Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship for Specialized Training College

This post details my experience in applying for the Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship for Specialized Training College.

It is currently the most-viewed post and since I think a lot of people are interested about the process, I have put it as the top post in my blog for easy access.

After reading the post and previous comments from other readers, if you have further questions please direct them in a comment below the post. I also currently post more about student life in Japan, so please have a look at them as well. Thank you!


For my first post in this new blog, I’ll be sharing my experiences while I was applying for this scholarship. Mainly, I made this to share information to others who are also interested to apply. Since a lot of other blogs out there were really helpful to me during my application, I want to pass that on to others; also since I feel like there’s not much info out there about this category.

So, to start things off, the Monbukagakusho (or MEXT) Scholarship is awarded by the Japanese Government to students from all over the world who want to pursue their studies in Japan. There are different categories you can apply for, and it depends on you which one you think will suit you best. I applied for the Specialized Training College category, so that’s what I’ll talk about here.

The first thing you should do is to check your country’s Japanese embassy website. They’re the ones who handle all the applications per country, and you can download the forms required & get news about the scholarship there. For fellow Filipinos, the Japanese embassy page for the scholarship is here. For people from other countries, the website of the Embassy of Japan for your country should have the info you need.

Now I should say that each country’s guidelines and processes are different from each other. Though they generally require the same stuff, there are still little differences here and there, and it’s best to consult the website of your country. In the Philippines, applications usually start around April/May of each year. In other countries, it might start earlier or later.

There are four parts to this scholarship, and here I’ll be sharing my own experiences with each one. I’ll also add in a few tips which, hopefully, you’ll find useful in your application. 🙂


1) Document Gathering & Screening

If you’ve checked the Japanese embassy website, you’d see the documents & info that can tell you more about the scholarship. I think it’s very important that you read the document thoroughly (the Application Guidelines one), because every bit of info you need is explained there, like what you need to submit, guidelines, info on what you’re getting from the scholarship, etc.

As I’ve mentioned, there are documents they require you to submit for your application. There’s an application form that’s several pages long that you need to fill up and you need to get a bunch of stuff from your school (transcripts, certificates, etc). There’s also a recommendation letter required. In addition, you need to do medical tests and have a doctor fill up the medical form for the scholarship. Some countries may require this later, after the exams & interview, but in my country you need to submit it with your school documents & application form. So, like I said, it’s best to consult the embassy in your country just to be sure.

The amount of stuff you need to do might seem overwhelming at first, but this is just basically you doing lots of legwork to get all the right documents. Filling out the application form was a bit harder for me, since it’s quite long and you need to do a bit of soul-searching to answer some of the questions on there. I had to do lots of thinking & editing to check that everything was okay.

Overall, I’d say this shouldn’t be very hard. Even though I encountered some setbacks along the way, I was lucky to have friendly school staff (Thank you UST CFAD Office!) & people around me who helped me get the many documents I needed.

So, once you have all of the things required, double-check everything first to make sure you didn’t miss anything. After that, proceed to the Japanese embassy to hand them in. You can also mail it if you live far from the embassy, but since it was just a train ride away from where I lived, I decided to hand it in myself.

A few tips: Keep the documents you submit neat & clean, because you want to look professional to the people at the embassy who will screen your documents. It might be better to type your answers to the application form instead of writing by hand, so it will be easier for the people at the embassy to go through. Answer the application form truthfully and to the best you can, to show your effort right from the start.


2) Examinations at the Japanese Embassy

Once you’ve submitted them to the embassy, they will check your documents, and if it’s all okay to them and you passed their screening, they will inform you of when your schedule for the examinations is. The exam subjects for Specialized Training are Mathematics, English & Japanese.

I highly suggest to study & prepare for the exams ahead of time. To be honest, I had months to study and prepare for the exams, but I was busy with school and only got to study Maths & Japanese for maybe a couple of weeks. Although I’ve been self-studying Japanese for more than a year then, I had stopped for some time so I needed to restudy all the Japanese grammar that I forgot badly, and at the same time restudy high school & college-level maths that I haven’t studied for two years!

So, the long and short of it is: don’t procrastinate like me, and study when you can.

If you need resources, for me personally, I used the みんなの日本語 (Minna no Nihongo) books in self-studying Japanese. I tried cramming in as much kanji & grammar rules as I can before the exams. For maths, I used Khan Academy. They had various levels of maths videos with easy explanations, so it was perfect for me as a refresher! Of course you can always use other resources, but those were the ones that I liked.

So for the English test, I think I did well. For the maths test, well, I’m not very good at maths to start with, but that test was just at a way different level of difficulty. I remember that test gave me a serious headache. For the Japanese test, I was only able to answer the first part & half of the second part, but when there were too many kanjis and words I didn’t understand anymore, I had to stop because that was giving me another headache too. 😛

A few tips: It’s really best to study ahead of time. Usually, there are previous tests at the embassy website so you can use those to narrow down the topics that you’ll have to study. The exams can have a wide range of topics, so use the previous exams to focus on the ones that usually come up, instead of studying Maths or English or Japanese in general. Try to answer the previous tests, focus on the questions you find difficult, and aim for a good score.


3) Interview with people from the Japanese Embassy

About a week after the exams, I got a phone call from the Embassy of Japan saying I passed the test & was invited for an interview.

I remember that I got the phone call on a Friday, and was told that my interview was on the Monday right after! I was kind of panicking because it was so sudden and I was still planning a practice interview with a friend (which can be really helpful, especially if you’re like me: really bad at speaking) but we haven’t had a chance to do that yet! I don’t have clothes prepared for the interview either! I haven’t thought of what I’ll say! And I only had two days to do all of that!

(Okay, so I was really panicking, not just kind of panicking.)

I tried to prepare the best I could in those two days. I looked up possible interview questions and prepared what I could answer for those. My friend suggested we do a Skype practice interview instead. I’ll be honest, I think that practice was really helpful to me. I asked her to come up with a few interview questions of her own, and ask them to me without telling me what they were beforehand. That way, if they asked me a question I didn’t expect, I’ll be ready to answer them. (Thanks, Bea! ❤ )

There were 3 people from the embassy who interviewed me, and the first thing they asked me was to introduce myself in Japanese. (Remember that if you stated in your application form that you have some Japanese skills, it’s likely they’ll ask you some questions in Japanese too). The other questions were about my choice in my field of study (photography), why I wanted to study in Japan, about what I’ll do when I move there and how I’ll adapt. So just prepare to explain yourself a lot.

I did the best I could at that interview. I think I was able to answer some of the questions alright, but I think my nervousness showed because my voice was all shaky. So in the middle of my interview, I felt I had to apologise to the interviewers, so then I blurted out awkwardly, “SORRY, I’M JUST SO NERVOUS!” The interviewers chuckled at that when I said it, but I think it helped calm my nerves somehow, and the rest of the interview went smoothly(ish) 😛

A few tips: Practise speaking, especially if you’re bad at it like me. Prepare possible questions & answers beforehand. For me, it helped that I DIDN’T memorise those answers, but instead just remembered my main point and improvised to explain it further. Because chances are they won’t ask you all the questions you’ve memorised. I think it’s better to practise improvising instead of memorising so that if they ask you a question you didn’t expect, you’ll know how to come up with an answer on the spot. Also, read up about your field of study in Japan, how your field of study is being taught there, life as a foreign student in Japan, etc.


4) Lots of waiting & the final decision from Japan

About a month after my interview, I received an e-mail from the Embassy of Japan saying they selected me as one of the applicants whom they will be recommending to MEXT in Japan. Then MEXT will do their own screening process for the many, many applicants from all over the world (so at this stage, the competition would level up, because you’re not just competing with other people from your own country anymore, but with people worldwide!). Then MEXT will make the final decision on who will be awarded with the scholarship.

They also mentioned in the e-mail that the final decision from MEXT will probably be by the end of December, and take note that I received this e-mail during the first week of August, so that’s at least four months of waiting and thoughts about it always at the back of my mind. So after you pass all of the embassy’s screenings, prepare to wait. And wait. And wait some more.

This, for me, was the toughest part of the entire application process. Although the exams & the interview were also tough, at least they were both over and done with in just one day each, and you’ll find out the results not too long after. But with this, it was four months of always being nervous about the results. Add to that the fact that this happened after my graduation, and I didn’t go for a job yet (yes I’m quite the lazy bones), so I didn’t have school or work to keep my mind preoccupied. Remember to bring lots of patience with you for this stage.

Luckily for me, the results came pretty early this year, on December 7th to be exact. When I got an e-mail notification on my phone and I saw that it was from the Embassy of Japan, I was supersuper nervous. Months of anticipation have been building up to this moment. When I opened the e-mail, there was a letter there, and it said that I passed MEXT’s screening! 😀

In the email, it also said that my placement for what school I’ll go to will be announced after. It took another two months of waiting to know, but on February 22, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Bunka Institute of Language, so that meant I was going to TOKYO! Definitely the best news ever for me!

After a few more days, on March 4th, I got the official letter from the Embassy of Japan confirming that indeed, I’ve gotten the scholarship! The letter also included other info and mentioned which school I’ll go to after my Japanese language training. I’ll be going to Tokyo Visual Arts College, which is even more good news to me! 😀 Below is a portion of the letter that I received:


After you get the official letter from the Embassy, things are gonna get busy. There will be some stuff you have to work on before you head to Japan, such as the pledge to MEXT, the student visa and airplane tickets. Not to mention, the crazy amount of packing you’ll have to do for the big move there. As I write this, I’m still in the middle of all of that, and although it can get pretty busy, to me it’s a good kind of busy, because I know everything will be in preparation for when I finally head to Japan. 🙂

A few tips: I don’t really have much tips for this step, because this is the step that is out of your hands and you can’t do anything about. Do find something to preoccupy you during the waiting period and try not to think of it too much (unlike me) so it won’t be a source of stress in your life. The waiting period can be really difficult and can make you anxious, but hopefully, it’ll all be worth it in the end!


Final word:

I don’t want to sound too sappy, but I’d like to thank everyone who helped me and supported me this entire time. Family, friends & the people I met (and those I didn’t meet, but who shared their stories to others like me)–even though it was a lot of determination for me, I really appreciate that all of you helped keep me going.

This has been a crazy rollercoaster of a year, full of ups & downs & things in between. At the time of this writing, I’ve still got a few days left before I leave for Japan, but I feel like this journey of my application for the scholarship is finally wrapping up nicely. As much as I enjoyed it, I have to admit it was really stressful at times, but it’s all good, since soon I get to start a new exciting life to study in Japan. I finally have the fruit of all my efforts in my hands and I really couldn’t be happier. ❤


If you have questions about the application for Specialized Training College or about my experiences, feel free to ask away in the comments below.

If you have any questions about the other categories (Research/Undergraduate/etc), I’ll try to answer them based on what I know, but I really encourage you to join the Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship Facebook group, because I never went through the process for those other categories, so my knowledge on that is limited. I’m also a member of the group, and they have a lot of people willing to help. They’ve been my treasure trove of help & information about the scholarship. I’m sure there will be people around who can help you out too.

Thanks for reading! Good luck and hope to see you in Japan soon! 😀



48 thoughts on “Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship for Specialized Training College

  1. thank you for walking us through with this kinda like messy application process 🙂 I’m planning to take specialized training course under technology field. Hopefully I will be able to pass this scholarship. 😤😤

  2. Hi! Thanks for this detailed blog post! Makes me feel very excited for your studies! 😀

    I’d like to ask though: would you happen to know around how much the passing rate would be for someone applying as a MEXT Research Student under an Arts-related major? I heard that it’s more difficult to get accepted when applying for an Art-related course, as compared to the Sciences, Education/Teaching, etc. I’m interested in applying for something related to painting, or maybe graphic design, and would love to hear you insights/advice/etc. Perhaps you know of someone who applied for the same thing as what I intend to apply for? Any input would be greatly helpful! Thank you! (P.S. Fellow Thomasian here, btw! haha!)

    • Hi there! You’re welcome haha!

      Hmm, for the passing rate, we were never really told about that. I think you shouldn’t worry too much about the passing rate because nobody really knows much about it. Just try and do your best 🙂

      As for your concern, I have met a Filipina who got the research scholarship for an arts course. She’s studying Japanese Painting and she got the scholarship last year, if I remember correctly. I also came across the blog of a guy from another country who got the scholarship for research in an arts course, here’s a link to his blog. That blog has lots of useful info about the research category, so make sure to check it out as well, since the info here is just for Specialized Training College, that might be more useful to you. So yeah, I don’t think it’s impossible to get the scholarship for arts. 🙂

      Haha nice to talk to a fellow Thomasian! Good luck in your application! 😀

  3. Hi! Thank you for this post. This is really very helpful. Just wanted to ask if you had a lot of competitors in the Specialized Training category? I’m planning to apply in the future. I’m going to graduate college this year but I’m worried about the exams. I took my Math subjects a long looong time ago so I think I already forgot those. Thanks in advance!

    • Hello! Thanks for reading haha! I’m not sure how many people submitted for the document screening, but I remember that during the exams there were around 25 of us who took it, and during the interview I think there were 5 or 6 of us, and in the end it was only me who got it for Specialized Training.

      Don’t worry too much about math! I was like you, when I applied, I didn’t have any math classes for around two years then! Just try and self study to fill in what you forgot, try Khan Academy as I mentioned if that works for you. And I only got around half of the exams, so I don’t think they expect you to get a perfect score, but still try your best since you’re competing against others.

      Good luck on your application!

  4. Hi! A friend and I are planning to get the scholarship for Specialized Training course as well. We have so many questions but the Embassy only entertains questions via email. The answers they give are very sparse and I was wondering if you could help us? Hahahahaha I’m really sorry. It’s not really your job. 😂😂😂 but uhmm, me and my friend are undergraduates currently studying at PUP. Are recipients really required to bring approximately 2000 dollars along with them?

    • Hello! Yes, it’s really required, because you won’t be getting the scholarship money until the last week of April, so that means you need enough money to survive for your first three weeks. If I recall correctly, I brought only about $1,100 instead of $2,000 because I didn’t have that much money haha.

  5. This was really helpful thank you so much for this!! 😢😢😢😢 i just have one question, they ask for transcripts, so i was wondering if past grades or just grades in general really matter? And do we need to choose 2 fields of study or can we just choose one? Thank you so much again, there’s not much help online for the specialized training category😥😥

    • Hey there! You’re welcome haha glad my post could help.

      Grades are one of the things they look at, but if you’re worried about your grades if you think they’re not good enough, don’t worry about that too much! My grades weren’t exactly perfect or that impressive, and still I got the scholarship. So in my opinion, the scores you get on the exams for the scholarship and the interview, and having a strong application, I think those are the things that matter more.

      Good luck! 🙂

    • Oh I forgot to respond to your other question haha sorry.
      As for the fields of study, I’m not sure if you can just choose one, but I think it’s better to choose two. I haven’t heard of anyone not getting their first choice of field of study, but I think it would be better to choose two just as a back-up plan in case your first choice would not push through.

    • Hi! I’m so sorry for the really late reply. But no, I couldn’t choose which school I go to after the language school. Because I remember that around March they sent me an email which mentions what language school I’ll go to and it also includes the school I’ll be going to after that, so it was already decided for me by MEXT.

  6. Hi Jen !
    Your article is really helpful. I’m want to apply for the scholarship this year.
    In the application form there are few questions like ” why do u want to study in japan? ” or ” reason for choosing that field of study ” , how many line or words will suffice? Should I briefly write it in 4 or 5 sentences or more or less?

    • Thanks for reading!

      Hmm, I think it’s up to you, just write as much as you think would be enough to express what you want to say. But I think for me yeah, it was around 4-5 sentences.

      Good luck with the application! Feel free to ask if you have other questions 🙂

  7. Hi!

    Your article is really helpful! :)) Thanks for the advice btw.

    I will be applying for MEXT scholarship this year, and it caught my attention when you mentioned, it was only you who got it for Specialized Training. Does the embassy will just pick one for every scholarship’s category?? ‘Cause if it is, I think I’m I should be really really nervous of not getting the scholarship :((

    • Hello,

      Thanks for reading and for the comment! It depends on which country you’re from, in my year there were more than one people who got it from Thailand, Korea, Argentina, etc, but as for the
      Philippines I think it only is just one person. This year as well only one girl got it.

      Don’t worry too much! Hopefully you can use it as your motivation to do better 🙂

      Good luck! And feel free to ask more questions if you have any.

  8. Hi!
    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your site. You really gave a wonderful guide for the application process and also some cool tips hehe. I’m also a Thomasian and I want to apply for the scholarship, along with two of my blockmates. 🙂 I just want to ask about a certain document. For document 7, which is the certificate of university enrollment qualification examination, were you able to get the certificate from the main building or they don’t issue this document?

    • Hi there!

      Thanks for reading the blog and the kind words 🙂 Hmm, well to be honest I’m not really sure what I did, it was two years ago for me haha but I think I didn’t have to submit that because as far as I remember, you only have to submit that if you’re just about to enter college, but at the time I applied I was already on my 4th year so I didn’t have to submit it.

      You can always call the number on the Embassy’s website to make sure, they’re pretty helpful and nice to talk to, just so you can get the official info since my memory of that is kinda blurry already haha.

      Good luck with the application! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask 🙂

      • Thank you so much!! We’re really hoping for the best hehe 😀 Good luck to you, too and ingat po 🙂

  9. Hello! How are you doing in Japan?
    Thanks very much for the article, I was feeling quite lost as I didn’t find that much information about the special college scholarship process…
    I wanted to know, do you know if the math exam’s grades are very important? I’m rather interested in translation and I haven’t been in touch with maths for a while ^^” I am not feeling confident at all with that test, I don’t even know if i will be able to do it.
    And another question (sorry for asking twice D: ) after selecting the field, do you have to be very precise on the subject you choose (example: if you choose as a subject music, do you have to,instead of writing the subject as plainly ”music”, write something more specific such as ”music composition, accoustics, singing, etc” ?
    Thanks very much!

    • Hey there,

      Thanks for reading the blog! It’s no problem, glad I could help. I’m doing okay in Japan, sometimes it’s hard but for the most part it’s good, thanks for asking!

      Hmm, well the person from the embassy before told me before when I was taking the test that since you will get points for the math exam, the more you get the more advantage you have over the other people competing against you. I didn’t do so well in the Maths part either, I probably could just answer 20% out of all of it! So just study what you can since you still probably have time before the test.

      No problem with another question, you’re free to ask as many as you like! Your embassy should give you a list of the field and subjects, just follow what is written there. When you get the scholarship, before you enter your special training school that’s when you can choose more specifically, but for now just follow what the Embassy provided to avoid confusion.

      You’re welcome and good luck with the application!

      • Hello Jen,
        Thanks very much for the reply! Glad to know you’re doing alright there 🙂
        I will try my best with maths then…

        Did you have to write an essay about the studies you want to do there?

      • Hi again,

        Do you mean during the exams? In the exams there was no essay portion. But for the application form, there were some questions like what you want to study in Japan and why, and I wrote about 4-5 sentences for my answers there.

  10. That’s good post! Thanks a lot 😊 it will help me for apply scholarship this year. Can i ask you? After you graduate from special training program, what degree will be written? thanks

    • Hello,

      Sorry for the late reply. As far as I know, we will get a diploma from the special training program. It’s different from a degree from university though!

      Thanks for reading the blog and for the kind words!

  11. Thank you for your shared experiences, it helped and inspired me a lot. I have a question, what did you pursue after your scholarship? I’m planning to apply in the same category but I’m not really confident from my current school. Btw, do they always pick 1 lucky scholar for a certain field of study?

  12. Thank you so much, am joshua ouko atuta from kenya , i have been requested to go for interview today after passing my first examination.

  13. Hey Jen! First off congratulations on being selected for the scholarship.
    I have a question for you… How were your grades back when you applied? I’m asking because I currently have an 80% average (Which is the bare minimum they ask for), and I’m confident I can ace both the math and english tests, and do well in the interview too.
    However, since the japanese embassy is on the opposite side of my country, I have to invest a rather large amount of money in transport and accomodations, and honestly I’d rather be told I won’t make the cut by someone who has already survived the process than being shot down mid process by the interviewers.

    • Hey

      Thanks for the comment and for visiting the blog!

      Hmm well that’s a tough question to answer. I don’t work for the embassy nor MEXT, and they’re really the ones who decide stuff like that. I was just an applicant and even though I passed, I can’t give you a definite answer cause like I said, I don’t know how the embassy/MEXT makes their decisions.

      However, I had some grades for some subjects which were around 75-80%, although my average I think was around 87%ish percent, can’t really remember, it was two years ago for me lol. But I didn’t have like A+ grades and still passed, so I’d say give it a shot, it might change your life if you pass but ultimately it’s still up to you.

      Good luck!

  14. Hello! Thanks a lot for the post, finding tips for specialized training isnt easy! I was applying for undergraduate but the girl at the embassy told me that ST was better suited for the fields of study I choose. I’m applying for animation and arts. The exams are this thursday and I’m having difficulty on making my teachers explain the past papers to me (as it seems hard for them too) I dont really know much Japanese, but I know Hiragana and Katakana, and about 60 kanji. May I know if the Japanese exam is fully in Japanese (sorry if it sounds like a dumb question). Anyway, thanks, and keep enjoying Japan!

    • You’re welcome, and I’m glad you found my blog to help you!

      Hmm, well yes the Japanese exam is fully in Japanese haha. Even the instructions are in Japanese. But it’s just the usual multiple choice answer, and it’s usually just picking out the right word for the blank, etc, so it’s not particularly complicated instructions. I think from your description of being able to read hiragana, katakana and some kanji, you’d be able to answer at least the first part of the exam, so I think it won’t be too bad! Mine when I did was about that level as well.

      Good luck with the exams! Let me know if you have any other questions, would be glad to help 🙂

  15. Hi Jen. Is your course in college same as the field you chose to apply for a scholarship in MEXT? Cause I wanted to study a new field but I’m not sure if it’s possible..

    • Hey there! Yes my course was different from what I studied in college. It’s possible to study a new field as long as you can explain your reason why you chose that. I went from Interior Design in college to Photography from the scholarship, and I even have a friend who went from studying Medicine in her country to studying Fashion here in Japan! So just make sure you can explain your reasons why, and it should be fine 🙂

      Good luck!

  16. Have you completed your specialised training course? If yes then did u get a diploma degree or certificate? Because we are told that this is a certificate course.

    • No I’m still on my first year in the specialised training course, and yes it’s a certificate course. If your goal is to earn a diploma in Japan there’s also the Undergraduate course for that, but for arts courses like mine Specialised Training is more suited for it, so it depends what you’ll study.

  17. Hi Jen . I just passed the interview and sent my check up document , but my sister got the same scholarship as me (special training) back at 2014 , and I’m afraid that it would put me in disadvantage compared to the other 4 candidates , so do u think I’ll be able to get this scholarship ?

    • Hey there!

      I don’t think it’ll put you at a disadvantage at all! My senpai from my country, he came here two years ago and his sister also came in the same scholarship two years before him. He didn’t have any problem getting the scholarship!

      So I think you should be fine, don’t worry too much about it! Good luck!

  18. Hi Jen
    I really loved your post ❤ I'm planning to apply for MEXT 2018. And I really want to study interior design in japan which means i have to apply the Specialized Training College category 🙂 but now I'm studying in University of my own country. So anyway I just wanted to thank for sharing your experiences and it helped me alot!!! Your post encouraged me so much!!

  19. Hi! I loved to read about your experience!!

    I want to apply but I’m so confused about the math. There is Math I and Math 11 and A and B… do you know which ones I should study? I don’t get it at all! Sorry if you’ve answered this before.

    Your story gives me so much hope and I’m so happy for you!

    • Hi, thanks for the kind words!

      I think the different Maths is for the undergraduate category as far as I know. Unless they’ve changed it for Specialized Training College too since I applied. But the one for undergraduate, the different Maths depends on the course you plan to study. I think they might have it on the application form.

      Good luck!

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