FAQs

I will dedicate this section to all the questions I get, so that those that might have the same doubts have a place to come to.
*Click on the question

MEXT SCHOLARSHIP

What is this scholarship about?

This scholarship offers the possibility of studying undergraduate or postgraduate programs in a university in Japan.
The process for undergraduate and postgraduate progras is differents, so I can only talk about the postgraduate process.
The scholarship will initically cover living expenses and school fees to carry out research in Japan, and, in case you want to, you can ask for an extension and go study a masters and/or doctorate.

Going as a research student means losing a year?

¡NO! Almost all applicants have the idea of studying a masters or doctorate, and the first year (the one as a research student) is not meant to party. Depending on the university, you can be asked to go to the lab every day, attend classes, take Japanese classes, etc., while other will only ask that you prepare for the admission test.

FORMATS, TESTS AND INTERVIEWS

How should I write the research proposal?

This is a very important point. A research proposal should always be told in third person, for example: This study seeks to…
There are also other considerations to note.
Your proposal should not hace 19 pages. Nobody is going to read that when they have another 43243 proposals to read. Be clear and to the point.
Write your proposal, and when you are done, read it and eliminate half a page. Repeat until you have no more than 4 pages.
Another important thing, take into account that it is very possible that the people reading your proposal are not experts in your topic. Yes, there will be an “expert” during your interview, but nobody know what type of expert s/he is.
My recommendation is that whan you have your proposal “finished”, have your neighbor, cousin, Jane Doe, read it. If they have questions, the embassy people will have questions.

What is the Japanese test like? What level do I need to pass it?

The test is divided in 3 parts: basic, intermediate and advanced.
Due to my limited Japanese knowledge I was only able to answer the basic part and a little bit of the intermediate. I would say you need between n3 and n2 to be able to answer it completely.
But this should not pose a problem if a) and b)
a) Your English is very good. You should take the TOEFL, TOEIC or another similar test, since it will be asked for by the universities.
b) Your intended program is in English and not related to linguistics.

UNIVERSITIES

What if my favorite professor says “no” to me?

This can happen due to many reasons:
a) The professor does not have experience in your field of study – You can ask him to recommend you to another preofessor who does. Or you should seek professors related to your field.
b) The professor thinks your topic is not interesting/important/valuable – You should think if you are willing to modify your topic. You can ask the professor why he thinks what he thinks. Take into consideration his comments and present a modified proposal.
c) The professor already has too many people in his lab – You would need to demonstrate that your are INCREDIBLE and that the professor would be LOSING by not adding you to his team. How do you do that? You should have something already published, you should have awards, and you should talk a lot to this professor.
d) The professor is retiring ot takin a leave year – There’s not much you can do here… either wait for him to come back next year if he is coming back, or look for someone else.

National and Public University, what’s the difference?

Both National (called the Imperial Universities in the past) and the Public Universities are government created institutions. Even though almost all of them are now autonomous, they still have the support of the public resources. The difference is that the National University receives support from the central government, and the Public University from the local government.
The National Universities have much better reputation and are less expensive, that is why they are given preference by MEXT.

How do I know which Universities are Public or National?

I’m sure this lists are not perfect since they hace a couple of years that were created, but you can start by looking into wikipedia:
Public Universities
National Universities

What is the Master’s enrollment process like?

I can’t really make any comment here since this process is different depending on the university and graduate school and program.
However, 99% of universities have a section on their webpage designed to explain the admission process. The fact that you are a MEXT student can change that process a lot, depending on how high a profile your advisor has, he could exempt you from the process and get you in.
But for the rest that have normal human beings as advisor, the process won’t change a lot, except maybe that they wont ask for some documents they already received.
The admission process can be any of this three types or a combination of two or all:
Exams – Could be general knowledge or specifict to your graduate school.
Interview – With a panel or individual with one or two faculty members.
Document Revision – This includes academic history, additional recommendation letters, usually a essay and a letter of intent.

Mine was a Document revision type on process.
For those that do go as research students first, and the admission process includes a test, I recommend you talk to your advisor about any bibliography s/he can recommend to prepare for such test.

How do I know if a university is easier? Which ones are the hard ones? Is Hokkaido university so high demand as Tokyo university?

The “easier” and “harder” universities really depend more on how popular they are since the demand for popular universities is so high. Tokyo University is Japan’s top university, everyone wants to study there, so securing a place there is not an easy task.
If you google “Japanese universities ranking” you will come across several different webpages, but the top 20 are almost always the same, just changing a couple of places or names. So it’s pretty clear which are the top requested universities.
Obviously, for foreign students, the big cities are always an attraction, so Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, etc.
I would say to base your option on the studies you want to carry out, not on how easy or difficult it is to get admitted. If you are sent to boonies without you actually looking forward to it, you will most probably have a difficult and not so fun experience in Japan.

 

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