Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship

North Bay, Ontario ー Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog where I will be sharing updates throughout my time in Japan as an undergraduate student. After spending a year in Japan in high school as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student, I had been searching for a way to get back to continue exploring this amazing country.

The Monbukagakusho (or MEXT) Scholarship is offered by the Japanese government in many countries around the world. As of April, I will be a recipient of the undergraduate scholarship; however, there are also scholarships for research and Japanese studies students. The scholarship includes round-trip airfare, academic fees, and a generous monthly living stipend and is valued at over $100,000 (USD).

In June 2016, I submitted my written application to the Consulate General of Japan in Toronto. This was the first step in the lengthy application process and sought to identify the applicants’ desires to study in Japan. After waiting anxiously for a few weeks, I received an e-mail from the consulate inviting me to sit the examinations and interview. I had passed the first step!

As a humanities/social sciences student, I had to write three exams: English, Japanese, and math. I searched the internet for tips and exam papers from previous years and was able to scrape together enough information to direct my studies. The English and Japanese exams went well, but, unfortunately, math was a bit of a disaster. Due to the broad-ranging curriculum, it was difficult to predict the types of questions that would be on the exam, and I ended up leaving a few questions completely blank. Nonetheless, I had to pull myself together for the interview that followed. I was interviewed by two women from the consulate who asked questions about my motivations for studying in Japan, my past experience there, and how I would adjust to living in new surroundings. I left the interview feeling content that I had articulated my intentions and experiences as best I could.

A few weeks later, I was notified by the consulate that they had forwarded my application on to the Embassy of Japan in Canada which would then recommend me to the Japanese government for the scholarship. Phase 2, complete. In the meantime, I had begun taking courses at the University of Ottawa.

On November 25, I received an e-mail saying that I had passed the final round and had been accepted to the program! Although it was difficult leaving Ottawa after only one semester, I knew that going to Japan was the right choice. By January, I received my university placement, Osaka University (more on that to come). Finally, in March, I completed the required placement tests and composition samples and went to the Japanese consulate for an orientation before my departure.

This coming April, I will take intensive Japanese language courses at the Osaka University Center for Japanese Language and Culture before enrolling in a four-year law program at another university in Japan.

I will be leaving on April 2nd, and although I haven’t started packing, I am ready to start a new adventure. I’m looking forward to reuniting with my friends from high school and getting to see my host families again. But, more than that, I am excited to study alongside people from all over the world and explore Japan as much as I can over the next 5 years.

For more information on the MEXT Scholarship, please visit The Consulate General of Japan in Toronto website


  1. Hello,

    My name is Ye, a fellow Canadian who is applying for the Mext research program for 2020. Nice to meet you!

    Would it be alright to ask you about what the Japanese exam and interview process was like at the embassy of Toronto? And if you know any Canadian Mext research recipients who is currently studying in Japan?

    Best regards,
    Ye Yuan


    • Hi Ye,

      Thank you for your comment. I can’t speak to the exams for the masters program, but the English and Japanese exams for the undergraduate program are not too difficult. The English exam is geared toward second language speakers, so if you typically use English at university, I don’t think you’ll have any problem. The Japanese exam was divided into sections that get progressively get more difficult. That being said, for many masters programs, students undergo a pre-research period where they are required to study Japanese. For that reason, Japanese ability at the time of application isn’t always necessary. I don’t know any Canadian masters students studying in Japan at the moment, but if you’re successful in getting the scholarship, the consulate will likely give you a few contacts.

      If you have any more questions please feel free to use the “contact” form on this blog to connect with me through email. Best of luck with the application process!



  2. Hi Zack! My name is Natalie, and I will be applying for MEXT 2021, for hopeful admission to the program for 2022. During the interview, and on the application documents, what had been your reasons for studying in Japan, if I may ask? Specifically, the fateful “Why Japan?” question? Also, as I understand, for the undergraduate program you are placed with a university, instead of having to apply by yourself to one?


    • Hello Natalie! Thank you for your comment and my apologies for the delay in getting back to you – I hope it’s not too late. Personally, I went to Japan as an exchange student in high school and was able to use that as my motivation for returning. I would recommend being honest about why you are interested in the MEXT program and studying in Japan. There is no perfect answer that will get you the scholarship, and every MEXT student I have met here has had a different reason. As for university placements, I have a really brief explanation of the process on my blog here. In short, you write a list of universities that you want to go to, but ultimately MEXT has the final say. Let me know if you have any other questions and good luck with your application!


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