Studying in Japan: Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarships Explained

Looking to study in Japan? Discover the Monbukagakusho MEXT Scholarships and learn about choosing a university, entry requirements, application process, scholarship opportunities, and more in this comprehensive guide.

Are you considering studying in Japan? Whether you are interested in cultural immersion, pursuing academic excellence, or simply exploring a new environment, Japan offers a captivating opportunity for international students. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the Monbukagakusho MEXT Scholarships, a prestigious scholarship program established by the Japanese government, which provides financial support to talented students from all over the world. Through this article, you will gain insight into the application process, eligibility requirements, and the numerous benefits of pursuing your education in Japan.

Choosing a University

When it comes to choosing a university in Japan, conducting thorough research is crucial. There are numerous universities across the country, each offering different programs, facilities, and opportunities. It is important to consider various factors such as the reputation of the university, the quality of education, the availability of specialized programs and majors, and the location. Researching universities can be done by visiting their official websites, reading online reviews, consulting with education consultants, and reaching out to current or former students.

Researching universities

To begin your research, start by browsing through the official websites of universities in Japan. These websites provide comprehensive information about the university’s history, academics, faculties, departments, and available programs. Pay attention to the rankings and reputation of the universities, as this can give you an indication of their academic standing. Additionally, read reviews and testimonials from students who have attended these universities to gain insights into the overall student experience and the quality of education provided.

Considerations for choosing a university

When considering which university to choose in Japan, it is important to evaluate your own academic and career goals. Look for universities that offer programs and majors related to your field of interest. Consider the reputation of the faculty and the opportunities for research or internships. Moreover, think about the location of the university and whether it aligns with your personal preferences and lifestyle. Take into account factors such as cost of living, proximity to city centers or natural attractions, and the availability of support services for international students.

Specialized programs and majors

One of the advantages of studying in Japan is the availability of specialized programs and majors. Japanese universities are renowned for their excellence in fields such as engineering, technology, healthcare, business, and the arts. If you have a specific career path in mind, consider universities that are recognized for their expertise in that particular field. Specialized programs often provide a more focused curriculum, dedicated faculty, and enhanced opportunities for internships or industry connections. Take the time to research universities that offer your desired program or major to ensure you find the best fit for your academic and career aspirations.

Entry Requirements

Before applying to a university in Japan, it is essential to understand the entry requirements. These requirements typically encompass language proficiency, academic qualifications, scholarship eligibility, and visa requirements. Familiarizing yourself with these requirements will help you ensure that you meet all the necessary criteria.

Language proficiency

As most universities in Japan teach primarily in Japanese, demonstrating proficiency in the Japanese language is often a prerequisite for admission. The most recognized language proficiency tests are the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU). Applicants are usually required to meet a minimum level of proficiency, which varies depending on the university and program. Some universities also offer programs taught in English, so it is essential to check the language requirements specific to your chosen program.

Academic requirements

Universities in Japan typically have academic requirements that applicants must meet. These requirements may include a minimum GPA, completion of specific courses or subjects, or the submission of academic transcripts from previous educational institutions. It is important to thoroughly review the academic requirements of each university and program you are interested in. Meeting these requirements will strengthen your application and increase your chances of admission.

Scholarship requirements

If you are planning to apply for scholarships to fund your studies in Japan, it is crucial to carefully review the scholarship requirements. Scholarships often have specific eligibility criteria, such as academic excellence, financial need, or citizenship requirements. Some scholarships may require applicants to maintain a certain GPA or participate in extracurricular activities. Understanding these requirements and ensuring that you meet them will enable you to effectively apply for scholarships and secure funding for your education.

Visa requirements

To study in Japan, you will need to obtain a student visa. The requirements for a student visa include a valid passport, proof of acceptance from a university or educational institution, proof of financial means to cover tuition fees and living expenses, and a certificate of eligibility obtained through the university or the Japanese immigration authorities. It is important to start the student visa application process well in advance to allow for any potential delays. Contact the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate to familiarize yourself with the specific visa requirements and guidelines applicable to your home country.

Application Process

The application process for universities in Japan involves several steps to ensure that all necessary documents are submitted and deadlines are met. It is crucial to carefully follow the instructions provided by each university to ensure a smooth application process.

Documents required

When applying to a university in Japan, you will typically be required to submit various documents. These may include a completed application form, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement or essay, proof of language proficiency, a photocopy of your passport, and the application fee. Some universities may require additional documents, such as a portfolio for art or design programs. It is essential to review the specific document requirements of each university and program you are applying to and gather all necessary paperwork beforehand.

Submitting the application

Once you have gathered all the required documents, you can submit your application to the universities of your choice. Most universities in Japan accept online applications, while some still require hard copies to be sent by mail. It is crucial to carefully follow the application instructions provided by each university and ensure that all documents are submitted correctly and completely. Double-check for any errors or missing information before finalizing and sending your application.

Application deadlines

Each university in Japan has its own application deadlines. It is critical to be aware of these deadlines and submit your application in a timely manner. The application deadlines typically vary based on the semester (spring or fall) and the desired program of study. Make sure to start the application process well in advance to allow yourself enough time to gather all the required documents and complete the application. Missing the application deadline can result in your application being rejected or deferred to the next semester.

Interview process

Some universities in Japan may require applicants to participate in an interview as part of the application process. The interview is an opportunity for the university to further assess your suitability for the program and to gain a better understanding of your goals and motivations. Prepare for the interview by familiarizing yourself with the university, the program you are applying to, and potential interview questions. Dress professionally, be punctual, and confidently communicate your passion for your chosen field of study and your commitment to academic success.

Scholarship Opportunities

Studying in Japan can be financially challenging for many international students. However, various scholarship opportunities are available to help alleviate the financial burden. Understanding the different scholarships and their eligibility requirements will enable you to explore the options and increase your chances of securing funding for your studies.

Monbukagakusho MEXT scholarships

The Monbukagakusho MEXT scholarships are prestigious scholarships provided by the Japanese government to international students. These scholarships cover tuition fees, monthly stipends, round-trip airfare, and other expenses. The MEXT scholarships are available for undergraduate, graduate, and research programs in various fields of study. The application process for MEXT scholarships typically involves multiple stages, including written exams, interviews, and embassy recommendations. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the eligibility criteria and application deadlines for MEXT scholarships to ensure you have the necessary qualifications and ample time to complete the application process.

JASSO scholarships

The Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) offers scholarships to international students studying in Japan. These scholarships provide financial support for tuition fees, living expenses, and other costs. JASSO scholarships are available for both undergraduate and graduate students. The application process for JASSO scholarships varies depending on the specific scholarship program. To be eligible for these scholarships, applicants must meet certain criteria, such as being enrolled in a Japanese university, demonstrating financial need, and maintaining good academic standing. It is advisable to regularly check the JASSO website for updates on scholarship opportunities and application deadlines.

University scholarships

Many universities in Japan offer their own scholarships to international students. These scholarships can vary in terms of the amount of funding provided and the eligibility criteria. Some university scholarships are merit-based, while others are need-based. It is important to research and reach out to individual universities to inquire about their scholarship offerings and application processes. Universities usually have specific scholarship application deadlines, so make sure to apply well in advance to increase your chances of receiving financial assistance.

Student Visa

Obtaining a student visa is an essential step in the process of studying in Japan. A student visa allows you to legally reside and study in the country for the duration of your program. Familiarizing yourself with the different types of student visas and the application process will help ensure a smooth transition to studying in Japan.

Types of student visas

In Japan, there are mainly two types of student visas: the “college student” visa and the “pre-college student” visa. The “college student” visa is for students pursuing higher education programs such as undergraduate or graduate degrees. The “pre-college student” visa is for students enrolled in preparatory language or foundation courses before progressing to higher education programs. The type of visa you apply for will depend on your enrolled program. It is important to check the specific requirements and restrictions associated with each visa type.

Application process

To apply for a student visa, you must first obtain a “Certificate of Eligibility” (CoE). The CoE is issued by the Japanese immigration authorities and confirms that you meet the necessary requirements to study in Japan. To obtain the CoE, you will need to provide proof of acceptance from a Japanese university or educational institution, proof of financial means to cover tuition fees and living expenses, and other supporting documents as required. Once you have received the CoE, you can submit your visa application to the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country. The application process usually involves submitting the completed visa application form, the CoE, your passport, and any additional required documents.

Required documents

When applying for a student visa to study in Japan, you will generally need to submit the following documents:

  1. A completed visa application form
  2. The “Certificate of Eligibility” (CoE) issued by the Japanese immigration authorities
  3. A valid passport
  4. A passport-sized photograph
  5. Proof of acceptance from a Japanese university or educational institution
  6. Proof of sufficient financial means to cover tuition fees and living expenses
  7. Academic transcripts or certificates of completion from previous educational institutions
  8. A self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage for the return of your passport

It is crucial to carefully review the specific requirements outlined by the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country and ensure that you have all the necessary documents in order to avoid any delays or complications in the visa application process.

Cost of Living

While Japan offers an enriching and vibrant learning experience, it is important to be financially prepared for the cost of living. Understanding the various expenses associated with studying in Japan will enable you to plan and budget accordingly.

Housing expenses

Housing expenses in Japan can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, type of accommodation, and amenities provided. Options for student housing include dormitories, shared apartments, homestays, and off-campus housing. Dormitories are often the most affordable, but availability may be limited. Shared apartments offer a balance between affordability and independence. Homestays provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in Japanese culture but can be more expensive. Off-campus housing can range from apartments to studio units, with prices influenced by the location. It is essential to research the average rent prices for your desired area and factor in other expenses such as utilities, internet, and furniture.

Food and transportation costs

Food expenses in Japan can vary depending on personal preferences and dietary choices. While eating out at restaurants can be costly, there are also many affordable options such as convenience stores and local markets for purchasing groceries. Transportation costs in Japan can also vary based on your location and travel requirements. Public transportation systems, such as trains and buses, are often the most convenient and cost-effective means of getting around. It is advisable to utilize student discount cards and passes to save on transportation expenses. Consider your daily commute, extracurricular activities, and travel plans when estimating transportation costs.

Health insurance and other expenses

Health insurance is mandatory for all international students studying in Japan. The cost of health insurance varies depending on the coverage and the insurance provider. It is essential to research and select a suitable health insurance plan to cover any potential medical expenses. Additionally, there may be other miscellaneous expenses to consider, such as textbooks, stationary supplies, and leisure activities. Building a comprehensive budget will help you manage your finances effectively and ensure that you are financially prepared for the cost of living in Japan.

Language and Culture

Immersing yourself in the Japanese language and culture is an integral part of studying in Japan. While many universities offer English-taught programs, learning Japanese can enhance your overall experience and provide you with more opportunities for communication and integration.

Learning Japanese

Learning Japanese before and during your stay in Japan is highly recommended. It will not only ease your daily life but also enable you to connect with locals and understand Japanese culture more deeply. There are various language schools and programs available in Japan, ranging from short-term intensive courses to long-term comprehensive programs. Additionally, universities often offer Japanese language classes as part of their curriculum. Utilize resources such as textbooks, online courses, language exchange programs, and language learning apps to supplement your studies and improve your proficiency.

Cultural adaptation

Adapting to a new culture can be both exciting and challenging. Japanese culture is rich in traditions, customs, and etiquette, which may differ from what you are accustomed to. It is important to approach the cultural adaptation process with an open mind and a willingness to learn and respect cultural differences. Take the time to familiarize yourself with Japanese customs, greetings, and social norms. Engage in cultural activities, join student clubs, and participate in local events to immerse yourself in the Japanese way of life and foster cross-cultural understanding.

Etiquette and customs

Japanese society places significant importance on etiquette and manners. Understanding and adhering to basic Japanese etiquette will not only enhance your social interactions but also demonstrate respect for the local culture. Some important etiquette practices include bowing when greeting someone, removing shoes before entering a home or certain establishments, and avoiding loud or disruptive behavior in public spaces. Respect for elders, punctuality, and politeness are also highly valued in Japanese society. Observing these customs will help you integrate into the community and make a positive impression on your peers and professors.

Accommodation Options

Choosing the right accommodation option is a crucial aspect of studying in Japan. Various options are available to cater to different preferences, budgets, and lifestyles.


Dormitories are a popular accommodation choice for international students in Japan. They are typically located on or near university campuses, offering convenient access to classes and facilities. Dormitories provide a sense of community, allowing students to interact and form connections with their peers. They are often more affordable than other accommodation options and include amenities such as communal kitchens, shared bathrooms, and study areas. However, availability may be limited, and the application process for dormitories varies by university. It is advisable to apply for dormitory accommodation as early as possible to secure a spot.

Shared apartments

Shared apartments, also known as “share houses,” are another accommodation option commonly chosen by international students in Japan. In a shared apartment, you rent a private room within a larger unit that includes shared common areas such as the kitchen, living room, and bathroom. Shared apartments offer a balance between privacy and social interaction, allowing you to live independently while also fostering connections with your flatmates. Rent and utility costs are typically shared among the residents. Shared apartments can be found through real estate agencies, housing websites, or student bulletin boards.


For students looking to experience Japanese culture firsthand, homestays provide an excellent opportunity. A homestay involves living with a Japanese family as a member of their household. This option allows you to immerse yourself in daily life, practice the Japanese language, and gain insights into Japanese customs and traditions. Homestays often include meals provided by the host family, creating a supportive and nurturing environment. However, it is important to note that the rules and expectations of the host family may differ from your own, so it is necessary to be adaptable and respectful. Homestays can be arranged through agencies specializing in cultural exchange programs or through university services.

Off-campus housing

In some cases, students may prefer to rent their own apartment or studio unit off-campus. This option provides the highest level of independence and allows for more flexibility in terms of location and amenities. However, renting off-campus can be more expensive and involve additional responsibilities such as managing utility bills and handling contracts. When searching for off-campus housing, consider factors such as proximity to your university, access to public transportation, safety, and the availability of nearby amenities. Real estate agencies, online listings, and local community boards are good resources for finding off-campus housing options.

Part-time Work Opportunities

While studying in Japan, some international students may seek part-time employment to support their living expenses or gain professional experience. However, it is important to be aware of the limitations and regulations surrounding part-time work for international students.

Work limitations

International students in Japan are subject to certain limitations and regulations regarding part-time work. As a general rule, students with a “college student” visa are allowed to work up to 28 hours per week during designated vacation periods and up to 8 hours per day during school breaks. However, during regular semesters, the maximum working hours are limited to 14 hours per week. It is important to note that working hours must not interfere with academic commitments, and students should prioritize their studies to maintain their visa status and academic performance.

Finding part-time jobs

There are several avenues for finding part-time job opportunities in Japan. University career centers, local job fairs, and online job portals specific to part-time or student positions can be valuable resources. Additionally, many convenience stores, restaurants, cafes, and retail establishments often advertise part-time job vacancies. Networking through friends, classmates, or local community organizations may also lead to potential job opportunities. When searching for part-time jobs, consider factors such as location, work hours, commuting distance, and the requirements for the position.

Job search websites

Online job search websites dedicated to part-time or student employment can be particularly useful in finding job opportunities in Japan. Websites such as Tokyo Part-Time Jobs, GaijinPot Jobs, and provide listings for various types of part-time jobs across different industries. These websites allow you to filter job postings based on location, industry, and language requirements. It is advisable to regularly check these websites and apply for positions that align with your schedule and interests. When applying for a part-time job, make sure to submit a well-written resume and cover letter highlighting your relevant skills and experiences.

Student Life in Japan

While focusing on your studies is essential, immersing yourself in the student life experience in Japan can greatly enhance your overall education abroad. Participating in various extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations can provide you with opportunities for personal growth, cultural exploration, and networking.

Joining student clubs and organizations

Universities in Japan offer a wide range of student clubs and organizations catering to different interests and hobbies. Joining a club or organization allows you to connect with like-minded individuals and engage in activities outside of your academic commitments. Whether you are interested in sports, music, arts, social causes, or cultural exchange, there is likely a club or organization that aligns with your interests. Participating in these extracurricular activities not only allows you to develop new skills and experiences but also fosters friendships and creates a sense of community.

Sports and recreation activities

Japanese universities offer diverse opportunities for sports and recreation activities. Many universities have sports teams and facilities where students can engage in sports such as soccer, basketball, tennis, or martial arts. Joining a sports team not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also facilitates interaction with Japanese and international students. Additionally, universities often organize cultural excursions, outdoor activities, and festivals that allow students to explore Japan’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Participating in these activities expands your understanding of Japanese culture and provides opportunities for socialization and networking.

Exploring local attractions

Studying in Japan offers a unique opportunity to explore the country’s rich history, vibrant cities, and natural landscapes. Take advantage of your time abroad by visiting local attractions, historical sites, museums, and landmarks. Japan’s diverse regions offer different cultural experiences and natural wonders. Whether you are fascinated by ancient temples, traditional gardens, bustling city streets, or serene mountains, Japan has something to offer. Plan weekend trips, participate in university-sponsored excursions, or join travel clubs to make the most of your cultural exploration.

Networking opportunities

In addition to academic pursuits, studying in Japan provides ample opportunities for networking and professional development. Attend university events, seminars, and workshops related to your field of study to connect with professors, industry professionals, and fellow students. Building relationships and establishing a professional network can open doors to internships, research collaborations, and future career opportunities. Take advantage of university career services, job fairs, and networking events to learn about job prospects and connect with potential employers. Developing a strong network during your time in Japan will enhance your career prospects and help you navigate the job market both locally and internationally.

Overall, studying in Japan offers a unique and enriching experience. By thoroughly researching universities, understanding entry requirements, exploring scholarship opportunities, and embracing the language and culture, you can make the most of your educational journey. By immersing yourself in student life, actively participating in extracurricular activities, and networking with individuals in your field of interest, you can broaden your horizons and lay the foundation for a successful future.