of developing countries, the committee judges the quality of your professional experience (30% weight), your professional recommendations (30% weight), your commitment to your home country (30% weight), and your educational background (10% weight).

For Japanese nationals, the committee will judge the quality of your professional experience and recommendations (40% weight), your completed application form (40% weight), and your educational background and academic recommendation (20% weight).

How Do I Apply?

The call for scholarship application opens annually, typically in March. While Japanese nationals can apply from any university, given that it is outside Japan, the developing country nationals must apply through either the World Bank’s Preferred Program or its Partnership Program.

For those interested in the Partnership Program, you must first apply for admission to one or more of the World Bank’s designated Partner Master’s Degree Programs. After each Partner Master Degree Program makes their choice of successful applicants they will identify a shortlist of JJWBGSP-eligible candidates. These candidates will then be invited by the JJWBGSP Secretariat to apply for a JJ/WBGSP scholarship.

For those interested in the Preferred Program, you must first apply for and be admitted into one of the schools listed in the World Bank’s Preferred Programs. You must then submit…

  1. An online scholarship application
  2. Two professional references
  3. An unconditional (except for secured funding) letter of admission from the preferred master’s degree program that you want JJ/WBGSP funding.

Why Should I Apply?

Being eligible for this scholarship program means that you are already an established professional in the field of development. So why should you take the initiative to go back to study in an university? According to the World Bank Group’s take on tertiary education, “graduates of higher education are more environmentally conscious, have healthier habits, and have a higher level of civic participation.” Additionally, a graduate degree can strengthen your credibility in your field of work, allowing for better connections and overall efficiency in accomplishing future development projects.

So why not take a couple breathes from your career in development and take advantage of this opportunity to reset your capabilities at a graduate-level standard? A couple of years in graduate school may instigate a future project in sustainable development that will last a lifetime!