How to get a Scholarship to a Japanese University

The two main questions I get asked are “Why did you choose to study in Japan?” and “How did you get your scholarship/how to apply to a Japanese university?”. Since I’ve already somewhat written about the former, this post is going to address the latter question because I get it a lot and it’s easier to have a simple post explaining how I did it, and how anyone can do it.

Applying to a Japanese University is no different from applying to any university.

All the basic steps are the same:

Submit the application for which you’ll need your academic transcripts (certified true copies), at least one referral letter from a teacher and you might need to submit a personal essay and proof of financial support as well.

If you’re applying for a SCHOLARSHIP DIRECTLY TO A CERTAIN UNIVERSITY (versus just applying to enter the university), the steps are also essentially the same except you might have to fill in extra forms and go through extra interview rounds, or even some exams depending on the scholarship itself.

It is the same (tedious) method of applying to any school anywhere in the world and personally I wouldn’t say it is more or any less difficult except that you may have a lack of information regarding what scholarships are out there, what schools there are you can apply to and how to go about doing it.

Japanese universities that accept foreign students (aka most of well-known ones as well as universities on the Global 30 program) accept the local qualifications used in your country to enter a university in lieu of taking an entrance exam. For example, they accept an A level certificate or SATs so you do not have to take their entrance exam.

This may not apply to all universities, so please check their website. My university accepted my A level results.

You also need to make sure if the courses are taught in English or in Japanese, and you’ll need some form of certification for the latter (eg. JLPT) to prove you can and will be able to keep up. If not, you could also try taking a course at a Japanese language school in Japan and then applying to a university after completing their course. A few foreign students in my university took that route (both for the English-based and Japanese-based courses).


I found out about scholarships to universities all over the world thanks to the Higher Education Department in my JC. They emailed us whenever they got any info, and have a whole database, so start there. Ask your school teachers, find out if schools are coming to give talks. Waseda and Todai came to my JC to present their programs and the former was there to offer scholarships (a reduced tuition fee) to students nominated directly by the school.

You can also check out


(Japanese University Graduates Association of Singapore) for scholarships available annually specifically for Singaporeans.

They helped me, and many other students get our scholarships. I applied through them and underwent the first round of interviews with them before the university interviewed me. They paid the application fee + mailed documents to the universities.

JUGAS is also a support group for anyone wanting to study in Japan and all local graduates who later come back to Singapore after graduating. They hold workshops and activities and also do the information session for probably the most prestigious and highly sought after scholarship of all time – the Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship. This isn’t just for Singaporeans – it’s offered by the Japanese government and open to citizens of quite a few countries so if you’re interested, check if it’s available for your country.

You’ll need to go through a selection process that involves taking some exams for MEXT, but it covers all your tuition and gives you a monthly allowance. You’ll be studying 5 years (1 year in a Japanese language school then 4 years in the Japanese university) There are quite a few blogs by people who are on MEXT so you can check them out! Do note that MEXT is for PUBLIC universities, not private.

Another option is to check out  JASSO – Japan Student Services Organization.

This isn’t just for Singaporeans, they have offices in a few countries and compile the available scholarships for foreign students. In Japan, I could get a copy of the pamphlet with all the info available mailed to my address. Not too sure if this is available in Singapore though.

And if you’re wondering if you should study in Japan…..

READ: My experiences studying in a Japanese University (Classes, Life Lessons, Dorm etc), Cost of Living in Japan as a Student

kgu entrance ceremony

First day of school…..and then my last day of school:

hakama kgu graduation

It was a pretty damn good 4 years and for everyone who wants to take the plunge and study in Japan, I hope this post helped shed some light and provide some information on what you can do and how to apply for a scholarship! Not everyone has the chaching chaching to afford the pricey tuition and accommodation.


Till the next post,

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