MEXT Scholarship

This page contains information on the MEXT Scholarship from the application to selecting a school and more. Please note that the application process may vary slightly depending on your home country so it’s important to check the Japanese embassy’s website for up-to-date information.

Written Application

The first step in the lengthy process is the completion of a written application that is submitted to the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country. There are three forms that need to be filled out:

  1. Application form
  2. Certificate of health
  3. Recommendation letter

The application form is fairly straightforward. You fill out your basic information and academic background, as well as answer a few questions pertaining to your interest in Japan and what you want to study. Personally, my answers were all concise which allowed to expand on them more during the interview.

When it comes to choosing your major, the most important thing is to decide between Social Sciences & Humanities A/B and Natural Sciences A/B/C. Not only does this decision affect the exams you will have to take, but it cannot be changed in the future. You can change your major during the preparatory year in Japan, but it has to be within the same category you originally selected.

The certificate of health needs to be done by a physician and requires extensive blood tests and even a chest x-ray. If you’re planning on applying for the scholarship, I highly recommend making an appointment and letting your doctor know the required tests well in advance.

The recommendation letter can be filled out by a teacher or principal who knows you well. MEXT provides a template, but it now accepts any format. Again, this should be done ASAP so that the recommender has ample time to prepare a letter.

Although the deadline depends on the embassy/consulate in your area, as a guide, the cutoff date in Canada was July 10, 2020.

Examinations

If you pass the document review, the embassy/consulate will invite you to sit for a series of examinations and an interview.

All applicants are required to take exams in English, Japanese, and mathematics and those who selected the Natural Sciences course must also take science.

The Japanese exam gets progressively more difficult, but overall isn’t too challenging. Mathematics, on the other hand, was a bit of a hurdle. Thankfully, the year I applied, not too much weight was given to the math scores and I managed to pass. In other years, there has been a greater focus on math – it just depends on who is applying and what the standards are for that particular year.

The Japanese Government posted past exams from 2014-2016 online. There are also some past exams in a Google Drives folder which is open to anyone.

Interview

After speaking to many of my peers, it seems like the interview process varies depending on the country and embassy/consulate. I can only speak to the interview process at the Toronto consulate, but then again, it may have changed since I applied.

The interview was conducted completely in English and there were two panelists. It was very relaxed and they mostly asked about why I wanted to study in Japan and what I wanted to major in. From what I remember, it lasted about 30 minutes.

In Toronto, the examinations and interview were held on the same day. For reference, they are scheduled for August this year.

The results are then released in late September. If you pass the examinations and interview, the embassy will recommend you to the Japanese government for final approval which arrives late-December to January.

Placement Tests

Each year, about 100 students from around the world are selected for the scholarship. They are divided into two cohorts; one is sent to Osaka University and the other to Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

Osaka University requires students to complete a placement test before arriving in Japan. The test consists of an online, multiple-choice exam on Japanese grammar and kanji, as well as a written test. This is used to divide the cohort into smaller classes for the first year.

Upon arriving in Japan, there was an interview to confirm everyone’s Japanese level and then we were broken up into seven classes based on Japanese proficiency.

Applying to University

Throughout the preparatory year there are three exam periods. The first two are used to determine your academic standing, which is submitted to MEXT for review along with a form outlining your university preferences.

My year, we were required to write a list of seven universities and programs that were interested in attending, along with a small written statement covering our academic experience and interests. Your advisor will help you prepare the list of universities and written statement.

That application is submitted in December and the results are announced in January after winter break. That being said, these results are not final. For some programs you are required to write an examination or attend an interview. Those who have an examination or interview typically have extra sessions with their advisor to prepare.

The final results depend on each university, but typically come out in late-February or March.