Watanabe Scholarship Frequently Asked Questions (For Study Abroad in Japan)

Please see the following documents containing important information:


If I am currently studying in Japan as a degree-seeking student, am I eligible to apply for the scholarship for the remaining years of my degree?
Yes, you are eligible to apply. However, if you are a degree-seeking student we can only award support for one academic year (September-June) at a time. You may in the future apply for the scholarship again, but at this time, we are only awarding scholarships for a maximum of one academic year of study at a time.

If I am going to Japan for graduate school, am I eligible to apply for the scholarship?
Yes, you are eligible to apply. However, please note a couple of things as it relates to graduate applicants: 

  • The scholarship is only for a maximum of one year of support at a time. If you receive it for graduate school study, then you can reapply for a second or third year, however, there is no guarantee that you will be awarded it again. The maximum amount of support for graduate study is $25,000 per year.
  • The scholarship will only cover the classroom/coursework years of your graduate program. The scholarship cannot be used to fund research/field work or as a stipend for when you are writing a thesis/dissertation. It must be applied to the costs of terms/years you are taking classes.

If I am already receiving a scholarship, am I eligible to apply for and receive the Watanabe Scholarship?
Yes, you can combine this scholarship with others you may receive. However, you can only combine if and only if your other scholarship(s) does not meet your full financial need. You cannot apply for this scholarship to exceed your cost of attendance.

Is the Watanabe Scholarship limited only to students participating in an exchange program?
No. This scholarship is NOT limited only to exchange programs. The following types of international study program types are eligible for the scholarship.

Program Type Definition
Direct Enrollment Student directly enrolls in a university in Japan as a temporary, non-degree seeking, international student. Student may select from the full range of courses for which they have the appropriate prerequisites and language abilities. Students must navigate administrative and academic procedures independently, utilizing on-campus offices at host institution.
In cases where an applicant’s school does not offer its own programs in Japan, they may permit students to go abroad using a third-party provider (i.e. ISEP, CIEE, IES Abroad, World Learning, etc). These organizations often administer study centers or connect students to institutions for study abroad. 
Exchange An exchange of students between two institutions through an inter-institutional exchange agreement. Students pay home institution tuition and are admitted as temporary, non-degree seekers at the institution in Japan.
Degree-seeking  A student is attending a college/university in Japan for multiple years in order to earn an undergraduate or advanced degree

Are only U.S. citizens eligible for this scholarship or can permanent residents also apply?
This scholarship is open to both U.S. citizens as well as permanent residents.

Am I still eligible if I do not come from a single-parent family or am not first-generation?
Yes, you are eligible to apply for the scholarship. These are preferential categories, but are not requirements.

Can the scholarship be used for a summer study abroad program?
No, the shortest study abroad term the scholarship can be used is a semester. This scholarship is not applicable to support summer study abroad. 

Can the scholarship be used for language schools?
No, the scholarship cannot be used for study abroad that is solely for language school. You must be studying at an accredited college or university in Japan. 75% of your courses must be content courses (e.g. Arts, History, Political Science, Society & Culture, etc.), not exclusively Japanese language.

Can the scholarship be used for internships or research?
No, it cannot.

Application Process

What is the application timeline?*
Below is a general overview of the application timeline (subject to change). Please note the specific dates may vary from year to year. It is meant to give a general outline of the selection process as well as scholarship activities. 

November – December, 2023Virtual Information Sessions for potential applicants and administrators.
January 8, 2024
Application Opens (Eastern Time)
February 19
Application Closes (Eastern Time)
April 22 – May 17Finalist Notification
May 20 – May 31Scholarship Decisions Announced 
June 28Scholarship Acceptance Deadline
July 1Scholarship Disbursement Begins

*Timeline as of November 2023

When is the application period for this scholarship?
We accept applications for the scholarship annually for four to six weeks during the open period beginning in January or February. The exact dates are usually announced or publicized on our website. The 2024-25 application will open on January 8, 2024 (ET).

How do I apply for the scholarship?
You must apply for the scholarship using the online application portal, which will be available on this website from January 8, 2024 (ET). Please check back at that time.

Do I apply for the scholarship directly or does my university in the U.S. have to nominate me?
The student must apply directly for the scholarship, submitting all their documentation via the online application portal by the February 19, 2024 (by 11:59 PM ET) deadline. University offices are NOT permitted to submit applications on behalf of their students for this scholarship.

What is a “finalist”?
 A finalist is a candidate who has made it through the preliminary selection rounds to the final round. They are in the group from which successful scholars will be selected. A finalist is NOT guaranteed a scholarship.

When and how will scholarship decisions be announced?
All applicants will be notified of scholarship decisions via email between May 20 – May 31, 2024.

What kind of result can I expect from the Watanabe Scholarship application? 
There are three categories of results you can receive from the Watanabe Scholarship: unsuccessful applicant, successful scholarship recipient and alternate. An alternate may receive the scholarship in the case that a successful recipient decides not to accept the scholarship. 

If I am reapplying for the scholarship, do I have to submit new application materials?
Yes, you must submit a new application form, along with the most current documents and materials to complete an application for the current cycle. You CANNOT use materials previously submitted for the scholarship application.

I am planning to begin studying in Japan in Spring 2025. Am I eligible to apply for the scholarship?
Yes. At this time, our application process is designed for those who are planning to study at any time during the Fall 2024 – Spring 2025 academic year. However, if your time abroad beginning in Spring 2025 will include the fall semester of 2025 (because you are following the Japanese academic calendar), then you must apply during two separate cycles for the scholarship. You will apply now for your Spring 2025 support and in the next application cycle for your Fall 2025 support. 

If I am awarded the scholarship, can I defer and use it later?
No, you cannot defer the scholarship. It must be used for the academic year as specified by the scholarship requirements (Fall 2024 – Spring 2025).

Do I have to already be accepted to my study abroad program to apply for the scholarship?
No, you do not. The unique feature of this scholarship is that you can apply for the scholarship at any time during your study abroad planning. In the scholarship application, there is a place for you to tell us at what stage you are currently in your planning. Please see below.

  • I have been accepted to and confirmed my attendance to a college/university in Japan
  • I have been accepted to a college/university in Japan for study abroad, but have not finalized my attendance
  • I have applied to a college/university in Japan for study abroad and am waiting for an admission decision
  • I will apply to a college/university in Japan for study abroad

You can apply for this scholarship at any of these stages. If you get accepted, or your college/university changes after applying for the scholarship, just let us know. 

Applications Materials

What materials do I need to apply for the scholarship?
The application consists of an online application form, 1-3 essays and the following supplemental documents: 

All materials (online application and supplemental documents) are all due on the same day – February 19, 2024. Please allow enough time for their completion and submission on time, as some of them may take some time to be completed. If all materials are not submitted on time, your application is incomplete. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

What are the contents of the essay? 
There is one required essay for all scholarship applicants. There is one optional essay, and one that is required for all applicants with previous international experience. The contents for all the essays are different. Please see the brief descriptions below. 

Essay #1 (Required): 

In this essay, applicants will explain their motivations for study abroad, as well as how it connects to their short-term and long-term goals. They are asked to explain the financial barriers they face as well as the skills they wish to develop while abroad.  

Essay #2 (Optional):

In this essay, applicants can share with the committee anything they think will help them to stand out from the other applicants. 

Essay #3 (Required for those who have lived, worked and/or studied abroad previously)

This essay helps the committee to understand the context of an applicant’s previous international experience. As this scholarship is about opportunity, the committee wants to understand why they should give a scholarship to someone who already has some international experience rather than someone who does not. 

Please note the above are not the entirety of what is asked for each essay. The prompts in the actual application are the ones that must be answered. For full marks, the applicant must answer all parts of the essay, especially the required ones. 

Can I submit more than one recommendation to strengthen my application?
NO! Do not submit more than one recommendation. It will not help your chances, and in some cases, it may cause your application to be deemed incorrectly submitted and therefore not eligible for review. Always follow directions. Do not submit anything other than what has been requested. 

What is the Financial Certification Form? Is there a required format? What information needs to be included?
The Financial Certification Form is a document that provides proof/certifies the costs of attendance and direct financial needs of the student for the study abroad term. The form must be signed and completed by the appropriate school official such as staff from the Financial Aid or Bursar’s office.

Click here to see what the Financial Certification Form looks like. (For reference only; not for the purpose of filling out or submitting.)

What is the Study Abroad Certification Form? Is there a required format? What information needs to be included?
The Study Abroad Certification Form is a document that gives proof/certifies that the applicant’s study abroad is a credit-eligible program and to confirm the program-related information entered by the applicant in their application form. The form must be signed and completed by the appropriate school official with knowledge of the applicant’s study abroad plans, such as staff from the International Admissions or Study Abroad Office.

Click here to see what the Study Abroad Certification Form looks like. (For reference only; not for the purpose of filling out or submitting.)

Is there a particular format for the recommendation letter? Will the recommender receive a prompt or any guidance in terms of the letter content?
There is no required format for the recommendation letter. The length and format are up to the applicant and their recommender. The letter of recommendation may be provided by an academic advisor, a current or past professor or someone who knows you (the applicant) in a professional or volunteer capacity. The letter may not be completed by anyone who is related to you (e.g. – family, friends). The letter must be written in English. 

The recommendation should be written specifically for this scholarship. Do not use a letter that was written for another purpose. 

The recommender should be someone who knows you (the applicant) well and can speak to your character and potential to succeed in a study abroad or international degree-seeking program. The recommender will receive additional guidelines when they log in following receipt of their invitation from the application system to write a recommendation.

What is the format required for the resume?
The resume must be written in English. While there is no specific format per se, the content of the resume should focus on your education, extracurricular activities, achievements, and leadership experience. DO NOT submit a Japanese-styled resume (rirekisho).

Are there any costs or fees associated with applying to the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship?
No, there are no costs or fees associated with applying to the Watanabe Scholarship.

I applied for a passport, but it will not be issued in time for the application deadline. What should I do?
If your passport is not issued in time for the application deadline, please submit a copy of your birth certificate as a proof of citizenship. It is the applicant’s responsibility to renew or apply for a passport in time for his/her study abroad.

I am a permanent resident. What document do I have to submit to as proof of residency?
 If you are a U.S. permanent resident, please submit a copy of your Green Card. 

Financial Information

What study abroad costs are covered by the Watanabe Scholarship cover?
The Watanabe Scholarship covers direct costs for study abroad program tuition/fees, room and board, transportation, health insurance, and books/materials. Please note, if you are participating in an exchange program, the scholarship will not cover your home university/college tuition. Please see the chart below.

Covered CostsCosts Not Covered
Program FeesHome school tuition (U.S.)
Room and BoardDomestic Travel
Health InsuranceActivity Fees (formal or informal) 
Books and School Supplies (up to $1000/year)Work-Study
Travel (max $1600) Visa application/Passport Fees
Miscellaneous (max $1000/year)GRE/TOEIC/EIKEN/SAT/ACT

Testing Fees

How do I calculate the amount of scholarship to apply for?
This scholarship is meant to fill the gap between the cost of your study abroad (i.e., cost of attendance/estimated budget) and whatever financial resources you currently possess (e.g., grants, loans, scholarships, savings, family contributions). This gap is also known as financial need. You can use the following formula to calculate your financial need.

Total Cost of Attendance – Amount of Confirmed Financial Resources You Have = Total Amount Requested From The Watanabe Scholarship // Financial Need

Total Cost
of Attendance
 ー Amount of Confirmed
Financial Resources
 = Total Amount Requested
From The Watanabe Scholarship // Financial Need
$.00 ー $.00 = $.00

When calculating financial need for the Watanabe Scholarship please keep in mind the following:

  • Only include financial resources that you already possess or that have been secured.
  • DO NOT include financial resources that you have applied for but don’t yet know the result.

If you underestimate the amount of funding needed from the Watanabe Scholarship and later do not receive your expected additional outside funding, you will not be able to request additional Watanabe Scholarship funding after submitting your application. Additionally, please let us know the dates you expect to receive any pending award notifications from other scholarship organizations. Prior to receiving the scholarship, you will have to verify under penalty of law regarding any outside scholarships/awards you have received to study abroad.  This is to ensure that the scholarship amount does not contribute to exceeding the total cost of attending your chosen study abroad program.


Student A:

  • Total Cost of Attendance (as certified by host university): $18,000
  • Amount of Confirmed Financial Resources: Bridging Scholarship (confirmed) $4,000; student loan $11,000; family contributions $3,000; Gilman Scholarship (unconfirmed) $8,000


Total Cost of Attendance ー Amount of Confirmed
Financial Resources
 = Total Amount Requested
$18,000 ー $7,000 = $11,000

The Watanabe Scholarship is meant to remove any financial burden to study abroad. If you are receiving a loan to help pay for it, we recommend that you include that loan amount in your Watanabe Scholarship request, as illustrated above. The scholarship can be used to replace any loan support you may be receiving for study abroad. That way, you won’t have to take on any additional debt to study abroad.

Student B:

  • Total Cost of Attendance (as certified by home university): $28,000
  • Amount of Confirmed Financial Resources: RockStar Scholarship (confirmed) $5,000; student loan $13,000; family contributions $2,000, Gilman Scholarship (unconfirmed) $8,000


Total Cost of Attendance ー Amount of Confirmed
Financial Resources
 ー  Amount of any additional financial support you are applying for/waiting for results  ≠ Total Amount Requested
$28,000 ー $7,000 ー $8,000 ≠$13,000

This example is incorrect because Student B has included the amount of the Gilman Scholarship in their calculations for the Watanabe request. Because the amount of the Gilman Scholarship has not been confirmed, Student B should instead remove this value from the calculation and proceed with calculating need as follows:


Total Cost
of Attendance
 ー Amount of Confirmed
Financial Resources
 = Total Amount Requested
From Watanabe // Financial Need
$28,000 ー $7,000 = $21,000

It is easier for us to decrease the amount of the scholarship if the Gilman Scholarship does not come through. But if it were included in the calculations, and then Student B did not receive it, we cannot increase the amount they would receive from the Watanabe Scholarship.

Does applying for less money increase my chances of receiving this scholarship?
No, it does not. This is a scholarship aimed at meeting a student’s full need to study abroad. In cases where we cannot meet full need, we may offer partial support. You should apply for the amount you need.

Is it possible to adjust the amount of my financial need at a later date if selected for this scholarship?
We understand that the amount submitted with the application is an estimate. Yes, it is possible to adjust the scholarship amount, but only as a decrease. If you overestimate the financial need and later find out you need less money, that is fine. If you underestimate your need, and later discover you need more money, you cannot increase your scholarship request. It is the responsibility of the student to accurately estimate their financial needs for study abroad.

What is the average amount of the scholarship award and how many people will receive it this year?
The average amount of the scholarship is about $10,000, but there is no set amount for this scholarship award. As this scholarship seeks to meet the financial need of successful applicants, the amount varies significantly across recipients.

There is no set number of scholarships to be awarded. And the number of scholarships awarded each year will vary depending on the funds available and the requested amounts.

If selected, how will I receive the scholarship?
The scholarship will be paid to an institution (either the U.S. or Japanese institution), not to an individual. It is at the discretion of the Watanabe Scholarship administration team to which institution it will disburse the scholarship. ll be paid to an institution (either the U.S. or Japanese institution), not to an individual. It is at the discretion of the Watanabe Scholarship to which institution it will disburse the scholarship. 

Will the scholarship award be disbursed as a monthly stipend or as one lump sum?
The scholarship will be paid in one lump sum at the start of the study abroad term to the school on behalf of the student. This means that the student is responsible for making sure that the scholarship is applied appropriately to their account and the direct costs for the study abroad term.

If I have applied to more than one study abroad program at the time of applying for the scholarship, what figures do I use to calculate the cost of attendance?
If you have applied to multiple programs and do not yet know which one you will be attending, use the figures for the most expensive program to calculate the cost of attendance. This will give us a maximum amount for your financial need. If you end up attending a less expensive program, then we can decrease your need and scholarship amount. You cannot increase your financial need nor the scholarship amount after applying for the scholarship. scholarship.

General Questions

Will I have to repay the scholarship?
This scholarship is NOT a loan. It is not something that must be repaid. There are no work/volunteer obligations upon completion of your international study. You do, however, need to fulfill reporting requirements during your scholarship period. 

Are there any required activities or components that I must complete during the study term as a recipient of the scholarship?
There are reporting obligations for recipients of the scholarship during their study abroad terms. As scholarship recipients, you will be invited to participate in regional U.S.-Japan Council events in the region where you are studying. There is one required event during the scholarship term when all scholars will be brought together for a leadership training program (e.g. Watanabe Scholarship Leadership Weekend or the U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference, etc.). Please note that the type of required programming will vary by year. All scholars are required to attend the program. If scholars fail to fulfill all obligations of the scholarship, they will be required to return the scholarship funds.

I missed the application period. Will there be another opportunity to apply for the scholarship to use in the 2023-24 academic year?
There is only one application cycle for the scholarship each year. Applications will only be accepted from the dates posted on the Watanabe Scholarship page. Students who do not apply during this timeframe should consider applying when the opportunity re-opens next year if they are still eligible.

Can my organization or university post information about the Watanabe Scholarship on our website?
Yes, please share the information about this scholarship opportunity with those who may have interested and eligible applicants. However, we ask that you also contact the Watanabe Scholarship administration team ([email protected]) and let them know where you are posting the information so that we can track the recruitment.

I have a question that is not found on this FAQ page – who should I contact to get an answer?
If you have a question or situation that is not covered by the information on the FAQ page, please contact the Watanabe Scholarship administration team at [email protected]. No phone inquiries please.