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HomeCultureThe best way to Get a Grasp's Scholarship in Japan for Free

The best way to Get a Grasp’s Scholarship in Japan for Free

Are you open to persevering with your schooling abroad? Does spending two to 3 years in Japan on the federal government’s yen sound like a fairly candy deal to you? If that’s the case, the MEXT Analysis Scholarship may simply pique your curiosity.

It is a well-kept secret that the Ministry of Schooling, Tradition, Sports activities, Science, & Know-how (MEXT, or Monbukagakusho) in Japan offers out hundreds of those full-ride scholarships to worldwide college students yearly. In actual fact, there is a MEXT scholarship for almost each schooling degree, from undergraduate and doctoral levels to vocational coaching.
This complete information will concentrate on the MEXT Analysis Scholarship for grasp’s college students, since that is the one I am conversant in. I utilized via an American consulate and was fortunate sufficient to get the scholarship in 2019. I laughed, I cried, I penned a thesis amidst a worldwide pandemic. Now, on the finish of my MEXT journey, I am able to share my recommendation and experiences with different potential beneficiaries of the Prime Minister.

So, how do you get your grubby paws on one in all these scholarships? Actually, it is a lengthy highway paved with forms that may be irritating to navigate, however I am going to attempt to decrease your blood strain on this information by laying all of it out, step-by-step.

What’s the MEXT Analysis Scholarship?

Monbukagakusho building and students on the MEXT sholarship program

The MEXT Analysis Scholarship is a scholarship from the Japanese authorities that absolutely waives tuition for worldwide college students pursuing a grasp’s and/or Ph.D. diploma at a Japanese college. It is given out mostly by consulates and embassies in international locations with a diplomatic relationship with Japan, however some folks go straight via a Japanese college. Students additionally obtain a month-to-month dwelling stipend.

Mainly, MEXT permits you to get a grasp’s diploma without spending a dime in Japan, so long as you may have a robust software and an excellent little bit of luck.

Every embassy has a predetermined — and sometimes small — variety of scholarships it is allowed to present out, so beating out the competitors could be robust. For instance, my consulate in Florida usually solely has one slot open. Your probabilities will largely rely on who else is making use of on the identical time and place as you’re, which is a roll of the cube nobody can predict. However so long as you stay eligible, you may reapply many times — which many individuals do — so if you happen to really need it, do not lose hope.

Who’s a Good Candidate for MEXT?

Earlier than you apply, it is in all probability a good suggestion to test whether or not you are even eligible. You’ll be able to obtain the MEXT scholarship if you happen to’re:

  • A nationwide of a rustic the place MEXT scholarships are supplied (Japanese nationals usually are not eligible)
  • Born on or after April 2, 1987 (for the 2022 scholarship; it will increase by one yr yearly)
  • A college or faculty graduate who has accomplished no less than 16 years of schooling

The official MEXT tips additionally state that it’s essential to pursue a level in the identical subject as your earlier research or a associated one, although this requirement tends to be versatile.
However except for simply being eligible, who’s actually an excellent match for MEXT? As somebody who’s gone via it, I believe a perfect MEXT recipient is an impartial one who’s comparatively comfy with Japanese tradition and customs, sufficient in some subject to put in writing a protracted grasp’s thesis about it, and keen to be taught to deal with the distinctive hurdles of life as a lone worldwide scholar in Japan.

Personally, I’ve by no means grown a lot or so quick as within the two years I’ve spent in Nagoya as a grad scholar. Studying a complete new set of cultural norms to navigate the intricacies of every day life in Japan alone has taken grit, perseverance, and no scarcity of spur-of-the-moment vocabulary classes. Even easy issues like fixing an influence outage or discovering low cost printing can flip right into a bodily, emotional, and monetary puzzle for a non-native Japanese speaker on a scholar price range with no built-in household or mates close by to depend on.

However if you happen to’re up for the additional problem, I assure you may come out a way more succesful and assured individual. And in alternate, you may get a complete two to 3 years to journey, research, celebration, and make buddies from all around the world. So, if the prospect of getting a grasp’s diploma whereas constructing tons of character excites you, I say go for it!

Residing Stipend

That mentioned, all the thrill on the planet will not pay the hire. So how will you reside to check one other day as an empty-pocketed grad scholar? Fortunately, MEXT gives a month-to-month dwelling stipend of ¥143,000 – ¥147,000, dropped straight into the Japan Submit Checking account you may open upon arrival. The small discrepancy relies on whether or not you are positioned in a big metropolis the place dwelling is costlier. For example, since I dwell in Nagoya, the third largest metropolis in Japan, I obtain the utmost ¥147,000. You even receives a commission throughout faculty breaks if you’re not actively taking courses, assuming you are still in Japan.

So how will you reside to check one other day as an empty-pocketed grad scholar? Fortunately, MEXT gives a month-to-month dwelling stipend of ¥143,000 – ¥147,000.

Residing on the stipend alone is completely manageable for many single folks with no dependents or debt of their house international locations. Nonetheless, most MEXT college students I do know do work part-time for extra spending cash, or to repay any further bills. I’ve survived each with and and not using a baito (part-time job) as a scholar and even managed to save cash from the stipends with out dwelling like a monk. That mentioned, your mileage will differ relying in your monetary state of affairs coming into Japan, in addition to whether or not you intend to jet set off to Okinawa each weekend.

Sadly, you have to to result in $2,000 of your individual cash at first, because the stipends solely kick in 1-2 months after you land. For me, I arrived in mid-September and did not get my first stipend till the top of October. Within the meantime, I needed to pay for hire, insurance coverage, meals, and the various different bills concerned in shifting to a international nation myself. This delay is probably going associated to how faculties affirm your continued presence in Japan for the stipend. My college has me hike all the way in which to campus to signal a sheet of paper each month, rain or shine, to make sure every cost arrives weeks later. So ensure you’ve received sufficient yen to dwell on till that candy federal dough lastly rolls in!

Journey Bills

However how will you afford to get to Japan within the first place? Blessedly, for these of us from the other aspect of the world, journey bills are additionally included. MEXT pays in your economy-class airplane ticket to Japan and, if you need, boots you again to your nation without spending a dime after commencement. This does not embody trains to or from the airport or any further baggage, however prepare fare tends to be low cost, and I might advocate packing gentle anyway. You may get an bill to pay some airport charges and taxes your self as properly, which for me amounted to about ¥8,900 every time. Additionally, airfare again house is barely paid for when you full this system, so any visits in between are on you.

Many college students select to not take the free ticket house and keep in Japan as an alternative. On this case, you turn to both a Designated Actions Visa (a job-hunting visa) or a piece visa if you happen to’ve already gotten a job in Japan. And if you happen to’re planning on persevering with MEXT to pursue a PhD in Japan (which is feasible), you simply apply to increase the scholarship and renew your scholar visa. My faculty’s worldwide scholar workplace confirmed my post-graduation plans a few dozen occasions throughout my final semester, so I definitely by no means felt alone or misplaced when deciding my subsequent step.

Earlier than Making use of

a person wondering what to consider before applying for the MEXT scholarship program

Earlier than you apply to MEXT, there are some choices it’s best to make so you already know what to placed on the appliance. These embody whether or not to use via an embassy or a college, whether or not you need an additional yr as a analysis scholar, which grad packages you are focused on, and what you need your thesis subject to be.

Embassy vs. College Suggestion

First issues first: You may must receive a suggestion for the MEXT Analysis Scholarship from both a Japanese embassy/consulate common in your nation or a Japanese college. Listed here are the variations:

  • Embassy Suggestion: You apply via your native Japanese embassy or consulate common, assembly all their deadlines — that are usually sooner than college suggestion deadlines. If chosen for suggestion, the embassy sends your software to the Japanese ministry, which seemingly approves you for the scholarship, barring any disasters within the background test.
  • College Suggestion: You seek for a college in Japan that gives college suggestions for MEXT and apply on to them, assembly all their deadlines — that are usually later than embassy suggestion deadlines. If chosen for suggestion, the college sends your software to the Japanese ministry, which seemingly approves you for the scholarship, barring any disasters within the background test.

You’ll be able to strive for both, however going via an embassy appears to be the usual methodology. The deadlines are earlier too, so it is usually finest to strive making use of to an embassy first and depart college suggestion as a final resort. I went via my native consulate common, so whereas quite a lot of my recommendation applies to each paths, this text will concentrate on getting a shiny embassy suggestion.

Ought to I Be a Analysis Pupil or Common Pupil?

You’ve got determined which authority you need to snag a suggestion from. However if you happen to get that suggestion, what number of years would you want your MEXT expertise to final? Here is a buck-wild a part of the MEXT scholarship: After touchdown, you do not even have to start out faculty for a yr if you happen to do not need to. It is referred to as being a analysis scholar, and a number of other of my classmates have achieved it.

  • Analysis Pupil: You may spend about three years on the MEXT Analysis Scholarship, receiving dwelling stipends so long as you are in Japan and in good standing with MEXT. Throughout your first yr, whereas not but enrolled in grad faculty, chances are you’ll audit programs, take Japanese courses, and/or plan your thesis subject together with your advisor. In your second and third years, as soon as your grad program accepts you, you may be enrolled as an everyday grasp’s scholar.

  • Common Pupil: You may spend about two years on the MEXT Analysis Scholarship, receiving dwelling stipends so long as you are in Japan and in good standing with MEXT. From the second you arrive, you may be enrolled as an everyday grasp’s scholar.
    Typically, if MEXT recommends that you just take six months of preparatory Japanese language courses earlier than beginning the grasp’s program, that is what you may do as a analysis scholar. Even so, frankly, there would not appear to be a lot (if any) supervision dictating what you do throughout that first yr.

I selected to not be a analysis scholar and dove proper into grad faculty as quickly as I received to Japan. However from the appears to be like of it, my mates who had been analysis college students loved themselves fairly heartily! So if you need an additional calendar yr to be taught Japanese, ponder what your thesis can be about, or climb Mt. Fuji with a band of different delinquents, you’ve got received the choice.

Discovering a Graduate Program in Japan

Alright, that is the half the place issues get actual. To be able to apply to MEXT, it’s essential to first sift via the tons of grasp’s packages in Japan and choose which of them you need to attend.

For those who’re in search of a program taught in English, I like to recommend first contemplating packages which are a part of the Japanese authorities’s International 30 (G30) Mission. They’re full-English diploma packages to encourage internationalization in Japanese academia — excellent if the concept of taking grasp’s-level courses in Japanese makes you violently sick. I attended a G30 program at Nagoya College, and nearly all my programs had been in English, with just a few I selected to soak up Japanese.

Then, seek the advice of this College Search spreadsheet from the Japan Pupil Companies Group (JASSO) that lays out the traits of each grasp’s program in Japan. On the identical web page, JASSO additionally has an inventory displaying solely packages taught in English (below “College Diploma Programs Supplied in English”). Do not let the lengths intimidate you! You’ll be able to simply slim your search parameters and weed out the packages you don’t need through the use of the spreadsheet filters. Seize a chilly beverage and take a pair hours to peruse, googling the packages that look most attention-grabbing.

There may not be a grasp’s program that utterly aligns together with your undergraduate main, particularly if you happen to’re in search of one taught in English. In that case, if you happen to nonetheless need the scholarship, you’ll have to get artistic. For instance, historical past majors may apply to a broader Cultural Research program, or psychology majors might take into account a Japan-in-Asia program that mixes worldwide affairs and societal Japanese research. Admittedly, liberal arts majors have extra flexibility on this space than STEM majors.

You can even select a program primarily based on who you need to be your educational advisor. Your advisor oversees your thesis, offers you analysis recommendation, and in the end decides whether or not you move thesis protection. Since your analysis will in all probability be pretty distinctive, it is okay if you cannot discover anybody whose specialty precisely matches yours — a lot of my classmates studied matters means exterior of their advisors’ purviews and taught the professors a factor or two. So long as their analysis is in the identical common educational subject as your thesis, you have to be wonderful.

Coming Up with a Analysis Thought

The perfect grad program for you additionally relies on your — at this stage, tentative — thesis subject. Although I definitely did not have all of it found out this early within the course of, I knew I wished to analysis one thing associated to Japanese language and tradition. So on the position choice type, I put down three grasp’s packages that included professors of Japanese sociolinguistics whose analysis appeared no less than tangentially related to my concept.

However how do you provide you with a analysis concept within the first place? From what I’ve seen, MEXT appears to love matters that:

  • Are related, necessary, and/or doubtlessly useful to society in the present day.
  • Relate to Japan and (theoretically) additional relations between your nation and Japan indirectly.

Nonetheless, not all concepts that get authorised fall below each of these classes. Listed here are some examples from the MEXT students in my faculty’s Linguistics and Japan-in-Asia Cultural Research packages:

  • Correlation between use of English loanwords and views on globalization amongst Japanese college students (subject I received into MEXT with)
  • English loanwords in Japanese LGBTQ+ and psychological well being activism on Instagram (subject I really ended up writing my thesis on)
  • Appropriation of Chinese language tradition in Japan
  • The historical past and present state of efficiency artwork in Nagoya
  • Gender and sexuality in eroguro manga
  • Language schooling and coverage in Cape Verde
  • Experiment on the impact of listening to music on language studying and retention
  • Representations of gender and girlhood in Japanese cinema
  • Veganism and vegetarianism in Japan

As you may see, MEXT matters actually run the gamut. In my view, what all of us have in frequent is we dug deep for one thing we cared about. Since a grasp’s thesis is basically self-directed, take into account topics you end up enthusiastic about usually with out being required to. For me, that is LGBTQ+ rights in Japan and Japanese-made English, or wasei eigo (it makes me chuckle). So, after workshopping concepts with my mates, I discovered a solution to mix these two pursuits and analysis one thing I gave many hoots about. Each grad scholar struggles with deciding their thesis subject, however if you happen to choose one thing you care deeply about, you may’t go fallacious.

If you wish to analysis one thing associated to Japan (normally an excellent wager), take into consideration what aspects of Japanese tradition intrigue you, what issues in Japan you need to assist remedy, and what distinctive abilities or background you deliver to the desk that may profit Japan.

And whether or not you need to do Japan-specific analysis or not, strive brainstorming some matters you are so fascinated by that you would examine them into the wee hours of the evening. In any case, that’s a lot of the grad scholar expertise, so it helps to get pleasure from these hours.

Nonetheless, understand that a lot of folks find yourself altering their subject properly into their first and even second yr of grad faculty. I did not even land on my closing concept till about 4 months earlier than my thesis was due! And although I do not advocate waffling fairly that lengthy, you may completely tweak and/or overhaul your unique concept together with your advisor’s assist, if want be.

Mainly, do not forget that whereas the subject you apply to MEXT with is necessary, it is not the be-all end-all of what you may really write. You simply want to indicate the committee you may conjure up a solid-sounding analysis plan and have a robust concept to start out out with, even when it adjustments over time.

Timeline of the Utility Course of

Hopefully, you now have an preliminary concept of which graduate packages and thesis matters could enchantment to you. However how a lot time will this software course of take, precisely? If you wish to apply for MEXT, put together for the lengthy, lengthy haul. Embassies usually open up submissions in spring of the yr earlier than you’d enroll in grad faculty, so the entire ordeal takes no less than a yr. Be sure you’ve received one thing to do within the interim, in addition to a Plan B if it would not work out.

In response to the official MEXT tips, this is a tough timeline of the appliance course of for somebody who utilized in 2021:

April-Might 2021 Submit your software to the embassy.
June 2021 The embassy contacts candidates who handed Stage 1 of the first screening to inform them the date and time of the interview.
June-July 2021 Stage 2 of the first screening (Japanese check, English check, and interview).
July-August 2021 The embassy lets you already know in the event that they’ve really useful you for the scholarship. For those who handed, you request Letters of Acceptance from the colleges you need to attend and ship them to the embassy.
September 2021 Submit your closing placement choice type.
From October 2021 MEXT conducts the second screening and decides the place to position you.
January-February 2022 The embassy lets you already know if you happen to’ve handed the second screening and informs you of your college placement.
March or September 2022 You allow for Japan.

The precise dates differ between embassies, and throughout the pandemic, the method could differ a bit from earlier years. However one factor’s for certain — you may be emailing the embassy or consulate a lot, so I counsel constructing a pleasant rapport with whoever’s on the opposite finish of these lengthy e-mail chains. Not solely as a result of it is the sort factor to do, but in addition as a result of it is doable they’re going to be one in all your interviewers.

Making use of for the Scholarship

paperwork and documentations to apply for the MEXT scholarship program

Now you may have an concept of what sort of program MEXT is and whether or not it is likely to be an excellent match for you. So if you happen to do resolve to make the leap, this is an inventory of paperwork you may want to organize and belongings you’ll must do with the intention to apply for MEXT.
Because the course of is so prolonged and bureaucratic, I like to recommend setting apart no less than just a few months to organize your software. This will provide you with ample time to analysis grad packages, collect all of the required paperwork, and run your analysis plan by a trusted pal or mentor. Some components, just like the well being certificates and suggestion letter, will take days or perhaps weeks to finish, so getting a head begin will massively behoove you.

1. Writing Your Analysis Plan

The analysis plan is by far an important a part of your software. It is the premise of your argument on why they need to shell out the massive bucks so that you can research in Japan, so make investments time into sharpening it as a lot as doable.

That mentioned, you do not have to be a genius to put in writing an excellent one — I did not have an oz. of expertise in statistics or knowledge assortment once I wrote mine. Simply clarify in clear educational language what you need to research and the way you hypothetically plan to do it.

Some frequent analysis strategies I’ve seen are:

Media evaluation <ul><li>What movies, books, video games, reveals, performs, paintings, social media posts, or different artifacts will you study?</li><li>What theories will you employ to investigate them?</li><li>Why is it necessary to check these texts?</li><li>Who will it assist? </li><ul>
Designing a survey <ul><li>Who will you survey, and what is going to you ask them?</li><li>How will you feasibly distribute your survey, and in what language?</li><li>Why is it necessary to gather this knowledge?</li><li>Who will it assist?</li></ul>
Conducting interviews <ul><li>Who will you interview, and what is going to you ask them?</li><li>How will you feasibly interview them, and in what language?</li><li>Why is it necessary to interview these folks? Who will it assist?</li></ul>
Doing an experiment <ul><li>What are the variables you need to measure, and the way will you measure them?</li><li>How will you feasibly conduct the experiment?</li><li>Why is it necessary to do that experiment?</li><li>Who will it assist?</li></ul>

You’ll be able to concentrate on one in all these strategies or mix a number of. Be sure you point out how your analysis will contribute to an present subject of research, cite your sources, and emphasize how being in Japan and/or studying out of your professors will facilitate your plan.

Additionally, if you happen to’re proficient sufficient in Japanese, you may submit a Japanese model of your analysis plan. Personally, I translated my English plan into educational Japanese, then posted it in chunks to Lang8 — now HiNative — to have it corrected by native audio system. I toiled over this for weeks, so I would not advocate it if you happen to’re not no less than intermediate-advanced in Japanese already. It is undoubtedly not crucial, particularly if you wish to attend an English program. However if you happen to can pull it off, it can impress them.

For those who’re so inclined, you may even embody a semester-by-semester or month-by-month timeline of the complete two to 3 years of your journey. The interviewers know your plans will change considerably when you get to Japan and you discover out what’s sensible — I do not even dare look again at my timeline due to how a lot of it did not find yourself occurring. So don’t be concerned if it feels such as you’re drawing blueprints together with your eyes closed. At this stage, they simply need to see that you just’re devoted sufficient to provide you with an in depth, cheap preliminary plan in your analysis.

2. Filling Out the Placement Choice Type

Along with spelling out what you need to analysis, you may additionally want to inform MEXT the place you need to do this analysis. You get to specify as much as three grad packages you’d wish to attend so as of precedence on the Placement Choice Type. Nonetheless, it is tremendous frequent for the federal government to not choose your first selection, particularly if it is a personal college, so ensure you’re actually okay with ending up at any of them. Additionally, I do advocate placing down three universities as an alternative of only one or two. It offers the federal government choices, which makes the embassy extra prone to advocate you.

You can even fill within the title of the professor you’d need to be your advisor at every college. For those who’ve already contacted them, nice! You must e-mail them to get their preliminary approval earlier than the interview no less than (extra about that later), however at this stage you may put their title down regardless. Keep in mind that you’re going to submit this type once more if you happen to move the first screening, so you may change the colleges or replace the order at the moment.

3. Suggestion Letter

How will the MEXT panel inform whether or not you are succesful sufficient to carry out the educational feats you outlined in your proposal? Partially via a suggestion letter from the president/dean of the final college you attended or a earlier educational advisor (i.e., any professor). Briefly, seek out a college official who can wax poetic about your excellent achievements and profitable persona. For instance, I requested my Japanese professor from undergrad to put in writing mine. It is free format, however be certain that the letter has an official-looking letterhead and signature earlier than sending it in a sealed envelope.

4. Well being Certificates

Additionally, like with most Japan-related ventures, you may want to attain a clear invoice of well being. Print out the MEXT Certificates of Well being and have a physician or doctor fill it out to the perfect of their means. You may be required to bend over backwards in just a few uncommon methods — particularly the chest x-ray, blood check, and urine pattern — so get this achieved early to go away time for the outcomes to come back again. Some medical doctors have been identified to scratch their heads upon sight of the shape, which is written in English and Japanese, and query why it desires you to take action a lot. Thus, I like to recommend going to a household physician you already know properly or a trusted facility with all the mandatory gear to make it as painless of an expertise as doable. Handing over your bodily fluids is rarely enjoyable, however rally, trooper, it is for an excellent trigger.

5. Tutorial Transcripts

You’ve got confirmed you are wholesome and funky sufficient to impress no less than one faculty official — however what about your grades? MEXT requires educational transcripts of any increased schooling you’ve got accomplished, the grading scale at your earlier faculty(s), a duplicate of your diploma or potential commencement certificates, and the usual MEXT software type discovered in your embassy’s web site. Japanese increased schooling tends to be on the lenient aspect in relation to grading, so that you in all probability do not want a 4.0 GPA, so long as your grades have been respectable sufficient.

6. Images

Since that is Japan, you may in fact additionally want to connect a correct 4.5 x 3.5 cm picture of your face onto the appliance type. In case your nation is not touting a headshot sales space on each road nook (in contrast to Japan), strive ordering images out of your native drugstore and trimming one right down to measurement. I am fairly certain the staff at a sure Walgreens in Orlando know my face by coronary heart after printing it so many occasions for Japan purposes.

7. Non-obligatory Paperwork

We have gone via all of the obligatory paperwork you may want to assemble, however you may additionally embody non-obligatory paperwork for example any related capabilities to the panel. These embody abstracts of any theses you’ve got already written, a certificates of language proficiency (from the JLPT, TOEFL, IELTS, and many others.), a suggestion letter out of your employer, and/or images or movies of artwork or music you’ve got created, if it is related to your analysis mission.

8. Reaching Out to Professors

Okay, this is the marginally intimidating a part of getting ready to use for MEXT. Like I mentioned, it’s a must to e-mail professors your self to ask whether or not they’d take into account accepting you as their advisee if you happen to get the scholarship. Sure, that is means, means upfront. But it surely’s okay — many professors are conversant in the lengthy MEXT course of and are used to answering this query from potential college students.

I began taking pictures out emails in Might of 2018, after submitting my software however earlier than the interview. The timing is as much as you, however if you happen to present as much as the interview with preliminary approval from no less than one professor, it can assist persuade them you are a protected wager.

Main Screening

As soon as you’ve got constructed your leaning tower of paperwork, it is time to ship it in and wait to listen to the outcomes. The MEXT course of consists of two screenings: the Main Screening from the embassy and the Second Screening from the Japanese authorities. However actually, your solely job is to move the first screening by submitting a robust sufficient software to attain an interview, after which passing that interview. After that, the embassy or consulate does the legwork for you.

Japanese and English Language Assessments

Earlier than you interview, the embassy offers everybody a timed Japanese check and a timed English check, totally on grammar and vocabulary. Basically, they’re ensuring you are proficient sufficient within the language you need to take courses in (English or Japanese), in addition to hopefully acquainted sufficient with Japanese to no less than talk at a newbie’s degree. A lot of the MEXT students I do know usually are not N1-N2 degree at Japanese even after dwelling right here, so that you needn’t blow them away. Even so, any further expertise you may whip out will encourage confidence that you just’re able to surviving in Japan by yourself.

Interview Suggestions

some interviewers and an applicant for the MEXT scholarship program

So you’ve got proven the interviewers you are able to talking the language you need to take grad courses in. Now for the a part of the MEXT course of you’ve got in all probability been having nightmares about: the interview on the consulate. You’ll be able to count on a few 20-30 minute interview, and if it is in individual, you may depart all of your electronics in a safety field on the entrance. Costume professionally, particularly contemplating how a lot moolah you are asking them to present you! I wore a easy collared black costume, which went over wonderful. Normally there are three interviewers; I had two native Japanese audio system and a local English-speaking consulate official I might been exchanging emails with.

“Excuse me”


For those who’re ready, tossing out a shitsureishimasu (失礼します, “excuse me”) if you sit down and an arigatougozaimashita (ありがとうございました, “thanks”) when it is over could impress them, or no less than present you’ve got appeared up Japanese interview etiquette. However the primary portion of the interview can be performed in English, and so they could not use Japanese with you in any respect. One interviewer requested me how the Japanese check was in Japanese, and I quipped that it was simple — simply kidding! — which she appeared to get a kick out of. Regardless, if you happen to do not communicate any Japanese within the interview, it is usually no huge deal, particularly if you wish to attend an English program.

A lot of the interview questions are predictable, like:

  • Why do you need to research this subject?
  • How will your analysis profit Japan?
  • How assured are you in your means to dwell independently in Japan?
  • Why have you ever chosen these grasp’s packages?
  • Are these packages taught in English or Japanese?
  • Have you ever contacted any professors at these universities but? (Hopefully sure!)
  • What’s your Plan B if you aren’t getting the scholarship?

For these questions, put together a clear, concise reply that you may broaden on if crucial. The interviewers in all probability aren’t consultants in your topic, so no must inundate them with jargon. For those who clearly clarify why your analysis is a crucial contribution to the sphere, how versatile you’re in tweaking your plan if want be, and the way dedicated you’re to being a cultural ambassador to Japan, you’ve got achieved all you are able to do.

However as any embassy-recommended MEXT scholar can let you know, you may in all probability get a hardball query asking whether or not you’d freak out and flee Japan if one thing alarming occurred. For example, mine was, “If North Korea despatched a missile over Japan whilst you had been there, what would you do?” I answered, “Nicely, if I am gonna die, may as properly die in Japan!” Then all of us had an excellent giggle, and one interviewer supplied to attend my funeral. So if you happen to suspect your interviewers have a humorousness, do not be afraid to throw in a well-timed joke. So long as you’ve got dressed properly and acted politely, some real light-heartedness can go a protracted solution to endearing you to the panel.

Again once I utilized, I used to be so riddled with anxiousness in regards to the interview that I wished to be as ready as humanly doable. So, true to my neurotic type, I typed up a 20-page doc of my solutions to potential questions and recited them till I might (and doubtless did) describe my love for the Japanese language in my sleep. And truthfully, I believe it helped.

You do not have to obsess over memorizing your solutions fairly as a lot as I did, however some cautious forethought and rehearsal will make you are feeling calmer and extra ready, regardless of the strain of the interview.

Second Screening

If the embassy passes you thru the first screening and recommends your software to the Japanese authorities, the MEXT board would be the one who offers you the ultimate approval. Not a lot to fret about right here within the second screening, assuming they do not uncover any undeclared crime in your previous.

Requesting Letters of Acceptance from Professors

Whilst you’re ready for the ministry to declare you worthy, you may want to assemble Letters of Acceptance (LoA) from all of the professors you set in your placement choice type. On these letters, the professors write why they’re tentatively keen to be your advisor, do you have to be positioned at their college.

My consulate gave me a template to e-mail the professors, which they stuffed out and despatched again as onerous copies to my handle. I then forwarded them to the consulate through — you guessed it — extra snail mail. However I hear some universities do all of it digitally now, so chances are you’ll not should lick as many envelopes as I did.

College Placement

Then, as soon as you’ve got handed the second screening, MEXT will notify you of which college you may be attending. It will be one of many faculties you set in your closing Placement Choice Type, however aside from that, the selection is as much as the pinnacle honchos within the Japanese forms. For me, the information of my destiny graced my inbox about six months after I handed the first screening.
Unsurprisingly, MEXT tends to position college students at public universities extra usually than personal ones. It is inconceivable that they’re going to waive costly personal faculty tuition for you if they’ll discover you a spot at an affordable public college as an alternative. For instance, personal Waseda College was my first selection, however MEXT despatched me to my second selection, public Nagoya College. No onerous emotions, Abe-san. So long as you are open to being plopped at any one in all your selections (and certain slumming it at a public college like the remainder of us), you are good to go.

Getting Accepted into the Grad Program

It is nearly throughout — you’ve got been authorised by the Japanese authorities, accepted by no less than one professor, and positioned at a Japanese college. However earlier than you set sail for the Land of the Rising Solar, there’s one extra step: making use of to the grasp’s program itself and passing any entrance exams or interviews this system could require. I despatched my program the identical full software I might despatched the consulate, a duplicate of my passport, an additional letter of reference, and my closing acceptance letter from MEXT. Since I used to be a MEXT scholar, the admission charges had been waived.

Then got here a fast Skype interview, the place they requested me fundamental questions like what I wished to analysis, why I used to be focused on their program, and why I picked my advisor. I really misplaced my voice beforehand and needed to sort all my solutions, which one of many professors learn aloud in a booming British accent (I’ve by no means sounded higher!). In my program, the interviews are principally to ensure the scholars communicate English properly. And from what I’ve gathered, even if you happen to do not carry out completely on the interview or entrance examination, you may seemingly get in anyway if you happen to’re flaunting the gold seal of approval from MEXT.

Congratulations, You Received MEXT! Here is Some Recommendation

a person who got accepted for the MEXT scholarship program

For those who’ve efficiently gotten the scholarship, congratulations! Take pleasure in being a sugar child of the Japanese ministry — I do know I’ve. Here is some further recommendation in your life as a MEXT scholar:

Get Your College’s Assist for Housing

Your college could make you reside in a dorm for no less than the primary few months. I moved out of mine after six months as a result of, properly, I wished to drink chūhai freely in a spot that wasn’t crawling with undergrads. Getting your individual condo as a international scholar could be difficult, so ask for assist and benefit from any apartment-hunting companies your faculty gives. Additionally, discovering an English-speaking realtor at Minimini or Sumitomo — one who’s used to working with worldwide college students within the space — might assist you to perceive all of the wonderful print and keep away from pointless charges.

Know That Japanese Grad College Is Fairly Chill

Japanese grad faculty may defy your expectations, particularly if you happen to’re accustomed to a extra energetic, much less passive schooling system. In my program, if you happen to present as much as class and do the report and/or presentation on the finish of the semester, you get an A. The one time I needed to take a check, the professor assured us he wouldn’t allow us to fail. Your expertise could differ relying on whether or not your professors embrace a extra Western or Japanese educating model, however usually, I discovered it to be far more relaxed than within the U.S.

Be a part of a “Circle” To Make Pals

In case your faculty has a world connections membership or “circle” (サークル), becoming a member of is a wonderful solution to make mates. Everybody there’s presumably focused on socializing with foreigners, and it is seemingly that no less than some communicate English properly. Earlier than the pandemic KO’d my social life, cultural alternate occasions had been my predominant means of assembly internationally-minded Japanese college students exterior of my all-foreigner grad program.

By no means Miss the Deadlines for Proving Your Presence in Japan

As talked about, my college requires me to signal a sheet on the scholar assist desk each month to show I am nonetheless in Japan. In any other case, my stipend would not come. If I signal by the primary deadline within the first few days of the month, the cash arrives on the finish of the month. If I signal by the second deadline on the finish of the month, the cash comes a number of weeks later. This is applicable even throughout faculty breaks. I do know individuals who have missed the deadlines and misplaced entire stipend checks, so for the sake of your pockets, attempt to keep on prime of this.

All in all, regardless of my MEXT expertise getting taken down just a few notches by a worldwide disaster, I nonetheless do not remorse all the trouble I put into getting right here. So if you happen to love Japan however detest the considered educating English to babies on the JET Program, MEXT is likely to be a promising possibility for you. It isn’t the simplest highway to dwelling in Japan, and chances are you’ll not get the scholarship in your first strive. However if you happen to actually need to pursue a grasp’s diploma in Japan, it is value leaping via all of the hoops.

You could now be enthusiastic about making use of for this program. If that’s the case, take heed to this podcast episode that we recorded. Emily shares her expertise via the MEXT analysis scholarship that she could not cowl on this article.

For extra info, test your native embassy or consulate’s web site. And if the most recent info is not obtainable but, this is a useful pamphlet from the Japan Pupil Companies Group. Might the funds be with you!



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