10 Scholarships for Studying Abroad in Japan

 July 29, 2022
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Studying Abroad in Japan
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Japan is one of the top 10 destinations for U.S. students studying abroad. However, it can also be expensive to go to school there, so many students often look for scholarships to study abroad in Japan.

Luckily for some students, there are many opportunities to receive financial support from government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private corporations. Here are the 10 top scholarships for studying abroad in Japan that could help you finance your time in the Land of the Rising Sun.

1. American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ) Bridging scholarships
2. Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program
3. Boren Awards scholarship
4. Foundation for Asian Pacific Education scholarship
5. Fund for Education Abroad scholarship
6. Institute of International Education’s Freeman-ASIA Award
7. Japanese government scholarships
8. Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) Student Exchange Support Program scholarships
9. Tanaka and Green Academic scholarships
10. Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship Fund
● Plus: Other ways to finance studying abroad in Japan

1. American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ) Bridging Scholarships

  • Amount: $4,500 per year/$2,500 per semester
  • Deadline: Varies depending on which semester you’re applying for

The AATJ Bridging scholarship helps students that want to study in Japan for a semester or an academic year. Academic scholarships are worth up to $4,500 for a full year, or $2,500 for a semester.

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen and enrolled as an undergraduate student in the U.S. Your study abroad session in Japan must be for at least three months, and you must earn credits with your home college for the experience. Recipients must agree to attend a pre-program orientation via Zoom, write a thank you letter to the scholarship’s donor and submit progress reports with photos.

2. Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: Varies depending on which semester you’re applying for

The U.S. Department of States runs the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to encourage students with limited financial means to study abroad. Through the program, students can receive up to $5,000 for one academic year of undergraduate study.

Eligibility is limited to U.S. citizens enrolled in undergraduate programs in the U.S. To qualify for the scholarship, the student must be a Pell Grant recipient and intend to study in an eligible country, such as Japan.

3. Boren Awards Scholarships

  • Amount: $8,000 to $25,000
  • Deadline: Early February

The Boren Awards scholarship program is designed to promote the intensive study of foreign languages and cultural immersion. Students can qualify for scholarships of $8,000 to $25,000 to study abroad and gain proficiency in preferred languages, such as Japanese.

Eligibility for the Boren Awards scholarships is limited to U.S. citizens enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in the U.S. and studying abroad in an eligible country. The organization recommends that proposed programs last for at least two semesters, but preference is given to applicants planning to study for 25 weeks or more.

Students must also submit essays, a study plan summary and letters of recommendation.

4. Foundation for Asian Pacific Education scholarship

  • Amount: $500 to $1,500
  • Deadline: April 30 (for summer), August 1 (for fall) and December 31 (for winter)

The Foundation for Asian Pacific Education scholarship provides $500 to $1,500 in gift aid to students studying in a qualifying country, such as Japan.

To qualify, you must be a U.S. or Canadian citizen and be enrolled in a North American college or university. Students must fill out an application and complete essays in response to essay prompts.

5. Fund for Education Abroad scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: Varies depending on which semester you’re applying for

To help students with financial needs study abroad, the Fund for Education Abroad scholarship gives eligible students up to $5,000 in aid.

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, enrolled in an undergraduate program in the U.S. and plan on studying abroad in a program that allows you to earn college credits.

Applicants are selected based on financial need, demographic factors and academic plans.

6. Institute of International Education’s Freeman-ASIA Award

  • Amount: $3,000 to $7,000
  • Deadline: Not available

If you’re hoping to study abroad in Japan or one of 14 other East Asian countries or regions, consider the Freeman-ASIA Award.

The need-based grant provides $3,000 to $7,000 in funding, depending on whether you’re abroad for the summer, a semester or a full academic year. To qualify, you must spend at least eight weeks abroad and your program must have an intensive language component. You can better your chances of earning a scholarship if you plan to take at least 20 hours of class time per week and study an East or Southeast Asian language, culture and history.

There’s one catch to the award: Upon returning home, you must lead a service project on your campus or in your community that draws on your study abroad experience.

7. Japanese government scholarships

  • Amount: Monthly stipend of about $855 per month
  • Deadline: Varies

Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) provides gift aid to four types of U.S. citizens, including undergraduate students who want to spend a year on Japanese-related studies. The scholarship provides round-trip airfare to Japan and covers your full tuition and school-required entrance fees. It also provides a monthly stipend of 117,000 yen (about $855 per month in USD).

If you want to pursue a non-Japanese studies degree, you could also apply for an undergraduate scholarship if you have already moved overseas.

8. Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) Student Exchange Support Program Scholarship

  • Amount: Monthly stipend of about $585
  • Deadline: Not available

If you go to school in the U.S. and you want to study for up to a year in Japan, consider the independently-run JASSO. Its Student Exchange Support Program hands out monthly stipends of 80,000 yen (approximately $585) to those who show financial need and are eligible for a student visa.

To qualify, you must be enrolled at a qualifying Japanese university, graduate school, junior college, college of technology (third level or higher) or professional training college under a student exchange arrangement.

9. Tanaka and Green Academic Scholarships

  • Amount: Up to $5,000 for academic year/up to $4,000 for a semester
  • Deadline: Not available

The Tanaka and Green scholarship program supports short-term academic study at colleges and universities in Japan. Recipients can get up to $5,000 for an academic year or up to $4,000 for a single semester. The scholarship can be used to cover tuition and fees, living expenses and travel costs.

To qualify for the scholarship, you must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Preference is given to students that have previously studied Japanese culture, language or participate in extracurricular activities related to Japan, such as martial arts or tea ceremonies.

10. Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship Fund

  • Amount: Up to $25,000
  • Deadline: Not available

The Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship Program started as a way to support Japanese students who sought to study in the U.S. Since 2019, it has also helped American students afford the costs of going to school in Japan.

The need-based scholarship would cover up to the full cost of your semester or year-long study abroad program. The maximum award is $25,000 for one year, but it has strict preferences for its scholarship recipients. The fund prioritizes applicants who are first-generation college students, come from a single-parent household, have lost both parents or have little international travel experience.

Other ways to finance studying abroad in Japan

If you don’t qualify for one of the above 10 scholarships to study abroad in Japan, don’t be discouraged. There may be other ways to finance your study abroad program. Options include:

  • Institutional aid: Some colleges and universities have their own grants and study abroad scholarships. Contact your study abroad program coordinator and your financial aid office to see what aid is available.
  • Third-party scholarships and grants: There are millions of scholarship and grant opportunities available from private companies and nonprofit groups. Many of them allow you to use the money to attend any accredited college, including study abroad programs. Use scholarship search tools to find relative opportunities that fit your profile. For example, If you have Japanese or Asian heritage, you might zero in on scholarships for Asian American students.
  • Private student loans: Once you’ve exhausted other financial aid options, consider other ways to foot the bill for your overseas education. If you need additional financing help, private student loans and specialized study abroad loans could cover the remaining cost.