Monbukagakusho: An Opportunity for a Japanese Education

Education in Japan

Japanese Academic Year

Japanese schools have academic years which is unique compared to other parts of the world. In many countries the school year begins in the month of August but in Japan classes begin in the month of April. Correspondingly, classes end the following March. This school year is then separated into semesters where the first runs from April until September while the second runs from October to March.

The semester change also marks the change in school uniform. This is why it is common to see Japanese students in movies and anime wearing different school attires depending on the season. Also, in between these semesters are long breaks for students, and there are three of them in total.

The first is the summer break which lasts about a month from late July to late August. The second is the winter break which is about two to three weeks lasting from late December to early January. This is the shortest of all the breaks. The third and last break is the spring break which is between late February and the beginning of the next school year. This is the longest break in the entire year.

Types of Schools

There are a total of six different educational platforms in Japan which are available for those wishing to continue their education. Out of the six, five are usually related to profession while one of them is a less formal means of attaining an education in Japan.

  • Japanese Language School – This is probably the easiest type of school to get into Japan, there are minimal requirements and the application process is not that strict. In fact, this kind of school is targeted towards foreign students who wish to gain more expertise in the Japanese language. Usually, taking classes in a Japanese language school would grant a foreign students about two months’ worth of education.

  • Colleges of Technology – Compared to universities in Japan, it is much easier to get into colleges of technology. Usually the courses offered are industry related like engineering, manufacturing, robotics, sciences, and more.

  • Special Training Colleges – For those wishing to further their education without going to university, a special training college is a good place to go. Usually these are vocational schools that offer professional training for certain skills and technology.

  • Junior colleges – Courses from junior colleges take about two to three years. Usually the courses offered are home economics, humanities, and sociology.

  • Graduate Schools – There are Master’s programs and Doctor’s programs available for many graduate school in Japan for which foreign students can apply to. These opportunities are great for those who wish to further their researches in their fields.

  • Undergraduate Studies in Universities – Those who wish to take their undergraduate degrees in Japanese schools can do so in majority of universities in the country. The problem with this, on the other hand, is that getting into a good school can be tough considering the competition. The application process is much stricter and they do have a variety of criteria to choose which students they will accept into their programs.

What is a Monbukagakusho Scholarship?

The Monbukagakusho, also known as the Monbusho scholarship, is a type of program offered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Scence and Technology in Japan. It is a government scholarship available for both foreign and local students. According to statistics, a total of 65,000 from hundreds of countries all over the world have been awarded a Monbukagakusho scholarship.

This kind of scholarship provides financial assistance to foreign students so they can attain a Japanese education. Usually there are monetary allowances provided for the student depending on the program he or she has entered. On top of that the government will make sure that the tuition is free. The normal duration of stay would be one year at the longest. Some scholarships only provide about six months of stay. The maximum duration is also only about 5 years.

Types of Japanese Government Scholarships (MEXT)

There are a variety of opportunities available for almost all types of students in Japan. An opportunity to study in the country is greatly valued which is why the Japanese government does what it can to provide enough avenues for both local and foreign students. There are scholarships available for the following:

  • Research Students

  • Teacher Training Students

  • Japanese Studies Students

  • Undergraduate University Students

  • College of Technology Students

  • Special Training College Students

  • Young Leaders’ Program Students

The Young Leaders’ Program maybe the most sophisticated and intense out of all the scholarship grants. These students are members of university or school organizations, school governance system, or any other equivalent and who have been exceling in their studies. Opportunities are provided for students who have potential in playing important roles in national leadership in the future.

Students who are majoring in Japanese education will not fully grasp the culture and the language without actually living in the country. This is why there are scholarships available for these foreign students so they have a first-hand experience of what the Japanese society and culture feels like. Usually this would work as a short-term student exchange program, a part of the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO).

Qualifications for a Monbukagakusho Scholarship in 2018

Different levels of application also have different levels of qualifications. Applications are open for all, as long as the qualifications have been met. An age minimum of 17 years is allowed while the age limit is 35 for grants and 22 for all other programs. Here is a short guideline on the qualifications and required documents when applying for a Monbukagakusho Scholarship:

  • Undegraduate Level and Entry to Junior Colleges – Common document requirements would be application forms available from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, passport, and a visa. On top of the grade sheet, a curriculum vitae may be a requirement depending on the university, showing the activity and extracurricular work of an applicant. An applicant must have finished a total of 12 years of school education up until high school. Those who have less than 12 years of education must have a college preparatory course completed.

  • Graduate School – Documentary requirements are similar to that of the undergraduate application. However, usually the curriculum vitae must show previous educational attainment and work experience to show competence of an individual to the program. It is normal for universities and graduate schools to require a paper proposal as part of their application requirements. This is due to the fact that most grade school scholarships are actually research grants.

  • Special Training college – For those applying for a special training college spot, applicants must at least have a good grasp of the Japanese language to get in. Usually, they are required to get 6 months or more of language training, get certification for language proficiency tests, and at least received one year of primary school, junior high school, or high school education.

Monbukagakusho Honors Scholarship Examination

Monbukagakusho Scholarship Exam Papers

There are different types of tests depending on different applicants taking the exam. However, the basics usually cover a Japanese exam and an English exam to quantify level of language understanding. For the technical aspect, there are exams for physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics.

Research students only take the language tests and not the subject matter tests. This is due to the fact that the application focuses more on experience. On the other hand, the Special training college students only take the language tests and the mathematics exam. There are sample exams available on the internet and on websites. All applications require embassy recommendations and this is valued slightly more than university recommendation.

Process of Application

The application process of getting a Monbukagakusho scholarship is not easy. There are two ways of getting a scholarship in Japan. The first is through an embassy recommendation and the other is through university recommendation.

The embassy recommendation is less common but is possible. They gain applicants through posting scholarship openings in their bulletins. Usually, the Japanese embassy is an integral part in selecting students who can get a government scholarship in Japan. Usually the consulategeneral will be screening a set of students and shall interview shortlisted students based on a strict criteria. They are mostly looking for academically and individually excelling students.

The process can take about a few months to a year depending on how intense the competition is. The applications usually start at the beginning of the academic year. The initial screening shall commence at the embassy between June and July. Then, by August selected candidates will be recommended for screening by the ministry. This is for students who will start their school year by October. If there are many applicants, the students must wait until the following school year.

The university recommendation is the more common way of application. Most often than not, the two universities already have a pre-set agreement on how many students they can recommend and for which programs they can apply. Oftentimes, the process would work as an exchange student program more than anything else. It is also more common for universities to recommend research students, or post-graduate students rather than undergraduate programs.

Monbukagakusho in the Past

Monbukagakusho 2017

Last year and in the early years, the monbukagakusho usually lasts a semester to a whole year. Some kinds of scholarships like the Special teacher training only accepts students from developing countries which includes roughly 64 countries in the world. Every year, there are only a specific number of students to be accepted. For instance, research students can go as high as 4,000 students per year while only 90 scholarships are provided for Japanese language students. The stipend ranges from 110,000 yen to 120,000 yen. They also provide round trip tickets, tuition, accommodation, and more.

Monbukagakusho 2018

It is understandable that the number of students for every year do not reach the target. This is why there is a chance that the coming school year will accept additional students into the programs. Most benefits would remain the same particularly the accommodation, stipend, and grade requirements. Since the Olympics 2020 is coming soon, universities might accept additional students but an announcement is still to be made.

Foreign Partners of the Monbukagakusho

There are different countries in the world which are constant participants of the short-term Monbukagakusho. Oftentimes, these are countries with diplomatic relationships with Japan. These countries include those from North America, Asia, Africa, and more. However, there are more students from Asia than any other part of the world. Here are a few countries which are foreign partners of the Monbukagakusho:

  • Monbukagakusho Malaysia

  • Monbukagakusho Scholarship 2018 India

  • Scholarships from the Philippines

  • Indonesia Monbukagakusha

  • Taiwan Monbukagakusha

Even though schools in Japan has partnerships with foreign universities, some programs are quite strict with their requirements. For instance, research grants, undergraduate scholarships, and Japanese studies accept applicants from more than a hundred countries worldwide. However there are grants like the Special Teacher Training, Technology college, and, Special training classes only accept applicants from developing countries.

Options for Studying in Japan

Privately Financed Foreign Students

Privately financed students are those that receive education without the need for a scholarship. Usually they have to take the entrance exam for university admission (or the Japanese University Admission for International Students) and the Japanese language test. They also need to submit eligibility of payment and financial stability.

It is also a requirement for these students to enrol in a Japanese language school or enter college preparatory classes for a duration of one year. It is also essential that the student becomes a part of the Japan Student Services Organizatin or JASSO to provide a support system for their academic needs.

Short-term Student Exchange program

Becoming an exchange student is quite common in Japan. Many Japanese universities have tie-up agreements with international schools in different parts of the world. It is quite common to find these programs to require recommendations from professors, deans, and other school heads to get a chance to be screened for a spot in the program.