Top Scholarships to Study in Japan

Looking for higher studies for free in Japan? Find all from the best scholarships and eligibility criteria to benefits and how to apply.

Japan is fast becoming a famous study-abroad destination. It’s evident in the influx of students, with over 300,000 foreigners studying in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun.’ And the number is steadily increasing.

And why not?

Japanese institutions promise quality education. In fact, it has 5 universities in the top 100 brackets of the World University Rankings.

You get job opportunities, both part-time as a student and after finishing your studies in Japan. You will also get a chance and reasons for learning Japanese.

You also get an incredible opportunity to dive deep into everything Japanese. You can experience the rich culture, fascinating traditions, and mouthwatering food if you study in Japan.

To find out more, look at my complete guide to studying abroad in Japan through scholarships.

Higher education appears to be a foregone conclusion for students worldwide, thanks to increased educational possibilities. Studying at a foreign university has become a signal of intelligence and composure.

But first…


Why choose Japan for higher studies?

Scholarships in Japan

Japan has survived the worst of times and emerged like a phoenix from the ashes (literally). It has plenty to offer in terms of lifestyle and culture. So, it is vital to consider this when deciding whether to stay there, even for a short time.

Japan is the proud home of rich history and customs that instill ideals of devotion and passion in everyone. Further, the Japanese have skillfully blended contemporary principles and technology into their culture. As a result, they provide the best of both worlds.

Unique cuisine tastes and scenic and relaxing shrines provide a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience.

The most astonishing thing about studying in Japan is that you can get out of the city whenever you want and enjoy the country’s stunning nature.

Fresh and delicious food is available in excellent quality. It is economical too. So, the street food places at local markets make student living more accessible and enjoyable at low prices.

Foreign students are welcomed warmly in Japan. Japanese are some of the most friendly people in the world.

The Japanese are keen on learning English and different culture. This makes them talk more comfortably and allows for information exchange. As a result, you can also teach English in Japan as a foreigner.

All these factors make Japan a great location to live in and adjust to, guaranteeing a seamless start to education. Also, studying abroad allows you to live, work, and learn about a new culture on a once-in-a-lifetime basis.

Japan is an incredible location to choose for your education. It gives academic and personal improvement while providing a friendly environment to live in.

Tuition at Japanese public institutions is about 535,800 yen (roughly $5,500) each year. Compared to $10,000 or more in the United States for an “in-state” student, “out-of-state” and international tuition costs several times more.

This makes Japan’s prices nearly half of the worldwide average.

As you begin your research, it may be helpful to know that study-abroad scholarships in Japan are meant to support your education. This also enables you to immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

Different types of Scholarships in Japan

There are various kinds of scholarships in Japan.

It is essential to note that only a few scholarships in Japan pay for the total cost of education. Most only cover a percentage of the student’s living expenses and tuition fees.

So, be sure to pick scholarships that suit your preferences.

Due to the many options, I’ve included some basic information to help you understand how they work.

Here are some of the well-known Japanese scholarships for international students.

Study in Japan scholarship

1. MEXT Scholarships by the Japanese government

MEXT scholarship is known as the Monbukagakusho scholarship. It is among the most available foreign student scholarships. It is popular because it is government-regulated. 

They are given to international students interested in higher education at Japan’s top universities. The Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture grants it.

These scholarships program aim to bring excellent human resources to Japan. Besides, international students from other countries come here.

It fosters mutual understanding and builds human networks to strengthen Japanese universities’ educational and research capabilities. And it also makes international intellectual contributions.

The MEXT scholarship is beneficial and includes free university tuition until you graduate.

They offer a stipend for living expenses. It ranges between 120,000 and 144,000 yen, depending on the degree level. You also get flight tickets from and to Japan (excluding personal trips).

You also get a chance to know fellow MEXT scholars through networking activities.

You must apply for this scholarship through your country’s embassies and consulates. Or institutes of higher education in Japan as part of the prerequisites.

This implies that your country’s selection process might suggest you. Or the institution after getting an admission letter.

They do not expect the candidates to speak Japanese to be considered for this scholarship. But if you wish to work in Japan later, you need to learn. This is because most jobs are for Japanese speakers.

The government still encourages them to be ready to learn the language and be passionate about Japanese culture once they arrive.

They are granted for various backgrounds and purposes, such as to:

  • Research Student (for Research studies).
  • Undergraduate Students (Undergraduate level leading to Bachelors Degree).
  • College of Technology Students (Undergraduate level leading to an Associate Degree Diploma).
  • Specialized Training College Students (Undergraduate level leading to Certificate).
  • Japanese Studies Students (Undergraduate level leading to Certificate).
  • Young Leaders’ Program Students (Master’s Degree course).
  • Teacher Training Students (Undergraduate level leading to Certificate).

2. JASSO Scholarships

The Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) offers two categories of scholarships. This is other than the MEXT.

The first is the “Monbukagakusho Honors Scholarship for Privately Financed International Students.”

This is available to students admitted to Japanese higher education institutions. For example, specialized training colleges and language schools.

You will get a monthly stipend of 48,000 yen for a year throughout your studies in Japan as part of this scholarship. But as stated in the title, you will still pay your tuition and other charges.

JASSO also offers the “Student Exchange Support Program (Scholarship for Short-Term Study in Japan).” This is for individuals approved by Japanese schools.

They do this via student exchange agreements (8 days—12 months). And other exchange arrangements for students who have their institutes located outside Japan.

This award is not for students who want to complete their studies in Japan.

This scholarship provides you with an 80,000 yen monthly stipend. But you will still pay for your tuition and travel to and from Japan during your exchange.

To be qualified for the JASSO scholarship, you must apply directly to higher education institutions. The one to which they have admitted you.

Japan scholarships program

3. Scholarships options at Universities

When you enroll at one of Japan’s Top Global Universities, you’ll almost certainly be eligible for the university’s monthly scholarship.

Each institution has its own regulations and differs. Thus, it is necessary to make personal queries to learn how much each university offers.

According to public sources, the monthly stipend varies between 60,000 and 120,000 yen, depending on the month.

The criteria for receiving a scholarship vary as well.

For example, one university will need you to be in the top 1% of your program’s students. You can also keep the scholarship if you keep performing well.

4. Local governments and international organizations

You can also apply for scholarships from local governments in the cities or areas you want to study.

Hokkaido International Exchange & Cooperation Center, Kitami City, Iwate International Association, and Ohtawara-City Board of Education, Shinjuku-ku Foreign Student Scholarship, Kawasaki International Association Financial Assistance Program for Foreign Students, Toyama International Exchange Scholarship, Ishikawa Prefectural Scholarship for Privately Financed Foreign Students, Education Board of Fukuroi City is only a few of them.

5. Scholarships by Private Foundations

Several private foundations and corporations in Japan provide overseas students with scholarships.

Some may be particular to a country or department, with separate application deadlines. Some popular ones include:

• The Freeman Foundation’s Freeman—ASIA Award is one of them. These scholarships are accessible to anybody seeking schooling in East or Southeast Asia. Depending on financial need, they are designed to help undergraduate students in two-year or four-year programs.

• The Asahi Glass Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Japanese glass. This applies to the scholarship year 2024-2025. You can go through the school. You must be a resident of Japan at the time of application, available for Master and Doctoral programs. Besides, you must be a resident of Japan at the time of the application. Indonesia, Thailand, China, Korea, and Vietnam are eligible countries. The monthly stipend would be 150,000 yen.

• The Asian Foundation for International Scholarship Interchange provides the Kawaguchi Shizu Memorial Scholarship. This applies to the school you want to enroll in. This is the place of residence at the time of application in Japan. It caters to the academic level of undergraduate, Master’s, and doctoral programs. This is open to students from all over Asia and provides a stipend of 120,000 yen for a month.

scholarships for foreigners in Japan

What is included & benefits?

Most of the scholarships that are not government-funded would focus on tuition fees. Yet, each has different benefits depending on the type of scholarship and your eligibility criteria.

The Japanese Government Scholarship, however, offers fantastic benefits. As already mentioned, it also gives a lot of financial and non-financial benefits.

In terms of financial help, the scholarships majorly help in 2 ways. One way is by direct scholarship. The other is by an exemption or reduction system that would waive a fee percentage.

Eligibility criteria

The criteria are specific to the type of scholarship. While MEXT has streamlined criteria, other eligibility criteria are based on their own particular guidelines for the institution offering it.

MEXT accepts applications from overseas students who meet the following criteria and conditions to study in Japan.

The applicant needs to be a citizen of a country with which Japan maintains diplomatic relations. Applicants who are Japanese citizens at the time of application are ineligible.

Persons with dual nationality who are Japanese citizens and live outside of Japan at the time of application are qualified to apply.

Knowledge of the Japanese language boosts your chances. Thus, taking the JLPT (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test) would be better.

Only when they choose another country’s residency and renounce their Japanese citizenship upon their arrival in Japan.

  • To be considered, all applicants should have been born on or after April 2, 1987. They only made exceptions when MEXT believed the applicant could not apply within the qualifying age. This limit can be because of the applicant’s country’s status or circumstances, without exception for personal reasons.
  • Academic Background: Applicants must meet the requirements for admission to a master’s or doctorate program at a Japanese graduate school where they desire to begin their studies. These differ from the kind of MEXT scholarship you wish to apply for. You can look for more specific information in the guidelines provided on their website.
  • Applicants must be willing to study Japanese to be considered. Also, applicants must have a strong interest in Japan and be prepared to learn more about it. Finally, applicants must also be capable of doing research and adjusting to life in Japan.

How to apply?

You usually submit the scholarships and financial help applications via your current school.

You can easily find the application portals for the other scholarships on the respective websites or online platforms.

These follow their own guidelines for such applications. Sometimes, the schools will recognize and recommend you for a scholarship.

The deadline for submitting application paperwork for MEXT, on the other hand, varies with each Japanese diplomatic post.

They screened most financial help applications based only on the papers presented. Still, specific organizations may demand an interview or a written examination to assess your general education and field expertise.

They may also ask about your language skills. And if you already know Japanese, you can take the JLPT or NAT exam to show your ability.

scholarships in Japan for international students

Each Japanese diplomatic mission sets its own schedule for the first screening and communication of screening results.

The applicants who pass the initial round of screening should contact the Japanese institutions where they want to study and request temporary admittance.

After clearing the first screening, applicants must submit a completed Placement Reference Application Form to the Japanese diplomatic position.

The date for submitting this form varies depending on the Japanese diplomatic mission you are contacting.

MEXT does a second screening as well as university placement. MEXT Scholarship grantees who pass the second screening and have an acceptable university will be admitted.

Applicants are advised of their results through the Japanese diplomatic representation.

Should you try for Japanese scholarships?

Japan is a country of endless possibilities. And what is better than studying there? And If you need funding, a scholarship is the ultimate choice.

You may apply for a scholarship at your chosen institution and travel across Japan. And then get closer to being a worldwide asset with your experience and knowledge.

Before applying, check the eligibility criteria and their requirements carefully. One good thing about applying for a scholarship in Japan is that there are options for almost every type of course.

So get set to explore the beauty and culture of Japan with a top-quality education to your avail. Besides, you benefit by learning Japanese and enhancing your career prospects.

I hope my article on the best scholarships in Japan for international students was helpful. If you have any questions, share them in the comment below.

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Vikash Gupta
Vikash Gupta

I’m a linguist, lifelong learner, educator, blogger, and fun-loving guy. I write at,,,,

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