Top 10 Study Abroad Scholarships for Japan

Top Articles on Studying Abroad from Students and Experts

story by isra eldosougi

Study abroad in Japan can be costly, but don’t let this hinder you from choosing Japan as your destination country! There are a large number of resources, study abroad scholarships, and financial-aid options to support students pursuing an international education.

Check with the study abroad office at your home institution to discuss your options. Your study abroad office may offer Japanese exchange programs. In most cases, exchange programs through your college or university will enable you to pay the same amount as your home institution. This option usually allows your financial aid to be transferred to your study abroad program if you normally receive aid. When you do an exchange, you pay what you'd normally pay for a regular semester so why not spend that time abroad?

Speak with a dean, director, or professor in the Asian Studies Department at your university regarding special opportunities to study abroad in Japan. Often times, universities have scholarships or resources for students interested in a particular line of study. These special scholarships can be applied to your study abroad. For smaller colleges or universities that do not have an Asian Studies Department, try connecting with a professor of world languages and reaching out to a department at a neighboring institution.

Independent funding, scholarships, and grants can be added to the financial options from your campus. There are a host of government programs that offer aid to students studying internationally. Inquire with government entities like the Embassy of Japan in the U.S., or American Embassy of in Japan to see if other scholarships exist! Many Japanese institutions also offer aid to students coming from abroad. Be sure to ask about these options when speaking with the international office, study abroad office, and scholarship office on your campus. If your home institution does not offer these resources, reach out to partnering colleges or universities to see if you can speak with a counselor. You can also research study abroad advisors online and send an email asking for resources, advice, and information.

Where do you start? Here are ten scholarships that can help turn your study abroad dream into a reality!

1. The Diversity Abroad Overseas Ambassador Program

The Diversity Abroad Overseas Ambassador Scholarship/Program offers an award to students and recent graduates intending to study, teach, intern abroad in the Fall and Spring semesters! Students awarded this scholarship will have the opportunity to be a Diversity Abroad representative during their study abroad experience. Leadership and promoting positive change is key for this scholarship. Economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, first generation students, and students from ethnically and racially backgrounds strongly encouraged to apply.

2. The Critical Language Scholarship

Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program aims to enhance the number of Americans studying critical languages. Japanese is included in the languages offered through this fully funded, intensive summer program seeking to promote mutual understanding and friendly relations between the U.S. and other countries. Students applying to the CLS Japan Program have a requirement of two years previous study. CLS places value on the ability to tie increased language proficiency to a student’s career.

3. The Harry S Truman Scholarship

The Harry S Truman Scholarship focuses on students with an interest in government who are seeking international education. This scholarship is intended for students planning to attend graduate school, and continue their education past the undergraduate level. Strong leadership and international skills are key for this scholarship.

4. The Boren Scholarship

The Boren Scholarship is a government funded scholarship for undergraduate students pursuing the study of languages in regions outside of New Zealand, Australia, western Europe, and Canada . Boren Scholars are required to work for the U.S. government for one year after accepting the scholarship. This scholarship funds students for a summer, semester, or full academic year. The Boren Fellowship is offered for graduate students. Many campuses have a Boren representative to help students with the application process. Find the Boren representative at your institution, or reach out to a representative at an institution near you.

5. The Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences Fellowship

The Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences (JSPS) Fellowship seeks to enhance cooperation in the global scientific field by funding research and supporting researchers. Students majoring in all forms of science, from social sciences to life sciences, are encouraged to apply. This independent institution seeks to advance science in all fields including humanities.

6. The Blakemore Foundation Language Grant

The Blakemore Foundation Language Grant financially supports students pursuing advanced language study for one academic school year. This scholarship is geared toward students who have completed their undergraduate education, have a minimum of three years of study in their target language, and are seeking  advanced language training in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and select Southeast Asian languages. For those who have already started their career, Blakemore offers summer programs through the Blakemore Refresher Grant.

7. Bridging Scholarship for Study Abroad in Japan

Bridging Scholarships for Study Abroad in Japan offers semester and year long scholarships for international education at the undergraduate level. This scholarship supports American students pursuing study abroad in Japan through stipends. It is funded through donations from businesses and other organizations.

8. The Foundation for Asia Pacific Education

The Foundation for Asia Pacific Education offers scholarships to students who are pursuing cultural and academic knowledge within the Asian Pacific region. The foundation aims to encourage global leadership and support students in their professional and individual goals of Asia Pacific knowledge. Students from diverse backgrounds are a focus for this non-profit organization.

9. The Gilma Scholarship

The Gilman Scholarship is offered to Pell Grant recipients for international study at the undergraduate level. This Department of State sponsored scholarship serves to help students with high financial need study abroad for a semester or academic year. The program is available for American citizens studying at two-year and four-year institutions.

10. The Freeman Asia Awards for Study Abroad in Asia 

The Freeman Asia Awards for Study Abroad in Asia offers scholarships to students studying abroad in Southeast Asia and East Asia. Students can be pursuing two-year and four-year degrees from accredited institutions. This scholarship offers funds for semester and summer long programs to American students and permanent residents with financial limitations.

*BONUS* AFS-USA offers two scholarships to high school students to study abroad in Japan in the Fall and Spring. Students should be looking for an immersive cultural experience and comfortable living with a host family. High school students applying for this scholarship should also be in good academic standing at their current institution.

Students should consider applying to as many scholarships as possible -- why not increase your chances! Studying abroad in Japan can be your reality! If you were unsure if studying abroad in Japan was possible for you, these top ten scholarship opportunities offer options to make it possible. Check out the Multicultural Student Guide to Study and Travel in Japan for more information.

isra eldosougi


Isra is a Summer Fellow at Diversity Abroad who is passionate in exploring her interests of STEM and international affairs. She studied Arabic in Jordan with the CLS Program and spent a gap year volunteering in Sudan before completing her Associates in Natural Science and Mathematics. She is completing her undergraduate degree at Columbia University. 

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