Japan, one of the world’s most advanced countries, is a haven for foreigners who wish to take their studies to the next level. After all, the land of the rising sun is home to technological advances, quality research, and of course, world-class universities.

Despite the high cost of living in Japan, it should not be a barrier to studying in this East Asian country. With this guide on how to study in Japan for free, you can finish your education without paying a cent.

How to Study in Japan for Free

1. Study Hard and Prepare Your Application Early

As the process of studying for free in Japan is quite lengthy, it’s best to complete your application documents early on. According to this website, you need to follow these steps:

  • Obtain Necessary Documents from School during April to May
  • Choose University in Japan by June
  • Apply for Entrance Exam for International Students (EJU) by July
  • Apply for Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and TOEFL/IELTS by July
  • Submit Application from August to October
  • Take the EJU by November
  • Complete Immigration Procedures, Change of Status, and Enrollment Procedures from January to March

2. Apply for Scholarships in Japan

There are many scholarships for which you could apply in Japan so that you can study in Japan for free. Undergraduates can either apply for a Japanese government scholarship or the 9 external funding options available before flying to the country.

Even if this is not done, there are nearly 100 scholarship options available upon arrival. More scholarships are even available for master’s and doctorate students. If you need help with finding the scholarship for you, try to take your pick among the 5 Best Scholarships in Japan for International Students.

3. Attend Japanese Universities with Low Tuition

In case you only get a partial scholarship for your studies, you can defray the other costs by applying to a budget-friendly university. If you need help getting started, take a look at our post regarding 10 Cheapest Universities in Japan for International Students for specific details.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Study Undergraduate Programs in Japan for Free

To study in Japan for free, you should apply for the scholarships offered by these universities:

1. Kyoto University

Also known as Kyodai, Kyoto University is the second-oldest educational institution in Japan. It offers various scholarship programs, including the Japanese MEXT Scholarship. This scholarship program covers tuition, admission, and examination fees, and it also comes with roundtrip airfare and a monthly stipend of JPY ¥117,000 (USD $1,020).

Another option is the AEON scholarship, which is open to students from certain Asian countries who are majoring in non-religion or non-political courses. You can study in Japan for free with AEON scholarships since it covers tuition for 4 years and also gives scholarship recipients a monthly stipend of JPY ¥100,000 (USD $870).

2. University of Tokyo

UTokyo or Todai is one of the four imperial universities. Founded in 1877, it is one of Japan’s oldest educational institutions. Its scholarship programs for foreign undergraduates include the UTokyo Scholarship, which is given to 10 students who show exceptional academic talent. It covers four years’ worth of tuition fees, admission fees, and a monthly stipend of JPY ¥126,000 (USD $1,100).

3. Sophia University

Sophia University is a prominent private educational institution in Tokyo, Japan. Ranked as the third-best school in all of the country, it offers two scholarships that cover the full cost of tuition, so that international students can study in Japan for free. One is the Sophia University New Student Scholarship, which covers the first year of studies.

As for the other years, you may try for the Sophia University Benefactors’ Scholarship (Adachi), which covers full tuition and an additional educational enhancement fee. A good example is the Volvo Global Challenge Scholarship, which amounts to as much as 1 million yen. This is given to students who show an interest in global issues.

4. Meiji University

Meiji University is a Tokyo-based institution founded in the year 1881. To date, this private university offers the following scholarships for undergraduate students:

  • Meiji University International Students Incentive Scholarship Program is open to students from 8 countries, and the scholarship benefit includes full tuition, admission fees, airfare, and a monthly stipend of JPY ¥100,000.
  • Meiji University Special Grant for Privately Financed International Students covers up to 100% of the tuition fee amount and is given to applicants who entered through the Student Exam Type II or English Track Exam from Abroad.
  • MEXT Scholarship covers full tuition and living allowances for any prospective international applicant.

5. Hokkaido University

Hokkaido University is a national educational institution known to be the country’s fifth Imperial University. Its scholarships for undergraduate students include the MEXT scholarship, which covers tuition and monthly living allowances. As you can see, there are many universities in Japan that offer MEXT scholarships, but the academic requirements listed by each institution may differ.

6. Kyushu University

Kyushu University is a national school located in Fukuoka. As with most Japanese institutions, Kyushu University offers the MEXT scholarship to international students who wish to take their bachelor’s degrees at this university. In addition, this institution offers various scholarships for master’s and Ph.D. students, so take a look at their scholarship offers using the link above.

7. Keio University

Keio University is a private university located in the Japanese capital. Its scholarship programs include the Yamaoka Kenichi Memorial Scholarship for New Undergraduate Students, which comes with an annual scholarship amount of JPY ¥700,000 (USD $6,100) for Economics, Law, Business, Commerce, and Letters students.

The budget for Yamaoka Kenichi Memorial Scholarship is increased to JPY ¥900,000 (USD $7,830) a year for students of other faculties. In addition to this scholarship program, students may also apply for the MEXT scholarship, which covers tuition fees and monthly stipends, among many other benefits.

8. International Christian University

ICU is a private university based in Mitaka, Japan. Foreign undergraduate students may apply for any of the 14 slots for the ICU Peace Bell Scholarship, which covers the tuition amount of 1 million yen a year for four years, abling international students to study in Japan for free.

9. Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tokyo Institution of Technology is a national research university situated in the Greater Tokyo region. As the largest Japanese institution specializing in science and technology, it offers a variety of scholarship programs for undergraduate students. One such bursary is the Japanese MEXT Scholarship, which covers tuition, travel expense, and monthly living allowances.

Study Master’s in Japan for Free

Complete your master’s degree for free in the following institutions:

1. Kyoto University

Students interested in applying for a master’s program at Kyoto University may apply for the Japanese MEXT scholarship,  which covers tuition, admission, and exam fees. The MEXT Scholarship Program also provides a monthly stipend of JPY ¥144,000 (USD $1,250). The AEON scholarship is also available to some Asian applicants. It covers 2 years’ worth of Master’s studies plus a monthly stipend of JPY ¥100,000 (USD $870).

Asian, African, and Latin American students may also apply for the Konosuke Matsushita Memorial Foundation Scholarship, which is given to students who are researching the understanding of Japan and other countries. This award includes full tuition, a monthly stipend of 120,000, and traveling expenses.

Graduate students can study in Japan for free through the ABD-Japan Scholarship program. Applicants from ADB-borrowing countries who study Engineering, Agriculture, Economics, Management, or Global Environment can also apply for the ADB-Japan Scholarship program. This covers tuition, a monthly stipend of JPY ¥120,000 (USD $1,040), and travel expenses.

2. Tokyo Institute of Technology

The Tokyo Institute of Technology also offers scholarships for master’s programs through the ADB bursary. It includes tuition fees, admission fees, book fees, as well as a monthly stipend of JPY ¥147,000 (USD $1,280). Make sure to read the scholarship details carefully before filling out your application!

Study Ph.D. in Japan for Free

Completing doctoral studies and research may be expensive, but you can study Ph.D. in Japan for free at these Japanese institutions:

1. Kyoto University

At Kyoto University, MEXT Scholarship is also provided to Ph.D. students. Apart from full tuition coverage, it also awards a monthly stipend of JPY ¥145,000 (USD $1,260). Since the awards increase based on the academic level, take advantage of this scholarship opportunity when studying in Japan.

2. International University, Japan

Based in Minamiuonuma, this private university offers the following scholarship programs for Ph.D. students:

  • Nakayama 100 Premium – Full Tuition, Dorm Fee Exemption, Monthly Allowance of JPY ¥50,000 (USD $430)
  • Nakayama A – Tuition, Partial Admissions Fee
  • MEXT Scholarship – Full Tuition, Airfare, Monthly Stipend of JPY ¥144,000 (USD $1,250)


I hope that this article on studying in Japan for free was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students!