A Comprehensive MEXT Scholarship Guide To Study In Japan For Free

Welcome to a comprehensive MEXT scholarship guide to study in Japan for free!

If you’re a:

  • Student who is looking for an opportunity to study in Japan after SPM, Matriculation or Foundation program,
  • A final year degree or a master student looking for opportunity to do research project in Japan,
  • Or just someone who is interested in study opportunity in Japan with a full ride scholarship,

Then, this guide is for you.

A Comprehensive MEXT Scholarship Guide To Study In Japan For Free

A Comprehensive MEXT Scholarship Guide To Study In Japan For Free

What is MEXT scholarship?

First, let’s talk about what is MEXT scholarship and what it stands for. MEXT stands for The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, and they offer various full ride scholarships to study in Japan with no string attached.

In Malaysia, MEXT offers 6 types of scholarship:

p/s: KOSEN College of Technology is also available to apply, but this type of scholarship is not available for Malaysian as we already have JPA scholarship that send students to KOSEN at INTEC which is my alma mater *wink*. If you’re interested to hear more about Japan preparatory program in Malaysia, you can click the link below.

It means that if you succeed in getting the scholarship, you’ll get

  • An exemption of tuition fees
  • Free ticket flights to go to Japan and return to your country after completing your degree
  • Monthly allowance (amount depends on your programs)
  • A ticket to study in top universities in Japan

And the best part is, you don’t need to pay back the amount. Like I said, it’s a full ride scholarship.

Awesome right?

How to apply for MEXT scholarship?

You need to apply to your local embassy or consulate in your country. If you don’t know the link, google embassy Japan MEXT + your country name. If you cannot even do this, it means that you are not serious in getting the scholarship.

If you’re a Malaysian, you can apply through this link: MEXT Scholarship Information for Malaysian

When to apply for MEXT scholarship?

Typically, the application will open in either March or April. Noted that the application is already closed for 2024 application, and now it’s already in the interview stage. However, the university route has not opened yet, so don’t give up. I will show you the way on how to apply for MEXT university recommendation at the end of this post.

What is the flow of the MEXT scholarship?

The MEXT scholarship has two types of screening.

  1. Primary Screening:
    • First stage: Submit your documents to embassy.
    • Second stage: Passed document screening and take the exam. For research program, you only need to take English and Japanese. However, for undergraduate, specialized college etc., you need to also take Maths, Physics etc. depend on the program you applied for.
    • Third stage: If you pass the exam, you will be called for interview. For research programs, I dare say that this stage would probably be the most crucial step, as this will be the time for you to defend your research plan and why it needs to be done in Japan.
    • Fourth stage: Yay! Passed the interview means now you can start contacting prospective supervisors (for research only) and submit the Letter of Acceptance (LOA) to the embassy.
  2. Secondary Screening: You wait for the MEXT in Tokyo to decide whether you’re worthy to get the scholarship. The waiting period is LOOOOONG. It takes months for them to announce the result. Usually around January next year.

As you can see here, this scholarship takes a long time <1 year. It is advised for you to have a back-up plan and not just pinning all your hopes on this scholarship.

How hard is it to get a MEXT scholarship?

Quite hard as you’re competing for minimum slots, depend on your countries. Undergraduate program is probably the most competitive as you need to compete for 150 slots for all over the world.

Number of slots for MEXT scholarship for Malaysian
Source: Embassy of Japan (Malaysia)

But, do your best to take the exams, score at more than 90 points and I think you’ll have a chance to get the scholarship. If you’re applying for social science courses, please make sure that your Japanese score is good too.

I believe that there is a misconception on this scholarship regarding the proficiency of Japanese language required. If you’re applying for research program (Master or PhD), I’d say that it’s okay if you barely scored in the exam, especially if you’re applying for natural sciences. But if you’re applying for humanities and social sciences, be prepared to at least learn a little bit Japanese. The embassy has becoming stricter in recent years and from my experience, the embassy specifically stated that,

Even if you scored full marks for English, but you scored zero for your Japanese exam, you’ll be disqualified.

For an undergraduate, they do state that there will be a 1-year preparatory course before you enter your university, but, as someone who has completed 2 years Japan preparatory programme before entering university in Japan (9 months in Malaysia + 1 year at Tokyo Japanese Language Education Center JASSO), the 1-year course is not sufficient to get you from zero to JLPT N1 level.

Unless, you’re Korean or Chinese, LOL. Maybe someone has done it in less than a year. But, realistically, more people will need 2 years to be able to achieve JLPT N2/N1.

start learning Japanese language

Learn Japanese. Study the past papers. You still have a plenty of time till the scholarship application open next year.

Where can I get MEXT scholarship past papers?

Qualifying Examinations for Applicants for Japanese Government MEXT Scholarships Sample Examination Questions

Qualifying Examinations for Applicants for Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarships – Sample Examination Questions

What are the minimum requirements for MEXT scholarship?

Different consulates have different requirements. Please refer to your embassy’s website. For Malaysian, refer to the photo below. Noted that specialized training college has lower requirement. Again, check the embassy’s website and the link I put at the top of this post.

Minimum Qualifications for MEXT scholarship

Can I work in Japan after MEXT?

Yes, definitely. This is a no string attached scholarship. You don’t need to serve the Japanese government.

How to write the research plan for MEXT scholarship?

There are many YouTube videos, blogs and forums that have covered on this topic. Below are some of my YouTube videos recommendation on how to write the research plan for MEXT scholarship.

Think of it as writing a 1-2 page research proposal. Remember to emphasize on why you should do the study in Japan and what benefits it will bring to Japan and your country.

Other questions on MEXT scholarship that I’ve received on social media

Saitama University MEXT recommendation
An example of MEXT University recommendation (Saitama University)
  1. Can apply using Asasi/Diploma/Matriks/STPM/UEC
    Yes. So it’s like your second chance to study in Japan if your SPM results are not that good.
  2. Can I use Sijil SKM to apply?
    Not very familiar with SKM. Please ask the embassy here: Email: edu@kl.mofa.go.jp
    (Japan Information Service, Embassy of Japan)
  3. Can I change from science stream to economics or humanities for my degree?
  4. Where and when can I apply?
    Application will be opened during March/April (embassy recommendation) so better study now if you want the scholarship. Link: https://www.my.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/scholarship.html
    • Undergraduate competition is very high. They only have like 15 slots, and you’ll be competing against other applicants from all over the world. STUDY NOW!!!
    • For uni recommendation route, you need to find the university you want to attend, and check the official uni website.
      Use these keywords on Google: (Uni name) MEXT university recommendation.
  5. I’m not confident with my results, can I still apply for the scholarship?
    If you meet the eligibility minimum requirements, just apply. Tak apply lagi dah give up means 100% failure.
  6. Do I need to pay anything to apply?
    No. Free. Cuma postage kena bayar sendiri.
  7. Do I need to know Japanese to apply?
    Not really for natural science stream. For social science students, it’s better to have JLPT N3 above proficiency to increase your chance to get chosen.
  8. If I didn’t take biology subjects can I apply for natural science field?
    Yes. Untuk undergraduate ada 5 jenis program:
    • Natural Sciences A
      Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Electronics, Electrical Engineering, Information Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Naval Architecture, Civil Engineering, Architecture, Environmental Engineering, Applied Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Industrial Chemistry, Textile Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering, Mining Engineering, Maritime Engineering, and Biotechnology
    • Natural Sciences B
      Agriculture, Agricultural Chemistry, Agricultural Engineering, Animal Science, Veterinary Medicine, Forestry, Food Science, Fisheries, Pharmacy, Hygienic, Nursing, and Biology
    • Natural Sciences C Medicine, and Dentistry
      p/s: to take medic in Japan, you need more than JLPT N1. Plus HO training etc., not worth it to apply. So far, I has not seen any medic graduates from Japan since 10 years ago. If you want to see the reality of doing medicine in Japan, you can join Facebook group Nihon De Kurashi.
    • Social Sciences and Humanities B
      Laws, Politics, Pedagogy, Sociology, Literature, History, Japanese Language, and Others
    • Social Sciences and Humanities A Economics, and Business Administration
  9. If I took only 5 subjects for SPM can I apply?
    Tak sure. Refer to embassy.
  10. Is there a minimum age requirement to apply for the scholarship?
    18–25 years old for undergraduate and specialised college. Under 35 years old for research program.
  11. Does having a good CGPA important?
    Not really, but your CGPA must meet the minimum requirement.
  12. I got bad results during SPM. Is there still hope for me?
    Ada. Belajar rajin-rajin masa STPM, matriks etc and apply for this scholarship if yor grades meet the minimum requirement.
  13. Can I apply for social science degree?
    Boleh. Tengok jawapan no 8.
  14. Do I need to study in the same field for my degree?
    Usually yes. But if you can justify it to MEXT selection, you might have a chance.
  15. Master by coursework in Japan?
    Japan style is more towards research but still ada kelas you need to attend.
  16. I want to take English teaching degree in Japan. Can I?
    Yeah, sure but why? Why Japan? Why not apply for English-speaking countries like US or UK? If you cannot answer these questions, you should rethink your decision.

Good luck! If you’re questions, just asked me below in the comment section.

A Comprehensive MEXT Scholarship Guide To Study In Japan For Free

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