The MEXT Scholarship: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

Who doesn’t dream of studying abroad?

You get to travel, see the world, learn new things and meet new people, all while getting an education at a reputable school. If you’re a Japanese language student, what better way to get fluent than to be around native speakers?

This, unfortunately, is just a fantasy for most of us.

Traveling and studying abroad is expensive. You have to consider travel costs, food, housing, transportation, tuition and a ton of other expenses. It’s not really something you can do on a whim unless you have the means.

Thankfully for Japanese learners, there’s the MEXT Scholarship.

We’re running through everything you need to know about this Japanese study abroad opportunity, from what it is and how to apply, to all the requirements you need to meet to qualify for a free semester (or more) of schooling in Japan!


How to Apply for the MEXT Scholarship and Study in Japan (for Free!)

What Is the MEXT Scholarship?

For those who want to travel to Japan and study abroad but don’t have the means to do so, this scholarship is an incredible opportunity.


The MEXT Scholarship stands for “the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Scholarship” and is also known as “Monbukagakusho.” It’s a scholarship given out each year to help foreign students enroll in Japanese universities.

Essentially, the MEXT Scholarship is a student exchange program for students who want to be part of a Japanese university. No matter which level of the scholarship you apply for, there are two main requirements for getting accepted:

  1. Get recommended by a Japanese embassy or consulate general.
  2. Get recommended by a Japanese university of your choice that accepts you for study.

You’ll achieve the first through the application process, which requires a form to be sent to your local Japanese embassy. You’ll achieve the second by applying to different Japanese universities and noting in your submissions that you’re applying for the MEXT Scholarship.

Two more key stipulations are that you must be a citizen of a country that has diplomatic relationship with Japan and you must have a valid student visa.

We have more specific information for application below.

If you successfully qualify for the MEXT Scholarship, you’ll receive:

  • ¥120,000 yen per month for undergraduate students.
  • ¥146,000 yen per month for Japanese Intensive Course students and research students.
  • ¥147,000 yen per month for master’s program students.
  • ¥148,000 yen per month for doctoral program students.
  • An economy class air ticket to Narita or Haneda International Airport in Japan. (Currently, the MEXT Scholarship doesn’t cover additional travel costs from the airport.)
  • Waived or refunded application fees for the university.
  • Waived admission fees for the university.
  • Waived tuition fees for the university.

Roughly, you’ll receive around a minimum of $1,000 USD per month to live, eat and travel in Japan and have all your tuition costs covered. That’s a pretty decent gig, we think!

But still, if you’re not convinced…

Why Should I Apply for the MEXT Scholarship?

If any (or all!) of the following apply to you, then it’s worth trying out for this golden opportunity:

  • You’re interested in studying abroad in Japan.
  • You want to improve your Japanese language skills through an immersive experience at a Japanese school.
  • You want to attend school for free.
  • You’d like to have money to live in Japan while studying in school.
  • You want to travel but want to have a larger purpose or objective while doing so.
  • You want to learn more about Japanese modern culture and meet Japanese people.

Types of MEXT Scholarships

There are multiple types of MEXT Scholarships one could look into and each of them have unique requirements that must be met. In addition to meeting the following requirements, you’ll also need to pass one or a few examinations in order to receive a recommendation from an embassy.

Research Student Scholarship

This scholarship is for those who are enrolled or want to be enrolled in a master’s, doctoral or professional graduate course and want to conduct research in a particular field in Japan. Typically, these students are linguistic or cultural studies majors.


  • Be under 35 years old.
  • Be a college graduate or have completed 16 years of schooling.
  • If you haven’t graduated yet, apply for this MEXT Scholarship before the expected day of departure as a scholarship holder.

Undergraduate Student Scholarship

This type of scholarship is for fresh high school graduates who want to start college in Japan.


  • Be between 17 and 22 years old.
  • Have completed 12 years of education or have a high school diploma.
  • If you haven’t graduated yet, wait to apply until the year you’re expected to graduate.

Specialized Training College Student Scholarship

This scholarship is for foreign students who wish to spend up to three years at a Japanese technical or vocational college.


  • Be between 17 and 22 years old.
  • Have completed 12 years of education or have a high school diploma.
  • If you haven’t graduated yet, wait to apply until the year you’re expected to graduate.

Japanese Studies Scholarship

This is essentially the “exchange student” scholarship. You’ll go to Japan for a certain amount of time to study, then return to your home institution.


  • Be between 18 and 30 years old.
  • Have completed 12 years of education or have a high school diploma.
  • Be enrolled as an undergraduate student in a country outside of Japan before applying and be able to return to that institution upon your return from Japan.
  • Major in Japanese language or Japanese culture.


It’s worth noting that some students may be interested in a Japanese scholarship if they study particular aspects of Japan, such as economics or engineering. While you won’t qualify for the MEXT Japanese Studies Scholarship, it’d be worth looking into the JASSO Student Exchange Support Program.

How Do I Apply for the MEXT Scholarship?

Here’s a simple 10-step plan to follow in order to apply for the scholarship, which takes into account the requirements and other aspects of the application process:

  1. Have or acquire a passport. Depending on your home country, there are many different ways to go about this.
  2. Acquire a Japanese student visa.
  3. Be between 17 and 35 years of age, depending on which scholarship you decide to apply for.
  4. Be a citizen of the country you reside in and be sure that the country has diplomatic relations with Japan.
  5. Be aware of important dates related to applying.
  6. Select a university in Japan that you want to attend and submit an application to that school ahead of time. It’d be wise to apply to multiple schools of interest.
  7. Study past examination questions to improve your chances of getting the scholarship.
  8. Fill out an application online by the designated deadline.
  9. Submit all application materials to an Embassy or Consulate General of Japan near your area.
  10. Have at least an elementary level of Japanese before applying—you will need to pass a Japanese exam in most cases to receive an embassy recommendation.


You might not be able to change your age or citizenship in order to apply, but you can definitely pull off the final step at super-speed with FluentU. Just use the real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—combined with the interactive subtitles, adaptive quizzes and customizable vocab lists to get your Japanese language skills to the point where you want them to be.

The authentic experience will also be a great way to prepare for hearing real Japanese speakers once you make the move to Japan. Choose FluentU if your goal is to cover everything and stimulate every skill, fast. Sounds ambitious, but the immersive FluentU approach really gets the job done at every skill level.

What to Do if You Don’t Receive the MEXT Scholarship

Maybe you’re afraid of applying for the MEXT Scholarship and failing. Maybe you’ve received a letter telling you that you, unfortunately, don’t qualify.

Don’t fret. Students apply for scholarships of all sorts and don’t qualify for them on a daily basis. Sometimes it isn’t meant to be and you should look into other scholarship opportunities. Sometimes it isn’t meant to be right now and you can always apply for the MEXT Scholarship next year.

It’s also important to remember that you can learn Japanese without going to Japan quite easily, so if that’s a major reason that you want to apply for this scholarship, you’re in luck. In-person and online Japanese classes, courses and lessons are abundant all over the world. Many are affordable and some are even completely free!


Are you interested in applying for the MEXT Scholarship now that you know more about it? You’d be surprised how many opportunities there are out there for Japanese language learners who want to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Maybe you’ll score this scholarship next year. Who knows? It doesn’t hurt to try and apply!

Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist who writes about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world videos.

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