What is the MEXT Scholarship?
First, there not one but various scholarship offered by the ministry of education of Japan also known as MEXT, monbusho (former ministry name) and monbukagakusho (current name). In France, two are offered: the research scholarship and the language & civilization scholarship. The research one targets people who own at least a bachelor degree (licence) while the language scholarship is available only to people currently enrolled in a Japanese bachelor degree. In some countries a undergraduate scholarship is also available.
This post discuss only the research scholarship. I will give you my tips & insights gained when I applied for it.
Once a year the embassy update its page with the dates of various steps, starting from the application deadline. There is a three-weeks timeframe to submit the application. Does it mean you have three weeks to do it? Hell no! The process is very time-consuming. Most people start months before the deadline is known and you should do to.
Why does it takes so much time? Mainly because of the research project you have to write (more on that later) but some other steps can take signifiant time too.
Brush up your language skills
It may seems obvious, but you’re applying to a scholarship for a country where French is almost non existent. If you’re not specialized in Japanese you’ll probably be doing your research in English. So your level matters a lot because it will be checked three times: all the application forms are to be filled in English (or Japanese), there is an English test exam and you’ll be asked to use English as well during the interview.
If you are in a country where people have good Japanese game (for instance Korea or Taiwan) not only you’ll need to be very good in English, but also in Japanese. In Europe the situation is very different and Japanese ability seems to be more of a bonus. Still, I saw half of the room staying until the end of Japanese exam, so there seems to be some competition here too.
Prepare papers in advance
The application forms require some paper that can be annoying to get such as certified transcripts of your last two years of university. And certified copies of diploma. If you’re not living in the city of your graduation anymore like I was, that can be inconvenient so you should plan accordingly.
A medical check-up including a X-Ray of the chest is required. In some countries this is asked after the first selection step but the timeframe will be very short so it is better to prepare them beforehand.
You’ll need a recommendation letter too. So it is better not to ask it at the last minute in order not to put the destiny of your application in the hand of others.
Field of Study and Research Program Plan
As this is the one of the most important document in the application, that part has its own dedicated blog post.
I wrote a whole blog post on that important part of the process too.