How Do I Extend the Scholarship When I End My Current Course and What are the Conditions?

Written by: Ly Techsrun

* This article will be divided into the following groups for the scholarship extensions for:
A. Specialized training colleges to undergraduate courses
B. Bachelors to Masters’ courses
C. Research students

The conditions for scholarship extension as below may be changed in the next application process. Please be sure to check the conditions in the application guidelines in the year in which you wish to apply.

A. Specialized Training College to Bachelors

There are two conditions which need to be met:

  • Grades:
    • GPA of at least 2.8 of 3
    • Attendance rate of at least 95%
  • Choices:
    • You only can apply for 2 choices:
      • Two universities; or
      • Two courses in one university
    • One additional condition for specialized training colleges to undergraduates:
      • You can only apply for schools which accept 3rd year transfers from specialized training colleges.


  • Since only certain universities accept transfers, you should find this information by going to the website of the universities and find out information about transferring. (The relevant Japanese term is 大学3年次編入)
  • We are not aware of books which collect the past papers of the different universities. These need to be collected by ourselves.
    • Some universities have them downloadable directly on their websites.
    • Some will send past papers by post if we ask for them.
    • Some require us to go directly to the university campus to get them.
  • Prepare for the entrance examinations using books which have content directly applicable to the past papers.
    • E.g. If you want to transfer to a department of Economics or Commerce, I would suggest books called 速習ミクロ経済、マクロ経済 by 石川 秀樹。
  • Some proficiency test might be required – in particular some universities require JLPT N1 and a certain score in the TOEIC. So please take these exams early enough.
  • You also are required to submit the application and a personal statement.
    • This should not be very difficult. Sometimes you can ask your supervisor at your college to help you with this.
  • Universities publish brochures about the transfer exam earliest around July. However, this varies with some universities doing it in September. This also means that universities organize the exam at different times.

B. Bachelors to Masters’ Course

There are two conditions which need to be met:

  • Grades:
    • GPA of at least 2.5 of 3
  • Choices:
    • You only can apply for 2 choices:
      • Two universities; or
      • Two courses in one university (See below)
        • When applying, each COURSE counts as a choice even if they are in the same faculty / university.
        • Same university, faculty A, course X → Choice 1; same university, faculty A, course Y → Choice 2.)


  • Finding past-year questions for the choices you are applying to is crucial to prepare for your examinations
    • E.g. For those applying to the University of Tokyo, make a trip down to the Tokyo U. co-op to buy past-year questions. The co-op sells a whole collection of questions dating back to maybe 5 years. This is also probably applicable to other universities.
  • Also, if you major in natural science, paying a direct visit to the lab you want to study at is believed to be very useful.
  • Some universities also “strongly recommend” applicants to take the GRE. What this often means is that it is compulsory to take the GRE and get high scores if you want to be seriously considered.
  • In addition to the application and personal statement, you also need 2 recommendation letters, preferably from your undergrad course coordinator/faculty head and thesis supervisor.
    • These will be about 1-1.5 pages long each.
  • On top of that, you will also need to submit a research plan which clearly states what you intend to research in masters and how you will go about doing it.
    • This should be at least 2000 words long in Japanese, complete with proper references and a proper bibliography.
  • The timeline for the undergraduate extension goes like this:
    • Early-mid Nov – Official information from MEXT arrives at the universities.
    • Early Dec – Deadline for all documents (i.e. forms, personal statement and recommendation letters)
    • Mid Dec – Interview
    • Early Mar – Announcement of results for scholarship extension.

C. Research Students


  • Schools should inform you about in a few months of entry about the procedure for extending your research term
  • The process for the extension from research to Masters’ / PhD however depend heavily on the school.
    • Most MEXT candidates do pass through this though.
  • Choices:
    • You only can apply for 2 choices
    • When applying, each COURSE counts as a choice even if they are in the same faculty / university.
      • I.e. Same university, faulty A, course X → Choice 1; same university, faculty A, course Y → Choice 2.)
    • If you are a MEXT scholar recommended by the Japanese embassy in your home country(大使館推薦)you are able to apply to 2 different courses in different universities.
    • If you are a MEXT scholar recommended by your university(大学推薦), you can only apply within your university. (You are not allowed to change universities)


Relevant scholarship extensions for research students can be divided into the extension of the research term (up till 2 years for spring enrollment students or 1 and half years for fall enrollment students) as well as the conversion into a full masters / PhD course.

The graduate school that you take your research course should inform you about the first within a few months after your arrival in Japan. The process might vary between graduate schools. This requires your academic advisor’s recommendation, which is not too difficult to get.

The process to change your status from a research student to a regular graduate student is more complex. Every graduate school also has their own criteria and process for accepting graduate students, so we cannot generalize.

What we can share is that some graduate schools only require you to submit your research plan whereas some others require candidates to take entrance exams like a written test and an interview or even ask for a presentation of the research plan.

However, in general, most of the MEXT candidates up to now have been able to pass this process from what we know about your seniors’ experience these past years.

If any research student faces difficulties, they should consult their academic advisor. It is one of the advisor’s duties to guide their research students through the process of becoming a regular graduate student. Graduate students work closely with their academic advisor and usually see them multiple times a week, so you should ask your advisor about anything you want to know.

One thing you need to be careful about is that you should confirm whether your courses will be done in English or Japanese. There have been cases that students did not confirm before arriving in Japan – only finding out that they are required to do the courses in Japanese after coming to Japan. This can cause trouble if the student is not adequately prepared to study in Japanese.


(Image taken from (2017/11/16))

These guide articles are meant to be advice based on the experience of current and previous scholars. Given how situations may change depending on the school, region or year etc., we urge any scholars to approach the relevant authorities in your school if you have any doubts or concerns.

36 thoughts

    • Dear Nichole,
      Thank you for your comment.
      For extending your scholarship from MA to PhD, you need to submit a research plan, your transcript and a letter of recommendation written by your academic advisor. Your university will inform you about the required documents and the deadline for submission a few weeks up front, so you do not need to worry too much about it! Some universities require you to pass an interview, others do not, but again your university will inform you about everything!
      Best regards,

      • Dear Ms.Anastasia Bender
        What are the procedures we should do if we want to change to another advisor (e.g., course slightly) in the same university or another advisor in another university, in case of extending the course from master to PhD program?
        Thank you very much.


        • Hi Joseph,

          Thank you for your comment. This is what you have to do:
          1. Find an advisor who is willing to accept you as his student.
          2. Ask your new advisor to write a letter of recommendation for you when extending from MA to PhD.
          3. Add your new advisor’s letter of recommendation to your application for the scholarship extension.
          4. Once your application gets accepted, ask both your old and new supervisors to do the required paperwork for your transfer (the international student center at your current/ your future university should be able to provide you with all necessary documents).
          5. Done.

          Good luck!

    • Hi MEXT Scholars Association.

      This is still a little hard to understand for me but maybe is pretty obvious: for example if I’m doing a master’s program in Japan and want to extend to PhD in a different university (let’s say i’m studying cultural studies but now i want to do phd in education in a different university) is that possible, and if it’s possible that means that i have to study in the Phd for another five years or the master counts for it?. Thank you very much (sorry, i’m a native spanish speaker)

      • Hi Francisco,

        Thank you for your question. Yes, you can do your PhD at a different university in a different field. Whether you have to do a MA in the same field depends on the requirements for said PhD programme at said university (it differs from university to university). We would suggest that you send a message to the international student center of the university of your choice and ask them about the requirements for the PhD programme that you are interested in enrolling in.
        Hope that helps.

        Best regards,

        • Dear MSA.

          I’m very grateful for your reply. I’m still wondering about the time. if I transfer to another university after doing the Master’s program to Doctor’s, it’s only 3 extra years of study, or is it is 5 years from the very beginning?. Thank you very much in advance.


          • Hi Francisco,

            Again; it depends on the programme that you are interested in and also whether you will be able to finish your PhD programme in 3 years or not (frankly speaking, a lot of students actually do not finish in 3 years. This depends on a lot of factors: on your research topic, on how much support you receive from your professor and your labmates, on your level of motivation etc. Why don’t you ask the international students center how many years in average it takes to finish your programme of choice?)

            Good luck!

  • Hi! I want to ask you what happens if i fail the exam.
    In my case i came to japan as a research student in september. I took the entrance exam after 6 months, but i failed it. what should i do? can i take the exam again?

    • Dear Ann,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Yes, you can retake the entrance exam. Try to consult with your academic advisor before retaking it, though. They can give you valuable advice for your next entrance exam.
      Best regards,

  • Hello,
    I’m a Master student, and I would like to extend the scholarship for the doctoral program.
    I’ve checked my GPA and I am not very clear about it.
    we have 5level system, and the marks are not mentioned. So, if I have a B in my transcript, should I consider “3” or just “2”?
    Best regards,

    • Dear Thant,
      Thank you for the question! Different schools have different ways of calculating GPAs so it is best that you talk to the academics section in your school about how to calculate your GPA.

  • Hello, I am a Research Student going to Master Degree MEXT scholarship member.
    I once tried to apply for extension for MEXT scholarship, however, I failed the entrance exam and need to withdraw the extension application (I still have my Research Student MEXT Scholarship).

    Right now, I already passed the second entrance exam and planning to extend my scholarship to Master Degree. Will my failed one will effect my current application? Will I still be eligible to apply for extension? I am a bit worried.

    Thank you for your explanation in advance!

    • Hello Aldaro,
      Thank you for the question!
      Congratulations for passing the entrance exam! Since you withdrew your last application there shouldn’t be a problem to apply again. We would suggest that you consult the international student center at your university, they should know all about your current situation.
      Best regards and best of luck

  • Dear Ann,

    Thank you for sharing this information.

    I was planning to extend my scholarship from Research Student to Master Degree as I already passed the exam and soon I will enroll as Master Student from April 2020.

    I realized that passing entrance exam is not same as passing the scholarship extension, it means I might be able to enroll in my university but if something happen to my scholarship, thus I need to find another fund which is quite worrying.

    What I want to know is, how is it hard to have your extension accepted? Is there ever any case of a student whom his or her extension denied?

    Thank you for your help!

    • Dear Gustava,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Extensions from research student to MA or research student to PhD usually get approved. You do not have to worry too much as long as your professor submits a solid letter of recommendation.

      Best regards

  • Hello,

    I partially failed my Master entrance exam. I’ll explain.
    My score was not good enough to pass to my first choice of laboratory, but I was able to pass on another choice.
    Now I have to apply for the scholarship extension from Researcher to Master. I am afraid MEXT will refuse my extension because my lab will not be the same one as my lab during the research period. (Although I will remain on the same university)
    What do you think about this ? Have you seen this happen before ?

    • Dear Luiza,

      Thank you for your question.
      Don’t worry, there are scholars who changed faculties or even changed universities before they extended their scholarship, so you should be fine as long as your new academic advisor writes a good letter of recommendation for your scholarship extension!

      Best regards

        • Dear Kelly,

          Thank you for your question. You can change universities if you find a new prospective academic advisor and your current as well as your prospective academic advisors fill out some paperwork for your transfer. Please consult your international student center for more information on this matter.

          Best regards

  • I am currently a research student at one university. I want to continue as a PHD student at another university. My current university asked me to submit an application for extension of scholarship before taking the entrance exam. However, I want to apply to enter into another university. Will I be able to transfer my scholarship to another university.

    • Dear Sara,

      Thank you for your question. Yes, you will be able to transfer once your extensions gets approved. Just do not forget to mention in your application that you are applying to another university.

      Best regards

  • I’m a MEXT student by embassy recommendation. I’m currently enrolled in a master program. Is it possible for me to change to another PhD program at another university?

    Thank you.

    • Dear Anne,

      Thank you for your question. Yes, it is possible, but you have to find a prospective advisor at another university and pass the entrance exam at said university first before you can change.

      Good luck!

  • I am research student now. Next year I wanna do my master course in another university. But I am worrying whether I could extent Scholarship or not, because I wanna change my national university to private one, where tuition fees is supposed to be 140, 0000/year . Will MEXT approve my Scholarship and pay tuition fees even its so expensive or its better not to try ?

    Thank you for your answer

    • Dear Jack,
      Thank you for your message. As long as you pass the entrance exam at the private university and your prospective advisor at the private university recommends you for an extension, you should be able to get it. Don’t give up!
      Best regards

  • Hello I just completed my first year in the master’s program and am planning to apply for extension to Ph.D program but my current GPA is 2.43. Am worried if MEXT will consider this GPA since it’s below 2.5

    • Dear Yusuf,
      Thank you for your comment.
      You should be fine as long as your academic advisor writes a strong letter of recommendation for your application.
      We would suggest that you consult your academic advisor regarding this matter.
      Good luck with your application!

  • Hello. From the comments I realized that changing faculties within the same university or changing universities was possible if you’re an embassy recommended scholar. How do we apply to change faculty? Is there a form to fill at the university or should we just apply directly to the faculty we wish to switch to? Should we inform the embassy?

    • Hello Mia,

      Thank you for your question.
      Yes, there is a form. The international student center at your university should be able to provide you with said form. As soon as you switch faculties, your university will inform the embassy.
      Good luck!

  • Hello. My master’s degree program will be Japanese. I will be doing 6 months of language preparation course, and serve 1 year as a research student as well. How are the classes in the Japanese program? I mean do we need to take all the exams in Japanese? I have this fear in my mind that what if I am not able to do my classes properly. I have heard that only lectures will be in Japanese, and I am allowed to submit assignments/reports in English. Please explain how the Japanese-taught program for a master’s degree student works?

    • Hi Gaurav

      Thank you for your question!
      Classes in Japanese programmes are generally taught in Japanese. Depending on the subject, you can usually get most of the materials in English. And if you ask your professor whether you are allowed to take your exams in English or submit your paper in English, they usually allow you to do so, so don’t worry.

      Best regards

  • Hello Dear senpais

    I do have a question for you,
    Is it possible to extend the MEXT scholarship from Master to PhD even if I am already above 35 years ?
    Thank you for your reply.

Leave a Reply