Pinoys are all over the world: some spend years working abroad while others also settle down overseas and build families in another country. Another great reason to go overseas is to study abroad. International students get to immerse in another culture, live in a new environment, experience different kinds of weather, and meet new friends. Moreover, international students also improve their career opportunities by getting degrees that may not be offered in the Philippines.

For Filipino students who dream of studying abroad in Japan, the MEXT Scholarship is a great option to consider. A fully funded scholarship offered by the Japanese government, the MEXT scholarship can even be extended to cover tuition and fees from the undergraduate level to graduate studies at the doctoral level.

If you’ve dreamed of going to Japan, if you’re a fan of anime and manga or of Japanese art and architecture, or if you’re in love with Japanese landscapes, this scholarship might be perfect for you!

Studying abroad from the Philippines: Exploring colorful Japan

Photo by Miezel Talara

Most international students who study abroad choose to study in Japan not just because of the academic opportunities but also because they have been interested in living in Japan.

Miezel Talara, a doctorate student of Applied Physics at Fukui University, agrees. “I have tried applying in many scholarships particularly scholarships in Europe and Japan because it was my dream to go to these places,” says Talara. “I was fortunate that I got the MEXT scholarship. Moreover, it is also nice to consider studying in a country and culture you like. This way, integration would be easier and you are enjoying while studying.”

Talara then explains why she liked living in Japan. “The good thing about living and studying in Japan is convenience,” she says. “In the Philippines, we are not used to using automatic machines. I do not need to worry about laundry because they have automatic washing machines. I do not have to worry on what I should eat because you can buy “bento” (or home-cooked meals) from grocery stores which is very delicious and nutritious. And, I think the most convenient thing Japan has to offer is its efficient transportation system. Although my apartment is just across the school, I do not need to worry about getting from one place to another when I am on a sightseeing trip. I am fond of traveling to beautiful and unique places. Since Japan is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it would be lame if someone who was given a chance to study for free, not able to tour this beautiful country. During semester breaks, I make it a point to go to a place in Japan that I have never been to. I was able to go to Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Oita, Nagasaki and other areas in the southern part of Japan. I think this is just another way of connecting to the people and studying their culture. On my next semester breaks, I plan to go to the northern part of Japan. Because for me, traveling is a way of battling loneliness, being away from family.”

The MEXT Scholarship Philippines

“My MEXT batchmates took a photo here, as a belief that new graduate students must pose photo for good luck!” Photo by Filipino MEXT Scholar from Tsukuba University, Grace Lara

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)

Embassy Recommendation and University Recommendation

There are two ways to apply for the MEXT Scholarship. The first is through what’s called the “embassy recommendation” and the other one is called the “university recommendation.” MEXT Scholar from the Philippines Grace Lara, now a PhD candidate in Tsukuba University, shares about how she applied for the MEXT scholarship to begin her studies in Tsukuba University as a master’s student majoring in Agrobiological Resources Science.

“After submitting the documents to the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, I had to wait for a couple of weeks for the results of this preliminary paper screening.” she says. “I heard that hundreds of Filipino applicants applied and thus, the chances of getting accepted may be slim. During the document screening, the applicants are evaluated based on the information written on the submitted documents. This time is the best time to ‘show off’ your academic and research achievements (and also your technical and scientific writing skills) which would be a great advantage for you during the screening.” 

“Fortunately, I received the news that I passed the paper screening,” Lara adds. “This meant that I could move to the second stage which was the English and Japanese language examinations.” The English exam will be a factor with the application, while the Japanese language exam will not. The Japanese language exam is just a requirement to determine the language proficiency level of the applicants for the Japanese language course that comes with the scholarship.

After passing the second stage of the screening, there will be an in-person interview. If you pass the interview, you will then need to get Letters of Acceptance (LoA) from the universities that you indicated in your application. Technically, you only need one LoA from one university but you are allowed to apply for LoAs from all three universities that you listed. After submitting the LoAs You will have to wait for quite some time before the embassy finally announces the final result of MEXT Scholarship Philippines for that year. You will have a chance to rank the three universities of your choice when you submit the LoAs, however, it will ultimately be up to the embassy to decide where they will place you.

On the other hand, applying for a MEXT Scholarship through university recommendation is more straightforward. The idea is that you will apply to the specific university that you plan to study in and after passing their screening, they will apply you as one of their “university-recommended MEXT scholars”. The Japanese Government will decide whether they will grant the scholarship to you through your chosen university. Since you are dealing directly with the university, the process will depend on each Japanese university so make sure you check their own website.To know more, and to get updated information about MEXT Scholarship Philippines, visit the Embassy of Japan in the Philippine’s MEXT page in their website here: https://www.ph.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/00_000193.html

Getting the MEXT Scholarship: Be driven, be thorough

Photo by Grace Lara taken during the talent showcase program in Tsukuba, August 2017

The MEXT Scholarship is really a great opportunity for students from the Philippines who want to study in Japan. These Filipino scholars who are now in Japan prove that it’s not impossible to get the MEXT Scholarship, especially for those who are really driven to study in Japan.

“One thing that I really learned in choosing a certain scholarship for a specific country is that firstly, to ask oneself how is the living environment in that country,” Lara says. “Later you can further ask yourself, ‘Will I be able to like, love and adapt to the culture and environment in that place (such as language, work, and living ethics)’. I mention this because I believe that no matter how good the perks and benefits the scholarship can offer, if different considerations may not fit you, it is better to reconsider.” 

If you are ready for this great adventure, do not be bogged down by the intricacies and the number of requirements. See it as a small cost for a great reward. The MEXT Scholarship will give you a chance to develop yourself while not having to think about earning a living abroad because everything is already taken care of. Consider applying for the MEXT Scholarship Philippines for your next life adventure. Ganbatte ne!