MEXT here stands for The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT), which funds these scholarships. Under this program, the Japanese government will provide you with a monthly scholarship of around 140,000 yen for the whole period of study, It will cover your tuition fees, again for the whole period of your study, and will also pay your travel expenses to and from Japan. There are a few types of MEXT scholarships, I think six in total, out of them these two will result in an academic degree: Number one is Undergraduate-student scholarship. It will provide you with a scholarship for 5 years in total. During your first year, you will take obligatory Japanese language courses.
Which will prepare you for the classes at a Japanese university? And in the following 4 years, you will study along with Japanese students in order to get a bachelor degree in the desired field. Number two is Research Student scholarship which allows you to study at a graduate school in order to obtain either a Master’s or a Ph.D. Degree, depending on what you are aiming for. This is the scholarship which I had when I came to Japan and, therefore, I know the most about. So, let’s talk in more details about how does it actually work. If you are accepted for the research student scholarship, you arrive in Japan at the beginning of their academic year, which is April. In some cases, you can arrange it to start in October as well, because October is the beginning of the 2nd semester.
At first, you are not officially enrolled at your graduate school, but you are granted a special status called ‘research student.’ This status basically allows you to use all the facilities of the university. So, for example, you can go to the library and borrow some books there, you can also use computers at the network center at your faculty, etc. Also, you can take classes at your graduate school, but you will not get credits for them, because you are not an official student yet, Also, for example, if when you came to Japan you didn’t speak Japanese very well or at all, then you can take Japanese language classes at your university for ‘free’.
You can choose between taking them for one semester or for two semesters. And don’t worry because any university nowadays has a variety of classes for different levels of proficiency. So you can choose between classes for the beginners, intermediate level, or. And this one I do recommend you to take -a Japanese class of academic writing. You will need this one! Your main objective as a research student is to prepare yourself for the entrance exams for either a Master or Ph.D. program.
The entrance exams take place twice a year. In February and at the end of August, beginning of September. So, for example, If you want to start in April, you will have to take exams in February. And if you want to start your program from October, then take exams at the end of August/ beginning of September. So, the MEXT scholarship is provided for you as for a research student, and it is for a maximum of 2 years, within which you have a few attempts to pass the exam. So the regular path for you would be to arrive in Japan in April, then to take free Japanese language courses in the first half a year, study hard for the upcoming entrance exams and take the exam in August.
If didn’t pass them, you still can try again in February. If it was again unsuccessful, don’t give up, you still have one last chance – in August next year. If you did manage to pass the exams, then you would be officially enrolled at your graduate school as a master or Ph.D. student.